Hajj Amin el-Husseini’s Animating Ideology: Nazism, 'Nazified Islam,' -- or Islam?
During his October 6, 2013 speech at Bar Ilan University, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu alluded to the ex-Mufti of Jerusalem, Hajj Amin el-Husseini. Mr. Netanyahu characterized el-Husseini as, “the undisputed leader of the Palestinian national movement in the first half of the 20th century.” The Prime Minister highlighted the ex-Muft’s role in fomenting pogroms (dating back, in fact, to the so-called “Nabi Musa” riots of 1920) during the decades between the Balfour Declaration, and the eventual creation of the State of Israel in 1948.
Netanyahu’s address also focused on el-Husseini’s World War II era collaboration with the Nazis, the clear implication being that the Mufti’s murderous, Jew-hating ideology was simply another manifestation of Nazi evil, transplanted to a local “nationalistic struggle” in the Middle East. I have just published an extensive analysis (available as a downloadable pdf of 51 pp., and 120 references, embedded at the end of this blog) entitled, “A Salient Example of Hajj Amin el-Husseini’s Canonical Islamic Jew-Hatred—Introduction, Text, and Commentary” which demonstrates that Netanyahu’s rehashing of such conventional, pseudo-academic “wisdom,” does not withstand any serious, objective scrutiny.
On June 30, 1922, a joint resolution of both Houses of Congress of the United States unanimously endorsed the “Mandate for Palestine,” confirming the irrevocable right of Jews to settle in the area of Palestine—anywhere between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. The Congressional record contains a statement of support from New York Rep. Walter Chandler which includes an observation, about “Turkish and Arab agitators . . . preaching a kind of holy war [jihad] against . . . the Jews” of Palestine. During this same era within Palestine, a strong Arab Muslim irredentist current—epitomized by Hajj Amin el-Husseini—promulgated the forcible restoration of sharia-mandated dhimmitude for Jews via jihad. Indeed, two years before he orchestrated the murderous anti-Jewish riots of 1920, that is, in 1918, Hajj Amin el-Husseini stated plainly to a Jewish coworker (at the Jerusalem Governorate), I. A. Abbady, “This was and will remain an Arab land . . . the Zionists will be massacred to the last man. . . . Nothing but the sword will decide the future of this country.”
Despite his role in fomenting the1920 pogroms against Palestinian Jews, el-Husseini was pardoned and subsequently appointed mufti of Jerusalem by the British high commissioner, in May 1921, a title he retained, following the Ottoman practice, for the remainder of his life. Throughout his public career, the mufti relied upon traditional Koranic anti-Jewish motifs to arouse the Arab street. For example, during the incitement which led to the 1929 Arab revolt in Palestine, he called for combating and slaughtering “the Jews.” not merely Zionists. In fact, most of the Jewish victims of the 1929 Arab revolt were Jews from the centuries-old dhimmi communities (for example, in Hebron), as opposed to recent settlers identified with the Zionist movement.
The mufti remained unrelenting in his espousal of a virulent, canonical Islamic Jew-hatred as the focal tenet of his ideology, before, during, and in the aftermath of World War II, and the creation of the State of Israel. He was also a committed supporter of global jihad movements, urging a “full struggle” against the Hindus of India (as well as the Jews of Israel) before delegates at the February 1951 World Muslim Congress: “We shall meet next with sword in hand on the soil of either Kashmir or Palestine.” Declassified intelligence documents from 1942, 1947, 1952, and 1954 confirm the mufti’s own Caliphate desires in repeated references from contexts as diverse as Turkey, Egypt, Jerusalem, and Pakistan, and also include discussions of major Islamic conferences dominated by the mufti, which were attended by a broad spectrum of Muslim leaders literally representing the entire Islamic world (including Shia leaders from Iran), that is, in Karachi from February 16–19, 1952, and Jordanian-occupied Jerusalem, December 3–9, 1953. Viewed in their totality these data do not support the current standard assessment of the mufti as merely a Palestinian Arab nationalist, rife with a “transplanted” Jew-hatred.
There is another parallel negationist trend, which is widely prevalent: the claim that el-Husseini’s canonical Islamic Jew-hatred somehow represented a suis generis “Nazification” of Islam, which has “persisted” into our era. Paul Berman articulated an unabashed formulation of this broadly held thesis, proclaiming, that abetted by the Nazis, el-Husseini “monstrously,” and “infernally,” “blurred Islam and Nazism,” achieving
A victory of Himmler’s Islam…A victory for the Islam of fanaticism and hatred over its arch-rival, the Islam of generosity and civilization.17
During 1938, a booklet Muhammad Sabri edited, Islam, Judentum, Bolschewismus (Islam, Jewry, Bolshevism), was published in Berlin by Junker-Duennhaupt [Dünnhaupt]. Sabri’s booklet included Hajj Amin el-Husseini’s 1937 declaration—also deemed by some as a “fatwa” (an Islamic religious ruling)—appealing to the worldwide Muslim umma. El-Husseini’s declaration was extracted and reprinted, separately, by the Nazi regime as Islam und Judentum (Islam and Jewry), and distributed to Muslim SS units in Bosnia, Croatia, and the Soviet Union.
As best as I can determine, the first complete, annotated translation of this pamphlet, directly from the German, was provided in my essay. Moreover, no scholar had ever identified, let alone comprehensively explicated, the antisemitic Islamic motifs which punctuate el-Husseini’s pronouncement, from beginning to end. Accordingly, the translation was followed by a detailed commentary which addressed this critical (and frankly, self-fulfilling) lacuna in the scholarship on el-Husseini’s Jew-hatred: identifying and analyzing its traditionalist Islamic origins.
What follows is the crux of my analysis, but to fully understand its arguments requires a careful reading of all the evidence adduced in the original essay.