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.

No comments: