Adelson-linked Think Tank Article Preceded Netanyahu’s Hitler-Mufti Claim

New Hampshire philosophy professor wrote in March that in his 1941 meeting with the Nazi leader, the Mufti insisted on the Final Solution.

Haj Amin al-Husseini, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem
Bundesarchiv / Wikimedia Commons

An article written earlier this year by a New Hampshire professor of philosophy for a Jerusalem think tank funded in the past by Sheldon Adelson supplies an ostensibly academic underpinning for the prime minister’s contentious claim that the Palestinian Mufti of Jerusalem Haj Amin al-Husseini persuaded Adolf Hitler to annihilate European Jews.

In an account that is almost identical to the version supplied by Netanyahu in his controversial speech to the World Zionist Congress last week, Professor Joseph Spoerl of St. Anselm University in New Hampshire wrote: “Up until 1941, Hitler had seemed content to drive all the Jews out of Germany and German-occupied lands, often taking hefty ransom payments in the process. But Hajj Amin al-Husseini insisted that Hitler and the Nazis end this method of “solving the Jewish question.” Thus, mass murder became “the final solution.”

The article, “Palestinians, Arabs and the Holocaust” was published in March 2015 by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs (JCPA), a think tank headed by Netanyahu confidante Dore Gold from 15 years until his appointment in June as director general of Israel’s Foreign Ministry. According to an article in the Forward and U.S. tax files on public view, one of the main financers of JCPA in recent years has been Adelson: in 2012 he gave a million dollars to the JCPA through the Baltimore-based Center for Jewish Community Studies, which Gold also headed. According to the Forward, Adelson’s contribution constituted two thirds of JCPA’s annual budget.

Thought he does not cite the “Burn them” quote that Netanyahu ascribed to the Mufti, Spoerl portrays his November 28, 1941 Berlin meeting as the pivotal turning point that led to Hitler’s decision to carry out “The Final Solution”. According to Spoerl’s narrative, after meeting the Mufti, Hitler decided to convene the infamous 1942 Wannsee Conference, in which the mechanism of the Final Solution was discussed. 

Though he cites extensively from other books written by right-leaning historians that purport to prove the Mufti’s close ties to the Nazis, Spoerl does not provide any historical references for this claim, endorsed by Netanyahu, that it was the Mufti who convinced Hitler of the need to annihilate the Jews.

Spoerl heads the Department of Philosophy at the Catholic St. Anselm College, a small but prestigious liberal arts college in Manchester, New Hampshire renowned for its important presidential addresses and forums. Spoerl is a member of the pro-Israel Association for the Study of Middle East and Africa (ASMEA) and writes frequently on issues related to radical Islam. He has also delivered addresses to hawkish, pro-Israeli forums, some of which are on view on YouTube

At press time, Spoerl could not be reached for comment and the Prime Minister’s Office did not return queries on whether the article was read by Netanyahu or served as a historical source for his speech.

Spoerl traces the Mufti’s call to murder Jews to the 1920’s and 30’s, saying that his genocidal ideology developed separately from that of the Nazis. He describes al-Husseini as having single-handedly compelled Hitler in 1941 to stop the emigration of Jews to Palestine and elsewhere. Moving on the Berlin meeting between the two, he writes “Immediately after his meeting with al-Husseini, Hitler ordered Heydrich to organize a conference within ten days to prepare 'the final solution of the Jewish question.' This was to be the infamous Wannsee Conference, which was postponed to January 1942 because of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and Germany’s subsequent declaration of war on the United States.” 

He then cites the book “Nazis, Islamists and the Making of the Modern Middle East”, written by the late Barry Rubin, who was a columnist for the Jewish Press and the Jerusalem Post, and Wolfgang Schwanitz, which claims that the influence of the Mufti and others “also reinforced, made more necessary, and accelerated a policy of genocide in Europe that the Axis’s [Arab] partners intended to spread to the Middle East.”

Spoerl, who has written in the past about the Nazi-based ideology of Hamas and other Palestinian leaders, draws a direct line between the 2014 Gaza War and the 1948 War of Independence. 

“The widespread adoption of Hajj Amin al-Husseini’s anti-Semitic rhetoric by Palestinian, Arab, and Muslim leaders shows another kind of complicity in the Holocaust. When Hamas and Muslim Brotherhood leaders say that Hitler gave the Jews the punishment they deserved, they are vicariously participating in and endorsing the Holocaust.” These Palestinians, he writes, are Hitler’s “soul-mates”.