Dr. Yosef Sharvit, a historian of the Jewish History and Contemporary Judaism department at Bar Ilan University, spoke to Arutz Sheva on Friday about Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's comments on the Holocaust this week that raised a ruckus.
Netanyahu on Tuesday suggested Nazi leader Adolf Hitler was not planning the "annihilate" the Jews until he met Grand Mufti of Jerusalem Haj Amin al-Husseini in 1941, in a comment that was sharply criticized by his political opponents and the White House which Thursday night condemned his "inflammatory rhetoric."
The prime minister later doubled down, clarifying he did not absolve the genocidal Hitler of any responsibility.
But according to Sharvit, Netanyahu's statement was important in setting things in order regarding the history of the Holocaust.
"Aside from the inaccuracies, I think that thanks to Netanyahu's words we come out of this with a benefit, because he dealt with the centrality of the mufti who for some reason has been taken off the historical stage in everything related to the Holocaust," said Sharvit.
The historian emphasized to Arutz Sheva that there is great importance in noting the part played by the Arab mufti in the Holocaust.
"When Haj Amin al-Husseini met Hitler in November 1941, he told him that there's a stark similarity between Nazism and Islam," explained Sharvit. "Husseini was responsible for establishing SS units in the Balkans. He was friendly with senior SS commanders, and was responsible for Berlin Radio broadcasts in all the Islamic lands."
"His Berlin Radio broadcasts would always end by calling to slaughter the Jews. He also was among the initiators of the final solution for Jews in the land of Israel, and if (senior Nazi commander) Erwin Rommel would have G-d forbid reached Israel, Haj Amin al-Husseini had a detailed plan to destroy the Jewish community."
Dr. Sharvit stated that the mufti was even considered a greater Nazi criminal than Adolf Eichmann.
"He was a figure known better than Eichmann until he (Eichmann) was brought to Israel" where he was executed, says the historian.
Holocaust in Arab lands averted
"In essence, he also led the Holocaust of the Jews in the Arab countries. There too a similar process to what happened in Europe took place: discriminatory legislation, robbing Jews, establishing Judenrate ('Jewish councils' – ed.), establishing work camps and in the end they were to have established death camps as well."
"All of this was stopped thanks to Operation Torch," he said, noting the American and British invasion of French North Africa in 1942.
"Therefore I salute Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu who raised to public awareness the centrality of Haj Amin al-Husseini in the Holocaust of the Jews," concluded Sharvit.
Sharvit's support echoes that of Middle East Forum scholar Dr. Wolfgang Schwanitz , who on Wednesday gave Netanyahu historical backing.
"It is a historical fact that the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem al-Hajj Amin al-Husseini was an accomplice whose collaboration with Adolf Hitler played an important role in the Holocaust," Schwanitz stated. "He was the foremost extra-European adviser in the process to destroy the Jews of Europe."
In defending his own remarks, Netanyahu quoted the testimony of Adolf Eichmann's deputy at the Nuremberg trials after World War II, who said: "The Mufti was instrumental in the decision to exterminate the Jews of Europe. The importance of his role must not be ignored. The Mufti repeatedly proposed to the authorities, primarily Hitler, Ribbentropp and Himmler, to exterminate the Jews of Europe. He considered it a suitable solution for the Palestinian question."