Following a published letter by the head of “Yad Vashem” — Israel’s premiere Holocaust museum and research center — defending its refusal to display an infamous photograph of leading Palestinian “Mufti” [Islamic legal authority] Haj Amin al-Husseini meeting with Nazi leader Adolf Hitler during the Holocaust, Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) head Morton Klein slammed the museum and its head Dani Dayan for the “appalling” censorship of history.
Update: In a letter to Breitbart News received on December 16, 2021, Ephraim Kaye, the former director of international seminars for educators at the Yad Vashem Holocaust museum, requested to recant his previous remarks confirming the earlier presence of a historic photo of Nazi leader Adolf Hitler meeting with the leading Palestinian “Mufti” Haj Amin al-Husseini in Israel’s premiere Holocaust museum, stating in part, “…after conferring with several colleagues that still work at Yad Vashem and also remember the old museum (which, by the way opened in 1965) and seeing old photos of the area of the old museum where there were several pictures of the Mufti in the exhibition- I want to categorically state that we NEVER had a picture of Hitler and the Mufti in that museum.” Kaye also stated in his letter, “The historical facts surrounding his [the Mufti’s] efforts are well documented and his participation in the Final Solution of the Nazis was peripheral at best and a side story to the enormity and scope of the mass murder of the Jews throughout the European continent.”
Klein blasted Dayan on Friday, calling his defense of the infamous image’s absence “abominable” and criticizing his denials of its removal, while urging him to “reinstate” the picture.
After years of pressure and a recent op-ed by a longtime tour guide at the site attacking the museum’s stance, Dayan addressed the issue on Thursday, claiming the notorious Mufti’s role in the Holocaust was “marginal,” his meeting with Hitler having “a negligible practical effect on Nazi policy,” and thus the famous image depicting him with Hitler “was never displayed” in the museum.
Dayan said the museum would not fall prey “to any political agenda,” while warning that demands to expand focus on the Mufti are tantamount to forcing the museum to “partake in a debate on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” and may even “legitimize Holocaust distortion” by others.
Speaking with Breitbart News on Friday, Klein, who has headed the nation’s oldest pro-Israel organization for nearly two decades, called out the museum for attempting to “appease” Palestinians.
“As a child of Holocaust survivors born in the displaced persons camp in Germany who lost most of my family to Hitler, I find it really appalling for Dani Dayan to actually be censoring out a part of Holocaust history at the major Holocaust museum in an attempt to appease the Palestinian Arabs,” Klein said.
He also accused the museum of seeking to placate “a Palestinian Authority that pays Arabs to murder Jews, names school streets and sports teams after Jew killers, promotes hatred and violence in every aspect of their culture, and has refused offers of statehood, clearly showing the issue is not land, but Israel’s destruction.”
“Appeasement always fails, and it’s obviously failed with the Palestinian Authority who won’t even sit and negotiate [with Israel], let alone act in a civilized manner,” he said. “This is just an atrocious mistake.”
During the Holocaust, Al-Husseini, dubbed the “father of the Palestinian people” by both former Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) leader Yasser Arafat as well as current Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas, met with Hitler, SS officer Heinrich Himmler, and other Nazi leaders in an effort to persuade them to extend the Nazis’ anti-Jewish program to the Arab world.
Calling the Muftis’ part in Holocaust history “critical,” Klein blasted the museum’s “intolerable” censorship of the associated events.
“To blot out and censor a critical part of Holocaust history: that the religious leader of the Palestinian Arabs met with and encouraged Hitler is simply intolerable,” he said.
“The Holocaust Museum and Dani Dayan should be ashamed,” he added.
History of the Image in the Museum
Despite Dayan’s denials that the photograph had ever been featured in the museum, Klein was insistent that it was “very prominently displayed” during his previous visits.
“I’ve been in the museum,” he said. “That’s a famous picture of the Mufti with Hitler.”
“I can vouch and state as a matter of fact that I, Morton Klein, personally saw that picture on Yad Vashem’s wall when I was there,” he asserted.
Though photography is forbidden in the museum itself, the author of the recent op-ed attacking the museum gathered twenty signed testimonies of veteran guides over the last month attesting to the photo’s original presence, before it was allegedly removed and never returned during renovations in 2005.
Former Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem David Cassuto, a longtime member on the museum’s council, told Breitbart News on Sunday that the photograph was absolutely part of the museum’s previous exhibition.
“I remember it; I saw it there,” Cassuto said, as he expressed his bafflement as to why it was ever removed.
“They have to bring it back and out it in a prominent point in the exhibition,” he added.
Cassuto, who met with Dayan over the issue last month, disregarded Dayan’s denials.
“[Dayan] has no idea because he was not there at the time.”
Ephraim Kaye, who served as the director of international seminars for educators from abroad at the museum for over 25 years, also confirmed the prior display of the photograph and its subsequent removal.
“Everyone remembers the picture of the Mufti and Hitler, it was towards the end of the museum — it was there,” Kaye told Breitbart News. “It was up until 2005 when we closed the old museum and opened the new one.”
Kaye, who stressed that he trusted those who decided to remove it, believed Dayan’s denials were “an honest mistake.”
“Dani Dayan just got to Yad Vashem 5 minutes ago,” he said. “His knowledge of what existed and what was where — even people that surround him haven’t been there for long either.”
In addition, Professor Robert G. Kaufman, a political scientist specializing in American foreign policy, dedicated an entire essay to lament the playing down of the once “extensive exhibit” on the Palestinian Mufti’s role in the Holocaust, calling the missing “iconic photo” of his meeting with Hitler a “glaring omission” from the little that remains documenting the affair in the museum.
However, Klein argued that even if the picture had never been displayed, its significance would still warrant its display.
“Even if in fact it wasn’t on the wall — which it was — it should be put up there,” he said. “People should see who supported Hitler publicly and openly to massacre and murder millions of Jews.”
“Any important leader that supported Hitler should be up there on that wall,” he added.
Though a photograph of the Mufti with Himmler is still on display, Klein noted that its place in the museum is obscure.
“The Himmler picture is a tiny picture hidden in a corner,” he said. “You can’t even find it.”
The earlier op-ed also described the size and location of the Himmler photo as insignificant.
“In the new museum, instead of the Husseini – Hitler photo there is a far smaller one of Husseini and Himmler, in a dark corner that no one sees,” it claims.
The Mufti’s Significance
Klein noted the Mufti’s “significant” role during the Holocaust, particularly his plans to construct a concentration camp while claiming that painting his “historic” role in the Holocaust as “marginal” is “turning a blind eye to the truth of history.”
“The Mufti helped train the SS Waffen [Nazi military] battalion to kill Jews, and he and Himmler were planning a concentration camp in Samaria [the West Bank],” he said. “It didn’t happen because Germany lost the war, but he was planning with him.”
“It’s all history,” he added. “It’s not a secret.”
Calling the Mufti “one of the monsters in Jewish history,” Klein reiterated that having “one of the leading figures in the Arab world praising Hitler and urging him to kill Jews” is “not a minimal, trivial part of Holocaust history.”
“One of the leaders of the Arab world was working with and promoting Hitler,” he said. “He was so close to Hitler and his plans to murder Jews that [SS officer Heinrich] Himmler made the Mufti an honorary SS general.”
“That’s not trivial,” he added. “That’s part of history.”
He also noted the Mufti’s involvement in “training Bosnian forces to kill Jews.”
“He was involved in that training,” he said. “I am horrified that he would refer to this as ‘marginal.’”
Klein claimed that a leading figure “meeting with a monster and giving honor to Nazi troops that were going to murder Jews” set “a tone of support” and provided “comfort” to Nazis and Hitler, noting that “any support that Hitler got from prominent figures only emboldened, encouraged and gave him strength.”
“If the Pope had met with Hitler, would that be of marginal significance?” he asked. “It would have legitimized his monstrous program to the Christian world.”
“The Mufti meeting with him gave Hitler’s plans credibility to the whole Muslim world, and knowing that a Muslim leader supported him gave him strength,” he added. “That’s not marginal.”
Klein specifically blasted Dayan and other museum figures for “whitewash[ing]” the Mufti’s role during the Holocaust.
“For Dani Dayan and the leaders of the Holocaust museum to try and whitewash this important part of Holocaust history of the religious and other leadership of the Arabs supporting Hitler and urging him to murder Jews is inexplicable and intolerable,” he said.
“Even before there was an Israel, Palestinians were promoting murdering Jews and that has nothing to do with land or statehood because there was no Israeli state when [the Mufti] was meeting with Hitler,” he added.
He also highlighted the significance of displaying the picture as “almost every world leader — one of the first things they do when they come to Israel for meetings is to go to Yad Vashem — the Holocaust museum.”
“How important would it be for those leaders to understand that the Arabs have had murderous hostility toward Jews even before there was a state?” he added. “Because this is before there was an Israel, [it shows] the Arab war against Israel is about a murderous hatred of Jews and the destruction of the Jewish state.”
Accusations of Political Agendas
In response to Dayan’s claim that the museum needs to remain apolitical, Klein expressed bewilderment over the assumption that the push to display the photo was political.
“This has nothing to do with politics,” Klein argued. “This has to do with Holocaust history.”
“Every part of Holocaust history should be in that museum,” he added.
Emphasizing its historical significance, Klein claimed the picture’s significance should remain regardless of Israel’s current standing with the Palestinians.
“If Israel and the Palestinian Authority had a peace deal and they were at peace now, that picture should still be there because that was part of history,” he said. “That a leader of the Arab world was working with the Hitler, Himmler, and the Nazis to kill Jews is hardly unimportant to the history of the Holocaust.”
“This is censoring an important part of history, showing the brutal hatred of the Arabs towards the Jews even during the Holocaust,” he added. “And for him to whitewash an important part of Holocaust history where the lead religious and other leaders of the Arab world were embracing Hitler and encouraging him is an abomination.”
Klein also accused Dayan, who became the museum’s chairman in August having served as the consul general in New York to Israel prior, of being “very interested in appeasing the left of center Jewish leaders — since they are the source of the main power in the Jewish world in America — even as they were pressuring Israel to establish a Palestinian state and unilaterally give away land.”
Speaking with the Jewish Week last month, Dayan stated he would continue to lead the museum “apolitically” by creating “a virtual firewall” between him and political issues.
Follow Joshua Klein on Twitter @JoshuaKlein