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HAJ AMIN AL-HUSSEINI
Haj Amin Al-Husseini (1895?-1974), Mufti of Palestine, head of the Arab Higher Committee and the Supreme Muslim Council in Palestine, was the consummate diplomat. He not only reigned in Palestine as well as on the international scene as the uncrowned king of Palestine, but he actually conducted himself as one. He was fair-skinned, had green-blue eyes and sported a well groomed reddish beard on a messianic face. He was soft-spoken and you had to listen carefully to be able to hear what he had to say. Eltaher often joked that if one were to paint a facial portrait of Jesus Christ, Haj Amin, would have been the best model to copy!
Throughout his life Haj Amin made as many enemies as he made friends among the Palestinians and the Arabs. Eltaher and Haj Amin maintained a long-standing friendship, though both men have had several fallouts because of political differences. When Eltaher was detained at the Huckstep internment camp in 1949 in Egypt, he suspected Haj Amin’s involvement in encouraging the Egyptian authorities to detain him. Eltaher did not support his policies regarding the struggle for Palestine during the few years preceding its fall in the hands of the Jews, and actually blamed this defeat partially on Haj Amin. Their personal, though not political, reconciliation following a long break came about only close to the end of their lives. Haj Amin and Eltaher died forty days apart and were buried not far from each other in the same cemetery in Beirut. Haj Amin had one son, Salah, and six daughters Asma, Souad, Zeynab, Nafissa, Amina and Jehad.
Haj Amin may have fought his own battles the way he thought best, but there is no doubt that he was a master politician and a true Palestinian nationalist. He spent his last years in Lebanon in a suburb called Mansourieh in the hills overlooking Beirut. He had a large house with a garden, but did not live in luxury. He had a driver and a guard to ensure his security and that of his family. When the Lebanese civil war flared up in 1975, it was reported that undetermined Christian militias attacked his house and set it on fire, and as was reported, though not corroborated, the fire destroyed his extensive library and all his archives.
Haj Amin also continues to be vilified as a pro-Nazi, Hitler-lover, with pictures of him with the Führer, or with SS Chief Heinrich Himmler, or Foreign Affairs Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop and others in support. To put things into historical perspective, Haj Amin did seek Germany’s support against British occupation of Palestine, as well as against its policy of inundating his country with European immigrants of the Jewish faith. While his policy line was not supported by all Palestinians, Haj Amin did not have much choice, since he was being chased by the British before, during and after the Second World War because of his resistance to their colonial policies in Palestine.
The British kept hounding him to ensure that the Palestinians remain leaderless, and left him no choice but to seek help from their enemies, first the Italians, then the Germans. It must be noted that, at first, the Palestinian leadership considered their relationship with British officials as one with "English gentlemen". They were always resisting and fighting back within the means they had. First ‘politely’ through meetings, letters, memorandi and petitions, as they imagined 'English gentlemen' behaved. They were soon to discover that that was only in appearances, while those "gentlemen" behaved with them in a most immoral manner. The Palestinians then had no choice but take up arms against them as they realized that this was the only language they seemed to understand. The responsability of Britain in the whole tragedy of the Palestinian people is paramount, and the British should be accountable to the Palestinian people for what they did to them by self-appropriating their country and worse still, give it to other people without their approval.
Haj Amin was quite certainly aware of the lost love between the Nazis and the Jews in Europe, but neither he, nor his supporters, had any idea about the mass extermination of Jews, Slavs and Gypsies in concentration camps51. Be that as it may, Haj Amin was rather following the famous saying: “The enemy of my enemy is my friend”; and who did not do that in history old or modern?
In this context, here is what Mohamed Ali Eltaher wrote under the title “The Jews in Germany” in his book “Nazarat Ashoura” about the people of Palestine and the Nazis in Germany:
“According to a media report from Breslau in Germany dated June 19, 1932 a confrontation between the Jews and Hitler’s supporters erupted when some three hundred Hitler supporters marching in the streets came face to face with a Jewish funeral procession. Whenever Hitler’s supporters met Jewish passers by, they shouted at them: “Jews, go to Palestine!” Now when they saw the Jewish funeral procession, they shouted: “Here is one who is already gone to Palestine. We will soon get rid of the others”. “When I read this news wire”, wrote Eltaher, “I felt so depressed and could not but join the Jews in wishing that Herr Hitler fail and that his neck be broken before he and his partisans become strong enough to take over power in Germany.”
“Yes, my point of view as an Arab Palestinian vis-à-vis Hitler is identical to that of the Jews. We and the Jews have agreed and disagreed at the same time. This is the first time in my life that I stand against a national movement and wish its failure. Here is why.
“It is important for me as a Palestinian Arab that no motive should exist anywhere in the world that pushes the Jews to come to Palestine. By hounding the Jews, the German nationalist Hitler will succeed at the end in chasing them or at least some of them out from Germany. They will find no haven to settle in other than Palestine. The fall of Hitler, even if it hurts the German nationalist movement, affects the survival of my country. That is why I beg my readers to pardon my selfishness, because survival is an innate human trait that does not waver. Thus, in spite of me I wish the Jews well in Germany. What a dark catastrophe will befall Palestine should Hitler triumph in Germany and start persecuting the Jews – God save them there only. Otherwise, God forbid, they will then swarm Palestine like locusts.”52
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