Max Blumenthal is an award-winning journalist and bestselling author whose articles and video documentaries have appeared in The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Daily Beast, The Nation, The Guardian, The Independent Film Channel, The Huffington Post, Salon.com, Al Jazeera English and many other publications. His most recent book is Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel. His other book, Republican Gomorrah: Inside The Movement That Shattered The Party, is a New York Times and Los Angeles Times bestseller.
transcriptSHARMINI PERIES, EXEC. PRODUCER,T RNN: Welcome to the Real News Network. I'm Sharmini Peries coming to you from Baltimore.In a speech Tuesday before the World Zionist Congress, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claimed the Holocaust was inspired by a Palestinian leader. Let's have a look.ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER BENJAMIN NETANYAHU: And this attack and other attacks on the Jewish community in 1921 and 1921, 1929, were instigated by a call of the Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini, who was later sought for war crimes in the Nuremberg trials because he had a central role in fomenting the final solution. He flew to Berlin. Hitler didn't want to exterminate the Jews at the time. He wanted to expel the Jews.PERIES: These remarks have drawn worldwide criticism, including a statement by Chancellor Angela Merkel. Her spokesperson Steffen Seibert said, all Germans know the history of the murderous race mania of the Nazis that led to the break with civilization that was the Holocaust, adding that it must never be forgotten, in effect taking full responsibility for the genocidal attacks that killed over 6 million Jews. Netanyahu's comments come in the midst of daily violence carried out across Israel and Palestinian territories. These attacks have left dozens dead and over 1,000 injured.Joining us now to discuss this is Max Blumenthal. He's an award-winning journalist and bestselling author. His latest book is The 51-Day War: Resistance and Ruin in Gaza. Thank you for joining us, Max.MAX BLUMENTHAL: Thanks for having me.PERIES: Max, this is nothing new. Netanyahu has repeatedly made reference to the Holocaust and tried to affiliate and associate it with the Palestinians. Give us a sense of when he has done this at other times.BLUMENTHAL: It's October, but for Netanyahu it's springtime for Hitler. He has absolved Hitler of the final solution and displaced blame for the Holocaust onto Palestinians. And this is something that Netanyahu has done in the past. Netanyahu in his 1993 book, A Durable Peace, portrayed the Mufti Amin al-Husseini as the architect of the final solution. Falsely. Citing dubious testimony from one of Eichmann's deputies, which was renounced by Eichmann himself. In 2012 Netanyahu painted the Mufti Husseini, the long-dead mufti, as the architect of the final solution in a speech before the Knesset. A year later Netanyahu claimed that the mufti was personally responsible for the killing of 4,000 Jews, Jewish children, in the gas chambers in Auschwitz. There is no historical record to support any of these claims.And for the first time we're seeing Netanyahu challenged. I reported on those previous fabrications by Netanyahu, the only source I could find for the second one in 2013 at Bar Ilan University was a op-ed by Alan Dershowitz, Netanyahu's friend, who had himself fabricated this claim about 4,000 children being killed in Auschwitz because of personal orders by the mufti. The Mufti Husseini was not responsible for the death of a single Jew in Europe during World War II, and even Bernard Lewis, the neo-conservative historian, who Netanyahu reveres, has said so. Has joined the consensus of historians and Holocaust experts who believe this. Netanyahu has issued the same falsehood about Hitler having no intention to kill or exterminate European Jewry in November, 1941 when the mufti and Hitler met.As David Irving, the Holocaust revisionist, who I believe was jailed in Austria for the crime of Holocaust denial, and who lost his libel suit against the Holocaust historian Deborah Lipstat partially because he said that in 1941 Hitler was, quote-unquote, inactive. This is what Netanyahu is saying in order to displace blame on the Palestinians. So Netanyahu is engaging in what can be termed as Holocaust denial. Certainly Holocaust revisionism. And Irving, for his Holocaust revisionism was arrested. Ernst Zundel, a Holocaust denier, was jailed in Austria, I believe. Netanyahu could be, could have been jailed in one of these countries for what he said if he weren't the leader of the self-proclaimed Jewish state, which kind of guarantees him immunity. He got a light slap on the wrist from the Anti-Defamation League, which thanked him for his clarification, even though he didn't clarify at all. He merely doubled down on his outrageous remarks.Now, we have to ask why Netanyahu is doing this. Why is Netanyahu consistently attempting to displace blame for the Jewish genocide in Europe from the Germans onto the Palestinians? Of course, Netanyahu throughout his career has been determined to shatter the Palestinian national struggle. To discredit it, and to justify his campaign, his violent campaign against it. But with what's happening in Jerusalem Netanyahu's fanaticism has risen to the surface.PERIES: You know, Max, I found it curious that just recently since these attacks have been going on he has been quite measured in terms of his comments. Netanyahu came out and actually, you know, issued a statement saying that enticing violence and these kind of attacks on Palestinians by crowds, for example in the bus station, is violating the law. What do you make of these recent statements against this one?BLUMENTHAL: A week ago Netanyahu pledged to chop off the arms of his enemies, complimenting comments months before by former Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman that Palestinian citizens of Israel who were disloyal should be beheaded with axes. Netanyahu is a master of incitement. And very--and after the shooting of an innocent Eritrean refugee at a bus station in Beersheba, and the gory snuff film that emerged showing an Israeli mob trouncing the dying corpse of this refugee. No one, not one Israeli official, for two days said a word of condemnation. And the opposition leader, Isaac Herzog, his condemnation was weak at best. So I think Netanyahu, what we're seeing here is an escalation of incitement.Part of the Zionist narrative is that the Jews of Europe failed to resist. They went like sheep to the slaughter during the Holocaust, and that their redemption has arrived by arming themselves to the teeth in historic Palestine, forming a garrison, Spartan state, Fort Apache on the front lines of the clash of civilizations, and defending themselves even with nuclear energy against a second holocaust. Sort of a narrative that Netanyahu accepts, what he believes. It explains his whole career, and why he speaks the way he does. And it's also a narrative that's present in American Jewish popular culture. It explains the popularity of the Tarantino film Inglourious Basterds, which is about a mythical or imaginary unit of American Jews who go into the woods of Europe and slaughter Nazis. In one scene they extra-judicially execute a Nazi officer who had been captured by slamming his head open with a baseball bat.Unfortunately for Netanyahu, these fantasies can't be realized. Israel finds itself after its failed campaign to stoke a war against Iran, which Netanyahu has said was led by a modern Hitler, it finds itself up against 12-year-old and 15-year-old stone throwers. Teenagers who have grown up under occupation, behind walls, who've been ghettoized and dispossessed and excluded. And these are the people that Netanyahu is telling, is saying are responsible for the Holocaust, or who at least bear the spiritual legacy of Nazi Germany. That is the most dangerous incitement possible.And we know--let me make this one last point. We know that Netanyahu's words have consequences. Just over 20 years ago today Netanyahu stood in the center of Jerusalem at a rally of settlers who were holding posters depicting his political rival Yitzhak Rabin in an SS uniform. As a Nazi. Netanyahu proceeded to march next to a mock coffin labeled 'Rabin'. This is Netanyahu's rival. A month later, Rabin had been assassinated by a right-wing fanatic, and Netanyahu was on his way to being elected prime minister. So this specialty in incitement explains Netanyahu's career and his legacy.PERIES: Now, that was going to be my exact question. Where are the Rabinites that supported candidacy, and where are the Jews in Israel on these kinds of comments?BLUMENTHAL: Well, Netanyahu is not alone in making these kinds of comments, displacing blame for the Holocaust onto Palestinians. From the Germans onto Palestinians. Although Netanyahu's kind of mentor, one of the, the first leader of the Likud party, Menachem Begin, who is a longtime leader of Likud's predecessor Herut, was really responsible for introducing this kind of rhetoric about and exploiting the Holocaust in Israeli life. But it's, you know, you've seen it across the spectrum. And especially in Jewish Israeli society.The first time I visited the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Museum and Research Center in Jerusalem, which I believe is funded by the Israeli government and is a, like a requisite stop for any American official who visits Israel, I noticed that the only Palestinian in the museum was on display at the end of the tour. You go through the whole tour of the horrors of the Holocaust, and then on your way out you see a display of the mufti meeting with Nazi officials, suggesting that Palestinians had some kind of direct role in the Holocaust. And then you're on your way out into a sweeping view of Jerusalem, which is portrayed psychologically as deliverance from thousands of years of Jewish genocide and suffering.So this is even present in Yad Vashem. Yad Vashem's encyclopedia of the Holocaust contains entries for major Nazi officials. Himmler and Goebbels and Hitler, of course. Their entries are shorter than that of the mufti. Why does the mufti receive so much attention in this encyclopedia? Because the history of the Holocaust, in the official narrative of the Holocaust in Israel is heavily politicized to suit the Zionist narrative. It's a segregationist narrative, and it has been exploited to indict the Palestinians and portray them as the new antisemites.So this incitement is present throughout Zionist literature. You see it, you can just do a Google search for the mufti and the Nazis and you'll find reams and reams of material published by neo-conservative fanatics like David Horowitz on these links. And the mufti did meet with Hilter. November 28, 1941. Times of Israel has just published a readout of their meeting. And there's simply no evidence that what Netanyahu claimed is even remotely true. And what Netanyahu claimed is that Hitler was just following orders. The mufti made him do it, influenced him and told him to burn the Jews. And in that meeting, in the readout, there's no evidence.So Netanyahu has fabricated this claim, doubled down on it, and at one of the most dangerous times possible when Palestinians in Jerusalem, who are basically defenseless, are being targeted in vigilante attacks and Jewish Israelis are facing stabbing attacks. This is what Netanyahu has chosen to do. He's chosen to pour gasoline on the fire.PERIES: Max Blumenthal, I really appreciate you coming on on such short notice to address these comments and set the record straight.BLUMENTHAL: Thanks for having me.PERIES: And thank you for joining us on the Real News Network.
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