Does The Islamic World Have Any Responsibility Towards the Palestinian People?

It is well known that Benjamin Netanyahu reacted sharply by canceling the visit of an Israeli delegation’s visit to the US incensed by the US abstention of voting in the United Nations which Netanyahu had expected that the US would exercise its veto.

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People line up to get free food in the southern Gaza Strip city of Rafah, on March 18, 2024. (Photo by Rizek Abdeljawad/Xinhua)

Did Adolf Hitler Have a Blueprint for the Extermination of Jews in the Potsdam Conference?

Is it because Harry Truman not only recognized Israel as an independent country and as such gave cover to Israeli airspace during the short war with Egypt when Anwar Sadat could have given a death blow to Israel but for the US cover of Israeli airspace? Lawrence Rees, historian, and author, in his newest book published in March 2024 titled The Holocaust, wrote that “The fundamental precondition for the Holocaust happening was Adolf Hitler,” he explained that “Even as far back as 1921, Hitler said that solving the Jewish question was a central question for National Socialism.

Historian Lawrence Rees and His Book Published in 2024

And you can only solve it by using brute force.” Hitler had no blueprint for the Holocaust at that point, says Rees. But he did have a pathological problem with Jews. “Hitler believed that something needed to be done,” Rees explains, “and that evolved and changed according to circumstances and political opportunism.

An intriguing part of Rees’s book is his determination to figure out when the collective set of initiatives we now call the Final Solution became official Nazi policy. It’s a question that doesn’t come with a straightforward answer, Rees maintained. What is clear, though, is that in the summer of 1940, there was still no concrete plan in place for the extermination of Jews. Furthermore, up until that point, Rees argued, the Nazis were still clinging to the belief that in the long term, the way to solve what they called “the Jewish question” was by expulsion and hard labor. At that point, mass murder was still not the preferred option.

By the summer of 1942, however, a sea change had taken place. By that time, the Holocaust was in full swing. Therefore, within the previous two-year period, Rees points out, there were several milestones on the road towards mass extermination. But trying to pinpoint an exact moment where the decision was taken to commit to mass killing is very difficult, says Rees — especially since much of the planning was done in secret without written records.

Hitherto, many historians, filmmakers, and writers have pointed to a single meeting where plans for the Holocaust were finally decided upon in the power structures of Nazi officialdom. This was known as the Wannsee Conference. It was held in the Berlin suburb of Wannsee in January of 1942 and involved several mid-ranking Nazi officials devising a plot to murder Jews over a shorter timescale and in more efficient ways. But even then, Rees says, no final plans were resolved at the infamous conference. He also points out that key figures from the upper tiers of the Nazi hierarchy — Himmler, Goebbels, and Hitler himself — were not present.

“I cannot see how there can have been a decision in 1941,” said Rees. ‘By that stage, you can say a decision to implement what we would now call the Holocaust had been decided upon. The moment of no return for the Holocaust, said the historian, was in the spring and early summer of 1942 when a decision was taken to kill all of the Jews in the General Government in Poland — a German-occupied zone established by Hitler after the joint invasion by the Germans and Soviets in 1939.“By that stage, you can say a decision to implement what we would now call the Holocaust had been made,” said Rees.

Hungary was beautiful to the Nazis, given the number of Jews that resided there. The Jews were transported to Auschwitz between May and July of 1944, where they were murdered. This plan for cold-blooded murder was deviously orchestrated by Adolf Eichmann, who at the time was stationed in Budapest.

Adolf Eichmann and Hannah Arendt

In April 2024 issue wrote on American scholar Hannah Arendt who published a series of articles that became one of the most controversial books of the 20th century: Hannah Arendt’s Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil. The articles dealt with the trial of Adolf Eichmann, the Nazi SS officer who coordinated the logistics of transporting millions of European Jews to their death during World War II.

Arendt portrayed Eichmann and other Nazi criminals not as hate-filled, anti-Semitic monsters but as petty bureaucrats and spoke openly about the role played by Jewish councils in the deportation and destruction of their own people. Arendt’s central insight into what she called “the banality of evil”—that great crimes can arise from mindless conformity and thoughtlessness about the humanity of others—came paired with sharp criticism of Israeli insensitivity to legitimate Palestinian claims and disregard for the rights of minorities and neighbors.

Arendt suffered ferocious personal attacks that continue today, 37 years after her death. Criticism of her Eichmann book inevitably incorporates some variant of the assertion that she felt herself to be more German than Jewish and was a self-hating, anti-Semitic Jew—a strange charge against a woman who worked on behalf of Jewish organizations most of her life.

The 50-year battle over Arendt’s reputation has pitted her defenders against those who would deflect her criticism of Israel as anti-Jewish, thus turning people away from her ideas about democratic pluralism and regional cooperation without having to discuss them. Soon after the Eichmann pieces began to appear, civil rights activist Henry Schwarzschild warned Arendt that Jewish organizations in New York were furiously planning a campaign against her and that she should expect to be the object of great debate and animosity.

Siegfried Moses, a friend from Arendt’s youth who had immigrated to Israel and risen to the position of state comptroller, sent a note to Arendt on behalf of the Council of Jews from Germany, declaring war on her and her Eichmann book. Moses then flew to Switzerland to meet with Arendt and demanded that she stop the book’s publication. She refused, warning him that the intensity of criticism was “going to make the book into a cause célèbre and thus embarrass the Jewish community far beyond anything that she had said or could possibly do.” Indeed, literary critic Irving Howe would describe the vitriolic public dispute that ensued as “violent,” while novelist Mary McCarthy would liken it to a pogrom. It began on March 11 with a memorandum distributed by the Anti-Defamation League alerting its members to “Arendt’s defamatory conception of Jewish participation in the Nazi Holocaust,” by which they meant her reporting that evidence at the trial showed that leaders of Jewish communities across Europe had negotiated the orderly demise of their communities with Eichmann.

The ADL followed up with a pamphlet, “Arendt Nonsense,” which called the Eichmann articles evil, glib, and trite. On May 19, 1963, The New York Times published a highly critical review of Eichmann in Jerusalem by Michael A. Musmanno, a retired Navy rear admiral who had served as a judge at the U.S. Nuremberg Military Tribunals and was then a sitting justice on Pennsylvania’s supreme court. Musmanno had also appeared as a witness for the prosecution at the Eichmann trial. In her book Arendt had disparaged Musmanno’s testimony that Nazi foreign minister Joachim von Ribbentrop told him at Nuremberg that Hitler’s madness had come about because he had fallen under Eichmann’s influence. Even the prosecution knew this was a fabrication. Musmanno wrote in the Times that Arendt was motivated by “purely private prejudice. She attacks the State of Israel, its laws and institutions, wholly unrelated to the Eichmann case.”

That summer New York intellectuals weighed in. A review by playwright and critic Lionel Abel in Partisan Review accused Arendt of having portrayed the Nazis as more aesthetically appealing than their victims. Journalist Norman Podhoretz’s review in Commentary concluded that Arendt had exemplified “intellectual perversity [resulting] from the pursuit of brilliance by a mind infatuated with its own agility and bent on generating dazzle.” Zionist activist Marie Syrkin wrote in Dissent that Eichmann was the only character who came out better in the book than he went in and accused Arendt of manipulating the facts with “high-handed assurance.” Arendt had published often in all three journals. More measured criticism came in a letter from Gershom Scholem, a friend from Arendt’s youth and then a professor of Jewish mysticism at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He affirmed his “deep respect” for Arendt but characterized the tone of her book as “heartless,” “flippant,” “sneering and malicious,” replacing balanced judgment with a “demagogic will-to-overstatement.”

He could never think of her, he wrote, as anything other than “a daughter of our people” but admonished her for insufficient love of the Jewish people: “In you, dear Hannah, as in so many intellectuals who come from the German Left, I find little trace of this.” Arendt replied that she came not from the German Left but from the tradition of German philosophy and that of course she was a daughter of the Jewish people and had never claimed to be anything else. In the full flush of the attack, Mary McCarthy stepped forward as Arendt’s champion. Writing in the Winter 1964 issue of Partisan Review, she observed that the hostile reviews and personal attacks on Arendt were written almost entirely by Jews. She dismissed Lionel Abel’s assertion that Arendt made Eichmann aesthetically palatable: “Reading her book, he liked Eichmann better than the Jews who died in the crematoriums. Each to his own taste. It was not my impression.” Marie Syrkin accused McCarthy of intellectual irresponsibility and ignorance, and writer and historian Harold Weisberg characterized her defense of Arendt as wholly lacking in charity and logic.

At the height of the scandal, however, Hannah Arendt was assured that she would emerge with her reputation intact: any fair-minded person who read the Eichmann book would see her seriousness of purpose, honesty, fundamental goodness, and passion for justice. “A time will come that you will not live to see, when Jews will erect a monument to you in Israel, as they are doing now for Spinoza,” he wrote. “They will proudly claim you as their own.” Now, as the debate began to subside, Jaspers wrote that though she had suffered greatly, the critical uproar was adding to her prestige. Arendt wrote back that she had been warmly received by the mostly Jewish students who had turned out in substantial numbers for her lectures on politics at Yale, Columbia, Chicago, and other universities. “The funny thing,” she told people that after speaking her mind openly she was once again “flooded with invitations from all the Jewish organizations to speak, to appear at congresses, etc. And some of these invitations are coming from organizations that I singled out to attack and named by name.”

In the next few years she would collect a dozen honorary degrees from American universities and be inducted into both the National Institute of Arts and Letters and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, which awarded her its Emerson-Thoreau Medal for distinguished achievement in literature. For a long moment, which lasted another quarter-century after her death in 1975, Arendt had beaten back her detractors, with her reputation intact. New Yorker editor William Shawn wrote that Arendt’s death had removed “some counterweight to all the world’s unreason and corruption,” that she had been “a moral and intellectual force that went beyond category,” and that her influence “on intellectuals, artists, and political people around the world was profound.”

The Request Made to the US by King Abdullah of Jordan, Emanuel Macron of France, and Abdullah Sisi of Egypt to the United States

The world cannot and should not ignore the resounding words of King Abdullah of Jordan. Emanuel Macron of France and Abdullah Sisi of Egypt. In plain words these eminent people said, and I quote The U.S. can’t afford to wait to fully embrace the world’s most effective weapon. As we urge all parties to abide by all relevant U.N. Security Council resolutions, we warn against the dangerous consequences of an Israeli offensive on Rafah, where about 1.5 million Palestinian civilians have sought refuge. Such an offensive would only bring more death and suffering, heighten the risks and consequences of mass displacement of the people of Gaza and threaten regional escalation.

We reiterate our equal respect for all lives. We condemn all violations and abuses of international humanitarian law, including all acts of violence, terrorism and indiscriminate attacks on civilians. Protecting civilians is a fundamental legal obligation for all parties and the cornerstone of international humanitarian law. Violating this obligation is absolutely prohibited. Palestinians in Gaza are no longer facing only a risk of famine, but famine is already setting in. There is an urgent need for a massive increase in the provision and distribution of humanitarian assistance. This is a core demand of U.N. Security Council Resolutions 2720 and 2728, which emphasize the urgent need to expand aid supplies. U.N. agencies, including the U.N. Relief and Works Agency, and humanitarian actors play a critical role in relief operations in Gaza. They must be protected and granted full access, including in the northern part of the Gaza Strip. We condemn the killing of humanitarian aid workers, most recently the attack against World Central Kitchen’s aid convoy.

Consistent with international law, Israel is under an obligation to ensure the flow of humanitarian assistance to the Palestinian population, a responsibility it has not fulfilled. We reiterate the Security Council’s demand to lift barriers to humanitarian assistance and for Israel to immediately facilitate humanitarian assistance through all crossing points, including in the North of the Gaza Strip and through a direct land corridor from Jordan, as well as by sea. We, the leaders of Egypt, France, and Jordan, are determined to continue stepping up our efforts to meet the humanitarian, medical and health needs of the civilian population of Gaza, in close coordination with the U.N. system and regional partners. Lastly, we underline the urgency of restoring hope for peace and security for all in the region, primarily the Palestinian and Israeli people.

We emphasize our determination to continue working together to avoid further regional spillover, and we call on all actors to refrain from any escalatory action. We urge an end to all unilateral measures, including settlement activity and land confiscation. We also urge Israel to prevent settler violence. We emphasize the necessity of respecting the historical and legal status quo at Jerusalem’s Muslim and Christian holy sites, and the role of the Jordanian Waqf under the Hashemite custodianship. We stress our determination to step up our joint efforts to effectively bring about the two-state solution.

The establishment of an independent, sovereign Palestinian state on the basis of the two-state solution, in accordance with international law and relevant U.N. Security Council resolutions, to live side by side in peace and security with Israel, is the only way to achieve true peace. The Security Council must play a role in decisively reopening this horizon for peace.

Conclusion

It is well known that Benjamin Netanyahu reacted sharply by canceling the visit of an Israeli delegation’s visit to the US incensed by the US abstention of voting in the United Nations which Netanyahu had expected that the US would exercise its veto. How far it will affect Israel-US relations remains to be seen. One, however has to remind oneself the harsh criticism by the US House majority leader, himself a Jew and the first time a Jew has been elected to the post, that Israel should go for a fresh election to choose a leader, preferably in the place of Netanyahu and his right-wing colleagues who are beating the drum of war in the name of extermination of Hamas regardless of the cost to the US-Israeli relations and also an improbable return of Donald Trump and his demand that the Europeans should pay for the protection being provided by the US ever since the US, tilted so-called “rules based” world, more often broken than honored by the US for fifty years. Indubitably, Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein had broken international law providing sovereignty of countries to rule their territories according to their rules and regulations. But the question the world may keep on asking, now that Saddam Hussein is long gone, whether the US itself is not guilty of breaking international law.

Kazi Anwarul Masud

Kazi Anwarul Masud is a retired Bangladeshi diplomat. During his tenure, he worked in several countries as the ambassador of Bangladesh including Thailand, Vietnam, South Korea and Germany

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