Pronouncement by Israel’s prime minister causes controversy

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Benjamin Netanyahu

IN A speech to the Zionist Congress in Jerusalem on the evening of October 20, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated that “Hitler didn’t want to exterminate the Jews at the time, he wanted to expel the Jews.”

The Israeli prime minister went on to say that the mufti, Haj Amin al-Husseini, protested to Hitler that “they’ll all come here,” referring to Palestine. “ ‘So what should I do with them?’ ” Mr Netanyahu quoted Hitler as asking Mr Husseini. “He said, ‘Burn them.’ ”

This speech, made the day before he was due to meet German Chancellor Angela Merkel has caused a storm of controversy and he has been accused of being a ‘Holocaust denier’ by Israelis and Palestinians alike.

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Jewish historians and even members of his own government have made it clear that they disagree violently with him and criticism has included him being called a liar and disgrace and his statement “a dangerous historical distortion”. His defence minister agreed that the Haj Amin al-Husseini was in favour of the Holocaust but believed it clear that Hitler was the instigator.

Why, at this time of conflict within Jerusalem and other parts of Israel, he has chosen to make this statement is unclear, especially as the annihilation of Jews had commenced months before the Palestinian cleric ever went to Germany in late 1941.

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