On 9 July 2023, Paul Schneider offered his opinion piece, “Nazism and the Palestinians,” in The Algemeiner. The reader will be aware that this is while “Palestinians” are engaged in their latest round of trying to drive the Jews out of Judea and Samaria.
Under that notorious 1941 photograph of the convivial Amin al-Husseini parlez with Adolf Hitler, the piece scores two early confidence tricks: describing Al-Husseini’s appointment as Grand Mufti of Jerusalem as “a mistake,” as if the British did not know what they were doing; and accusing Al-Husseini of, “fomenting violence against the Jews of Palestine,” and of, “promulgating a reading of the Koran that was genocidally antisemitic.”
For the purposes of this essay, I only want to address Schneider’s “charges” against Al-Husseini, and show that the author is engaged in an effort to distance Muslims from the killing of Jews, both in Mandatory Palestine then, and in Israel today. The instrument of this obfuscation is “Islamism,” a supposed violent, latter-day ideology (also called “political Islam”) and an attempt to juxtapose to it Islam as a peaceful religion practised by Muslims, who are peaceful, tolerant and moderate people. Paul Schneider is far from alone in being possessed by an unshakeable compulsion to go easy on Muslims and to downplay, if not outright deny, the things they think, say and do. It is a global pandemic that has struck especially hard in Israel, and it is leading to disaster.
“Husseini became the undisputed leader of the Palestinian national movement,” notes Schneider, but does not say that he accomplished this by uniting within himself both offices of supreme Arab leadership through being President of the Supreme Moslem Council and through being the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, thus elevating himself to leader and defender of the faithful, in other words, a sort of mini-caliph.
What Schneider sees as Al-Husseini’s “genocidally antisemitic” reading of the Qur’an is nothing more than the latter reading the Qur’an for the military manual that it is, exactly as is proper for the politico-spiritual leader of a barbaric martial people commanded to forever fight the infidel, and especially to kill the Jews.
Certainly, Al-Husseini’s main ally would be Nazi Germany, but Nazi Germany’s main ally was not Al-Husseni. After the defeat of the Nazis, the Arab Muslims turned to the Soviet Union, who were equal-opportunity exterminators, rather than uniquely anti-Semitic. So it is not necessarily true that “the after-effects of that alliance [viz., Arab anti-Semitism and killing of Jews] continue to this day.” It is the outcome of more than just the alliance between Hitler and Al-Husseini.
One suspects that Al-Husseini, a relatively small-time desert warlord with a rag-tag band of bandits, was a bit of an embarrassment to the mighty Führer. If Hitler was going to be impressed with an oriental leader, it would be one that would inspire the Nazi leader with great feats of savagery on a much grander scale. In this, Al-Husseini had nothing on Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, whom Hitler acknowledged as both his and Benito Mussolini’s teacher. Although Atatürk was fiercely anti-Muslim, Hitler’s admiration for him, nonetheless, does tie back to Palestine.
The Young Turks and Mustafa Kemal, despite despising Islam, continued to understand the world in the superficial way that most Muslims, and many ex-Muslims, of which Atatürk was one, continue to do, whether consciously or unconsciously. He adopted the dress and habits of enlightened Europeans, but remained the brutal totalitarian he had always been. His instincts remained crude and cruel.
And there’s the rub. The Ottomans practised Islam and treated infidels, the kufaar, non-Muslims, as the Qur’an in so many verses commands they be treated. For instance:
Fight those who do not believe in Allah, nor in the latter day, nor do they prohibit what Allah and His Apostle have prohibited, nor follow the religion of truth [Islam, AP], out of those who have been given the Book, [i.e., Jews and Christians, AP], until they pay the tax [jizya, AP] in acknowledgment of superiority and they are in a state of subjection [dhimmis, AP], (9:29). (Muhammad Habib Shakir translation)
And of course, the Ottomans also ruled in Palestine, who had 9:29 in force there for 400 years, making Amin Al-Husseini and his Arab Muslims well aware of how to treat Jews. A somewhat lengthy excerpt from a mid-19th century account of Palestine, one of many, will suffice to show just how wrong Schneider is:
This Jewish population is poor beyond any adequate word; it is degraded in its social and political condition, to a state of misery, so great, that it possesses no rights. It can shew no wealth even if possessed of it, because to display riches would secure robbery from the Mahometan population, the Turkish officials, or the Bedouin Arab. These Jews live chiefly on alms, collected from the nation in all parts of the world.
…No advancement is made by the Jew of Palestine, in trafficking, in commerce, in farming, in the possession of settled houses or lands. There alone, where he ought to be first, he is last; and where in all other countries a Jew thrives and increases in wealth, in that one he is spiritless from oppression, and without energy, because without hope of Protection. He creeps along that soil, where his forefathers proudly strode in the fulness of a wonderful prosperity, as an alien, an outcast, a creature less than a dog, and below the oppressed Christian beggar in his own ancestral plains and cities. No harvest ripens for his hand, for he cannot tell whether he will be permitted to gather it. Land occupied by a Jew is exposed to robbery and waste. A most peevish jealousy exists against the landed prosperity, or commercial wealth, or trading advancement of the Jew. Hindrances exist to the settlement of a British Christian in that country, but a thousand petty obstructions are created to prevent the establishment of a Jew on waste land, or to the purchase and rental of land by a Jew.
…“Agricultural pursuits are attended with much hazard, for, in the vicinity of the Jordan there are many Arabs, who support themselves chiefly by plunder. When the time approaches in which the annual conscription is accomplished, the inhabitants leave the villages through fear, and thus the cultivation is quite neglected, and thieves find no hindrance in committing their misdeeds at night.” What security exists, that a Jewish emigrant settling in Palestine, could receive a fair remuneration for his capital and labour? None whatever. He might toil, but his harvests would be reaped by others; the Arab robber can rush in and carry off his flocks and herds. If he appeals for redress to the nearest Pasha, the taint of his Jewish blood fills the air, and darkens the brows of his oppressors; if he turns to his neighbour Christian, he encounters prejudice and spite; if he claims a Turkish guard, he is insolently repulsed and scorned. How can he bring his capital into such a country, when that fugitive possession flies from places where the sword is drawn to snatch it from the owner's hands and not protect it?
…The more numerous the cases of oppression, (and they are many), the more clamorous their appeals for justice, the more unwillingly will the government of the Sultan, partly from inherent and increasing weakness, partly from disinclination, act on the side of the Jew. They despise them as an execrated race; they hate them as the literal descendants of the original possessors of the country.”
1852 — we can end this discussion right here. The only force operating in Palestine at that time that could motivate such behaviour was Islam, nothing else. Case closed. But I have more to say.
By the above account, the reader must not imagine these appalling events to indicate anti-Semitic behaviour. They do not; it was Islamic behaviour. This following short account from another source, referring to Palestine in 1824, will help to clarify my point:
The Governor of Jerusalem put an Arab of the Desert into prison, on account of a thousand piastres which the Arabs owed the Governor. The Arabs upon this, entered the convent of Mar Saba, bastinadoed the poor Greek monks, and threatened to destroy the convent, if the monks did not pay the thousand piastres which the Arabs owed to the Governor of Jerusalem.
Both Christians, as shown above, and Jews are subject to the Dhimma, the legal restrictions and privations imposed on what Muslims call "protected peoples," wherever Shari'a is applied more or less in full, as was the case in Palestine under Turkish rule. But this essay is a response to a contemporary Jew telling the world that the Muslim Arabs slaughtering Jews in Israel would not be so bad, but for one of their leaders a hundred years ago falling in with some unsavoury company. I feel a profound duty, as someone who knows the hearts and minds of Muslims from having been one in the early part of my life, as someone who gravely fears what Muslims have in store for the Jewish people, and as a simple, decent human being, to expose the crime, yes, I say crime, of deliberately misleading the Jews as to the nature and intention of Muslims.
Paul Schneider is guilty of this crime. It is quite evident that he has no idea what he is talking about and has even less idea of how to put that right. And so I implore you, dear reader, to indulge me a little longer, and read this one more tract, an excerpt from a 23 February 1824 letter by the Reverend W. B. Lewis to the London Society. The evil you will read of below is in no way diminished and is openly talked about, boasted about, laughed about, amongst the people that Mr Schneider will have you believe are "moderate Arabs."
Rabbi M. Balter (now dead) with three or four of the Sephardim Jews, was thrown into a dungeon under pretence of their having sold wine a Turk; for Jews and Christians are not allowed in Jerusalem to make wine for Turks, but only for their own private use [a Muslim restriction on dhimmis, in transgression of which they can be executed, AP].
Although the charge could not be proved, instruments to bastinado and to torture him were produced, to force money out of him for the governor; the man in his fright, and not able to speak Arabic, made a sign with three fingers, meaning to signify, as he said afterwards, that he would give three hundred piastres to be released, but the governor interpreted the sign as a promise to give three burses (or fifteen hundred) piastres, and he demanded that sum accordingly from each of the Jews in prison for the same pretended crime, and ordered the house of the foreign Jew to be rifled, and himself detained until the sum was paid.
The man was not in possession of half the money, and when he had been in confinement for some time, and dragged about the streets among his brethren as a criminal with a chain around his neck, an order was sent to the chief of the Ashkenazim Jews to appear before the governor. The old rabbi was ill in bed, but this was no excuse. He was compelled to rise, and was placed on the back of an ass, supported by two men; the governor told him that he should be considered responsible for the money due from the Jew in prison, and on the Rabbi's remonstrating, told him that he should likewise be sent to prison.
The young man who accompanied the Rabbi as interpreter, said, that it was contrary to the Turkish laws, thus to imprison the chief Rabbi, upon which the young man himself was ordered to prison, put in chains, and kept with his brother Jew in a dark, dirty dungeon until the avarice of the governor was satisfied. [Any attempt by a dhimmi to defend himself can result in his immediate execution, since a dhimmi's life is forfeit for not being Muslim, AP]
The Jews at Jerusalem ...are liable to be stopped by the lowest fallaah [peasant, AP] of the country, who, if he pleases, may demand money off them as a right due to the mussulman; and this extortion may be practised on the same poor Jew over and over again in the space of ten minutes.
The Jews are fond of frequenting the tombs of their forefathers, especially on particular days, to read their prayers in remembrance of the dead. Here advantage is taken of them again. They are rudely accosted and pilfered, and if resistance is made, they are beat almost to death, and this not by common highwaymen or Bedouin Arabs, but by men they may have been in the habit of seeing and talking with every day.
The Muslims, Turks and Arabs alike, exacted jizya (protection money) out of the Jews in Palestine, both officially and unofficially at every turn, always humiliating the Jew who had to remain at all times subdued. It was an arbitrary imposition, one of many, intentionally designed so it is not possible to know either whether you have transgressed any law or what punishment you are about to receive. I am at pains to point out this arbitrary nature, for we are seeing this same arbitrariness in the imposition of "hate speech" laws and "Islamophobia." We are sleepwalking right back into the same totalitarianism that you have just read about.
“Until they pay the jizya and feel themselves subdued,” (9:29). The Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Hajj Amin Al-Husseini, President of the Supreme Muslim Council and appointer of judges to the Shari'a Courts, and his followers, needed no lessons in Jew-hatred from a mere Nazi. They had the Qur’an, and they’ve had it for much longer than there has been Nazis on this earth, and will continue to have it long after Nazism is gone and forgotten. Their religion has been Islam long before anyone thought of dreaming up “Islamism.”
So when Schneider informs his readers that “Husseini spent the 1920s forming a militant network based on Islamism and Arab nationalism,” he is quite wrong, for the Qur’an, the scripture on which their terrible deeds and attitudes are based, explicitly names the religion it proclaims as Islam, not as Islamism. “This day have I perfected for you your religion and completed My favour on you and chosen for you Islam as a religion.” (5:3) (My emphasis). When Schneider says, “Along the way, he [Al-Husseini] became an admirer of Hitler,” this might well be true, but not because Hitler could teach him anything about Jew-hatred—he and the Muslim Arabs were already well steeped in that—but because Hitler had devised a means of exterminating the Jews, something that Muslims, for all their efforts through the centuries, could not accomplish.
Schneider says that after meeting Hitler in 1941, “Husseini then became the leading purveyor of Nazi propaganda to the Arab world, exhorting the Arabs to “kill the Jews wherever you find them.” This is not Nazi propaganda, but a verbatim exhortation from the Qur’an: “And kill them wherever you find them, and drive them out from whence they drove you out,” (2:191). This is no “genocidally antisemitic” reading of the Qur’an, as Schneider would have his readers believe, but a faithful reading of the Qur’an exactly as it is. It is a commandment upon the Muslims, not upon the so-called “Islamists,” that must be obeyed without question.
“At the same time, Husseini aggressively silenced moderate Arabs, often by having them assassinated.” Again, he is only doing as the Qur’an commands all Muslims to do. The Qur’an has plenty of choice words for “hypocrites,” people who call themselves Muslim, but avoid those parts of Allah’s commandments they're too squeamish for, i.e., the “moderate Arabs” of Schneider’s fancy, including: “if they turn back, then seize them and kill them wherever you find them,” (4:89). Schneider adds, in parentheses, “His successor, Yasser Arafat, would adopt the same practice.” Of course he did; he followed the same Qur’an.
“The Nazis also financed, armed and collaborated with the violently antisemitic Muslim Brotherhood, which continued to admire the Nazis after World War II,” says Schneider. Yes, they did, but the Nazis did not make them Muslim. They were that all along. Seeking support in authority, Schneider adds, quoting Bernard Lewis:
Pro-German sentiment was so strong in the Arab world “that even after the final defeat of the Third Reich it did not fade away and—what is perhaps more significant—it was not concealed. On the contrary, a pro-Nazi past was a source of pride, not shame."
Certainly, they had pro-German sentiment, not because of any Teutonic predilection, but because the Germans were helping them accomplish a world free of Jews, as their religion commands. They had a hand in it, and therefore every reason to be proud. This is only perplexing if you a priori insist on keeping Islam out of the discussion. Only in the context of such denial of Islam as the motivating force behind Muslim hatred of Jews does the following complaint make sense:
That pride was still alive in 2015, when the grand mufti of Jerusalem laid a wreath at Husseini’s grave. In 2019, Mahmoud al-Habbash, a former Hamas official who was appointed by Palestinian Authority chief Mahmoud Abbas as an advisor on religious affairs, marked the anniversary of Husseini’s death by praising him as a “great Palestinian national leader” and a “role model.” Now, nearly half a century after his death, the P.A. preserves Husseini’s memory for the next generation at the “Amin Al-Husseini Elementary School” in El Bireh.
One more spin around the “Islamism” track and Islam slips out of sight, and parks on the side as a "religion of peace," a safe space for “moderate Arabs”, “moderate Muslims”, and “moderate Palestinians.” Despite Islam having existed and its name being known for 1400 years, one may now speak of an “Axis-style ideology” and be completely astounded to discover that:
The movement would be directed by these two sequential leaders and their similar philosophy and methods for an astounding 83 years, from al-Husseini’s becoming grand mufti in 1921 to Arafat’s death in 2004.
Ah, Arafat's successor, Mahmoud Abbas, does not think of Jews as soiling Har haBayït (the Temple Mount) "with their filthy feet" and does not pay his Arab Muslims to kill Jews. Thank God the “Axis-style ideology” is behind us. Schneider talks of Arafat having taken control of the Friday sermons in al-Aqsa mosque, “making them a tool of incitement.” Apparently unaware of what a mosque is for, he then complains of,
One such [extreme] sermon [in which] the preacher instructed his listeners, “Have no mercy on the Jews, no matter where they are, in any country. Fight them wherever you are. Wherever you meet them, kill them.” The echoes of Husseini’s wartime exhortations were unmistakable.
On the contrary, what is unmistakeable are the exhortations of the Qur’an, but I suppose it would be going a bit far to suggest that Islam might be preached in every mosque. All that then remains is to turn history on its head, and here, too, Schneider needs to call in the big guns:
As Lewis wrote, “European antisemitism, in both its theological and racist versions, was essentially alien to Islamic traditions, culture and modes of thought. But to an astonishing degree the ideas, the literature, even the crudest inventions of the Nazis and their predecessors have, so to speak, been internalized and Islamized.”
Wanting to end on a constructive note, Schneider closes by offering the “Palestinians” some advice, leaning on yet another authority, this time Jeffrey Herf:
One precondition for a peaceful end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict lies in an Arab and Palestinian rejection of the reactionary Islamist political theology that Husseini did so much to create.
Seemingly, expertise in “Islamism” does not equip one to notice when one is drawing the divinity of the Qur’an into question. Muslims would not take kindly to being told that Al-Husseini had a hand in writing the Qur’an. The most unspeakable things have been done to people accused of blasphemy. Mr Schneider might want to think about that.
- A. G. H. Hollingsworth, Remarks upon the Present Condition and Future Prospects of the Jews in Palestine, Seeleys, London, 1852, pp5-7.
- The Jewish Expositor and Friend of Israel, Proceedings of the London Society, Vol IX, 1824, p66.
- (As above), pp379-380.
Bundesarchiv, Bild 146-1987-004-09A / Heinrich Hoffmann / CC-BY-SA 3.0, CC BY-SA 3.0 de, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5483348
Walters Art Museum: Home page Info about artwork, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=18850802
Mostafameraji - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=64880050