Sunday, September 7, 2008

The Arab Rebellion I.-part

On 19 April 1936 the Arab rebellion broke out in Palestine, by the murders of nine Jews in Jaffa. Soon the rebellion had spread across the country, openly and officially led by the Mufti and his Arab Higher Committee, founded a week after the rebellion had started. The Committee, presided by the Mufti, proclaimed a general Arab strike. Jewish colonies, kibbutzim and quarters in towns, became the targets for continuous Arab sniping, bombing and terrorist activities. The British played right into his hands by removing the leaders of his rivalling clan, the Nashashibis, from influental positions. The Mufti now reigned supreme in Palestine.

It did not take long until the Mufti had transformed small bands of thugs into a full-time and well-equipped guerrilla army. For months the Mufti ruled Palestine except for the Jewish colonies and the British patrol stations. No one was secure and

everyone was in the grip of the Mufti terror. The police were powerless. In the Arab villages, the police were Arabs. It was as much as their lives were worth taking action against the terrorists. And so the Mufti's
army was raised, equipped and maintained. Gunrunning across the Transjordan and Syrian frontiers kept the rebels supplied with the latest types of German and Italian weapons. When food was scarce, the rebels simply billeted themselves on a village, requisitioned food, cattle, grain, clothing... The Christian Arabs, a minority among the Arab population came in for a particularly bad time. In addition to having funds extorted from them at the pistol point...they... were forced to discard their traditional headgear, the tarbush, in favour of the
Kefieh... But tradition was so strong that they were somehow being forced to change their religion... The terror bands were also augmented by mercenaries from Syria.

The rebellion proved to be very expensive for Palestine and her inhabitants. In just a few months the cost amounted to several million pounds, plus a high number of casualties. Palestine was in chaos and only the Mufti knew what was happening. In 1936 only 5,000 of the Mufti's rebels were under arms. In 1938 the Mufti’s army had grown to 15,000, besides a large number of terrorists.
[2] The striking fact is that only half their number were Palestinians. The others came from Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Transjordan[3] and Egypt.[4]

Their victims were as much rivalling Arabs as Jews. In 1938, his bands killed 297 Jews and left 427 wounded. Still, the correspondent of the New York Times once noted that "more than 90 per cent of the total casualties in the past few days have been inflicted by Arab terrorists on Arabs."[5] This was the Mufti 's way of sending regards to all the opposition parties. The total number of casualties, 494 Arabs and 547 Jews killed by the hands of the Mufti's guerrillas are shocking and a clear evidence of the rebellion’s brutality.[6]


[1] Waters: Mufti Over the Middle East, 14-15. Schechtman: The Mufti, 47.
[2] Schechtman: The Mufti, 49-54.
[3] Bowden: The Politics, 157.
[4] Discussed frequently in Gershoni's article, see bibliography.
[5] Schechtman: The Mufti, 73-74.
[6] Bowden: The Politics, 147.

Friday, August 22, 2008

The Mufti's Early Connections With Germany

Early connections with Germany

Since the First World War the British, the French and even the Italians had become an object of a growing distrust and hatred in the Middle East. They all had colonised some parts of the late Ottoman Empire and aroused Muslim distrust of the Western culture they tried to introduce. However, Germany had remained a mere observer. Germany's fervent nationalism, anti­semitism and anti‑Versailles sentiments did not escape the attention of the Muslim Middle East. The Mufti was no exception.

And the Mufti had plans to keep the Palestine pot boiling — with
the help of Adolf Hitler. The Führer despised the Jews for economic and
ideolog­ical terms; the Mufti for political and social reasons. Hitler
wanted to weaken Britain's imperial system; Haj Amin to oust her out the Middle
East. The two men had a good deal in common.

In March 1933 the Mufti sent a telegram to Berlin, in which he sent greetings to the Nazi regime and said he looked forward to spreading their ideology in the Middle East, especially in Palestine.
[2] A month later, he secretly met Wolff, the German Consul-General, near the Dead Sea and expressed his approval of the anti‑Jewish boycott in Germany and asked him not to send any Jews to Palestine.[3] Later that year, the Mufti’s assistants approached Wolff, seeking his help in establishing a National Socialist Arab party in Palestine. Both Wolff and his superiors disapproved, but the German refusal could hardly have been a surprise. Firstly, Germany's Palestinian policy was then to keep the country open for further immigration of German Jews besides they did not want to get involved in the British sphere of influence. Also, both Wolff and his superiors were following a pro-Zionist policy because the need for further Jewish immigration, made known in the Ha'avara. Secondly, the membership of the NSDAP, the Nazi party, was restricted to German speaking “Aryans” only.[4]

The policy of the Nazi party was then to make Germany juden­rein, free of Jews. The only country which could possibly absorb a larger number of Jews was Palestine. The Nazi leaders realised that it was in their interest to keep on sending the Jews to Palestine, despite the Mufti's protests. Nevertheless, the German Palestinian policy was unstable and depended heavily upon Hitler's day-to-day decisions. However, one thing remained certain: Germany did not want a Jewish National Home in Palestine, or elsewhere, let alone a Jewish State. When the Mufti finally realised that his pleas for support from Germany would not be successful he turned to Italy and in 1934 he received his first payment from there.[5] His interest in Germany, however, was not to be severed, despite Hitler's official lack of interest for the time being. However, the Führer's Palestinian policy was not to remain pro-Zionist much longer.


[1] Kurzman: Genesis, 32.
[2] Yisraeli: The Third Reich, 350, 353.
[3] Nicosia: The Third Reich and Palestine, 85, 86.
[4] ibid, 89, 90.
[5] Brenner: Zionism, 91.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Muftism and Nazism: Introduction

Unfortunately I posted the 1st chapter earlier


During the Second World War millions of soldiers and civilians lost their lives, including around 6,000,000 Jewish men, women and children; who were shot, gassed and put to death through slave labour, hunger and medical experiments.

After the War, however, the Western Powers decided to atone for their previous neglect and organised the greatest war‑crime trials ever to be staged and hunted down the surviving Nazi leaders. The trials took place in Nuremberg, ironically, where the Nazis had published their first radical anti-Jewish laws. However, among the victims of the Holocaust themselves, the Jews, there was little enthusiasm for mass trials: those who where responsible for the Holocaust should bring to justice and the others be granted freedom. In order to participate to some extent in the trials, the leaders of American Jewry formed committ­ees and came up with just a single name to add to the Allies’ list of war criminals. The accused one was Haj Mohammed Amin al‑Husseini, the Mufti of Jerusalem and the former President of the Supreme Muslim Council.

During the last weeks of the War the Mufti escaped from Germany, where he was living from 1941 onwards, to Switzerland. The Swiss authorities denied him a political asylum, because he was one of 32 persons whose name appeared on the country’s persona non grata list.[1] The neutral Switzerland considered him one of the 32 individuals who could not be granted asylum, very likely along with men as Hitler, Himmler and other Nazi leaders. Thus he returned to Germany and was captured by the French army. Since the French, as well as the British, did not want to stir up trouble in the Middle East, they turned a blind eye to his "escape" to a safe haven at the king's palace in Egypt. That stopped the pleas from the Jews, the Yugoslavs, the Soviets and some other countries to charge him for war crimes before the Nuremberg court.

Ever since, the accusations against the Mufti have been a subject of emotional debates. Many argue that he was guilty of war crimes, but others, especially Arabs, have tried to justify his statements and actions and, even in the face of concrete facts, declare his complete innocence. The question is, was he guilty of war crimes? Did he participate in Hitler's Final Solution, and if so, to what extent did he collaborate with Germany? Philip Mattar explained that no

period in the Mufti’s life is more controversial and subject to distortion than the years of World War II. Zionists were so eager to prove him guilty of collaboration and war crimes that they exaggerated his connection with the Nazis. The Mufti and other Arabs, on the other hand, were so busy justifying his statements and actions in the Axis countries that they ignored the obvious and overwhelming fact that the Mufti had cooperated with the
most barbaric regime in modern times

The main question is then, who was stepping over the line, those who “exaggerated” or the ones who “ignored facts”. Since Mattar, the Mufti's apologist, admits that the documents reveal that the Mufti collaborated with Germany, and totally denies the Arabic justifying measures, there must be more to the former argument. The Mufti surely was a Nazi collaborator, but to what extent did the participate in the Jewish Holocaust?

[1]Elpeleg: The Grand Mufti, 74.
[2] Mattar: The Mufti, 99.