In Israel’s Moment, Jeffrey Herf investigates the reactions of various governments to the creation of a Jewish state in the years between 1945 and 1949, and particularly the unwillingness in the West to punish the Palestinian leader and mufti of Jerusalem, Amin al-Husseini, for his collaboration with the Nazis. Sol Stern writes in his review:
Among its many benefits, Herf’s book exposes the big lie . . . that Israel was created as a Western imperialist or colonialist outpost. . . . Herf also shows that the most passionate political support for Jewish statehood “came overwhelmingly from American liberals and left liberals, French socialists, and between 1947 and 1949 from Communists in France and the Soviet bloc, especially in Czechoslovakia.”
American progressives and leftists who later pushed for Israel’s independence first came together to launch a public campaign to bring the mufti to justice for his collaboration with the Nazis and for possible war crimes. But Husseini was shielded from prosecution by high-level government officials in the U.S. and France who were determined to protect Western influence in the Arab world. In Washington, the sudden concern for the mufti’s safety came from the same anti-Zionist faction within the Truman administration that later tried to block the creation of a Jewish state in Palestine.
In June 1946, French security forces guarding the house where Husseini was detained conveniently left the door open and he “escaped” to Egypt. The mufti was granted asylum by King Farouk [of Egypt] and received a rapturous reception upon his return. In Cairo, he was greeted as a conquering hero by the founder of the Islamofascist Muslim Brotherhood, Hassan al-Banna. The mufti, al-Banna declared, was a great leader who “challenged an empire and fought Zionism with the help of Hitler and Germany. Germany and Hitler are gone, but Amin al-Husseini will continue the struggle.”