September 28, 2008

Mufti "shameful" but not important

Here's a review in the New York Times by Tom Segev of a book on the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem by David Dalin and John Rothmann. Tom Segev describes it as a classic of the Arab-bashing genre and concludes that the book is, horror of horrors, bad for Israel.

Here are some snippets. This is the opener:
In August 1968, two American college students, David Dalin and John Rothmann, visited the Yad Vashem Holocaust museum in Jerusalem. There they saw an enlarged photograph of Hitler with Haj Amin al-Husseini, the Palestinian leader and grand mufti of Jerusalem. “We were immediately struck by the same question,” they recount in the preface to this book: “What was the story behind that photo?”
These guys spent forty years wondering how they could spin one photo to Israel's advantage. Over that time there have been many books about the holocaust and the zionist approach to the rise of Hitler and there have been exposés of some bogus histories of the Jews and the holocaust. And doesn't whoever runs Yad Vashem (aka the holocaust circus) know it?
in recent years the photo they saw has been reduced in scale and removed to its proper historical context (a section in the museum that deals with volunteers from several nations who enlisted in Hitler’s Waffen SS)
Perhaps our intrepid scholars never went back to the circus because
“Ever since that August day in Jerusalem 40 years ago, we have pursued the story of the mufti with relentless determination, devoting innumerable hours to researching his life and times,” they write. The result, “Icon of Evil,” is of little scholarly value
But that won't stop it being a commercial success and it won't harm the careers of the authors, I'm sure.

Segev offers a somewhat dispassionate description of the Mufti:
In accordance with the principle of my enemy’s enemy is my ally, the mufti sought support from Nazi Germany and in return backed Hitler’s war, including the extermination of the Jews. In addition to meeting with Hitler, he sat down with Adolf Eichmann and sabotaged a plan to transfer Jewish children from Eastern Europe to Palestine.

All this was wrong and shameful, but in contrast to the authors’ contention, one can question whether Husseini “played an important role” in the Holocaust.
Zionists love to yabber on about the Mufti as if he took the whole of the Palestinian people with him to join the Waffen SS. They should be careful, as Segev notes,
The mufti’s support for Nazi Germany definitely demonstrated the evils of extremist nationalism. However, the Arabs were not the only chauvinists in Palestine looking to make a deal with the Nazis. At the end of 1940 and again at the end of 1941, a small Zionist terrorist organization known as the Stern Gang made contact with Nazi representatives in Beirut, seeking support for its struggle against the British. One of the Sternists, in a British jail at the time, was Yitzhak Shamir, a future Israeli prime minister. The authors fail to mention this episode.
There's another issue that ties this book to the zionist genre:
Throughout the book, Dalin and Rothmann tend to blur the terms radical Islam, anti-Semitism and Nazism
It's funny how zionists never baulk at that kind of trivialising of the holocaust and then there's
and numerous Arab and Muslim leaders are grouped together as disciples of the mufti. Anwar Sadat and Yasir Arafat are among the villains, though one is left to guess in what way the mufti’s spell led them to strike historic deals with Israel.
Hmm, there I have to part company with Segev. Maybe it was the influence of a nazi collaborator that set Sadat and Arafat on the road to compromising with Israel. I actually read somewhere that in the 1960s, seven Egyptian generals were asked what they thought of Hitler. 5 refused to answer, one said he was no good and the other admired him. I can't remember where I read that but that last was Sadat.

Anyway, I'll end where I began, with Segev's conclusion:
the book is worth noticing, as it belongs to a genre of popular Arab-bashing that is often believed to be “good for Israel.” It is not. The suggestion that Israel’s enemies are ­Nazis, or the Nazis’ heirs, is apt to discourage any fair compromise with the Palestinians, and that is bad for Israel.
Ok, it costs $26 and it's "bad for Israel". Go on!! Get out there and buy that book, not that I'm going to.

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