Did the former Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin Al Husseini, play a major role in the Holocaust, as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recently claimed in a speech?

Netanyahu, himself the son of a prominent historian, claimed in a recent speech that the wartime Grand Mufti of Jerusalem gave Hitler the idea of executing Jews, saying the best way to deal with Jews was to “burn them.”

However, German Chancellor Angela Merkel took issue with the Israeli leader, saying that Germany bears the responsibility for the Holocaust.

Palestinians are rushing to condemn Netanyahu for linking them with the Holocaust via Husseini. Subsequently, Netanyahu has distanced himself from his statements, saying he “had no intention to absolve Hitler of responsibility for his diabolical destruction of European Jewry. Hitler was responsible for the final solution to exterminate six million Jews. He made the decision.”

But, Netanyahu continued to insist, “It is equally absurd to ignore the role played by the mufti, a war criminal, for encouraging and urging Hitler, Ribbentrop, Himmler and others to exterminate European Jewry.”

Here is an important op-ed article based upon a scholarly address to the Knesset a couple of years ago: Legacy of the Mufti and Hitler: The facts

There is little doubt that Haj Amin Al Husseini encouraged genocide during the Holocaust, according to an article at aish.com: “During the Nuremberg Trials that followed World War II, Dieter Wisliceny, a deputy of Adolph Eichmann, described the Mufti as one of Eichmann’s closest confidants: “The Mufti was one of the initiators of the systematic extermination of European Jewry…and had been the permanent collaborator and advisor of Eichmann and Himmler in the execution of the plan. According to my opinion, the Grand Mufti, who had been in Berlin since 1941, played a role in the decision of the German government to exterminate the European Jews. He had repeatedly suggested to the various authorities…the extermination of European Jewry. He was one of Eichmann’s best friends and had constantly incited him to accelerate the extermination measures.” When Eichmann was captured and tried in Israel in 1961, Golda Meir called for Al Husseini to be tried, as well.

Although the Mufti was hardly the first to call for killing Europe’s Jews – mobile killing units had already murdered close to a million Jews by the time the Eichmann met the Mufti – Al Husseini was at the very least an enthusiastic supporter, and possibly a collaborator in wiping out Jews.

During the war, Al Husseini spent a lot of time in Berlin and was photographed with Hitler and often dined with Hitler’s henchman Heinrich Himmler. Hitler gave Husseini a staff of sixty to run an Arabic-language radio service from Berlin and to foment anti-Jewish sentiment in the Middle East. The Mufti exhorted on the air, “Jews live…as parasites among the peoples, suck their blood, steal their property, pervert their morals.” The Mufti also helped raise a dedicated Muslim Division of the Waffen SS in Yugoslavia.

According to aish.com, “Inspired by the Holocaust, it seems Al Husseini hoped to emulate the systematic murder of Europe’s Jews in the Middle East. Envisioning huge crematoria for Jews in the Dotan Valley near Nablus, Al Husseini confided his plans to burn the bodies of Jews from the Land of Israel, Iraq, Egypt, Yemen, Syria, Lebanon and North Africa in them.” (http://jcpa.org/al-aksa-libel-advocate-mufti-haj-amin-al-husseini/#sthash.nYRtkqCg.dpuf)

The defeat of Nazi Germany put an end to the Mufti’s plans. Arrested by the French after the war, Al Husseini was allowed to escape, and made his way to Egypt, where he remained influential and an outspoken anti-Semite until his death in 1974.

Al Husseini influenced the nascent Arab League to put a clause in its charter that its purpose was to destroy the “Zionist entity” and to declare war against the nascent Jewish state. The Mufti was mentor and father figure to the young Arafat during Arafat’s childhood in Egypt. In helping to shape Arab policy, in mentoring Arafat, in spreading slanders about Jews that persist to this day, Al Husseini is considered to be the “godfather of the PLO” and continues to be a force for hatred and ill-will in the Mideast.