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Jerusalem's Rise to Sovereignty. Sketches of Jewish Social Life - eBook. Partially a historical account of the Mufti's movement, influence, and actions with the Nazi party, and partially an argument that it was primarily the Mufti's Nazism that trickled down to modern Middle Eastern politics today, this treatise looks at an oft-ignored element in Nazi history. Related Products. Dee Oliver , Jodie Berndt. More Info Add To Wishlist. Paul L.
ICON OF EVIL by David G. Dalin , John F. Rothmann | Kirkus Reviews
John Piper. Stephen Pemberton. There they saw an enlarged photograph of Hitler with Haj Amin al-Husseini, the Palestinian leader and grand mufti of Jerusalem. Husseini was appointed mufti of Jerusalem in The title recognized his position as the major religious and political authority among the Palestinian Arabs.
An ardent Palestinian nationalist, Husseini fought both the Zionists and the British, instigating some of the violent incidents that broke out in Palestine in the s and s. In addition to meeting with Hitler, he sat down with Adolf Eichmann and sabotaged a plan to transfer Jewish children from Eastern Europe to Palestine. The lack of solid evidence is the main problem throughout the book. While the authors do cite prominent scholars like Martin Gilbert, Bernard Wasserstein and Rashid Khalidi, some of the most outrageous quotations come from quite arguable sources.
But there is an official German record of his meeting with Hitler that contains no such statement. In fact the mufti did not achieve his major goal: Hitler refused to sign a public statement of support for him. View all New York Times newsletters. All , Jews in Palestine had been exterminated. The following month, Hitler personally flew to Jerusalem. When he was seventeen, he was sent to study in Cairo, where he caught the eye of Rashid Rida, the theologian who became the spiritual father figure of the Muslim Brotherhood, established in the late s.
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According to the anti-Zionist historian Ilan Pappe, Rida, who treated the young Amin as a disciple, believed "in the need for Muslim society A third principle touched on the need to link religious activity to political and nationalist actions. The struggle against the British occupation of Egypt, for example, was nothing but the struggle of Islam against the West. Rida spoke explicitly also about Zionism and the need to fight it within the framework of the overall struggle against the West's takeover of the Arab, Islamic Middle East. All these principles were shared by Husseini.
Icon of Evil: Hitler's Mufti and the Rise of Radical Islam
He joined the Ottoman Army, apparently even before Istanbul declared war, "as he was bored at school" in Pappe's phrase , and served as an officer until the end of He fell ill and returned to Jerusalem, and there, after deserting, he began surreptitiously to raise volunteers to aid the anti-Ottoman Sharifian "revolt in the desert," organized by the British in Later he assisted the short-lived government of Faisal ibn Hussein in Damascus during , and then he returned to Palestine and dabbled in embryonic Palestinian nationalist politics.
Husseini apparently played an incendiary role in the Nabi Musa riots against the Jews in , after which he fled the country. But he was pardoned, and he returned, and in a supreme gesture of appeasement, Herbert Samuel, the first British high commissioner, appointed him the "grand mufti" of Jerusalem. The following year Samuel appointed him the head of the Supreme Muslim Council, which supervised the country's Muslim sites and institutions, thereby furnishing Hajj Amin with a powerful political base for his eventual accession to the leadership of the Palestinian Arab national movement. He detested the British and all their works--he was especially angered, of course, by their support of Zionism--but he was an accomplished dissembler, and he played his double game to the hilt.
When not out rabble-rousing--he was a charismatic public speaker--Husseini was "always mild-mannered and soft-spoken. People who met him for the first time were surprised by his gentle, even meek, manner. In the tumultuous years between and , Husseini led the Palestine Arabs during the anti-British "Great Revolt. In October , with a warrant out for his arrest, Husseini hid in Al Aksa Mosque on the Temple Mount and then, dressed as a woman, he fled by boat to Lebanon. From then on, he lived out his life in exile, "returning" to Palestine only for one week in September before the Egyptian secret police shepherded him back to his villa in Heliopolis.
Before that time he had rejected the U. General Assembly partition resolution of November 29, and launched the Palestinian Arab assault on the Yishuv, the Jewish community in Palestine, which was the first stage of the war. When the Haganah, the Yishuv's main militia, crushed the Palestinian irregulars in the spring of , Husseini successfully prodded the neighboring Arab states to invade, and to attempt to destroy, the new Jewish state and to "save" the Palestinians. So Husseini lived out the rest of his life in Lebanon and Egypt, an embittered and discarded figurehead, in exile among his Arab brothers, like the other , Palestinians displaced in the war that he had immorally and illogically launched, and for which his people, and the Arab peoples in general, had failed to prepare.
A Mosaic on the Mufti’s Islam
Strangely enough, Dalin and Rothmann devote little space to the chronicle of Husseini's life. They prefer to dwell on Husseini's anti-Semitism and his ideological and political links with the Nazis and the Third Reich. The problem is that, while putting their finger on important affinities, they decidedly over-reach, and, given the poverty of their scholarship, they often fail to persuade, leaving the reader with the bad taste of propaganda.
To be sure, Haj Amin was an anti-Semite. He certainly imbibed the Judeophobia of the Qur'an.
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And this, as Dalin and Rothmann assert, may have been bolstered by a further dose of Jewhatred that he acquired at the feet of Rashid Rida though they offer no proof of this. His anti-Semitism was certainly reinforced by what he picked up during his years in Germany, between and , when he was employed by the Third Reich to broadcast jihadist antiAllied propaganda to the Arab world and to recruit Muslims for the Wehrmacht in Bosnia, while the Nazis, as they described it, were battling "international Jewry" and its agents in London, Washington, and Moscow.
Husseini seems to have accepted the Nazi view of the Jews' world-embracing powers--something that is entirely lacking in Qur'anic and early Islamic anti-Semitism, which, if anything, belittled the Jew. Husseini's anti-Semitism was not simply utilitarian and political, a means of raising the alarm about the Jews' alleged aim of taking over the Temple Mount or Palestine. It was sincere and heartfelt. In , he wrote in the Egyptian newspaper Al Masri that "the Jews filled a central role in acts of sabotage and destructive propaganda inside Germany, toward the end of the [first] world war.
They acted in every way to bring about its destruction. This nature was among the important reasons for their failure in all stages of their history, and caused people to hate and persecute them. One of the most salient features of the Jewish nature is their conceit and exaggerated selfishness, which stems from [their belief that] they are the chosen people of God.
There is no limit to their covetousness and to their keeping others away from the Good They have no pity in their hearts and they are known for their hostility, rivalry and great hardness, as Allah described them in the Qur'an This caused them As a result, other peoples have despaired of living with them throughout history. So Husseini's support of the pro-Axis rebellion of Rashid Ali Al Kilani in Baghdad in April was unsurprising--as unsurprising, in fact, as his subsequent extended sojourn in Berlin.
He became a friend of Himmler's, and appears to have known the full extent of the Holocaust. Indeed, in various indirect ways he abetted the murder of European Jewry. In the summer of , for example, Husseini wrote a series of letters to von Ribbentrop, Himmler, and various leaders in Nazi "puppet states" requesting that Jewish orphans be sent to Poland, where they would not be "a source of danger," rather than to Palestine.
On May 6, , he wrote to the foreign minister of Bulgaria of "the Jewish danger to the whole world, especially to countries in which there were Jews. After the war, evading prosecution as a war criminal, Husseini settled in Cairo. From there, as the dominant figure behind the resurrected Arab Higher Committee, he pulled, or tried to pull, the strings in Palestine and around it, in the hope of frustrating the implementation of the U.
He failed, and led his people into the Nakba; and then blamed everyone else--the Jews, the Americans, the British, the Soviets--for what had happened. Decades later, Arafat performed similarly--though to be sure, unlike Husseini, he managed through the Oslo peace process to eke out some areas of limited sovereignty for his people. What they have managed to do with these areas is another matter. Husseini, of course, was not alone in the Arab world in his support of the Germans.
Such support was quite widespread. The question always arises whether it was motivated merely by anti-imperialism and the hope that a German defeat of the Western democracies would free the Arabs from the imperial grip of the French and the British, or whether it went beyond interests to beliefs, to an identification with parts of the fascist and Nazi message, which was anti-democratic, anti-Semitic, and anti-liberal. In Husseini's case, there seem to have been both ideological affinities and a large dose of political pragmatism a German victory might ensure Palestinian Arab independence from Britain, the elimination of the Yishuv, and perhaps his own sway over Palestine.
Dalin and Rothmann are correct to note that already in March Husseini had congratulated the Nazis on their accession to power, and told Heinrich Wolff, the German consul-general in Jerusalem, that he hoped that the fascist governmental system would spread to other countries. Early on, he had called on Germany to impose an economic boycott against the Jews and said that the Islamic world would join it.
At his famous meeting with Hitler on November 28, , Husseini--according to his own memoirs--asserted their ideological affinity, when it came to anti-Semitism, in the following manner: "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.