The Slatest

Netanyahu Blames Holocaust on Muslim Cleric; Germany Clarifies That It Committed the Holocaust

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the 37th Zionist Congress in Jerusalem on Tuesday.

Photo by Menahem Kahana/AFP/Getty

This is bizarre: Benjamin Netanyahu, in a Tuesday speech, made the historically erroneous accusation that Hitler got the idea to kill Jews from a Muslim cleric named Haj Amin al-Husseini in 1941. From the Times of Israel:

During an address Tuesday to delegates at the World Zionist Congress in Jerusalem, Netanyahu posited that the Nazi fuehrer did not initially intend to annihilate the Jews, but rather sought to expel them from Europe. According to the prime minister’s version of the events, Hitler changed his mind after meeting with Muslim leader Husseini—who was grand mufti of Jerusalem from 1921 to 1948, and president of the Supreme Muslim Council from 1922 to 1937—in Berlin near the end of 1941.


However, as the Times writes, “An overwhelming majority of Holocaust historians reject the notion that Husseini planted the idea of a ‘Final Solution’ for Europe’s Jews in Hitler’s mind.” Hundreds of thousands of Jews had already been massacred by the Nazis and other fascist collaborators by the time the two met on Nov. 28, 1941; a systematic mass-murder operation began at Chelmno in Poland on Dec. 8, while a systematic “euthanasia” program (not specifically targeted towards Jews, but whose methods were later applied to death camps) had been operating since 1939.


Netanyahu’s remarks come in the context of repeated stabbing attacks against Israelis that were initiated by a conflict involving the Temple Mount and al-Aqsa Mosque site; as the Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg wrote earlier this week, Haj Amin al-Husseini instigated deadly anti-Semitic violence in the late 1920s after alleged Jewish provocations involving the Temple Mount.

Germany has stepped in to clarify that it, not a Muslim cleric, was responsible for the Holocaust. From Reuters:

“All Germans know the history of the murderous race mania of the Nazis that led to the break with civilisation that was the Holocaust,” Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman Steffen Seibert said when asked about Benjamin Netanyahu’s remarks.

“This is taught in German schools for good reason, it must never be forgotten. And I see no reason to change our view of history in any way. We know that responsibility for this crime against humanity is German and very much our own.”

Netanyahu has since said that his remarks involved “no intention to absolve Hitler of responsibility for his diabolical destruction of European Jewry.”