Prime Minister Netanyahu’s ridiculous claim that a Palestinian persuaded Adolf Hitler to exterminate the Jews of Europe was referred to as a Holocaust Blunder and roundly criticized in the New York Times editorial of 22 October and around the world. Mr Netanyahu has since retracted his statement. The retraction, however is couched in language so clearly nuanced as to make it not plausible. He said “Hitler was responsible for the Final Solution to exterminate six million Jews……….“ , but added “It is equally absurd to ignore the role played by the mufti, Haj Amin al Husseini, a war criminal, for encouraging and urging Hitler.” I venture to suggest Netanyahu’s statement was not a blunder and his retraction a mere cover up. Both statements are a a stratagem to inflame Jewish passions against the disenfranchised Palestinian people through obfuscation of facts with the view to a maintained status in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Gideon Levy, a courageous Israeli journalist, put it this way, in an address to the National Press Club. First, the Israelis are taught to believe they are the “chosen people”and therefore have the right, in line with what former Prime Minister Golda Meir once said, “After the Holocaust, the Jews have the right to do whatever they want.” Second, the pervasive sense of past victimization has so smothered Israeli public emotions that they can live in peace, oblivious to the brutal reality occurring in their own back yard. Finally, while history abounds with tales of brutal occupation, never has an occupying power presented itself as a victim, and as the only victim around. A Jewish mindset has thus developed to not recognize Palestinians as human beings worthy of equal treatment.
In this scenario, it is hard to see how a peaceful solution to the conflict can be achieved.
President Obama, in his Cairo speech, in the first days of his Presidency, extolled Islam’s great contributions to the world in the fields of the Sciences Art and Architecture, and its ethical values of Justice and Tolerance. He spoke emotionally about the plight of the Palestinians and pledged to “personally pursue” efforts to fulfill the aspirations of both sides of the conflict through the creation of two states, each living in peace and security. That pledge has not come to fruition despite his best efforts. Given the fierce pressures from the powerful Jewish lobby in the United States, the next President will face a dauntingly impossible task. Clearly, it now behooves the European Union, in concert with the United Nations and the broader international community, to “grasp the nettle” and to help resolve this protracted and painful conundrum. Only then will the Israelis be able to enjoy the security they always cherished and deserve and the Palestinians to move out of their wretched state to a life of dignity and hope.
Mr. Iqbal Alimohamed is a former senior UN official who served as the UNHCR representative in Malaysia, Japan, Australia and the Sudan. He holds Canadian citizenship and lives in Geneva, Switzerland. The views expressed are his own and do not necessarily reflect ones of ORIENTAL REVIEW Editorial.