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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made a remarkable comment in a speech Tuesday to the 37th Zionist Congress in Jerusalem, while speaking of the historical conflicts between early Jewish settlers and the Palestinians.

From the transcript posted at the Prime Minister’s Office site:

And this attack and other attacks on the Jewish community in 1920, 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. And Haj Amin al-Husseini went to Hitler and said, “If you expel them, they’ll all come here.” “So what should I do with them?” he asked. He said, “Burn them.” And he was sought in, during the Nuremberg trials for prosecution. He escaped it and later died of cancer, after the war, died of cancer in Cairo.

It’s not often you hear the argument made in international dialogue that Hitler wasn’t such a bad guy — he was just following orders, perhaps?

Hat tip to Gregg Carlstrom:

Update: As the Israeli liberal newspaper Haaretz points out, Netanyahu’s speech was not only morally bankrupt — it was a historical falsehood. The meeting between Hitler and al-Husseini occurred in November 1941 — at which time the Holocaust (and many other Nazi war crimes) were already proceeding.

The paper adds: “The claim that Husseini was the one to initiate the extermination of European Jewry had been suggested by a number of historians at the fringes of Holocaust research, but was rejected by most accepted scholars.”

Photo: Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks at the 37th Zionist Congress in Jerusalem. Photo via the Prime Minister’s Office.

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