Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sparked public and historical uproar on Tuesday when he claimed that the Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini, was the one who planted the idea of the extermination of European Jewry in Adolf Hitler’s mind. The Nazi ruler, Netanyahu said, had no intention of killing the Jews, but only to expel them before speaking with Husseini.
Haaretz presents the best of its coverage of the controversy.
As to the most basic questions of the facts, Prof. Dina Porat, chief historian of the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial, called Netanyahu’s claims “completely erroneous, on all counts.”
Ofer Aderet explains how the mass murder of Jews in Europe started months before Hitler met the Mufti, and what they really said to each other. He adds more details about the meeting from the official documentation.
Sara Hirschhorn speaks sadly about the death of historical truth and how Israelis and Palestinians are now fighting a war of post-modern political fictions.
Roy Isacowitz says the speech demonstrated Netanyahu's obsessive hatred of the Palestinians, and he has lost his grip on reality: "Netanyahu is an existential danger to Israel."
Odeh Bisharat said Netanyahu’s attempt to place the mufti at the center of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict shows just how bankrupt the extremists in Israel have become, and called it a declaration of war on the Palestinian people.
Yossi Verter takes Netanyahu to task for his war on facts, saying "serving a fleeting political interest was worth the price of minimizing Adolf Hitler's determination to destroy Europe's Jews."
"Netanyahu Is cheapening the memory of the Holocaust," wrote Haaretz in an editorial, calling his statements not just wrong, but also ineffective propaganda.
The debate also turned political when the opposition weighed in, with Labor chairman Isaac Herzog saying Netanyahu played into the hands of Holocaust deniers: "A historian's son must be accurate about history."
Finally, Netanyahu responded to his critics, saying he didn't mean to diminish from Hitler's responsibility for the Holocaust. "He is responsible for the Final Solution, and he made the decision."