Benjamin Netanyahu’s reference in a speech to the meeting between Adolf Hitler and Amin Haj al-Husseini, then the grand mufti of Jerusalem, has occasioned a great deal of outrage, mostly from the political left. Elliot Jager defends the prime minister’s remarks, and wonders why they ruffled so many feathers:
Netanyahu did not say, [as some have claimed], that the mufti convinced Hitler to annihilate the Jews. . . .
Obviously, there is much more to be said about the mufti and the Nazis. But what matters in 2015 is this: first, the claim that the Jews want to change the status quo on the Temple Mount dates back at least to the mufti’s days. Second, fierce criticism by dovish Jewish journalists, pundits, and politicians (and of course the foreign media and the Arabs) of Netanyahu is intended to undermine his not-so-subtle implication that Arab intentions then and now are much the same.
That is the crux of the issue.
If you believe the conflict is about boundaries and settlements, then you want to play down the extraordinary consistency of Arab intentions. Why? Because it is almost too painful to imagine that the Palestinian Arabs today really want what the Palestinian Arabs of 1933 or 1929 wanted. So if you think that Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and Fatah are not disciples of the mufti’s values, then you need to be offended by Netanyahu’s efforts to link the Nazis to the Palestinian cause. Of course, you also need to keep your eyes tightly closed.