Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has received strong criticism in Israel and abroad after he blamed the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al Husseini, for the extermination of millions of Jewish people during World War II in a controversial speech during the 37th World Zionist Congress.
Netanyahu told a group of Jewish leaders on Tuesday during the congress, which was held in Jerusalem, that Husseini convinced Nazi leader Adolf Hitler to exterminate the Jews.
"Hitler didn't want to exterminate the Jews at the time, he wanted to expel the Jews," Netanyahu said. When Hitler asked al-Husseini what to do, Netanyahu said he replied: "Burn them."
— Abdifatah Faisal (@AbdifatahFaisal) October 21, 2015
Netanyahu provided no evidence that such a conversation ever took place and there is no record of it having occurred. It was not the first time he made such a claim. During a Knesset speech in 2012, he described Husseini as "one of the leading architects" of the final solution.
Husseini was the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, the highest clerical authority dealing with religious issues regarding the Muslim community and holy sites during the 1920s and ‘30s, when Palestine was under British rule.
He was appointed to the post by Herbert Samuel, an avowed Zionist who was the first British High Commissioner of Palestine.
The Mufti met Hitler once in a 95-minute long conversation which took place on November 28 1941 in an attempt to try and secure his support for the Arab independence. Most historians agree that by the time the meeting took place, Hitler’s plans to exterminate the Jews were already formed.
Joseph Massad, a Colombian university professor, wrote in his 2006 book The Persistence of the Palestinian Question, "The only thing these unsigned letters by the Mufti showed was his opposition to Nazi Germany’s and Romania’s allowing Jews to emigrate to Palestine."
The Mufti has become a key figure in the Zionist version of Palestinian history.
Holocaust experts attacked Netanyahu's comments on Wednesday as historically inaccurate.
Critics say Netanyahu's statements are an attempt to further dehumanise Palestinians and justify Israel’s ongoing ethnic cleansing.
Netanyahu was willing to whitewash Hitler to smear Palestinians. Just let that sink in to understand how low he has sunk.
— Yousef Munayyer (@YousefMunayyer) October 21, 2015
Netanyahu's remarks were quick to spark a social media storm, with some social media personalities branding his comments as a "bizarre kind of Holocaust revisionism."
"This statement is almost too absurd to debunk," the Alternet reported.
The head of the left wing Meretz party MK Zeheva Galon accused Netanyahu of whitewashing Adolf Hitler in his speech.
"Maybe we should exhume the 33,771 Jews who were murdered at Babi Yar in September of 1941, two months before the Mufti and Hitler even met, and inform them that the Nazis never meant to annihilate them," she wrote.
"I will leave the psychological analyses to others. One thing I do know: people who cannot act to change the future, have nothing left to do but to rewrite the past."