Amin al-Husayni

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Amin al-Husseini or Amin al-Husayni was the Grand Mufti or مفتي عام of Jerusalem from 1921 until his death in 1974. The Grand Mufti was the highest Sunni religious legal figure under the Ottoman Empire and the British League of Nations Mandate government of Palestine.

Born in 1896 to the powerful Palestinian Arab al-Husseini family, Amin al-Husseini was appointed Grand Mufti in 1921 by British High Commissioner for Palestine Herbert Samuels, A British Jew. His older brother, father and grandfather had all served as Grand Mufti. His appointment as Grand Mufti was a something of a sop to the al-Husseini family because it had lost the postion of mayor of Jerusalem to the rival Nashashibi family. The Mayor of Jerusalem was a Palestinian Arab because Palestinian Arbs were the overwhelming majority of the population of the city and of Palestine in the first decade of the British League of Nations Mandate.

Today, Amin al-Husseini is vilified in Israel and in the West for having been a stooge of Adolph Hitler's German government. Unsurprisingly, he opposed the creation of a Jewish state in Palestine.

Amin al-Huesseini fled into exile in French League of Nations Mandate Lebanon in 1937 after being arrested for provoking violence between Arabs and Jews, and moved to British League of Nations Mandate Iraq immediately before the Second World War. After the abortive pro-Axis Iraqi revolt of 1941, he fled to Fascist Italy and then on to Nazi Germany. Al-Husseini never extracted the level of support he hoped for from Adolph Hitler anf the German government. Hitler refused to issue a declaration of support because he did not wante to anger the Vichy Government, which controlled the League of Nations Mandate in Syria and Lebanon. At the same time that al-Husseini was seeking to become a Nazi German client, Lechi leader and rightist Zionist Avraham Stern was suggesting that his terror group seek German help to drive the British out of Palestine.

In his Berlin exile, the radical cleric broadcast Nazi propaganda and helped recruit small numbers of Arab recruits for the German miltiary from among French Prisoners of War who had been recuited from the French colonies in the Maghreb (Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia). Husayni escaped French house arrest in 1946 and fled to Egypt, where he lived until the early 1960s, when he moved once again to Lebanon.

al-Husseini is comparable to the many rightist, nationalist and anti-communist figures who sought support or at least public recognition from one or another of the Fascist dictators in the period between the two World Wars, including American Charles Lindbergh, Briton Oswald Mosley, Iranian Reza Khan (Reza Shah Pahlavi), Palestinian Jew Vladimir {Ze'ev) Jabotinsky, Russian Konstantin Rodzayevsky and Russian-American Anastas Vosniyatsky.

References

  • Tom Segev. 1999. One Palestine Complete: Jews and Arabs Under the British Mandate. Owl Books. ISBN 0805065873.
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