PERPETUATING DISTRUST AND CONFLICT: ISRAEL’S USE OF CHARACTER ASSASSINATION

The government of Israel has always taken pains to disparage Arabs and attribute to them the genocidal designs of the Nazis, history’s most infamous mad men. This character assassination has kept world Jewry fearful of another holocaust and acquiescent when it comes to Israeli actions executed in the name of security, no matter how inhumane these actions are, and no matter how ultimately self-destructive and insecure they make Jews.

Even before Israel’s establishment, Jewish leaders had begun targeting one Palestinian in particular, Haj Amin al-Husseini, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem. For Jewish leaders, al-Husseini symbolized the apparent Arab thirst for the extermination of the Jewish people which, in turn, stimulated Jewish fear and hatred of Arabs.

Under Ottoman law, which the British had largely incorporated into their administration of mandatory Palestine, a Muslim electoral college was responsible for nominating three candidates to the position of Grand Mufti. Although al-Husseini was not among the nominees, in 1921 British High Commissioner Herbert Samuel, a Jew, rejected tradition and unilaterally named the twenty-four year old to the post.

Two months ago, Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, speaking at the 37th Zionist Congress, made the following unproven and dubious allegation:

Hitler didn’t want to exterminate the Jews at the time, he wanted to expel the Jews,                    and Haj Amin al-Husseini went to Hitler and said, ‘If you expel them, they’ll all come                      here.’ ‘So what should I do with them?’ [Hitler] asked. [Husseini] said, ‘Burn them.’

About sixty years ago, Israeli Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion, who had ignored peace overtures from Egyptian president Gamal Nasser, called Nasser “the Hitler of the Middle East,” a phrase that reverberated throughout Jewish communities all over the world. As a child the images that description conjured in my mind contributed to my distrust of Arabs and my fear for Israel and my people’s survival.

A variety of Israeli institutions, formally or informally, assist the Israeli government’s hasbara campaign. Schools and synagogues instill prejudice within the minds of impressionable children and reinforce fear of the other. Emotional trips to Polish concentration camps, where Jews were warehoused, tortured and murdered, are the backdrop for advanced and sustained indoctrination.

Then there is Yad Vashem, Israel’s memorial to the victims of the holocaust. Yad Vashem contains biographical material about many of the criminals who carried out the extermination of two-thirds of European Jewry.

Here, the material about al Husseini, a name the vast majority of American Jews have never heard of, is twice as long as the material on either Joseph Goebbels or Hermann Goehring, longer than the articles on Heinrich Himmler and Reinhard Heydrich combined and longer than the article on Adolf Eichmann. Of all the biographical material in Yad Vashem, only Adolf Hitler’s is greater – by a small margin – than Husseini’s.[1]

Husseini did in fact hate Jews, likely because of how they treated his people, not because of his upbringing, but his efforts to promote a pro-Nazi movement among the Arabs of Palestine were a failure. Nonetheless, the state of Israel’s depiction of him as not only responsible for the holocaust but as the evil embodiment of all Arabs has borne fruit to the point that it has become a rallying cry for the latest generation of Israeli leaders.

[1] “HOLOCAUST ABUSE, The Case of Hajj Muhammad Amin al-Husayni,” by Michael A. Sells. JRE 43.4:723–759. © 2015 Journal of Religious Ethics, Inc.

 

9 thoughts on “PERPETUATING DISTRUST AND CONFLICT: ISRAEL’S USE OF CHARACTER ASSASSINATION

  1. Rich, as usual a wonderfully written important point of history that must be told. When my brother (who disowned me because I support justice for Palestine) answered my question to him “Why should the Palestinian people pay for the sins of the Nazis?” his answer was “The Grand Mufti was a Nazi”. This is an example of how Zionism distorts information. I told him the Grand Mufti wasn’t elected, (but appointed by the Brits) didn’t represent the average Palestinian, and that wasn’t a sufficient answer. He just hung up. That’s all he had. No other reason. Sad.

    • Thank you Kathy. Yes, your brother, like so many others who cannot face themselves for their support of gross inhumanity, will always find justifications for that support, no matter how untrue, no matter how unfair.

  2. When I first read Netanyahu’s allegation re Al -Housseini, I was surprised, but not really. Every time I think Israel can not stoop any lower in their assassination against Palestinians by word and deed, I am proven wrong.

    When, where and how will this end is the question.

    First, *If Americans Knew*… as I did nearly 10 years ago. and we no longer aided and abetted Israel to the tune of billions of dollars of yearly foreign aid. Secondly, if the American press were suddenly to develop a crisis of conscience and start telling the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth and lastly if the world-wide BDS campaign were to break the stranglehold of Israel on Palestinians. BDS, however, will work even if Israel and the American press don’t change their stripes. It worked for black South Africans.

    In my opinion, a crisis of conscience is ultimately lacking. I still have hope that we as world-wide citizenry will come together in its acknowledgement. Truth rather than lies and half-truths. Victory over our lowest common denominator as People of the Lie. Liberty and Justice rather than gold and bullets.

    I find it a great irony: *The Righteous Jew * appearing in every area except Israel and Palestine. In his/her paradigm, the *other* is no less than themselves and is to be treated as a guest and not an enemy, especially in one’s own house on one’s own land….which of course, is the dispute.

    Whose land is it anyway? That’s always been the colonialist lie–stealing from the indigenous people and then magnanimously giving it away.

    • Anna, I agree with your comments. I would add, though, that the organizations that are involved in the fight for Palestinian rights need to become more inclusive and less narrow-minded. Their lack of interest in the deepest roots of the problem and their excluding so many voices that are not just like theirs, even if those voices embrace their views, are counterproductive. By not respecting or accepting the validity of these voices, these organizations have alienated a great many people who would otherwise be more involved in the Israel-Palestine issue. The taboo against knowing oneself affects all sides of the issue. Since knowing oneself is the most peaceful approach or condition one could manifest obstructing its manifestation obstructs a fair resolution to this issue.

      • Exactly, Richard. It was with great disbelief and sadness that I saw the Jewish Voice for Peace breaking ranks with If Americans Knew and Code Pink (?).

        In my opinion, this is no more, no less than an unrecognized and unofficial (?) method of gatekeeping. Who cares where Allison made her case, especially since the former KKK organization has now included Jews in their religion of white supremacy
        only.

    • Lynn, I do not know the answer to your question but i would speculate that there are numerous possible reasons, one of which is that the British may have thought Husseini would be more agreeable to British interests.

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