Mohammad Amin al-Husayni

Infobox Politician (general)
name = Mohammad Amin al-Husayni

title= Grand Mufti of Jerusalem
predecessor=Kamil al-Husayni
successor=Husam Al-din Jarallah
title2=President of Supreme Muslim Council
term_end2= 1937
birth_date = 1895
birth_place = Jerusalem, Ottoman Palestine
residence =
death_date = death date|1974|7|4|df=y
death_place = Beirut, Lebanon
office =
party = Arab Higher Committee
religion = Sunni Islam
spouse =

Mohammad Amin al-Husayni ( _ar. محمد أمين الحسيني, properly transliterated al-Husseini ['Husseini is the French transliteration preferred by the family itself, from the time when French was the dominant Western language taught in the Ottoman empire. See Henry Laurens, "La Question de Palestine:L'invention de la Terre sainte", Fayard, Paris 1999 p.19] , 1895/1897 - July 4, 1974), a member of the al-Husayni clan of Jerusalem, was a Palestinian Arab nationalist and a Muslim leader in the British Mandate of Palestine. From 1921 to 1948, he was the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, and played a key role in resistance to Zionism.

As early as 1920, he was active in both opposing the British in order to secure the independence of Palestine as an Arab State and opposing Jewish immigration and the establishment of their National home in Palestine. His oppositional role peaked during the 1936-1939 Arab revolt in Palestine. In 1937, wanted by the British, he fled Palestine and took refuge successively in Lebanon, Iraq, Italy and finally Nazi Germany where he met Adolf Hitler in 1941. He asked Germany to oppose, as part of the Arab struggle for independence, the establishment of a Jewish national home in Palestine. During the 1948 Palestine War he represented the Arab Higher Committee and opposed both to the 1947 UN Partition Plan and to King Abdullah's ambitions for expanding Jordan by capturing Palestinian territory.

After the 1948 Palestine War and Palestinian exodus, his claims to leadership were devastated and, quickly sidelined successively by the Arab Nationalist Movement and the Palestine Liberation Organization, he lost most of his remaining political influence. ['The leadership of al-Hajj Amin al-Husayni and the Arab Higher Committee, which had dominated Palestinian political scene since the 1920s, was devastated by the disaster of 1948 and discredited by its failure to prevent it. The socio-economic base underlying the political power of traditional Palestinian notables was severely disrupted.' Rex Brynen, "Sanctuary and Survival: The PLO in Lebanon," Westview Press, Boulder, 1990 ch.2.] Al-Husayni died in Beirut, Lebanon in 1974.

Historians debate to what extent his fierce opposition to Zionism was grounded in nationalism or antisemitism or a combination of both.

Early life

Amin al-Husayni was born either in 1895 [Philip Matter explains there is a controversy about his birth date that is due to the transcription from the Islamic calendar and concludes he was born in 1895 and not in 1893.] or, more probably, in 1897 [Henry Laurens, "La Question de Palestine", Fayard, Paris, vol.2, 2002 p.624 n.5, explaining that al-Husayni had obvious reasons for passing himself off as older than he was. In the 1st volume of his trilogy (1999 p.425) Laurens had used Mattar's dating] in Jerusalem, the son of the then mufti of that city and prominent early opponent of Zionism, Tahir al-Husayni.Sachar (2006), p. 170] Mattar (1988), p.6] Pappé (1994)p.2] The al-Husayni clan consisted of wealthy landowners in southern Palestine, centred around the district of Judea. Thirteen members of the clan had been Mayors of Jerusalem between 1864 and 1920. Another member of the clan and Amin's half-brother [Henry Laurens, "La Question de Palestine", Fayard, Paris, vol.1 1999 p.425] , Kamil al-Husayni, also served as Mufti of Jerusalem. In Jerusalem Amin al-Husayni attended an islamic school, learnt Turkish at a government school, and studied French successively with French Catholic missionaries and at the Alliance israélite universelle with its anti-Zionist Jewish director Albert Antébi [Henry Laurens, "La Question de Palestine", Fayard, Pasris, 1999 vol.1 p.425-6, vol.2, Fayard, Paris 2002 p.467. Antébi considered al-Husayni his pupil, and refers to him in a letter for which see Elizabeth Antébi,"L’homme du Sérail", NiL, Paris, 1996 p.563] . He then went to Al-Azhar University in Cairo,, where he studied Islamic law under Rashid Rida for about one year, without completing his course. In 1913 at the age of 18, al-Husayni went to Mecca and received the honorary title of Hajj. Prior to World War I, he studied at the School of Administration in Istanbul.

World War I

With the outbreak of World War I in 1914, al-Husayni first joined the Ottoman Turkish army, receiving a commission as an artillery officer and being assigned to the Forty-Seventh Brigade stationed in and around the predominantly Greek Christian city of Smyrna. In November 1916 he left the Ottoman army on a three month disability leave and returned to Jerusalem. The British and Sherifian armies conquered Ottoman-controlled Palestine and Syria in 1918 with Arab Palestinian recruits also taking part in the offensive against the Turks, [Henry Laurens, "La Question de Palestine", Fayard, Paris, 1997 vol.1 p.409] , alongside Jewish troops. As a Sherifian officer, al-Husayni recruited men to serve in Faisal bin Al Hussein Bin Ali El-Hashemi 's army during the Arab Revolt, a task he undertook while employed by the British military administration in Jerusalem and Damascus. The post-war Palin Report noted that the English recruiting officer, Captain C.D.Brunton, found al-Husayni, with whom he cooperated, very pro-English, and that, via the diffusion of War Office pamphlets dropped from the air promising them peace and prosperity under English rule, 'the recruits (were) being given to understand that they were fighting in a national cause and to liberate their country from the Turks'. [Huneidi "A Broken Trust, Herbert Samuel, Zionism and the Palestinians". 2001 p.35]

Attitude to Balfour Declaration

A year later in 1919 Amin al-Husseini's views were much changed, and he was speaking of British policy with 'surprise and anger'. He repeatedly stated that, had the Arabs left the Turks alone, they would never have done to them what the British had done. The Palin Report said that the Arabs did not fear the native Orthodox Jew who was regarded as inoffensive (indeed, dependent for existence on foreign charity). But they'd noticed that the latest immigrants from Eastern Europe were men of a very different type, 'imbued with all shades of political opinions which have plunged Russia into a welter of anarchy, terrorism and misery during the past few years'. Rightly or wrongly, the Palin report stated, the Arabs 'fear the Jew as a ruler, regarding his race as one of the most intolerant known to history'. Even more, they feared the Jew as an economic competitor and this really inspired 'the profoundest alarm' in the minds of the native, who was now able to note that 'where the Jew became a landed proprietor, the Arab and Christian fellah peasant proprietor was reduced to the position of a wage labourer'." [Palin Report p.184 cited Huneidi p.36.] The Palin report was never published, the newly appointed High Commissioner Sir Herbert Samuel informing the War Office that it was best forgotten. [Caplan, Neil. Palestine Jewry and the Arab Question, 1917-1925. London 1978. p.71. Cited Huneidi p.40.]

Early political activism

After World War I, high expectations were held by Arabs throughout the Middle East for the establishment of national independence, on the basis of assurances they thought had been made in 1915 in the McMahon-Hussein Correspondence. Similar hopes were entertained by the Jews, who had been promised a national homeland in Palestine, with the Balfour Declaration of 1917. In 1919, al-Husayni attended the Pan-Syrian Congress held in Damascus where he supported Emir Faisal for King of Syria. That year al-Husayni founded the pro-British Jerusalem branch of the Syrian-based 'Arab Club' ("El-Nadi al-arabi"), which then vied with the Nashashibi-sponsored 'Literary Club' ("Al-Muntada al-Adabi") for influence over public opinion, and he soon became its President [Isaiah Friedman,"Palestine:A Twice-Promised Land? The British, the Arabs & Zionism, 1915-1920", Transaction Publishers, New Brunswick and London, 2000 vol.1 pp.239-40] [Eliezer Tauber, "The Formation of Modern Iraq and Syria", Routledge, London 1994 pp.79ff.,esp.96ff.] . At the same time he wrote articles for the "Suriyya al-Janubiyya" (Southern Syria). The paper was published in Jerusalem beginning in September 1919 by the lawyer Muhammad Hassan al-Budayri, and edited by Aref al-Aref, both prominent members of al-Nadi al-'Arabi.

During the annual Nabi Musa procession in Jerusalem in April 1920, violent rioting broke out in protest at the Balfour Declaration's implementation. Much damage to Jewish life and property was caused. The Palin Report laid the blame for the explosion of tensions on both sides. Ze'ev Jabotinsky, organiser of Jewish paramilitary defences, received a 15-year sentence. Al-Husayni, then a teacher at the Rashidiya school, near Herod's Gate in East Jerusalem, was charged with inciting the Arab crowds to violence and sentenced to ten years imprisonment "in absentia", since he had already violated his bail by fleeing to Transjordan to avoid arrest.. It was asserted soon after, by both Chaim Weizmann [Henry Laurens, "La Question de Palestine", Fayard, Paris, vol.1, 5061999 p.] and Lieutenant Colonel Richard Meinertzhagen , that al-Husayni had been put up to inciting the riot by Field-marshal Allenby 's Chief of Staff, Colonel Bertie Harry Waters-Taylor, to show the world Arabs would not tolerate a Jewish homeland in Palestine. [Tom Segev, "One Palestine, complete: Jews and Arabs under the British Mandate", Henry Holt & Co., New York, 2001 p. 140] [For a reading which follows closely Meinertzhagen's reading of the events as a British army plot, see Martin Sicker, "Pangs of the Messiah: The Troubled Birth of the Jewish State", Praeger 2000 pp.23ff.] . The rumour was never proven, and Meinertzhagen was dismissed. [Regarding the whole period preceding the riot, marked by conflicting rumours, Laurens writes:'For several months, the intelligence service Zionists organised in 1918 multiplied warnings about plots by Arab activists. These pieces of information never received any confirmation from the British (or French) intelligence service. Later Arab sources show this quite clearly: no one claimed responsibility for any planning (prémeditation) for the events, even several decades afterwards'. Hhenry Laurens, "La Question de Palestine", Fayard, Paris, vol.1, 1999 p.506.]

After the April riots an event took place that turned the traditional rivalry between the Husayni and Nashashibi clans into a serious rift, [Eliezer Tauber, "The Formation of Modern Iraq and Syria", Routledge, London 1994 p.102] with long-term consequences for al-Husayni and Palestinian nationalism. As Sir Louis Bols complained to London, the military administration had received a series of letters from Zionist sources the tone of which were 'peremptory and dictatorial, and such as no Administration could be expected to tolerate.' The extent to which the Zionists 'ultimately carried their autocratic method of dealing with the Administration' was detailed on page 32 of the Palin report: the Mayor of Jerusalem, Musa Kazim Pasha al-Husseini, had been present at the second demonstration in the previous March. It was not exactly known what he did, but 'the Zionists strongly resented his action, with the result that a letter was sent to him directly, signed by Mr David Yellin, head of the Zionist Commission in Palestine, practically dismissing him from his post'. Subsequently al-Husseini was dismissed 'without inquiry by Colonel Storrs, the Military Governor of Jerusalem' which 'had a profound effect on his co-religionists, definitely confirming the conviction they had already formed from other evidence that the Civil Administration was the mere puppet of the Zionist Organization.' [Palin Report, pp. 29-33. Cited Huneidi p.37.] The replacement mayor was Raghib al-Nashashibi of the rival, Nashashibi, clan.

Until late 1921, al-Husayni focused his efforts on Pan-Arabism and the ideology of the Greater Syria in particular, with Palestine understood as a southern province of an Arab state whose capital was to be established in Damascus. Greater Syria was to include territory now occupied by Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Israel. The struggle for Greater Syria collapsed after Britain ceded control over present day Syria and Lebanon to France in July 1920 in accordance with the prior Sykes-Picot Agreement. The French army entered Damascus at that time, overthrew King Faisal and put an end to the project of a Greater Syria.

Al-Husayni, like many of his class and period, then turned from Damascus-oriented Pan-Arabism to a specifically Palestinian ideology centered on Jerusalem, which sought to block Jewish immigration to Palestine. The frustration of pan-Arab aspirations lent an Islamic colour to the struggle for independence, and increasing resort to the idea of restoring the land to Dar al-Islam. [Nicosia, Francis R. [ "Hajj Amin al-Husayni: The Mufti of Jerusalem."] "United States Holocaust Memorial Museum". 20 May 2008. 17 June 2008.] From his election as Mufti until 1923, al-Husayni exercised total control over the secret society, "Al-Fida’iyya" (The Self-Sacrificers), which, together with "al-Ikha’ wal-‘Afaf" (Brotherhood and Purity), played an important role in clandestine anti-British and anti-Zionist activities, and, via members in the gendarmerie, had engaged in riotous activities as early as April 1920. [Eliezer Tauber, "The Formation of Modern Iraq and Syria", Routledge, London 1994 pp.105-109]

Mufti of Jerusalem

Following the death of Amin's half-brother, the mufti Kamil al-Husayni in March 1921, the British High Commissioner Herbert Samuel pardoned al-Husayni. He and another Arab had been excluded from the general amnesty, six weeks earlier, because they had fled before their convictions had been passed down. Elections were then held, and of the four candidates running for the office of Mufti, al-Husayni received the least number of votes, the first three being Nashashibi candidates. Nevertheless, Samuel was anxious to keep a balance between the al-Husaynis and their rival clan the Nashashibis, [See, the rivalry Benny Morris, "Righteous Victims,"pp.111ff.] . A year earlier the British had replaced Musa al-Husayni as Mayor of Jerusalem with Ragheb al-Nashashibi. They then moved to secure for the Husayni clan a compensatory function of prestige by appointing one of them to the position of mufti, prevailing upon the Nashashibi front-runner, Sheikh Hussam ad-Din Jarallah, to withdraw. This automatically promoted Amin al-Husayni to third position, which, under Ottoman law, allowed him to qualify, and Samuel then chose him as Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, the title being invented by Samuel. [ [ Who was the Grand Mufti, Haj Muhammed Amin al-Husseini?] ] . The position came with a life tenure. [Martin Sicker, "Pangs of the Messiah: The Troubled Birth of the Jewish State", Praeger 2000 pp.32f.]

In 1922, al-Husayni was elected President of the Supreme Muslim Council which had been created by Samuel in 1921.cite encyclopedia
last = Mattar
first = Philip
authorlink = Philip Mattar
editor = Mattar, Philip
encyclopedia = Encyclopedia of the Palestinians
title = al-Husayni, Amin
edition = Revised Edition
year = 2003
publisher = Facts On File
location = New York
isbn = 978-0816057641
] The Council controlled the Waqf funds - worth annually tens of thousands of pounds [For details see Yitzhak Reiter, "Islamic Endowments in Jerusalem under British Mandate", Frank Cass, London Portland, Oregan, 1996] - and the orphan funds - worth annually about 50,000 pounds, as compared to the £600,000 in the Jewish Agency's annual budget [Excluding funds for land purchases. Sahar Huneidi, "A Broken Trust:Herbert Samuel, Zionism and the Palestinians 1920-1925", I.B.Tauris, London and New York, 2001 p.38. The 'Jewish Agency', mentioned in article 4 of the Mandate only became the official term in 1928. At the time the organisation was called the Palesatine Zionist Executive.] . In addition, he controlled the Islamic courts in Palestine. Among other functions, these courts were entrusted with the power to appoint teachers and preachers.

The British initially balanced appointments to the Supreme Muslim Council between the Husaynis and their supporters (known as the "majlisiya", or council supporters) and the Nashashibis and their allied clans (known as the "mu'aridun", the opposition). [Glenn E. Robinson, "Building a Palestinian State: The Incomplete Revolution." Indiana University Press,1997 p. 6] The "mu'aridun", were more disposed to a compromise with the Jews, and indeed had for some years received annual subventions from the Jewish Agency. [Benny Morris, "Righteous Victims" ibid. p.111] During most of the period of the British mandate, bickering between these two families seriously undermined any Palestinian unity. In 1936, however, they achieved a measure of concerted policy when all the Palestinian groups joined to create a permanent executive organ known as the Arab Higher Committee under al-Husayni's chairmanship.

The Haram ash-Sharif and the Wailing Wall

The Supreme Muslim Council and its head Al-Husayni, who regarded himself as guardian of one of the three holy sites of Islam, launched an international campaign in Muslim countries to gather funds to restore and improve the Noble Sanctuary ("Haram ash-Sharif") or Temple Mount, and particularly its mosques, Al-Aqsa and the Dome of the Rock [For a detailed list of the several sites on the Haram that underwent extensive renovation see Uri M. Kupferschmidt, "The Supreme Muslim Council:Islam under the British mandate for Palestine", E.J.Brill, Leiden, New York 1987 pp.131-2] . The whole area required extensive restoration, given the disrepair into which it had fallen from neglect in Ottoman times. As with worship in the earlier Jewish tradition, Jerusalem was the original direction towards which Muslims prayed, until the Qibla was reoriented towards Mecca. In one tradition it would reassume its prior role at the end of time. [The Mahdi of the last days was also to appear at the al-Aqsa mosque. Henry Laurens, "La Question de Palestine", vol.2.p.156] . Al-Husayni commissioned the Turkish architect Mimar Kemalettin [Daniel Bertrand Monk, "An Aesthetic Occupation: The Immediacy of Architecture and the Palestine Conflict," Duke University Press, 2002 p.61. The name is occasionally given as Kamal Bey, or Kamal al-Din in primary and secondary sources)] In restoring the site, al-Husayni was also assisted by the Mandatory power's Catholic Director of Antiquities, Ernest Tatham Richmond [Richmond authored an important volume on the Haram. See Ernest Tatham Richmond, "The Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem: A description of its structure and decoration," Oxford University Press, Oxford 1924. Monk, "An Aesthetic Occupation", pp.45-72 writes extensively of Richmond's role] . Under Richmond's supervision, the Turkish architect drew up a plan, and the execution of the works gave a notable stimulus to the revival of traditional artisan arts like mosaic tesselation, glassware production, woodcraft, wickerwork and iron-mongering. [Laurens, "La Question de Palestine", vol.2 p.156] [Uri M. Kupferschmidt, "The Supreme Muslim Council", ibid pp.127ff.,p.130. The mosaic "tesserae" however were manufactured in and imported from Turkey]

Al-Husayni's vigorous efforts to transform the Haram into a symbol of pan-Arabic and Palestinian nationalism were intended to rally Arab support against the influx of Jewish immigrants following on the Balfour Declaration under the British Mandate for Palestine. In his campaigning, Al-Husayni often accused Jews of planning to take possession of the Western Wall of Jerusalem, which belonged to the waqf of Abu Madyan as an inalienable property, and rebuild the Temple over the Al-Aqsa Mosque. [Martin Sicker, "Pangs of the Messiah:The Troubled Birth of the Jewish State",Praeger, Westport, Connecticut, London 2000 p.77] He took certain statements, for example, by the Ashkenazi chief rabbi of Palestine, Abraham Isaac Kook regarding the eventual return in time of the Temple Mount back to Jewish hands, and turned them to a concrete political plot to seize control of the area. [Rabbi Kook had preached as early as 1920:'The Temple Mount is Israel’s holy place, and even should it be under the hand of others for long days and periods of time, it will finally come into our hands . .' This could merely mean however that, in rabbinical thought, with the coming of the Messiah, the Temple would automatically revert to the Jews. See Meron Benvenisti, "City of Stone: The Hidden History of Jerusalem," University of California Press, 1996 pp.77ff.] . Al-Husayni's intensive work to refurbish the shrine as a cynosure for the Muslim world, and Jewish endeavours to improve their access to, and establish a ritually appropriate ambiance on the plaza by the Western Wall, led to increased conflict between the two communities, each seeing the site only from their own traditional perspective and interests. [Patricia Yaeger "Geography of Identity," University of Michigan Press, 1996 pp.196ff.] . Zionist narratives pinpointed al-Husayni's works on, and publicity about, the site and threats to it, as attempts to restore his own family's waning prestige. Arab narratives read the heightened agitation of certain Jewish groups over the Wall as an attempt to revive diaspora interest in Zionism after some years of relative decline, depression and emigration. [Henry Laurens, "La Question de Palestine" vol.2 p.154] . Each attempt to make minor alterations to the status quo, still governed by Ottoman law, was bitterly protested before the British authorities by the Muslim authorities. If Moslems could cite an Ottoman regulation of 1912 specifically forbidding objects like seating to be introduced, the Jews could cite testimonies to the fact that before 1914 certain exceptions had been made to improve their access and use of the Wall. [Henry Laurens, "La Question de Palestine," vol.2 p.163] . The decade witnessed several such episodes of strong friction, and the simmering tensions came to a head in late 1928, only to erupt, after a brief respite, into an explosion of violence a year later.

1929 Palestine riots


On August 10 1928, a constituent assembly convened by the French in Syria was rapidly adjourned when calls were made for a reunification with Palestine. [The longest accounts for the riots are in Martin Kolinsky "Law Order and Riots in Mandatory Palestine, 1928- 1935" St. Martin's Press, London, 1993, pp.42-70, and Tom Segev, "One Palestine, Complete", ibid. pp.309-27. All accounts are selective.] Al-Husayni and Awni Abd al-Hadi met with the Syrian nationalists [Among them Shukri al-Quwatli, Ihsan al-Jabiri and Adil Arslan] and they made a joint proclamation for a unified monarchical state under a son of Ibn Sa'ud. On the 26th., [Kupferschmidt, ibid.p.131 gives 26th. Laurens,ibid.vol.2 p.155 gives 17th] the completion of the first stage of restoration work on the Haram's mosques was celebrated with great pomp, in the presence of representatives from the Muslim countries which had financed the project, the Mandatory authorities, and Abdullah, Emir of Jordan. A month later, after an article appeared in the Jewish press proposing the purchase and destruction of houses in the Moroccan quarter bordering on the wall to improve pilgrim access and further thereby the 'Redemption of Israel.' [Henry Laurens, "La Question de Palestine", ibid.vol.2 p.158] Soon after, on September 23, [Laurens, ibid.vol.2 p.157. Kupferschmidt, ibid.p.131 gives September 24] Yom Kippur, a Jewish beadle introduced a screen to separate male and female worshippers at the Wall. Informed by residents in the neighbouring Mughrabi quarter, the waqf authority complained to Harry Luke that this virtually changed the lane into a synagogue, and violated the status quo, as had the collapsible seats in 1926. British constables, encountering a refusal, used force to remove the screen, and a jostling clash ensued between worshippers and police. [Henry Laurens, "La Question de Palestine", vol.2 p.158]

Zionist allegations that disproportionate force had been employed during what was a solemn occasion of prayer created an outcry throughout the diaspora. Worldwide Jewish protests remonstrated with Britain for the violence exercised at the Wall. The Jewish National Council Vaad Leumi ‘demanded that British administration expropriate the wall for the Jews’ [Ritchie Ovendale, "The Origins of the Arab-Israeli Wars". Pearson Education, London 2004 p.71] In reply, the Muslims organized a Defense Committee for the Protection of the Noble Buraq, ["Lajnat al-Difa' 'an al-Buraq al-Sharif." See Daniel Bertrand Monk, "An Aesthetic Occupation:The Immediacy of Architecture and the Palestine Conflict", Duke University Press, 2002 p.70. The Muslim name for the contested section of the wall, where Mohammed was said to have tethered his steed Buraq while on his famous visionary flight to heaven. Gudrun Krämer, "A History of Palestine: From the Ottoman Conquest to the Founding of the State of Israel," Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey 2008 p.225] and huge crowd rallies took place on the Al-Aqsa plaza in protest. Work, often noisy, was immediately undertaken on a mosque above the Jewish prayer site. Disturbances such as opening a passage for donkeys to pass through the area, angered worshippers. [Martin Sicker, "Pangs of the Messiah:The Troubled Birth of the Jewish State",Praeger, Westport, Connecticut, London 2000 p.77] After intense negotiations, the Zionist organisation denied any intent to take over the whole Haram Ash-Sharif, but demanded the government expropriate and raze the Moroccan quarter. A law of 1924 allowed the British authorities to expropriate property, and fear of this in turn greatly agitated the Muslim community, though the laws of donation of the waqf explicitly disallowed any such alienation. After lengthy deliberation, a White Paper was made public on December 11, 1928 in favour of the status quo. [Laurens, "La Question de Palestine", ibid. vol.2 p.153,158-161, 162]

After the nomination of the new High Commissioner John Chancellor to succeed Lord Plumer in December 1928, the question was re-examined, and in February 1929 legal opinion established that the mandatory authority was wihin its powers to intervene to ensure Jewish rights of access and prayer. Al-Husayni pressed him for a specific clarification of the legal "status quo" regarding the Wall. Chancellor mulled weakening the SMC and undermining al-Husayni's authority by making the office of mufti elective. The Nabi Musa festival of April that year passed without incident, despite al-Husayni's warnings of possible incidents. Chancellor thought his power was waning, and after conferring with London, admitted to the mufti on the 6 May that he was impotent to act decisively in the matter. Al-Husayni replied that, unless the Mandatory authorities acted, then, very much like Christian monks protecting their sacred sites in Jerusalem, the sheikhs would have to take infringements of the status quo into their own hands, and personally remove any objects introduced by Jews to the area. Chancellor asked him to be patient, and al-Husayni offered to stop works on the Mount on condition that this gesture not be taken as a recognition of Jewish rights. A change of government in Britain in June led to a new proposal: only Muslim works in the sector near where Jews prayed should be subject to mandatory authorisation: Jews could employ ritual objects, but the introduction of seats and screens would be subject to Muslim authorisation. Chancellor authorised the Muslims to recommence their reconstructive work, while, responding to further Zionist complaints, prevailed on the SMC to stop the raucous Zikr ceremonies in the vicinity of the wall [Muslims in the Mughrabi Quarter were to make similar complaints against the racket of Hasidic ritual dancing in the area on the night of the anniversary of Muhammad's birth, 16th.August 1929. Henry Laurens, "La Question de Palestine",vol.2 ibid.p.170] . He also asked the Zionist representatives to refrain from filling their newspapers with attacks on the government and Muslim authorities. Chancellor then departed for Europe where the Mandatory Commission was deliberating. [Henry Laurens, "La Question de Palestine", vol.2 pp.163-165]


With Chancellor abroad, and the Zionist Commission itself, with its leader Colonel Frederick Kisch, in Zurich for the 16th. Zionist Congress (attended also by Ze'ev Jabotinsky), the SMC resumed works, confidentially authorised, on the Haram only to be met with outcries from the Jewish press. The administration rapidly publiushed the new rules on July 22, with a serious error in translation that fueled Zionist reports of a plot against Jewish rights ['Fixed hours of Jewish worship' was given, instead of 'customary hours of Jewish worship' Henry Laurens, "La Question de Palestine", vol.2 p.632 n.35] . A protest in London led to a public declaration by a member of the Zionist Commission that Jewish rights were bigger than the "status quo", a statement which encouraged in turn Arab suspicions that local agreements were again being overthrown by Jewish intrigues abroad. News that the Zurich Congress, in creating the Jewish Agency on August 11th., had brought unity among Zionists and the world Jewish community, a measure that would greatly increase Jewish investment in the Palestinian homeland ['This was done to ensure a new major influx of non-Zionist American wealth into the country to support the development of a Jewish national home’. Martin Sicker, "The Pangs of Birth" ibid.p.79] , set off alarm bells. On the 15th. of August, Tisha B'Av, a day memorializing the destruction of the Temple of Jerusalem, the revisionist Betar movement, despite Pinhas Rutenberg's plea on the 8th of August to the acting High Commissioner Harry Luke to stop such groups from participating [Martin Sicker, "The Pangs of Birth" ibid. pp.79ff.] , rallied members from Tel Aviv to join them in the religious commemoration. Kisch, before leaving, had banned Jewish demonstrations in Jerusalem's Arab quarters. The Betar youth gave the ceremony a strong nationalist tinge by singing the Hatikvah, waving the flag of Israel, and chanting the slogan 'The Wall is Ours' [Walter Laqueur, "A History of Zionism", p.255ff] [Henry Laurens, "La Question de Palestine" vol.2, ibid.pp.168-9] . The following day coincided with "mawlid"(or" mawsin al-nabi") [Gudrun Krämer, "A History of Palestine p.230] , the anniversity of the birth of Islam's prophet, Muhammad. Muslim worshippers, after prayers on the esplanade of the Haram, passed through the narrow lane by the Wailing Wall and ripped up prayer books, and kotel notes(wall petitions), without harming however three Jews present. Contacted by Luke, al-Husayni undertook to do his best to maintain clam on the Haram, but could not stop demonstrators from gathering at the Wall.

On the 17th. of August a young Jewish boy was stabbed to death by Arabs while retrieving a football, while an Arab was badly wounded in a brawl with Jews [According to Gudrun Krämer, "A History of Palestine,ibid.p.230, in revenge for the former incident] . Strongly tied to the anti-Hashemite party [Particularly with Riad al-Suhl] , and attacked by supporters of Abdullah in Transjordan for misusing funds marked out for campaigning against France, Al-Husayni asked for a visa for himself and Awni Abd al-Hadi to travel to Syria, where the leadership of the Syrian anti-French cause was being contested. [In Laurens' view, 'The matter was sufficiently important . . for this not to be (read as) an attempt to secure an alibi for subsequent events' p.171] . Averse to his presence in Syria, the French asked him to put off the journey. Meanwhile, despite Harry Luke's lecturing journalists to avoid reporting such material, rumours circulated in both communities, of an imminent massacre of Jews by Muslims, and of an assault on the Haram ash-Sharif by Jews. On the 21st a funeral cortège, taking the form of a public demonstration for the dead Jewish boy, wound its way through the old city, with the police blocking attempts to break into the Arab quarters. On the 22nd, Luke convoked representatives of both parties to calm things down, and undersign a joint declaration. Awni Abd al-Hadi and Jamal al-Husayni were ready to recognize Jewish visitng rights at the Wall in exchange for Jewish recognition of Islamic prerogatives at the Buraq. The Jewish representative, Yitzhak Ben-Zvi, considered this beyond his brief- which was limited to an appeal for calm- and the Arabs in turn refused. They agreed to pursue their dialogue the following week.

On the 23rd, a Friday, two or three Arab were murdered in the Jewish quarter of Mea Shearim. [Henry Laurens, "La Question de Palestine", vol.2, ibid. pp.168-172] . It was also a day of Muslim prayer. A large crowd, composed of many people from outlying villages, thronged into Jerusalem, many armed with sticks and knives. It is not known whether this was organized by al-Husayni or the result of spontaneous mobilisation. The sermon at Al-Aqsa was to be delivered by another preacher, but Luke prevailed on al-Husayni to leave his home and go to the mosque, where he was greeted as 'the sword of the faith' and where he instructed the preacher to deliver a pacific sermon, while sending an urgent message for police reinforcements around the Haram. Deluded by the lenitive address, extremists harangued the crowd, accusing al-Husayni of being an infidel to the Muslim cause. The same violent accusation was launched in Jaffa against sheikh Muzaffir, an otherwise radical Islamic preacher, who gave a sermon calling for calm on the same day [Henry Laurens "La Question de Palestine" vol.2 p.173] . An assault was launched on the Jewish quarter. Violent mob attacks on Jewish communities, fueled by wildfire hearsay about ostensible massacres of Arabs and attempts to seize the Wall, took place over the following days in Hebron, Safed and Haifa. In all, in the killings and subsequent revenge attacks, 136 Arabs and 135 Jews died, while 340 of the latter were wounded, as well as an estimated 240 Arabs. [Henry Laurens, "La Question de Palestine" vol.2, ibid.p.179. The Arab wounded are those registered by the Mandatory authorities. Many preferred to hide their injuries. Martin Sicker, "The Pangs of Birth", ibid.p.46 gives 133 Jewish killed, and 339 wounded, 116 Arabs known to be killed, and 232 known to be wounded, the latter almost entirely due to police actions.]


Many observers saw al-Husayni as the mastermind behind the riots, dispatching secret emissaries to inflame regional passions. In London, Lord Melchett demanded his arrest for orchestrating all anti-British unrest throughout the Middle East. Consular documentation discarded the plot thesis rapidly, and identified the deeper cause as, political, not religious, namely in profound Arab discontent over Zionism. Arab memoirs on the "fitna"(troubles) follow a contemporary proclamation for the Defence of the Wall on the 31st of August, which justified the riots as legitimate, but nowhere mention a coordinated plan. Izzat Darwaza alone asserts, without details, that al-Husayni was responsible. al-Husayni in his memoirs never claimed to have played such a role. [Laurens, "La Question de Palestine" vol.2 pp.175-6]

The High Commissioner received al-Husayni twice officially on October 1, 1929 and a week later, and the latter complained of pro-Zionist bias in an area where the Arab population still viewed Great Britain favorably. Al-Husayni argued that the weakness of the Arab position was that they lacked political representation in Europe, whereas for millennia the Jews dominated with their genius for intrigue. He assured Chancellor of his cooperation in maintaining public order. [Henry Laurens, "La Question de Palestine", vol.2, ibid.pp.180-1]

Two official investigations were conducted by the British and the League of Nations's Mandatory Commission. The report concluded that the Arabs were the aggressors, but rejected the view that the riots had been premeditated. Al-Husayni certainly played an energetic role in Muslim demonstrations from 1928 onwards, but could not be held responsible for the August riots, even if he had 'a share in the responsibility for the disturbances' [Sachar (2006), p. 175] . He had nonetheless collaborated from the 23rd. of that month in pacifying rioters and reestablishing order. The worst outbreaks occurred in areas, Hebron, Safed, Jaffa, and Haifa where his Arab political adversaries were dominant. The root cause of the violent outbreaks lay in the fear of territorial dispossession. [Henry Laurens, "La Question de Palestine" vol.2, ibid.p.199] In a minority opinion, Mr. Harry Snell, who had apparently been swayed by Sir Herbert Samuel's son, Edwin Samuel [Henry Laurens,"La Question de Palestine", vol.2 ibid.p.200 citing Edwin Samuel, "A Lifetime in Jerusalem: The Memoirs of the Second Viscount Samuel", Abelard-Schuman, Israel University Press, 1970 p.96, which records several long talks of members of Brit Shalom with Snell. ] insisted on al-Husayni's responsibility, in that he was fully aware of the dangers of incitement in religious propaganda and failed to exercise his authority as a religious leader in restraining outbreaks of violence. [The Shaw Report, Minority Opinion by Mr.Snell p.174]

The League of Nations Permanent Mandates Commission also found that al-Husayni's accusations against the Jews were both untruthful and incendiary, basing its judgment on evidence in the Shaw Report. [Permanent Mandates Commission (page sourcing required), citing Shaw Report p.31] The Commission concluded that al-Husayni’s incitement had exacerbated the situation.

Political Activities 1930-1935

In 1931 Al-Husayni founded the World Islamic Congress, on which he was to serve as president.

Shai Lachman suggests the Mufti may have helped finance attacks by Izz ad-Din al-Qassam who had been appointed, with Al-Husayni's approval, imam of the al-Istiqlal mosque in Haifa. Whatever their relations, the latter's independent activism appears to have led to a rupture between the two. [Shai Lachman, 'Arab Rebellion and Terrorism in Palestine 1929-39: The Case of Sheikh Izz al-Din al-Qassam and His Movement' in Elie Kedourie and Sylvia G. Haim (eds.),"Zionism and Arabism in Palestine and Israel", Frank Cass. London, 1982 p.76] . By 1935 al-Husayni did take control of one clandestine organization, of whose nature he had not been informed until the preceding year [Henry Laurens, "La Question de Palestine", Fayard, Paris vol.2 2002 p.297] , which had been set up in 1931 by Musa Kazim al-Husayni's son, Abd al-Qadir al-Husayni and recruited from the Palestinian Boy Scout movement, called the 'Holy Struggle' ("al-jihad al-muqaddas") [David M. Rosen "Armies of the Young:Child Soldiers in War and Terrorism", Rutgers University Press, New Jersey and London - 2005.p.104. Rosen notes that, by 1934 it had 63 cells (400 youths).] . This and another paramilitary youth organization, "al-Futuwwah", paralleled the clandestine Jewish Haganah. Rumours, and occasional discovery of caches and shipments of arms, strengthened military preparations on both sides. [Henry Laurens, "La Question de Palestine", Fayard, Paris vol.2 2002 pp.292,297f. One such discovery, in the port of Haifa, in October 1935, of a shipment of arms from Germany, with the apparent authorization of the Nazi MInistry for Internal Affairs, and destined for the Haganah, led to great agitation and played into the hands of those Arabs who pressed for more radical activities.]

Arab revolt of 1936-1939

On April 19 1936, a wave of protest strikes and attacks against both the British authorities and Jews was unleashed in Palestine. Initially, the riots were led by Farhan al-Sa'di, a militant sheik of the northern al-Qassam group, with links to the Nashashibis. After Farhan's arrest and execution, al-Husayni seized the initiative by negotiating an alliance with the al-Qassam faction. [Henry Laurens, "La Question de Palestine", Fayard, Paris vol.2 2002 p.376] Apart from some foreign subsidies, including a substantial amount from Italy [£138,000 from 10 September 1936 to 15 June 1938Renzo De Felice, "Mussolini l'alleato:1. L'Italia in guerra 1940-1945", Einaudi, Turin 1990, vol.1 pp.210-11, citing L.Goglia, 'Il Mufti e Mussolini: alcuni documenti diplomatici italiani sui rapporti tra nazionalismo palestinese e fascismo negli anni trenta' in "Storia contemporanea", Nov.-Dec.1986 pp.1201ff. Earlier in January 1936 Italy had given the Mufti £12,000 of a promised £25,000] , he controlled waqf and orphan funds that generated annual income of about 115,000 Palestinian pounds. After the start of the revolt, most of that money was used to finance the activities of his representatives throughout the country. To Italy's consul-general in Jerusalem Mariano de Angelis, he explained in July that his decision to get directly involved in the conflict arose from the trust he reposed in Mussolini's backing and promises [ Renzo De Felice, "Mussolini l'alleato:1. L'Italia in guerra 1940-1945", Einaudi, Turin 1990, vol.1 p.210] . The guerillas recruited by al-Husayni's men were responsible for most attacks on Jews during the first months of the revolt Fact|date=June 2008; later, they were joined by volunteers from the neighboring Arab lands led by Fawzi al-QawuqjiFact|date=June 2008. Upon al-Husayni's initiative, the leaders of Palestinian Arab clans formed the Arab Higher Committee under the mufti's chairmanship. The Committee called for nonpayment of taxes after May 15 and for a general strike of Arab workers and businesses, demanding an end to the Jewish immigration. The British High Commissioner for Palestine Sir Arthur Wauchope responded by engaging in negotiations with al-Husayni and the Committee. The talks, however, soon proved fruitless. The mufti issued a series of warnings, threatening the 'revenge of God Almighty' unless the Jewish immigration were to stop, and the general strike began, paralyzing the government, public transportation, Arab businesses and agriculture. [Sachar (2006), pp. 199-200]

As the time passed, it turned out that those were the Arabs deprived of their usual sources of income who bore the brunt of the cost of the strikeFact|date=June 2008; . Under these circumstances, the Mandatory government was looking for an intermediary who might help persuade the Arab Higher Committee to end the rebellion. Al-Husayni and the Committee rejected King Abdullah of Transjordan as mediator because of his dependence on the British and friendship with the Zionists, but accepted the Iraqi foreign minister Nuri as-Said. As Wauchope warned of an impending military campaign and simultaneously offered to dispatch a Royal Commission of Inquiry to hear the Arab complaints, the Arab Higher Committee called off the strike on October 11. [Sachar (2006), pp. 200-201] When the promised Royal Commission of Inquiry arrived in Palestine in November, al-Husayni testified before it as chief witness for the Arabs. [Sachar (2006), pp. 202-203]

In July 1937 British police were sent to arrest al-Husayni for his part in the Arab rebellion, but, tipped off, he managed to escape to the Haram where the British deemed it inadvisable to touch himFact|date=June 2008. He stayed there for three months, directing the revolt from within. Four days after the assassination of the Acting District Commissioner for that area Lewis Yelland Andrews by Galilean members of the al-Qassam group on September 26, al-Husayni was deposed from the presidency of the Muslim Supreme Council, the Arab Higher Committee was declared illegal, and six warrants for the arrest of its leaders were issued, as being 'morally responsible'. [Text of decree in Haim Levenberg, "Military Preparations of the Arab Community in Palestine 1945-1948", Frank Cass London, 1993 p.8] Of them only Jamal al-Husayni managed to escape to Syria: the remaining five were exiled to the Seychelles. Al-Husayni was not among the indicted but, fearing imprisonment, on October 13-14, after sliding under cover of darkess down a rope from the Haram's wall, he himself fled via Jaffa to Lebanon, disguised as a Bedouin [Norman Rose, "Chaim Weitzmann:A Biography" Viking, New York,1986 p.332 ] [Mattar 1988 p.83] , where he reconstituted the committee under his leadership. [D.K.Fieldhouse, "Western Imperialism in the Middle east 1914-1958", Oxford University Press 2006 p.169] Al-Husayni retained the support of most Palestinian Arabs Fact|date=October 2007 and used his power to punish the Nashashibis. He remained in Lebanon for two years, under French surveillance in the Christian village of Zouk, [Henry Laurens, "La Question de Palestine", vol.2 p.374] but his deteriorating relationship with the French and Syrian authorities led him to withdraw to Iraq in October 1939.

The rebellion itself lasted until 1939, when it was finally quelled by British troops. It forced Britain to make substantial concessions to Arab demands. Jewish immigration was to continue but under restrictions, with a quota of 75,000 places spread out over the following five years. On the expiry of this period further Jewish immigration would depend on Arab consent. Besides local unrest, another key factor in bringing about a decisive change in British policy was Nazi Germany's preparations for a European war, which would develop into a worldwide conflict. In British strategic thinking, securing the loyalty and support of the Arab world assumed an importance of some urgencyFact|date=June 2008. While Jewish support was unquestioned, Arab backing in a new global conflict was by no means assured. By promising to phase out Jewish immigration into Palestine, Britain hoped to win back support from wavering Arabs. [ Raul Hilberg, "The Destruction of the European Jews", (1961) "New Viewpoints", New York 1973 p.716.] . Al-Husayni nonetheless felt that the concessions did not go far enough, and he rejected the new policy."See also Peel Commission, White Paper of 1939."

Political opposition

Although no Palestinians supported Zionism, not all Palestinians supported al-Husayni. A local leader, Abu Shair, meeting an emissary from the rebel headquarters in Damascus, who bore a list of people to be assassinated during the uprising, told Da'ud al-Husayni:

’I don’t work for Husayniya (‘’Husayni-ism”) but for "wataniya" (nationalism)’ [Ted Swedenburg,"Memories of Revolt:The 1936–1939 Rebellion and the Palestinian National Past", University of Arkansas Press, Fayetteville 2003 p.87]

In his review of Hillel Cohen's Army of Shadows, Palestinian Collaboration with Zionism, 1917-1948, Neve Gordon writes that al-Husayni

defined all competing nationalist views and actions as treasonous. […] Patronizing a Jewish doctor, employing a Jewish worker or being employed by a Jew--all became illegitimate. Thus, Husseini's uncompromising maximalist positions, alongside his camp's unwillingness to tolerate the views of its opponents, paradoxically ended up expanding the definition of traitor and collaborator. [Neve Gordon, "Shadowplays", The Nation, March 24, 2008, [] ]
This resulted in opposition to al-Husayni from the 1930’s and continuing up to 1948. According to a member of the Darwash family, considered traitors by al-Husayni,
The mufti and his men said that my father was a traitor. But my father tried to prevent the war. He said to the mufti (al-Husayni): The war you are declaring will lead to the loss of Palestine. We need to negotiate. The mufti said "idha takalam al-seif, uskut ya kalam" – 'when the sword talks, there is no place for talking'. They say that my father sold land and that makes him a traitor. He didn’t sell. But tell me this, if a man who sold 400 dunams to the Jews is a traitor, what would one say of a man whose policies led to the loss of Palestine? Isn’t he the biggest of traitors? [Hillel Cohen, "Army of Shadows, Palestinian Collaboration with Zionism, 1917-1948", (Hebrew, 2004), University of California Press, 2008 p. 257]
Many Palestinian Arabs refused to fight in 1948 because of their hatred for al-Husayni. [Hillel Cohen," Army of Shadows, Palestinian Collaboration with Zionism, 1917-1948", (Hebrew,2004) University of California Press, 2008 pp. 237ff] One recounted that
when Abd al-Qader appeared in the village of Surif, in the Hebron district, to speak before the village elders, there were some who said to him: 'You murdered eighty mukhtars and you should be fought before we kill the Jews'. Abd al-Qadar replied that he killed traitors. He was told: 'You are a criminal and you uncle (Hajj Amin) is a criminal and you are all an assembly of traitors'. [Hillel Cohen," Army of Shadows, Palestinian Collaboration with Zionism, 1917-1948", (Hebrew,2004) University of California Press, 2008 p. 237]

Ties with the Axis Powers during World War II


right|thumb|222px|November 2, 1943 Himmler's telegram to Mufti: 'To the Grand Mufti: The National Socialist movement of Greater Germany has, since its inception, inscribed upon its flag the fight against the world Jewry. It has therefore followed with particular sympathy the struggle of freedom-loving Arabs, especially in Palestine, against Jewish interlopers. In the recognition of this enemy and of the common struggle against it lies the firm foundation of the natural alliance that exists between the National Socialist Greater Germany and the freedom-loving Muslims of the whole world. In this spirit I am sending you on the anniversary of the infamous Balfour declaration my hearty greetings and wishes for the successful pursuit of your struggle until the final victory."'Reichsfuehrer S.S. Heinrich Himmler"

In 1933, within weeks of Hitler's rise to power in Germany, the German Consul-General in Palestine, the pro-Zionist Heinrich Wolff [Wolff's wife was Jewish, and he was forced to resign in 1936. Hans Döhle replaced him. See Leni Yahil, "The Holocaust: The Fate of European Jewry, 1932-1945," Oxford University Press, Oxford 1990 p.676 n.53] , sent a telegram to Berlin reporting al-Husayni's belief that Palestinian Muslims were enthusiastic about the new regime and looked forward to the spread of Fascism throughout the region. Wolff met Al-Husayni and many sheiks again, a month later, at Nabi Musa. They expressed their approval of the anti-Jewish boycott in Germany and asked Wolff not to send any Jews to Palestine. [Nicosia (2000) pp.85-86] . Wolff subsequently wrote in his annual report for that year that the Arabs' political naïvity led them to fail to recognize the link between German Jewish policy and their problems in Palestine, and that their enthusiasm for Nazi Germany was devoid of any real understanding of the phenomenon. [Nicosia, 2000 pp.86-7] . The various proposals by Palestinian notables like al-Husayni were rejected consistently over the years out of concern to avoid disrupting Anglo-German relations, in line with Germany's policy of not imperilling their economic and cultural interests in the region by a change in their policy of neutrality, and respect for English interests. Hitler's "Englandpolitik" essentially precluded significant assistance to Arab leaders [Francis R. Nicosia, "Zionism and Anti-Semitism in Nazi Germany", Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 2008 p.196] . Italy also made the nature of its assistance to the Palestinians contingent on the outcome of its own negotiations with England, and cut off aid when it appeared that the English were ready to admit the failure of their pro-Zionist policy in Palestine. [Renzo de Felice, ibid. pp.211-212] . AL-Husayni's great adversary, Ze'ev Jabotinsky had at the same time cut off Irgun ties with Italy after the passage of antisemitic racial legislation.

Though Italy did offer substantial aid, some German assistance also trickled through. After asking the new German Consul-General, Hans Döhle on the 21 July 1937 for support, the Abwehr briefly made an exception to its policy and gave some limited aid. But this was aimed to exert pressure on England over Czechoslovakia. Promised arms shipments never eventuated [Nicosia. "The Third Reich and the Palestine Question" pp.105,185ff.] This was not the only diplomatic front on which Al-Husayni was active. A month after his visit to Döhle, he met with the American Consul George Wadsworth (August 1937), to whom he professed his belief that America was remote from imperialist ambitions and therefore able to understand that Zionism 'represented a hostile and imperialist aggression directed against an inhabited country’. In a further interview with Wadsworth on Aug 31, he expressed his fears that Jewish influence in the United States might persuade the country to side with Zionists. [ Lawrence Davidson, "America's Palestine: Popular and Official Perceptions from Balfour to Israeli Statehood", University of Florida Press, 2001 p.239] . In the same period he courted the French government by expressing a willingness to assist them in the region [Henry Laurens, "La Question de Palestine" vol.2 p.467] .

Though in the ensuing war, the Mufti was strongly pro-Axis, this did not reflect the position of the entire Palestinian leadership. Al-Husayni's cousin Jemal, for example, was in favour of cutting a deal with Britain for Palestine. [Ami Isseroff and Peter FitzGerald-Morris, 'The Iraq Coup of 1941, The Mufti and the Farhud';]

In May 1940, the British Foreign Office declined a proposal from the chairman of the "Vaad Leumi" (Jewish National Council in Palestine) that they assassinate al-Husayni, but in November of that year Winston Churchill approved such a plan. In May 1941, several members of the Irgun, (a break-off faction of which, Lehi, was at the time feeling out the Nazis in Beirut about a possible collaboration between the Jewish underground and Germany to throw the British out of Palestine), including its former leader David Raziel were released from prison and flown to Iraq on a secret mission which, according to British sources, included a plan to 'capture or kill' the Mufti. The Irgun version is that they were approached by the British for a sabotage mission and added a plan to capture the Mufti as a condition of their cooperation. The mission was abandoned when Raziel was killed by a German plane.Mattar, 1984.]

In the Middle East

In April 1941 the Golden Square pro-Nazi Iraqi army officers, led by General Rashid Ali, forced the Iraqi Prime Minister, the pro-British Nuri Said Pasha, to resign. From his base in Iraq, al-Husayni issued a fatwa for a holy war against Britain a month later, in May. [ [ The Iraq Coup Attempt of 1941, the Mufti, and the Farhud] Isserof, Ami; Peter FitzGerald-Morris. MidEastWeb] Forty days later, British troops occupied the country, and al-Husayni fled to Iran where he was granted legation asylum first by Japan and then by Italy. On October 8, after the occupation of Iran by Britain and the Soviet Union and the severance of diplomatic relations with the Axis powers, al-Husayni fled to Italy with the Italian diplomats who provided him with an Italian service passport. To avoid recognition, al-Husayni changed his appearance by shaving his beard and dying his hair. [Lewis (1999), p. 150]

Throughout the war, al-Husayni repeatedly made requests in Berlin to 'the German government to bomb Tel Aviv.' [Lewis (1995), 351.]

In Nazi-occupied Europe

Al-Husayni arrived in Rome on October 11 1941 and immediately contacted Italian military intelligence. The mufti claimed to be head of a secret Arab nationalist organization with offices in all Arab countries. On condition that the Axis powers "recognize in principle the unity, independence, and sovereignty, of an Arab state of a Fascist natureFact|date=June 2008, including Iraq, Syria, Palestine, and Transjordan", he offered support in the war against Britain and stated his willingness to discuss the issues of "the Holy Places, Lebanon, the Suez canal, and Aqaba". The Italian foreign ministry approved the mufti's proposal, recommending to give him a grant of one million lire, and referred him to Benito Mussolini, who met al-Husayni on October 27. According to the mufti's account, the meeting went amicably with the Italian leader expressing his hostility to the Jews and Zionism. [Lewis (1999), pp. 150-151]

Back in the summer of 1940 and again in February 1941, al-Hussayni submitted to the German government [Black, Edwin. [ "Denial of Holocaust nothing new in Iran."] "SFGate". 8 January 2006. 27 May 2008.] a draft declaration of German-Arab cooperation, containing a clause:

Germany and Italy recognize the right of the Arab countries to solve the question of the Jewish elements, which exist in Palestine and in the other Arab countries, as required by the national and ethnic ("völkisch") interests of the Arabs, and as the Jewish question was solved in Germany and Italy.Lewis (1984), p.190.]

Now, encouraged by his meeting with the Italian leader, al-Husayni prepared a draft declaration, affirming the Axis support for the Arabs on November 3. In three days, the declaration, slightly amended by the Italian foreign ministry, received the formal approval of Mussolini and was forwarded to the German embassy in Rome. On November 6, al-Husayni arrived in Berlin, where he discussed the text of his declaration with Ernst von Weizsäcker and other German officials. In the final draft, which differed only marginally from al-Husayni's original proposal, the Axis powers declared their readiness to approve the elimination ("Beseitigung") of the Jewish National Home in Palestine. [Lewis (1999), pp. 151-152]

On November 20, al-Husayni met the German Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop [Segev (2001), p. 463] and was officially received by Adolf Hitler on November 28.Lewis (1999), p. 152] He asked Hitler for a public declaration that "recognized and sympathized with the Arab struggles for independence and liberation, and that would support the elimination of a national Jewish homeland".Lewis (1984), p.190.] Hitler refused to make such a public announcement, saying that it would strengthen the Gaullists against the Vichy France, but asked al-Husayni to 'to lock . . .deep in his heart' the following points, which Browning summarizes as follows, that

‘Germany has resolved, step by step, to ask one European nation after the other to solve its Jewish problem, and at the proper time, direct a similar appeal to non-European nations as well'. When Germany had defeated Russia and broken through the Caucasus into the Middle East, it would have no further imperial goals of its own and would support Arab liberation. . . But Hitler did have one goal. Germany’s objective would then be solely the destruction of the Jewish element residing in the Arab sphere under the protection of British power. ("Das deutsche Ziel würde dann lediglich die Vernichtung des im arabischen Raum unter der Protektion der britischen Macht lebenden Judentums sein"). In short, Jews were not simply to be driven out of the German sphere but would be hunted down and destroyed even beyond it,.’ [Christopher Browning, with Jürgen Matthäus, "The Origins of the Final Solution: The Evolution of Nazi Jewish Policy, September 1939-March 1942". University of Nebraska Press, 2004 p.406, drawing on David Yisraeli, "The Palestine Problem in German Politics", 1889-1945 p. 310. In his note to the text p.539 n.107, Browning records that Fritz Grobba's recollection is slightly different and less specific: 'At the moment of Arab liberation, Germany had no interest there other than the destruction of the power protecting the Jews’("die Vernichtung der das Judentum protegierenden Macht").ISBN 0803213271 ]

This conversation took place two months before the Wannsee Conference settled on the Final Solution and the systematic annihilation of the European Jews. The Mufti's own diary, seized after the war ['It is clear that the Jews have accomplished nothing in Palestine and their claims are lies. Everything that has been achieved in Palestine is due to the Arabs and not the Jews. I (Hitler) have decided to find a solution to the Jewish problem, approaching it step by step without holding back. In this regard, I am about to make a just and indispensable appeal, firstly to all the European countries and, later, to countries outside of Europe'. Henry Laurens, "La Question de Palestine", vol.2 ibid.pp.664-5 n.47, citing the source from the archives of the Simon Wiesenthal Center] , and his later recollections [al-Husayni's own recollections of the period are contained in his memoirs, "Mudhakkirat al-Hajj Amin al-Husayni", Damascus 1999 and in the conversations with Zuhair al-Mardini, "Filastin wa al-Hajj Amin al-Husayni", Beirut 1986. Much of the latter material is now available in Henry Laurens,"Le Retour des exilés, la lutte pour la Palestine de 1869 à 1997",Robert Laffont-Bouquins, Paris 1998 pp.547-561, which, on p.556 reproduces these remarks from the conversation:'The suppression of the Jewish national homeland is part of my battle . .They wish to build a central state which will become the base for their activities and destructive purposes. They wish to abolish other states, all the nations of the world. One thing is certain, the Jews will not undertake constructive work in Palestine. Their propaganda is full of lies. Everything that has been built in Palestine since prehistorical times is the work of Arabs and not of Jews. Their nature does not allow them to be builders and I've decided to find at all costs a precise and final solution to the Jewish problem. I shall first call on all the states of Europe, and then on those outside of Europe, to work together to put a definitive end to world Judaism, which represents a dangerous threat for the entire world'. Cited also, Henry Laurens, "La Question de Palestine" vol.2 p.p.465-466] recall the encounter in slightly different terms.

The Holocaust

The Mufti was in Berlin during the war, but later denied knowing of the Holocaust. One of Adolf Eichmann's deputies, Dieter Wisliceny, stated after the war that he had actively encouraged the extermination of European Jews, and that he had had an elaborate meeting with Eichmann at his office, during which Eichmann gave him an intensive look at the current state of the “Solution of the Jewish Question in Europe” by the Third Reich. This testimony was denied by Eichmann at his 1961 trial in Jerusalem. Eichmann stated that he had only been introduced to the Mufti during an official reception, along with all other department heads. In the final judgement, the Jerusalem court stated: "In the light of this partial admission by the Accused, we accept as correct Wisliceny's statement about this conversation between the Mufti and the Accused. In our view it is not important whether this conversation took place in the Accused's office or elsewhere. On the other hand, we cannot determine decisive findings with regard to the Accused on the basis of the notes appearing in the Mufti's diary which were submitted to us." [ [ Eichmann trial: The Judgment ] ] . [Eichmann had, indeed, been sent to Palestine in 1937, but that was on office business at a time when he was not even a commissioned officer. Apparently it concerned the Ha'avara Agreement for Jewish immigration into Palestine from Germany. As for contacting the Arab rebels in Palestine, or their leader the Mufti, Eichmann was turned back by the British authorities at the Egyptian border. It is doubtful whether Eichmann made contact with the Mufti even in 1942, when the latter resided in Berlin. If this fallen idol makes an occasional appearance in Eichmann's office correspondence it is because Eichmann's superiors at the Foreign Office found the Mufti a very useful sacred cow, always to be invoked when the reception of Jewish refugees in Palestine was under discussion. Dieter Wisliceny even believed that Eichmann regarded the Mufti as a colleague in a much expanded post-war Final Solution.' G.Reitlinger, "The Final Solution," ibid. pp. 27-28]

Hannah Arendt, who attended the complete Eichmann trial, concluded in her book "Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil" that, "The trial revealed only that all rumours about Eichmann's connection with Haj Amin el Husseini, the former Mufti of Jerusalem, were unfounded." [Hannah Arendt, "Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil."(1963) Viking Press, New York 1965 p.13]
Rafael Medoff concludes that "actually there is no evidence that the Mufti's presence was a factor at all; the Wisliceny hearsay is not merely uncorroborated, but conflicts with everything else that is known about the origins of the Final Solution." [Medoff, Rafael (1996). The Mufti's Nazi Years Re-examined. "The Journal of Israeli History", vol. 17. No. 3.] Bernard Lewis also called Wisliceny's testimony into doubt: "There is no independent documentary confirmation of Wisliceny's statements, and it seems unlikely that the Nazis needed any such additional encouragement from the outside."Lewis (1999), p. 156]

Some recent research, however, apparently argues that al-Husayni did work with Eichmann for the dispatch of a special corps of Einsatz commandos to exterminate the Jews in Palestine, if Rommel managed to break through the British lines in Egypt. [„Hätte Erwin Rommel 1942 die Truppen seines Gegners, des britischen Feldmarschalls Montgomery, in Ägypten geschlagen und wäre anschließend bis nach Palästina vorgedrungen, hätte das Einsatzkommando den Auftrag erhalten, die Juden in Palästina zu töten. Das Einsatzkommando sollte nach dem Muster der NS-Einsätze in Osteuropa arbeiten; dabei waren hunderttausende von Juden in der Sowjetunion und anderen Ländern Osteuropas ermordet worden. Die Nationalsozialistischen Machthaber wollten sich die Deutschfreundlichkeit der palästinensischen Araber für ihre Pläne zunutze machen. ‚Bedeutendster Kollaborateur der Nationalsozialisten und zugleich ein bedingungsloser Antimsemit auf arabischer Seit war Haj Amin el-Husseini, der Mufti von Jerusalem‘, schreiben Mallmann und Cüppers. In seiner Person habe sich exemplarisch gezeigt, ‚welch entscheidende Rolle der Judenhass im Projekt der deutsch-arabischen Verständigung einnahm.‘ El-Husseini habe unter anderem bei mehreren Treffen mit Adolf Eichmann Details der geplanten Morde festgelegt.“(‘If Erwin Rommel had defeated the troops of his opponent, the British Field Marshal Montgomery, in Egypt in 1942 and then advanced into Palestine, the task force (Einsatzkommando) would have received the order to kill the Jews in Palestine. The task force was meant to operate according to the model of the Nazi task forces in eastern Europe: in this process hundreds of thousands of Jews in the Soviet Union and other countries of eastern Europe had been murdered. The Nazi rulers wanted to make use of the pro-German sentiments of the Palestinian Arabs for their plans. “The most significant collaborator of the National Socialists, and at the same time an absolute anti-Semite, on the Arab side was Haj Amin al-Husayni, the Mufti of Jerusalem,” to quote Malmann and Cuppers. “What a decisive role hatred of the Jews occupied in the project of German–Arab understanding” was exemplified in the person of al-Husayni, who during several meetings with Adolf Eichmann had, among other things, established the details of the planned murders.") (] Husayni did intervene on May 13, 1943, with the German Foreign Office to block possible transfers of Jews from Bulgaria, Hungary and Romania, after reports reached him that 4000 Jewish children accompanied by 500 adults had managed to reach Palestine. He asked that the Foreign Minister "to do his utmost" to block all such proposals and this request was complied with. [ Raul Hilberg, "The Destruction of the European Jews," (1961) New Viewpoints, New York 1973 p.504] . A year later, on the 25th July, 1944, he wrote to the Hungarian foreign minister to register his objection to the release of certificates for 900 Jewish children and 100 adults for transfer from Hungary, fearing they might end up in Palestine. He suggested that if such transfers of population were deemed necessary, then:-

"it would be indispensable and infinitely preferable to send them to other countries where they would find themselves under active control, as for example Poland, thus avoiding danger and preventing damage." [Joseph Schechtman, "The Mufti and the Führer", ibid. pp.154-155]
Among the acts of sabotage al-Husayni attempted to implement, Michael Bar Zohar reports a chemical warfare assault on the second largest and predominantly Jewish city in Palestine, Tel Aviv. According to him, five parachutists were sent with a toxin to dump into the water system. The police caught the infiltrators in a cave near Jericho, and according to Jericho district police commander Fayiz Bey Idrissi, "The laboratory report stated that each container held enough poison to kill 25,000 people, and there were at least ten containers." [] .

He is also said to have requested that Jerusalem be bombed by the German air force, a request that puts doubts on his religiosity, since, in Walter Laqueur's words, "It is unlikely that a truly pious Muslim would have acted this way." [ [ Walter Laqueur The Origins of Fascism: Islamic Fascism, Islamophobia, Antisemitism 2006] ]

In his memoirs after the war, Husayni noted that :"Our fundamental condition for cooperating with Germany was a free hand to eradicate every last Jew from Palestine and the Arab world. I asked Hitler for an explicit undertaking to allow us to solve the Jewish problem in a manner befitting our national and racial aspirations and according to the scientific methods innovated by Germany in the handling of its Jews. The answer I got was: 'The Jews are yours'." [Ami Isseroff and Peter FitzGerald-Morris, 'The Iraq Coup Attempt of 1941, the Mufti, and the Farhud,']

Wolfgang G. Schwanitz notes that in his memoirs Husayni recalled that Heinrich Himmler, in the summer of 1943, while confiding some German war secrets, inveighed against Jewish "war guilt", and, speaking of Germany’s persecution of the Jews said that "up to now we have exterminated (in Arabic, "abadna") around three million of them". In his memoirs, Husayni wrote he was astonished to hear this. Schwanitz doubts the sincerity of his surprise since, he argues, Husayni had publicly declared that Muslims should follow the example Germans set for a "definitive solution to the Jewish problem". [ [ Wolfgang G. Schwanitz 'Amin al-Husaini and the Holocaust. What Did the Grand Mufti Know?' May 8, 2008] , citing Abd al-Karim al-Umar (ed.), "Memoirs of the Grand Mufti", Damascus in 1999, p.126] .

In September 1943, intense negotiations to rescue 500 Jewish children from the town of Arbe in Croatia collapsed due to the objection of the Mufti who blocked the children's departure to Turkey because they would end up in Palestine. [Daniel Carpi, [ "The Rescue of Jews in the Italian Zone of Occupied Croatia"] , Shoah Resource Center, page 39]

Recent Nazi documents uncovered in the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Military Archive Service in Freiburg [] by two researchers, Klaus Michael Mallmann and Martin Cüppers indicated that in the event of the British being defeated in Egypt by Generalfeldmarschall Erwin Rommel's Afrika Korps the Nazis had planned to deploy a special unit called Einsatzkommando Ägypten to exterminate Palestinian Jews and that they wanted Arab support to prevent the emergence of a Jewish state. In their book the researchers concluded that, "the most important collaborator with the Nazis and an absolute Arab anti-Semite was Haj Amin al-Husseini, the mufti of Jerusalem.' [ [ Nazis planned Holocaust in Palestine: historians - Expatica ] ]

Propaganda and recruitment

Throughout World War II, al-Husayni worked for the Axis Powers as a broadcaster in propaganda targeting Arab public opinion. He recruited Muslim volunteers for the German armed forces operating in the Balkans. Beginning in 1941, Al-Husayni visited Bosnia, and convinced Muslim leaders that a Muslim S.S. division would be in the interest of Islam. In spite of these and other propaganda efforts, only half of the expected 20,000 to 25,000 Muslims volunteered." [The Black Book of Bosnia by Nader Mousavizadeh, (Editor), Basic Books, New York, 1996, p. 23] Al-Husayni was involved in the organization and recruitment of Bosnian Muslims into several divisions of the Waffen SS and other units. The largest was the 13th "Handschar" division of 21,065 men, which conducted operations against Communist partisans in the Balkans from February 1944 [cite web |url= |title=Hall Amin Al-Husayni: The Mufti of Jerusalem |accessdate=2007-10-19 |last= |first= |coauthors= |date=June 25, 2007 |work= |publisher=Holocaust Encyclopedia] and participated in the genocide of Yugoslav Jews. [Lewis (1999), p. 154]

On March 1, 1944, while speaking on Radio Berlin, al-Husayni said:

'Arabs, rise as one man and fight for your sacred rights. Kill the Jews wherever you find them. This pleases God, history, and religion. This saves your honor. God is with you.' [Pearlman (1947), p. 51] [Sachar (1961), p.231] [Stillman (2000), p.143]

Activities after World War II

Arrest and trial

After the Second World War, al-Husayni fled to Switzerland, was detained and expelled back to Germany, was captured by the French and put under house arrest in France after he was sentenced by the Yugoslav Supreme Military Court to three years imprisonment and two years of deprivation of civil rights as convicted war criminal. In 1946, Husayni escaped and was given asylum in Egypt. Jewish groups petitioned the British to have him indicted as a war criminal. The British declined because such a move would have added to their growing problems in Egypt and among Palestinians - where al-Husayni was still popular. Yugoslavia unsuccessfully sought his extradition. While in Egypt, Al-Husayni was hired by British intelligence as a propagandist for the Arab News Agency. [ Robert Dreyfuss. "Devil's Game: How the United States Helped Unleash Fundamentalist Islam". MacMillan, 2006, page 62] .

1948 Palestine War

From his Egyptian exile, al-Husayni used what influence he had to encourage the participation of the Egyptian military in the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. He was involved in some high level negotiations between Arab leaders - before and during the War - at a meeting held in Damascus in February 1948, to organize Palestinian Field Commands and the commanders of the Holy War Army. Hasan Salama and Abd al-Qadir al-Husayni (his nephew), were allocated to the Lydda district and Jerusalem respectively. This decision paved the way for undermining the Mufti's position among the Arab States. On February 9, four days after the Damascus meeting, he suffered a severe setback at the Arab League's Cairo session, when his demands for more Palestinian self-determination for Palestine's fate were rejected. His demands included, the appointment of a Palestinian to the League's General Staff, the formation of a Palestinian Provisional Government, the transfer of authority to local National Committees in areas evacuated by the British, and both, a loan for Palestinian administration and an appropriation of large sums to the Arab Higher Executive for Palestinians entitled to war damages.Levenberg, 1993, p. 198.]

The Arab League blocked recruitment to the al-Husayni's forces -Sayigh, 2000, p. 14.] which collapsed following the death of one of his most charismatic commanders, Abd al-Qadir al-Husayni, on April 8.

Following rumors that King Abdullah I of Transjordan was reopening the bilateral negotiations with Israel that he had previously conducted clandestinely with the Jewish Agency, the Arab League - led by Egypt - decided to set up the All-Palestine Government in Gaza on September 8 , 1950 under the nominal leadership of al-Husayni. Avi Shlaim writes:

'The decision to form the Government of All-Palestine in Gaza, and the feeble attempt to create armed forces under its control, furnished the members of the Arab League with the means of divesting themselves of direct responsibility for the prosecution of the war and of withdrawing their armies from Palestine with some protection against popular outcry. Whatever the long-term future of the Arab government of Palestine, its immediate purpose, as conceived by its Egyptian sponsors, was to provide a focal point of opposition to Abdullah and serve as an instrument for frustrating his ambition to federate the Arab regions with Transjordan'.Shlaim, 2001, p. 97.]
Abdullah regarded the attempt to revive al-Husayni's Holy War Army as a challenge to his authority and on October 3, his minister of defense ordered all armed bodies operating in the areas controlled by the Arab Legion to be disbanded. Glubb Pasha carried out the order ruthlessly and efficiently.Shlaim, 2001, p. 99.]

Exile from Jerusalem

King Abdullah had assigned the position of Grand Mufti of Jerusalem to Husam Al-din Jarallah. He was assassinated the 20 July 1951, on the eve of projected secrets talks with Israel, by a militant of the "jihad al-muqaddas", while entering the Haram ash-Sharif to pray. There is no evidence al-Husayni was involved, though Musa al-Husayni was among the six indicted and executed after a disputed verdict. [Henry Laurens, "La Question de Palestine", Fayard, Paris, vol.3 p.308] Abdullah was succeeded by King Talal - who refused to allow al-Husayni entry into Jerusalem. Abdullah's grandson, Hussein who had been present at the murder, eventually lifted the ban in 1967, receiving al-Husayni as an honoured guest in his Jerusalem royal residence after uprooting the PLO from Jordan. [Henry Laurens, "La Question de Palestine", Fayard, Paris, vol.3 p.694]

Al-Husayni remained in exile at Heliopolis in Egypt throughout much of the 1950s. In the first part of the decade, Israel asserted al-Husayni was behind many border raids from Jordanian and Egyptian-held territory, and Egypt expressed a readiness to deport him if evidence were forthcoming to substantiate the charges. ['Both before and after 1948, the Yishuv was convinced that the ex-Mufti’s hand was behind every anti-Jewish pogrom, murder, and act of sabotage. The Jordanian authorities, always apprehensive of the Palestinians, suspected that the ex-Mufti – and various Arab regimes- were sponsoring terrorism from Jordan against Israel in order to foment trouble between the two and to destabilize the Hashemite rule’. Benny Morris, "Israel's Border Wars, 1949-1956: Arab Infiltration, Israeli Retaliation, and the Countdown to the Suez War," Clarendon Press, Oxford 1997 p.57, pp.57ff., p.232 ] . In 1959 he moved to Lebanon. Al-Husayni died in Beirut, on 4 July 1974. He wished to be buried in Jerusalem, but the Israeli government refused this request, since, in the meantime, Israel had captured East Jerusalem from Jordan, in 1967, during the Six-Day War, and exercised administrative jurisdiction over the area.

Aftermath: Amin al-Husayni and antisemitism

As early as reports of his deposition before the Shaw Commission, Amin al-Husayni has been described as either anti-semitic, or as believing in a classic Jewish conspiracy by a secretive cabal. [During his testimony before the Shaw Commission two months later (the commission interviewed him in his offices) on December 4, 1929, al-Husayni was apparently described as holding a copy of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion in his hand. "Palestine Commission on the Disturbances of August 1929, Minutes of Evidence", (London 1930), Vol 2 page 539 paragraph 13,430, page 527 paragraph 13,107.(A reliable secondary source is required here] Amin al-Husayni has been pictured as a virulent antisemite by traditional Israeli historiography [see Moshe Perlman, "Mufti of Jerusalem: The Story of Haj Amin el Husseini", 1947; Joseph Schechtman, "The Mufti and the Fuehrer : the rise and fall of Haj Amin el-Husseini", 1965.] and is still pictured as such today by some commentators [David G. Dalin and John F. Rothmann, "Icon of Evil; Hitler’s Mufti and the Rise of Radical Islam", 2008.] .

His recent biographers emphasize his nationalism.Eric Rouleau, " [ Qui était le mufti de Jérusalem ?] (Who was the Mufti of Jerusalem ?)", Le Monde diplomatique, august 1994.] Nevertheless, Zvi Elpeleg, while rehabilitating him from other charges , concludes his chapter concerning the involvement of the Mufti in the extermination of the Jews as follows:

' [i] n any case, there is no doubt that Haj Amin's hatred was not limited to Zionism, but extended to Jews as such. His frequent, close contacts with leaders of the Nazi regime cannot have left Haj Amin any doubt as to the fate which awaited Jews whose emigration was prevented by his efforts. His many comments show that he was not only delighted that Jews were prevented from emigrating to Palestine, but was very pleased by Nazi's Final Solution'. [Zvi Elpeleg, Conclusion of the chapter "Involvment in the destruction of the Jews", "The Grand Mufti", 1993, p.72]
Benny Morris also argues that " [the Mufti] was deeply anti-Semitic', sinced he 'explained the Holocaust as owing to the Jews' sabotage of the German war effort in World War I and [their] character : (...) their selfishness, rooted in their belief that they are the chosen people of God." [Benny Morris, "1948", 2008, pp.21-22.]

Nevertheless, Peter Novick argued that the post-war historiographical depiction of al-Husayni reflected complex geopolitical interests that distorted the record.

'The claims of Palestinian complicity in the murder of the European Jews were to some extent a defensive strategy, a preemptive response to the Palestinian complaint that if Israel was recompensed for the Holocaust, it was unjust that Palestinian Muslims should pick up the bill for the crimes of European Christians. The assertion that Palestinians were complicit in the Holocaust was mostly based on the case of the Mufti of Jerusalem, a pre-World War II Palestinian nationalist leader who, to escape imprisonment by the British, sought refuge during the war in Germany. The Mufti was in many ways a disreputable character, but post-war claims that he played any significant part in the Holocaust have never been sustained. This did not prevent the editors of the four-volume Encyclopedia of the Holocaust from giving him a starring role. The article on the Mufti is more than twice as long as the articles on Goebbels and Goering, longer than the articles on Himmler and Heydrich combined, longer than the article on Eichmann--of all the biographical articles, it is exceeded in length, but only slightly, by the entry for Hitler.' [Peter Novick, "The Holocaust in American Life" (1999) Mariner Books, New York 2000 pp.157-8]

Idith Zertal shares this analysis and in a study dedicated to the role and use of the Holocaust in Israeli nationalist discourse, she takes a new look at the Mufti's alleged antisemitism. She states that 'in more correct proportions, [he should be pictured] as a fanatic nationalist-religious Palestinian leader'. [Idith Zertal, "Israel's Holocaust and the Politics of Nationhood", 2005, p.102.] Also, "(...) the demonization of the Mufti serves to magnify the Arafatian threat" and that the " [portrayal of the Mufti as] one of the initiators of the systematic extermination of European Jewry (...) has no (...) historical substantiation." [Idith Zertal, "Israel's Holocaust and the Politics of Nationhood", 2005, p.175.]


*The Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry's report of April 20, 1946 stated: 'The flight of the Mufti, Haj Amin el-Husseini, to Italy and Germany, and his active support of the Axis, did not lose for him his following, and he is probably the most popular Arab leader in Palestine today.' [ [ Anglo-American Committee of inquiry] , Report to the US and UK Governments, April 20, 1946 Appendix IV. Palestine: Historical Background. The Arabs and the War. Verified 23 Oct 2007.]
* Israeli historian Tom Segev paraphrased a letter that the commander of the British forces in the British Mandate for Palestine, General Evelyn Barker, publicly anti-Zionist, wrote to his wife in around May 1947 about the mufti's legacy: 'Haj Amin al-Husseini, the former mufti, thought only of his own interests and not of his people, and had done the Palestinian Arabs a great disservice. The mufti sought only to augment his political power. The Arabs had only dissension and petty jealousies. Their tragedy was that they had no real leadership.' [Segev (2001), p. 498]
* Yasser Arafat's interview with the London-based Arabic language newspaper "Al Sharq al Awsat" was reprinted by a leading Palestinian daily "Al Quds" (August 2, 2002): :"Interviewer":I have heard voices from within the Palestinian Authority in the past few weeks, saying that the reforms are coordinated according to American whims...:"Arafat:" We are not Afghanistan. We are the mighty people. Were they able to replace our hero Hajj Amin al-Husseini?... There were a number of attempts to get rid of Hajj Amin, whom they considered an ally of the Nazis. But even so, he lived in Cairo, and participated in the 1948 war, and I was one of his troops.'
* John Marlowe said: 'The dominant figure in Palestine during the Mandate years was neither an Englishman nor a Jew, but an Arab — Haj Amin Muhammed Effendi al Husaini... Able, ambitious, ruthless, humourless, and incorruptible, he was of the authentic stuff of which dictators are made'.Fact|date=October 2007

ee also

*Palestinian nationalism
*Palestinian political violence



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External links

* [ HUSSEINI, HAJ AMIN (1895-1974)] at (with [ photos] )* [ Islamic Fascists?]
* [ Mufti's Biography] at the Jewish Virtual Library
* [ A biographical sketch of Haj Amin al-Husseini,] Michal Gado, at "Omedia"
* [ Hajj Amin al-Husseini: the Mufti of Jerusalem] (United States Holocaust Memorial Museum)

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