If one looks throughout the Middle East, radical anti-West forces are using the philosophies and tactics of one man — a man who befriended Adolf Hitler during World War II and was actively working on a plan to replicate the Holocaust in the Middle East.
John Rothmann, co-author of “Icon of Evil: Hitler’s Mufti and the Rise of Radical Islam,” said it is important to know the history of Haj Amin al-Husseini, because so many problems of the Middle East stem from his leadership of the Palestinians, and there is no chance for peace until the Muslim world recognizes and eradicates his influence.
Rothmann said al-Husseini is the man “who created the three no’s — no peace, no recognition, no negotiation” with a Jewish state. That was formally adopted by the Arab world after Israel’s 1967 victory in the Six Day War, when Israel assumed its military victory would lead to negotiations and peace.
The book came about from a visit to Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust center, in 1968. There, Rothmann and co-author David Dalin saw a photo of Hitler with a man they did not know anything about. It was al-Husseini, who in 1921 had been appointed by Britain to head the Arabs in Palestine, in the hopes that his appointment would appease hard-liners there. Instead, it gave legitimacy to al-Husseini and his radical views.
Rothmann and Dalin researched al-Husseini for almost 40 years, documenting his ties with the Nazi regime and his influence in the Muslim world today.
Rothmann noted that after his appointment, al-Husseini launched a campaign of assassinations against any Arab who was amenable to negotiations with the British or the Jews, including members of his own family. This set the precedent for using assassination as a political tool.
In 1941 he was welcomed in Berlin, where Hitler realized the adage, “the enemy of my enemy is my friend,” and both regarded Britain and the Jews as their enemies.
The mufti visited Auschwitz and urged the workers to kill Jews more quickly and efficiently. He also tried to work out an agreement where Germany would sweep through northern Africa, remove the British from Palestine, install him as ruler of the area and set up concentration camps for the extermination of the Jewish population there.
Rothmann said the fourth chapter in the book has been particularly controversial — based on the Mufti’s writings, he writes the presumed history of the Middle East after a Nazi victory.
It isn’t far-fetched. The Mufti oversaw the establishment of Bosnian Muslim divisions that were responsible for killing 90 percent of Bosnian Jews.
In a 1944 radio broadcast from Berlin, al-Husseini even let it slip that 5 million Jews had already been exterminated.
While many wanted to bring al-Husseini to trial at Nuremberg, the British and French feared indicting the popular leader would inflame the Muslim world, so they gave him yet another pass. And the United States reluctantly agreed.
The mufti was the first to issue fatwas — religious edicts — against the British, the United States and the Jews. To underscore al-Husseini’s influence even today, the Muslim terrorists in Mumbai earlier this year looked for three groups — British, Americans and Jews.
The edicts married political power with religion, which “is what we face in Iran.” One can come to agreement in a political dispute, but “once you put religion and politics together you haven’t got a chance.”
If one reads the charters of Hamas, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad and the Muslim Brotherhood, Rothmann said, it all comes from the writings of al-Husseini.
He stepped down from his leadership of the Palestinians after the Six Day War only when a suitable successor was found — his nephew, Yasser Arafat.
Lest one think the authors are painting with a broad brush, “We were very careful to identify radical Islam as the danger,” he said. “Islam is a great world religion.”
He hopes the Muslim world will read the book and understand its implications. “We can point out the problem. The only way the problem of radical Islam will be solved is by the Muslims themselves” saying they have had enough.
It isn’t completely far-fetched, Rothmann insists. After all, Germans had to own up to their past after World War II and “accept what was done.”
The history of al-Husseini stands in stark contrast to those who insist the entire problem in the Middle East is Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. Instead, the animosity predates the establishment of Israel by decades.
Land for peace will not work, Rothmann said. Neither will an overwhelming military victory. “No matter what Israel does, it will not satisfy the Arab/Muslim world until Israel ceases to exist” — or the moderates seize control of the Muslim world.
He acknowledges that many will refuse to accept this, in the fear that by recognizing the truth, peace will be further away. He believes that acknowledgement of this history instead could hasten peace.
Rothmann serves on the faculty of the Fromm Institute at the University of San Francisco. He is an author, teacher, archivist, political consultant, and talk show host on the ABC-affiliated KGO 810-AM Newstalk Radio in San Francisco. He has lectured on American politics and the presidency and the Middle East throughout the United States, Canada, and Israel.