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MODERN HISTORY OF ISRAEL

THE GRAND MUFTI OF JERUSALEM,
MUHAMMAD AMIN Al-HUSSEINI
'

____________________________________________________________________


(Editors Note:  What would the history of the area have been had he wanted to work with other religions instead of being virulently anti-Jewish and eventually pro-Nazi?)


(1)  APPOINTMENT AS MUFTI OF JERUSALEM

Al-Husseini's appointment as mufti was itself the subject of much controversy. The decision to grant al-Husseini the position was made by Herbert Samuel, the first high commissioner of Palestine. It was odd that Samuel, a British Jew, would appoint a man who would be responsible for so much unrest within the Mandatory area. Al-Husseini in fact had been sentenced to ten years in prison by the British for inciting riots in 1920. None of that sentence was served, as al-Husseini had fled to Transjordan, and was soon after amnestied by Samuel himself.

For his part, al-Husseini had used his influence to quiet additional disturbances in 1921. He assured Samuel that he would continue to maintain order, and it was with this understanding that the high commissioner granted him the position of mufti. In the following year, he was also appointed to lead the Supreme Muslim Council, expanding his already significant powers. Known later as the Grand Mufti, al-Husseini was able to establish himself as the preeminent Arab power in Palestine.

(2) Appointed Mufti of Jerusalem by the British High Commissioner in May 1921, Haj Amin al-Husseini was the founder of the Palestinian Arab movement. He relied upon virulent anti-Jewish incitement to garner popular support. Throughout his public career, the Mufti used traditional Koranic anti-Jewish motifs to arouse the Arab street. For example, during the incitement which led to the 1929 Arab revolt in Palestine, he called for combating and slaughtering "the Jews", not merely Zionists. In fact, most of the Jewish victims of the 1929 Arab revolt were Jews from the centuries old dhimmi communities (e.g., in Hebron), as opposed to recent settlers identified with the Zionist movement.

With the ascent of Nazi Germany in the 1930s, the Mufti and his coterie intensified their anti-Semitic activities to secure support from Hitler's Germany, Bosnian Muslims, and the overall Arab Muslim world, for a jihad to annihilate the Jews of Palestine. Following his expulsion from Palestine by the British, the Mufti organized a brutal anti-Jewish pogrom in Baghdad (1941), concurrent with his failed effort to install a pro-Nazi Iraqi government.

Escaping to Europe after this unsuccessful coup attempt, the Mufti spent the remainder of World War II in Germany and Italy. From this sanctuary, he provided active support for the Germans by recruiting Bosnian Muslims, in addition to Muslim minorities from the Caucasus, for dedicated Nazi SS units. The Mufti's objectives for these recruits, and Muslims in general, were made explicit during his multiple wartime radio broadcasts from Berlin, heard throughout the Arab world: an international campaign of genocide against the Jews.

For example, during his March 1, 1944 broadcast he stated: "Kill the Jews wherever you find them. This pleases God, history, and religion." Haj Amin made an especially important contribution to the German war effort in Yugoslovia where the Bosnian Muslim SS units he recruited (in particular the Handzar Division) brutally suppressed local Nazi resistance movements. The Mufti's pamphlet entitled, "Islam and the Jews", was published by the Nazis in Croatian and German for distribution during the war to these Bosnian Muslim SS units. This hateful propaganda served to incite the slaughter of Jews, and (Serb) Christians as well.

Indeed, the Bosnian Muslim Handzar SS Division was responsible for the destruction of whole Bosnian Jewish and Serbian communities, including the massacre of Jews and Serbs, and the deportation of survivors to Auschwitz for extermination. However, these heinous crimes, for which the Mufti bears direct responsibility, had only a limited impact on the overall destruction of European Jewry when compared with his nefarious wartime campaign to prevent Jewish emigration from Europe to Palestine. Invoking the personal support of such prominent Nazis as Himmler and Eichmann, the Mufti's relentless hectoring of German, Rumanian, and Hungarian government officials caused the cancellation of an estimated 480,000 exit visas which had been granted to Jews (80,000 from Rumania, and 400,000 from Hungary). As a result, these hapless individuals were deported to Nazi concentration camps.

(3)  SUMMARY

Muhammad Amin al-Husayni (189?-1974) was the Mufti (chief Muslim Islamic legal religious authority) of Jerusalem under the political authority of the British Mandate in Palestine from 1921 to 1937. His primary political causes were: 1) establishment of a pan-Arab federation or state; 2) opposition to further immigration of Jews to Palestine and Jewish national aspirations in Palestine; 3) promotion of himself as a pan-Arab and Muslim religious leader.

In exile between 1937 and 1945, al-Husayni, claiming to speak for the Arab nation and the Muslim world, sought an alliance with the Axis powers (Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy) based on their publicly recognizing 1) the independence of the Arab states; 2) the right of those states to form a union reflecting a dominant Muslim and specifically Arab culture; 3) the right of those states to reverse steps taken towards the creation of a Jewish homeland in Palestine; and 4) al-Husayni himself as the spiritual and political representative of this pan-Arab, Muslim entity. In exchange, al-Husayni collaborated with the German and Italian governments by broadcasting pro-Axis, anti-British, and anti-Jewish propaganda via radio to the Arab world; inciting violence against Jews and the British authorities in the Middle East; and recruiting young men of Islamic faith for service in German military, Waffen-SS , and auxiliary units. In turn, the Germans and the Italians used al-Husayni as a tool to inspire support and collaboration among Muslim residents of regions under Axis control and to incite anti-Allied violence and rebellion among Muslims residing beyond the reach of German arms.

Despite his collaboration, the Axis powers were unwilling to promote al-Husayni's political ambitions as he wished. As the Nazi regime collapsed in 1945, French authorities took al-Husayni into custody. He escaped to Egypt in 1946. Al-Husayni devoted the remainder of his life to supporting Palestinian nationalism and to agitating against the State of Israel. He continued to produce and disseminate anti-Zionist, anti-Jewish, and anti-Israel propaganda. He died in Beirut, Lebanon, on July 4, 1974.

(4)  HISTORICAL FILM FOOTAGE   TRANSCRIPT

The Führer meets the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, one of the most influential men of Arab nationalism. The Grand Mufti is the religious leader of the Arabs in Palestine and simultaneously their highest judge and financial manager. Because of his nationalism, the British have persecuted him bitterly and put a price of 25,000 pounds on his head. His adventurous voyage brought him over Italy to Germany.

In this German propaganda newsreel, the former Mufti of Jerusalem, Hajj Amin al-Husayni, an Arab nationalist and prominent Muslim religious leader, meets Hitler for the first time. During the meeting, held in in the Reich chancellery, Hitler declined to grant al-Husayni’s request for a public statement--or a secret but formal treaty--in which Germany would: 1) pledge not to occupy Arab land, 2) recognize Arab striving for independence, and 3) support the “removal” of the proposed Jewish homeland in Palestine. The Führer confirmed that the “struggle against a Jewish homeland in Palestine” would be part of the struggle against the Jews. Hitler stated that: he would “continue the struggle until the complete destruction of Jewish-Communist European empire”; and when the German army was in proximity to the Arab world, Germany would issue “an assurance to the Arab world” that “the hour of liberation was at hand.” It would then be al-Husayni’s “responsibility to unleash the Arab action that he has secretly prepared.” The Führer stated that Germany would not intervene in internal Arab matters and that the only German “goal at that time would be the annihilation of Jewry living in Arab space under the protection of British power.”


(5) Mohammed Amin al-Husseini (Arabic: محمد أمين الحسيني‎; c. 1897 – 4 July 1974) was a Palestinian Arab nationalist and Muslim leader in Mandatory Palestine.

Al-Husseini was the scion of a family of Jerusalemite notables, who trace their origins to the grandson of Muhammad. After receiving an education in Islamic, Ottoman and Catholic schools, he went on to serve in the Ottoman army in World War I. At war's end he stationed himself in Damascus as a supporter of the Arab Kingdom of Syria. Following the fiasco of the Franco-Syrian War and the collapse of the Arab Hashemite rule in Damascus, his early position on pan-Arabism shifted to a form of local nationalism for Palestinian Arabs and he moved back to Jerusalem. From as early as 1920 he actively opposed Zionism, and was implicated as a leader of the 1920 Nebi Musa riots. Al-Husseini was sentenced to ten years' imprisonment but was pardoned by the British. In 1921 the British High Commissioner appointed him Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, a position he used to promote Islam while rallying a non-confessional Arab nationalism against Zionism.

His opposition to the British peaked during the 1936–39 Arab revolt in Palestine. In 1937, evading an arrest warrant, he fled Palestine and took refuge successively in the French Mandate of Lebanon and the Kingdom of Iraq, until he established himself in Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany. During World War II he collaborated with both Italy and Germany by making propagandistic radio broadcasts and by helping the Nazis recruit Bosnian Muslims for the Waffen-SS (on the ground that they shared four principles: family, order, the leader and faith). Also, as he told the recruits, Germany had not colonized any Arab country while Russia and England had. On meeting Adolf Hitler he requested backing for Arab independence and support in opposing the establishment in Palestine of a Jewish national home. At the war's end he came under French protection, and then sought refuge in Cairo to avoid prosecution.

In the lead-up to the 1948 Palestine war, Husseini opposed both the 1947 UN Partition Plan and King Abdullah's designs to annex the Arab part of British Mandatory Palestine to Jordan, and, failing to gain command of the 'Arab rescue army' (jaysh al-inqadh al-'arabi) formed under the aegis of the Arab League, formed his own militia, al-jihad al-muqaddas. In September 1948 he participated in the establishment of an All-Palestine Government. Seated in Egyptian-ruled Gaza, this government won limited recognition by Arab states but was eventually dissolved by Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser in 1959. After the war and subsequent Palestinian exodus, his claims to leadership were wholly discredited and he was eventually sidelined by the Palestine Liberation Organization, losing most of his residual political influence. He died in Beirut, Lebanon in July 1974. Husseini was and remains a highly controversial figure. Historians dispute whether his fierce opposition to Zionism was grounded in nationalism or antisemitism or a combination of both.

(6) Amīn al-Ḥusaynī, also called al-Hajj Amīn or Hajj Amīn (born 1897, Jerusalem, Palestine, Ottoman Empire—died July 4, 1974, Beirut, Lebanon), grand mufti of Jerusalem and Arab nationalist figure who played a major role in Arab resistance to Zionist political ambitions in Palestine and became a strong voice in the Arab nationalist and anti-Zionist movements.

Amīn al-Husaynī, also called al-Hajj Amīn or Hajj Amīn studied in Jerusalem, Cairo, and Istanbul, and in 1910 he was commissioned in the Turkish artillery. In December 1921 the British, who had accepted a mandate for Palestine after World War I (1914–18), named Husaynī grand mufti of Jerusalem and president of the newly created Supreme Muslim Council—the most authoritative religious body in the Palestinian Muslim community.

Husaynī came to dominate the Palestinian Arab movement after a bitter clash with other nationalist elements, notably the Nashāshībī family, over personal rather than ideological differences. During most of the period of the British mandate, disagreement between these groups seriously weakened the effectiveness of Arab efforts. In 1936 they achieved a measure of unity when all the Palestinian groups joined to create a permanent executive organ known as the Arab Higher Committee, under Husaynī’s chairmanship. The committee demanded a cessation of Jewish immigration and a prohibition of land transfers from Arabs to Jews. A general strike developed into a rebellion against British authority. The British removed Husaynī from the council presidency and declared the committee illegal in Palestine. In October 1937 he fled to Lebanon, where he reconstituted the committee under his domination. Ḥusaynī retained the allegiance of most Palestinian Arabs, using his power to punish the Nashāshībīs.

The rebellion forced Britain to make substantial concessions to Arab demands in 1939. The British abandoned the idea of establishing Palestine as a Jewish state, and, while Jewish immigration was to continue for another five years, it was thereafter to depend on Arab consent. Husaynī, however, felt that the concessions did not go far enough, and he repudiated the new policy.

Husaynī spent most of World War II (1939–45) in Germany, where he issued broadcasts urging revolt in the Arab world and endeavoured to halt Jewish emigration to Palestine from countries occupied by the Nazis. At the war’s end he fled to Egypt, where he directed an increasingly weak and fragmented Arab Higher Committee from exile.

REFERENCES

(1)  The Jewish Virtual Library

(2)  Forward  Nov 7 2011

(3)  United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

(4)  United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

(5)   Wikipedia

(6)   Encyclopedia Britannica

LINKS

Hajj Amin al-Husayni: Arab Nationalist and Muslim Leader   United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

Hajj Amin al-Husayni: Wartime Propagandist  United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

Hajj Amin al-Husayni: Timeline, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

Egypt in Turmoil, 2013

Tell Children the Truth    Photos and documents during al-Husayni’s life

Hitler’s Mufti: The Dark Legacy of Haj Amin al-Husseini,al  Ronald J. Rychalk, Crisis Magazine December 1, 2005


Videos of his links
to the Nazis

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