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Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Found on the cutting-room floor

(after putting the previous post in the can)

1. Looking at the 'sending organizations' page of the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel site, I see that Norway, Sweden, Finland and Germany are all well represented, but a small country in the middle has gone missing.

No great surprise there. This is from one of my posts last year:-

'We heard about racist Jews in Israel, but not that Hamas is an organization with an overtly anti-Semitic ideology.

'It's not as if EAPPI haven't had direct experience of the bigotry of some Palestinians. Last year, when the 'Mohammed cartoons' affair blew up, their Danish volunteers had to be sent home for their own safety, and even now, although there are several Norwegian and Swedish accompaniers, there are no Danes. But the only bigotry we heard about in church was Jewish bigotry.'

2. The Toronto Conference of the United Churches of Canada offers a page of 'Holy Land Information'. Prospective visitors are warned against using Israeli guides:-

'From our experience, the Israeli guides' versions of history -- ancient as well as current -- support the current Israeli political agenda and should not be accepted uncritically. Expect to hear about Palestinian "terrorists".'

Dear me, how tedious. Don't worry, though, there is a much more appealing alternative:-

'Witnessing Israel/Palestine with Palestinian guides will present a perspective that may be new to visitors. Palestinians will be seen as generous, kind, and courageous human beings (as opposed to abstractions).'

Unlike some other people we could name. And just to be on the safe side you can also innoculate yourself in advance against that dreadful Israeli pseudo-history. An impartial reading list is provided: it doesn't include Benny Morris but does include Ilan Pappé, Noam Chomsky and Norman Finkelstein. Yes, him.

Don't these people love Jews?

3. While exploring the National-Zeitung, the German neo-Nazi paper to which Ilan Pappé unwittingly gave an interview, I found an article headed 'Is Islam Germany's enemy?'. It's a piece where some reading between the lines is needed, remembering that Holocaust denial is illegal in Germany. History shows that Germany and the Muslim world are natural allies, the article argues. It cites the fact that Germany and the Ottoman Empire fought on the same side in the First World War, and then there's this photo caption:-

'Tens of thousands of Muslims fought on the German side in the Second World War and millions of Muslims hoped for a German victory, as many of their leading politicians made clear even after the Second World War. Our picture shows Muslim soldiers of the Waffen-SS Division "Handschar" praying in the direction of Mecca.'

Unfortunately, though, German-Muslim relations have been poisoned by Germany's post-war alliance with Israel. Chancellor Angela Merkel is pilloried for upholding the alliance as the fulfilment of a moral obligation. On the other hand Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's claim that Holocaust 'researchers' are being persecuted is quoted with approval. Here we must supply the connection that dare not speak its name: if 'research' should prove that the Holocaust is a myth, Germany's moral debt to the Jewish people would of course be null and void.

There's another reading list at the end of the article. The titles tell their own story: 'Who is Merkel really working for?', 'The Network: Israel's lobby in Germany' and 'Blackmail'. The Holocaust denier Gerard Menuhin makes an appearance. Oh, look, there's our friend Norman Finkelstein again, too - entirely against his will, I'm sure, just like Pappé.

The Muslim Waffen-SS division was recruited mainly from Bosnians, but a prime mover in its formation was Haj Amin al-Husseini, the Mufti of Jerusalem. This Palestinian nationalist leader, who spent the years 1941-5 in Berlin, has now been made the subject of a biography - in German, but hopefully it will be translated.

According to a review I've seen, what the book makes particularly clear is that al-Husseini's alliance with the Nazis was no mere tactical marriage of convenience. He was a fanatical anti-Semite, well-informed about the Nazis' plans for the extermination of the Jews and an unreserved supporter of them. Indeed he played his own part in them, as when he ensured the failure of a Red Cross initiative to exchange 5,000 Jewish children for 20,000 German prisoners of war.

It's a standard pro-Palestinian propaganda trope to say that the Palestinians have become innocent indirect victims of the Holocaust. As ever, the truth behind the slogans is far more complex. I can't tell you whether the biography addresses the question of how far al-Husseini's attitudes were shared by his fellow Palestinians. Certainly he had opponents; equally certainly he was not alone. The perception of him as a hero of the anti-British and anti-Zionist resistance is doubtless what led Bishop Riah of Jerusalem to respond to a question about his Nazi connections with point-blank denial.

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