Noted scholar of Near Eastern Studies, Bernard Lewis, argued that the rage against Israel has been disproportionate in relation to any other catastrophe (nakbah) or injustices facing the Muslim world. This synopsis was in contrast to those atrocities committed by Muslim hands, as in the recent genocide in Darfur. It was also exemplified in the relatively downplayed Soviet invasion and occupation of Afghanistan which never resonated with the sort of rhetoric matching that against Israel and often a broader Jewish ...
Noted scholar of Near Eastern Studies, Bernard Lewis, argued that the rage against Israel has been disproportionate in relation to any other catastrophe (nakbah) or injustices facing the Muslim world. This synopsis was in contrast to those atrocities committed by Muslim hands, as in the recent genocide in Darfur. It was also exemplified in the relatively downplayed Soviet invasion and occupation of Afghanistan which never resonated with the sort of rhetoric matching that against Israel and often a broader Jewish enemy. More comparable to the situation with Palestinian refugees, the displacement of 100,000 Sahrawi refugees by Morocco is virtually unknown to much of the Muslim world and is regarded as a political spat between Algeria and Morocco (formerly between Mauritania as well). Cries of “collective punishment” and forced disappearances of political dissidents are written off as “treason” and the rhetoric of the Frente Polisario which Morocco regards as terrorists.
The Muslim world, in its fixation of Zionism, has similarly ignored the far greater violence during the Hama massacre of up to 39,000 civilians in Syria (1982), the Algerian civil war (1992–98) which yielded a death toll of 150,000 and 200,000 innocents, and more well known to the West, the war between Iran and Iraq (1980–88). It would sweep under the rug the long history of Islamicate oppression of the Jewish people under the Abbasids, who responded to Isfahani assertions of Jewish independence movements with military force. It would do the same with the forced conversions and accompanying violence and murder of the Al-Mohades in Andalusia. Also, the tarnished record of the Shi`ah Fatimids in North Africa, the Zaydi “Fivers” in Yemen, and later the Alladad era legislation designed to humiliate and oppress Persian Jews, finally culminating in the Meshad massacre (1839). This, of course, is to say nothing of early massacres against Jewish natives and immigrants alike in Ottoman Palestine. On one hand we have a historically rocky relationship between Jews and Arabs since the birth of the Dynastic Caliphate system and the trademarking of “Islam” as a separate religious identity. On the other hand – which will be the focus of this paper – we see the birth of new hybrid form of Salafi- Wahhabism that was grafted onto the previously secular Arab nationalism.
The man who grafted these previously conflicting ideologies was Rashid Rida. The disciple of Salafism’s founder, Muhammad `Abduh, Rida had a number of prominent disciples. One of the most infamous of these was the “Grand” Mufti of Jerusalem, Hajj `Amin Al-Husayni. As we will see, Hajj Amin first rose to power offering compliance with the British Mandate. In an apparent pattern of deceit, which will be detailed in this paper, he quickly emerged as a constant saboteur of peace between Arabs and Jews during the Mandate era. The purpose of this paper is not to biographically sketch the full life of the man who, in his dealings with the Third Reich, was known as der Groẞmufti. It is neither intended to map the better known facets of his life (nor of his uneventful demise). Instead, the purpose here is to highlight aspects that often go completely unreported to both Jews and Muslims alike. As a result of this information vacuum, each is left with the impression of popular Palestinian animosity towards Jews in the Yishuv. The reality was that the Mufti represented an undercurrent emanating from the aforementioned heterodox ideological hybridization.
This paper will thus examine the relationship between Hajj Amin and the Third Reich. It will show how the Mufti’s activities directly turned the general attitude of the Zionists against the Palestinians, ranging from general apathy to cases of outright antipathy.