Achcar on the Mufti of Jerusalem

When in New York recently I saw this book around and was tempted to buy it. I now regret not doing so! But Gilbert Achcar has a piece in Le Monde Diplomatique, highlighting the (mis)use of the sorry affair of the Mutfi of Jerusalem's pro-Nazi leanings by Israelis, usually to tarnish all Palestinians with some kind of responsibility of the Holocaust. I had read about the Mufti's generally terrible politics (on Palestinian as well as Jewish issues) in the 1930s and 1940s in Rachid Khalidi's excellent The Iron Cage so this came as no surprise, but I didn't know the extent to which Israel had exploited him:

But the Zionists claimed the mufti was an official representative of the Palestinians and Arabs and in 1945 demanded (without success) that he be handed over to the international military tribunal at Nuremberg, as if he had been a key part of the Nazi genocide machine. Articles, pamphlets and books were produced to present Husseini as a candidate for prosecution. The mufti served a symbolic purpose, allowing the Zionists to claim that the Palestinians shared responsibility for the genocide, and justify the creation of a “Jewish state” on the territory of their homeland.

This motive became a constant in the propaganda of the state of Israel. It explains the extraordinary importance accorded to the mufti in the Holocaust memorial museum, in Jerusalem. Tom Segev observes that the wall dedicated to al-Husseini gives the impression of a convergence between the Nazis’ genocide plans and Arab hostility towards Israel. Peter Novick points out that the entry on the mufti in the Encyclopedia of the Holocaust, published in association with Yad Vashem (the Holocaust remembrance authority), is much longer than those on Himmler, Goebbels or Eichmann, and only a little shorter than that on Hitler.

That last bit is quite incredible!

On a related note I am currently reading Ian Johnson's A Mosque in Munich, which is about American recuperation of Muslim allies of the Nazis (mostly from dissident Soviets from the republics that are majority Muslim — the Stan countries). It's fascinating so far, although Johnson's grasp of Islamism is weak when he discusses the Egyptian Muslim Brothers. More about that later.

P.S. Achcar also did a podcast for the Diplo.