Israel's opposition head and Zionist Union leader Isaac Herzog strongly criticized Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday for the premier's claims that the Grand 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.
"This is a dangerous historical distortion and I demand Netanyahu correct it immediately as it minimizes the Holocaust, Nazism andHitler's part in our people's terrible disaster," Herzog wrote on his Facebook page. He said Netanyahu's statement – which was made Tuesday in a speech before the World Zionist Congress in Jerusalem, plays into the hands of Holocaust deniers.
"A historian's son must be accurate about history," Herzog wrote. "Netanyahu has forgotten that he's not only the prime minister of Israel but the prime minister of the Jewish people's government. The Grand Mufti, added Herzog, "gave the order to kill my grandfather, Rabbi Herzog, and actively supported Hitler."
"But there was only one Hitler," Herzog's post continued. "He's the one who wrote the sickening book "Mein Kampf;" in January 1939, almost three years before the Hitler-al-Husseini meeting, Hitler spoke at the Reichstag and presented the Final Solution."
Zionist Union MK Itzik Shmuli demanded Netanyahu apologize to Holocaust victims. "This is a great shame, a prime minister of the Jewish state at the service of Holocaust-deniers – this is a first," he said. "This isn't the first time Netanyahu distorts historical facts, but a lie of this magnitude is the first."
Meretz leader Zehava Galon also criticized Netanyahu's comments: "This is not a Jörg Haider speech. It's not a part of [Mahmoud] Abbas' doctorate. It's a real quote from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu," she said. "Maybe the 33,771 Jews murdered in Babi Yar in September 1941 – two months before the Mufti and Hitler met - should be exhumed and updated that the Nazis didn't mean to destroy them." Those who can't change the future, she said, "are left with rewriting the past."
Arab Joint List leader Ayman Odeh said Netanyahu "is rewriting history in order to incite against the Palestinian people. The victims of the Nazi monster, among them millions of Jews, have become cheap propaganda in the service of peace rejectionism. Netanyahu proves every day how dangerous he is for both peoples, and how far he's willing to go to cement his rule and justify his disastrous policies."
MK Ahmed Tibi (Joint List) said Netanyahu's comments are an "embarrassing historical lie that legitimizes Hitler and his racist doctrine, which brought about the destruction of Jews."
Erekat: Palestinian fight against Nazis part of our history
Saeb Erekat, chairman of the PLO executive committee, said on Wednesday: "On behalf of the thousands of Palestinians that fought alongside the Allied Troops in defense of international justice, the State of Palestine denounces these morally indefensible and inflammatory statements. Palestinian efforts against the Nazi regime are a deep-rooted part of our history."
It's a sad say, he said, "when the leader of the Israeli government hates his neighbor so much so that he is willing to absolve the most notorious war criminal in history, Adolf Hitler, of the murder of 6 million Jews during the Holocaust. Mr. Netanyahu should stop using this human tragedy to score points for his political end."
In a speech before the World Zionist Congress in Jerusalem, Netanyahu described a meeting between Husseini and Hitler in November, 1941: "Hitler didn't want to exterminate the Jews at the time, he wanted to expel the Jew. And Haj Amin al-Husseini went to Hitler and said, 'If you expel them, they'll all come here (to Palestine).' According to Netanyahu, Hitler then asked: "What should I do with them?" and the mufti replied: "Burn them."
Netanyahu's remarks were quick to spark a social media storm, though Netanyahu made a similar claim during a Knesset speech in 2012, where he described the Husseini as "one of the leading architects" of the final solution.
The claim that Husseini was the one to initiate the extermination of European Jewry had been suggested by a number of historians at the fringes of Holocaust research, but was rejected by most accepted scholars.