To understand what is currently happening in Israel, Palestine and the entire Middle East one must consider the roles that Great Britain, France, Germany and a man named Amin al-Husseini played in the early part of the 20th century.
The exact date of al-Husseini’s birth is unknown but most scholars put the date at about 1895. He was born in Jerusalem, the son of the Muti of the city who opposed Zionism. The al-Husseini clan was made up of wealthy landowners in Palestine, and they were centered around the District of Jerusalem. Between 1864 and 1920 several members of the clan were Mayors of Jerusalem.
At the time of Amin al-Husseini’s birth, Jerusalem was part of the Ottoman Empire. At its peak the Empire included Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania, Macedonia, Turkey, Egypt, Greece, Palestine, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, the Costal strip of North Africa and parts of Arabia. The Empire officially ended on November 1, 1922 when the Ottoman Sultanate was abolished and Turkey was declared a Republic.
Amin al-Husseini attended a Qur’anic school, an Ottoman Government school where he learned Turkish and a Catholic school run by French missionaries where he learned French. Later he studied at the Alliance Israe’lite Universelle and in 1912 he studied Islamic law at Al-Azhar University in Cairo. Sometime prior to World War I, he also studied at the School of Administration, the most secular of the Ottoman institutions, in Istanbul.
When World War I broke out in 1914, the Ottoman Empire sided with Germany and al-Husseini joined the Ottoman Turkish Army, serving as a commissioned artillery officer. In November of 1916 he became ill and took a three month disability leave, retuning to Jerusalem. While al-Husseini was recovering from his illness, the British captured Jerusalem and al-Husseini switched sides. He began working for the British as a Sherifian recruiter. The British and Sherifian troops which consisted of Arabs and native Jews would eventually defeat the Turks. It appears that al-Husseini became part of the “Arabian Revolt.”
Arab nationalist societies in Syria and Palestine had been persecuted by the Turks and when Turkey joined the war in 1915, they pressured local Arab leaders to declare jihad against the British. Instead, the Arab leaders refused the Turkish demands and joined the British.
One such tribal leader was lbn Sa’ud who was anti-Turkish, anti-British, anti-Sherifan and anti-Shammar. However, wanting to be on the winning side, he joined forces with the British. His efforts in fighting the Turks only consisted of minor actions and in 1918 he attacked his old enemy lbn Rashid of the Shammar. After the war lbn Sa’ud became more and more powerful and in 1926 he was proclaimed King of the Hejaz and Nejd. Then in 1932 the Kingdom of Sa’udi Arabia was proclaimed.
It is apparent that al-Husseini considered Zionist as alien invaders and has been quoted as telling a young native Jew, who was working beside him, “Remember this was and will remain Arab land. We do not mind you natives of the country, but those alien invaders, the Zionist, will be massacred to the last man. We want no progress, no prosperity. Nothing but the sword will decide the fate of this country.”
(To be continued: Next week I will continue my discussion of al-Husseini, the secret Syke-Picot Agreement, the British Balfour Declaration and Jewish migration trends into Israel.)
Quote for the Week: “Ours is a world of nuclear giants and ethical infants.” ---Omar N. Bradley (This quotation was found on BrainyQuotes.)
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