Sol Stern is the author of “A Century of Palestinian Rejectionism and Jew Hatred,” a new book that is part of Encounter Books’ Broadside collection.
Stern is a senior fellow of the Manhattan Institute and a contributing editor of City Journal. His work has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, the New York Times Magazine and the New Republic.
Stern recently talked to The Daily Caller about his new book, President Obama’s handling of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the prospects for peace in the Middle East.
Why did you write the book?
I was amazed by the extent to which the Palestinians’ false historical narrative about their dispossession by the Zionist movement had become widely accepted by many in the media. And I wanted to give people who are instinctively pro-Israel for all the right political reasons, but not familiar with all of the historical details of the Israel-Palestine conflict, a short and easily accessible primer on the main points of contention in the controversy.
How was Jewish immigration to geographic Palestine, beginning at the end of the 19th century, beneficial to the Arabs living there?
Well, in the book I write about the enormous benefit to the local Arabs of the waves of immigration by Eastern European and German Jews in the 1920s and 1930s. The highly educated immigrants came to the country with capital, technical skills and entrepreneurship — all of which benefited the economy and both Jews and Arabs. During this period living standards, health conditions and education for the Palestinian Arabs grew rapidly. By 1937 the Palestinians were the most prosperous Arab community in the region. Unfortunately the violent Arab revolt against the British mandatory authority lasted for two years and left the Arab sector devastated.
In 1937, the Jews of Palestine accepted a British partition proposal of Palestine that would have given them just 20 percent of the land. What happened with that deal?
The Palestinian leadership rejected the Peel Commission’s partition proposal out of hand, just as it has rejected every proposal to divide the land since then.
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad always likes to claim that the Palestinians had nothing to do with the Holocaust of the Jews and therefore shouldn’t suffer because of it. Putting aside the false suggestion that Israel’s legitimacy is tied to the Holocaust, that claim isn’t exactly true, is it? Explain who Haj Amin Al-Husseini was and his involvement in Hitler’s Holocaust.
Haj Amin Al-Husseini was appointed Grand Mufti of Jerusalem in 1922 by Herbert Samuel, the first High Commissioner for the Palestine Mandate. Later Husseini became president of the Supreme Muslim Council and then in the 1930s he was elected Chairman of the Arab Higher Committee which directed the revolt against the British. When the revolt failed, Al-Husseini escaped to Iraq, where he participated in the pro-Axis revolt against the British. When that revolt was put down, he fled to Italy and then made his way to Berlin. The Nazis welcomed him as a hero and an ally in the struggle against the Jews. After the war Husseini escaped to Egypt. In 1947, in partnership with the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, Husseini directed the local Palestinian contingents in the war against the Yishuv, the organized Jewish community under the mandate.
What were Al-Husseini’s plans for the Middle East if the Nazis were victorious in World War II?
Al-Husseini was the first non-German to whom Hitler divulged his plans for the Final Solution. The mufti then enthusiastically recruited Bosnian Muslims for the Wehrmacht and the SS. Hitler also promised that if the Germans conquered Palestine the mufti would be sent back to his homeland to help in the extermination of the Jews of Palestine. Units of Einsatsgruppen, the mobile killing units that had murdered hundreds of thousands of Jews in the Ukraine and Russia, were attached to Rommel’s forces in Egypt. If Rommel had won at El-Alamein Husseini would no doubt have been given the honor of leading the Palestinian version of the Final Solution.