May 10—the day that Hamas launched 150 rockets into Israel, beginning eleven days of fighting—happened to be the anniversary of Amin al-Husseini’s appointment as grand mufti of Jerusalem. The coincidence was fitting, as Husseini did perhaps more than anyone to set the Palestinian national movement on its current course, a course that, however indirectly, led to the situation Israelis and Palestinians now find themselves in.
Husseini may be best known because of a photograph taken on November 28, 1941, that shows him sitting with Adolf Hitler. The latter can be seen gesturing to an attentive Husseini, who sits with his hands folded and a thin smile on his face. Germany, Hitler told his guest, was determined to “solve its Jewish problem”—first in Europe, and then through “the destruction of the Jewish element residing in the Arab sphere.”
Despite an early hiccup—Husseini had expected, in keeping with Arab tradition, to be served the customary coffee only to be met with lemonade—the mufti’s audience with the Führer went well, and the result, namely Husseini’s endeavor to rally Muslims to the Nazi cause, is widely known. Less discussed, however, is how Husseini came to prominence in the first place, a story that has had lasting effects in Israeli and Middle Eastern history, and carries with it some important lessons for the present.
(Read the rest of CAMERA’s July 27, 2021 Op-Ed for Mosaic Magazine here)