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Ahmadinejad's Holocaust Insanity By: Jamie Weinstein
North Star Writers Group | Thursday, October 09, 2008

Appearing on Larry King Live at the end of September when he was in New York to speak at the United Nations, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad returned to one of his favorite tropes.

"Let's assume (the Holocaust) happened, the extent of which everyone is speaking of," Ahmadinejad preached, attempting to pin Israel's legitimacy as a nation to an event he doesn't believe actually occurred. "If the crimes were committed in Europe, why should the Palestinian people be victimized as a result?"

Let us assume for a moment that Israel's legitimacy is tied to the Holocaust, to the extent Ahmadinejad is suggesting. In this twisted world, Ahmadinejad's question is a fair one. And it is one that has an answer.

In last week's edition of The Weekly Standard, I reviewed David Dalin and John Rothmann's latest book Icon of Evil. Their tome provides a forceful answer to Ahmadinejad's query. 

The book recounts the life of Haj Amin al-Husseini. The mufti was the recognized leader of Palestinian Arabs from the 1920s until well after World War II. After leaving Mandate Palestine in 1937, he ultimately found his way to Berlin in 1941.

In Berlin, al-Husseini was treated royally. Given luxurious accommodations and a large stipend, he was looked to as a leader of importance by Adolf Hitler and even viewed as an honorary Aryan due to his blond hair and blue eyes.

A social butterfly, al-Husseini met with all the right people. He had an audience with the Fuhrer and, according to the book's authors, he became a close confident of Heinrich Himmler and Adolph Eichmann, despite al-Husseini's denials after the war. 

But al-Husseini was more than just a passive observer of Nazi crimes. He was an active collaborator. Besides broadcasting pro-Nazi radio messages to Muslims throughout the world, al-Husseini recruited Bosnian Muslims to join the Nazi war effort. 

"With (al-Husseini's) encouragement and incitement," Dalin and Rothmann write, "the Bosnian Muslim Waffen-SS company that he recruited, the notorious 'Handschar troopers,' slaughtered 90 percent – 12,600 – of Bosnia's 14,000 Jews."

Of course, al-Husseini's ultimate goal was to bring the final solution to the Middle East. He attempted to do so even before the war in Europe had ended, though his efforts fortunately failed. Through a series of fortuitous events, both political and otherwise, al-Husseini escaped prosecution for war crimes and eventually made his way back to the Middle East where he continued to foment anti-Jewish and anti-Israeli hatred up until his death in 1974. 

Playing Ahmadinejad's game is somewhat a fool's errand. Israel's legitimacy goes far deeper than the crimes of the Holocaust. It is in many ways offensive that Israel is even forced to defend its right to exist. It is a task that few states are asked to undertake. 

Nonetheless, Ahmadinejad's question does indeed have an answer. His insinuation that the Arabs of Palestine had no role in the Holocaust is disproved by the story of al-Husseini. You can argue that he was just one man, but the fact remains that he was the recognized leader of Palestinian Arabs and he is widely celebrated in the West Bank and Gaza today.

Sadly, years after al-Husseini's death, the Middle East remains rife with anti-Semitism. Hitler's autobiography Mein Kampf recently topped the best seller list in Turkey, and the Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion, a notorious anti-Semitic Tsarist forgery, was turned into a popular mini-series in several Arab countries.

According to a recently released international poll by WorldPublicOpinion.org, nearly 20 percent of Palestinians believe that Israel was responsible for the Sept. 11 attacks. The results are worse in Egypt and Jordan, where 43 percent of Jordanians and 31 percent of Egyptians blame Israel for Al Qaeda's gruesome crime. 

Studies of educational texts throughout the Arab world have consistently found anti-Semitic libels being taught as fact to school children. Obviously, such anti-Semitic indoctrination does not provide a positive foundation for a future peace deal between Israel and its neighbors. Even the "moderate" Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, whom Israeli leaders hope they can one day negotiate a peace deal with, earned a PhD with a dissertation denying the extent of the Holocaust.

Finally, of course, there is our old friend Ahmadinejad, who in 2006 hosted a conference in Tehran on Holocaust denial. 

It is always easy to ignore the taunts and ahistorical statements of bullies like Ahmadinejad. But history matters. We can't allow the ignorant to write it. 

Jamie Weinstein is a syndicated columnist with North Star Writers Group.

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