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Pope Pius XII: Friend or Foe of the Jews? Or a distraction from the villainy of the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem?
'The Myth of Hitler's Pope' by Rabbi David G. Dalin is the latest contribution to the long-running argument about Pope Pius XII's behaviour during WWII and whether he helped, or failed to help, the persecuted Jews. This book takes a favourable view of him.
When Mussolini's fascist laws forbade Jews to teach in Italian schools or universities, Pius XII promptly appointed several Jewish scholars to posts in the Vatican library.
Rabbi Dalin makes the interesting suggestion that accusations against the Pope were intended to distract us from a real villain: The Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Hajj Amin al-Husseini.
But perhaps the most interesting and significant section of his book is the evidence he produces for a quite different and sinister scenario: the close relationship between Hajj Amin al-Husseini (grand mufti of Jerusalem from 1922) and Hitler's Nazi party. He suggests that Pius's critics have deliberately deflected blame from such pro-Nazi Islamic fundamentalists onto Pius XII. Certainly this thread of the argument was news to me and, I suspect, to many others, but Dalin produces disturbing evidence to support his case.
A reminder of some of the Palestinian Grand Mufti's own behaviour during the War.
Hajj Amin al-Husseini was known to have met Hitler privately on a number of occasions. He was a friend of Adolf Eichmann and visited Auschwitz. An implacable enemy of the Jews, he supported the destruction of European Jewry and did all he could to prevent the establishment of a Jewish state. He made frequent broadcasts on German radio, displaying virulent anti-Semitism with statements such as "the Jews live as parasites among the nations, suck out their blood, embezzle their property…"
Most telling of all, in Egypt in 1946 Hajj Amin al-Husseini met the young Yasser Arafat, who became his protege and went on to lead PLO terrorists for 40 years.