Palestinians – along with Israeli opposition figures – have reacted angrily to recent statements by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in which he appeared to blame Palestinians for the Holocaust.
Israeli opposition leader Isaac Herzog said Netanyahu was “trivialising the Holocaust” by claiming that Nazi leader Adolf Hitler did not intend to exterminate the Jews of Germany until persuaded to do so by the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem Haj Amin al-Husseini, a Palestinian.
Netanyahu made the comments during the 37th World Zionist Congress in Jerusalem on Tuesday, where he asserted that the Grand Mufti’s alleged advice to Hitler constituted evidence of a historical Palestinian tendency to incite violence against the Jewish people.
In a response posted on Facebook, Herzog described Netanyahu’s assertions as a “dangerous distortion of history”, which, he added, would “play into the hands of Holocaust deniers”.
Leftist parliamentarian Zehava Gal-On, for her part, accused Netanyahu of “rewriting” history, claiming that tens of thousands of Jews had been killed by the Nazis before al-Husseini met Hitler in 1941.
In a statement, Palestinian Ambassador to the UN Saeb Erekat said Netanyahu had “deepened the divide” between Palestinians and Israelis at a time when more than 50 of the former and 10 of the latter had been killed in ongoing violence.
“Palestinian efforts against the Nazi regime are a deep-rooted part of our history,” said Erekat, noting the role Palestinians had played fighting the Nazis during the Second World War. “Palestine will never forget, although it seems Netanyahu’s extremist government has.”
“It is a sad day in history when the leader of the Israeli government hates his neighbour so much so that he is willing to absolve the most notorious war criminal in history, Adolf Hitler, of the murder of six million Jews,” Erekat added.