Middle East Monitor / June 22, 2023
Efforts by Zionist militias to recruit Nazi Germany in the fight against the British Mandate authorities in Palestine have been revealed in newly-released transcripts in the Israel State Archive. The documents, which were released to the public last month, include information on what Haaretz has called the “dark chapter” of Zionist militias’ ties with Nazi Germany. Reporting on the revelations, the Israeli newspaper uncovered shocking details which not only debunk the Zionist propaganda that Palestinians had cooperated with Nazi Germany, but also confirm that some of the founders of Israel believed that it was essential for Zionists to do so.
Images of the Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini, with senior officers of the Third Reich has been a stock-in-trade of Israel’s propaganda dehumanizing of Palestinians and their cause. It’s one of the countless bad-faith uses of history that is routine in the demonization of Palestinians and intended to cast doubt on the motives behind their resistance to Israel’s illegal occupation. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been guilty of this more than most; in a remarkable re-writing of history the Likud leader said that it was Al-Husseini who suggested the genocide of the Jews to Adolf Hitler.
“Hitler didn’t want to exterminate the Jews at the time, he wanted to expel the Jews. And Haj Amin al-Husseini went to Hitler and said: ‘If you expel them, they’ll all come here [to Palestine]’,” Netanyahu told the World Zionist Congress in 2015. According to Netanyahu’s version of history, Hitler then asked: “What should I do with them?” and the mufti replied: “Burn them.” In the storm sparked by the comments, Netanyahu was denounced as having absolved Hitler of the crime of murdering six million Jews.
Casting doubt on Netanyahu’s remarks, Professor Dan Michman, the head of the Institute of Holocaust Research at Bar-Ilan University and head of the International Institute for Holocaust Research at Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust memorial centre, said that while Hitler did indeed meet the mufti, this happened after the Final Solution began.
An important fact that is also brushed over in the Zionist account, which further exposes the bad-faith ahistorical weaponization of Al-Husseini’s meeting with Nazi leaders, is the position of the mufti himself. Al-Husseini was not elected by the Palestinians, and the office he claimed to hold — Grand Mufti of Jerusalem — was a creation of British imperial rule in Palestine. To counter the influence of the Ottoman Grand Mufti, the British military government under ardent Zionist Ronald Storrs created the office of the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem and empowered the Al-Husseini family.
Around the time that Al-Husseini sought to enlist the support of Nazi Germany to expel the British from Palestine, Zionist militias were seeking to establish ties with the Third Reich for the same reason. Documents released by the Israel State Archive include transcripts from the interrogation of Efraim Zetler, a member of the Zionist paramilitary group, Lehi. Zetler was interrogated by Haganah fighters in 1942 about his activities in Lehi, which is regarded as being more extreme than the Haganah Zionist paramilitary group. Lehi was responsible for several atrocities, including the massacre at Deir Yassin. Haganah, however, was no moderate group, and is thought to have carried out the terrorist bombing of Jerusalem’s King David Hotel in 1946.
The transcript of Zetler’s interrogation revealed Lehi’s ties with the Nazis. “We will communicate with any military power ready to help with the establishment of the kingdom of Israel, even if it’s Germany,” Zetler is reported to have told the astonished interrogators. “The only condition is that we get weapons, so we can rebel against the English,” he added. “If Germany agrees to help us fight enemy number 1, the English, we’ll team up with it.” Zetler went on to say that Germany is “not an enemy of the Jews in Israel” and that Lehi would cooperate with the Nazis if it helped the underground “get this land,” meaning Palestine.
After decades of aiding the Zionist cause, Britain had become “enemy number 1”. By 1943, the British were virtually at war with Zionist terrorist groups in Mandate Palestine. Zionist extremism became British spies’ “biggest enemy“. Zionist paramilitary organizations planned to send five terrorist “cells” to London “to work on IRA lines.” Their goal was to “beat the [British] dog in his own kennel.”
British Prime Minister Clement Atlee was among the targets for assassination, as was Foreign Secretary Ernest Bevin, who was regarded in 1946 as the main obstacle to the establishment of a Zionist state in the Middle East. The Stern Gang terrorist group’s hit list included MI5’s director-general, Sir Percy Sillitoe, who warned Atlee that “an assassination campaign in Britain had to be considered a real possibility.”
According to Haaretz, Zetler’s interrogation occurred about two weeks after the Wannsee Conference in Berlin, in which Nazi officials discussed the implementation of the Final Solution. The plan to enlist the support of the Nazis is said to have been raised two years earlier by Avraham Stern, the Lehi leader who advocated violent resistance to British rule. Apparently, Stern’s views stood in contrast to the majority of the Yishuv, the Jewish community residing in Palestine prior to the creation of the state of Israel.
Lehi agents met with an official from the German foreign ministry in Beirut at the end of 1940. During the meeting, co-operation between the Jewish militia and the Nazis was proposed. Details of the meeting indicate that Lehi agreed to take “active participation in the war on Germany’s side,” and that a “partnership of interests” between “the German worldview and the true national aspirations of the Jewish people” was to be formed. Also written in the document was that “the establishment of the historical Jewish state on a totalitarian national basis, in an alliance relationship with the German Reich, is compatible with the preservation of German power.”
The transcripts have uncovered another shameful chapter in Israel’s history. “Eighty-one years later, it is still hard to understand how Jews in the Land of Israel could have believed in enlisting Nazi Germany in the struggle to liberate the homeland from British control,” commented the Israeli journalist in the Haaretz article.
Nasim Ahmed is a political analyst