Recently a delegation that included a large number of Muslim religious leaders visited Auschwitz and Birkenau under the auspices of the UN. It was reported that they were moved by the reality of the Nazi extermination of the Jews. This was an important visit because of widespread denial of the Holocaust by various figures in the Muslim world.
While denial of the Holocaust is widespread among Muslims there is another more prevalent but equally objectionable response that one hears from time to time especially among so called moderate Palestinians and their supporters.. . It is to state so to speak that "the Holocaust was surely a terrible event. But it was a European crime that Arabs had nothing to do with. Yet the Arabs of Palestine are paying the price by the existence of the state of Israel." I have heard it said that " the Jews indeed deserve a state after the Holocaust but let it be in Europe not Palestine"
What is not being realized is that the Arabs of Palestine did indeed play a major and perhaps even pivotal role in the Holocaust. A lot has been written about the relationship between Amin Al Husseini the Mufti of Jerusalem and his relationship with the Nazis. Much has been written about his friendship with Hitler , and Eichmann and his
recruitment of Muslims to the SS in the Balkans. If one looks at the situation clearly it is obvious that these activities contributed to the Holocaust but probably only in peripheral way.
The contribution of the Arabs of Palestine to the Nazi extermination of the Jews was much more far reaching than any of these activities. From 1936 through 1939 the Great Revolt took place. This was a series of attacks, riots and terrorist activities against both the British and and the Jews of Palestine. It was eventually forceably suppressed by the British.. It resulted in the St James Conference of 1939. This was a British sponsored conference in which Arab, Jewish and British representatives met to try to figure out what to do about the situation in Palestine after both sides had rejected the
partition proposal of the Peel Commission. The Arab side wanted the immediate cessation of Jewish immigration to Palestine and the end to land purchases there by Jews and the creation of an Arab state in Palestine. They would not meet directly with the Jews. Since no agreement between the parties could be reached the British imposed their own solution which was outlined in the so called "white paper" of 1939 which went into effect in May of that year.. It consisted
largely of giving into key Arab demands though the Arabs deemed it insufficient. It limited Jewish immigration to Palestine to 75,000 over the next 5 years. There would be 10,000 a year plus and extra twenty five thousand visas to be used as needed. Jewish land purchases were severely restricted. After ten years Palestine would be made into an independent state with a permanent Arab majority.
The world situation in 1939 makes clear what the impact of this policy was. The Jews of Germany were looking desperately for refuge, In many other European countries the future looked grim and Jews sought. to escape. The obvious place for Jews to go was Palestine where the Jews had been promised a "national home" by the League of Nations. Yet Palestine was closed because the British sought to placate the Arabs. One can only speculate as to the number of European Jews who
could have escaped murder had not the Arabs of Palestine along with the British barred the gates of Palestine. Thus the Jews of Europe were trapped and most sent to their deaths. There is one further speculation that awaits further research. The "final solution" was only firmly decided on in Jan 1942 with the Wannsee Conference. The original goal of the Nazis seems to have been to drive the Jews out of Europe. In 1940 they came up with the Madagascar plan to deport all the Jews of Europe to Madagascar. It is conceivable perhaps that had Palestine been available as a place which would accept Europe's Jews events would have went in a different direction than they did.
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is a conservative pulpit Rabbi in Staten Island, New York.