foaBy Anna Foa*

In the controversy surrounding the rally to mark 70 years of Italian liberation on April 25, it has finally been brought to public attention that during Hitler’s war on the free world, the Palestinians were aligned with the Nazis. Although unknown to many, this is an incontestable historical fact. Amin al-Husseini, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem from 1921-1937, was the undisputed leader of the revolts against the Jews of Mandate-era Palestine from 1920 through until the Arab Revolt of 1936.

Favored by the Nazis from the early days of Hitler’s rise to power in 1933 and tied to Italian fascism from 1934, in 1941 al-Husseini settled in Berlin, where he enjoyed close ties with the Führer himself. In 1942 he called for the creation of an Arab-Italian military unit, and in 1943 he busied himself with the creation of a Bosnian Muslim squadron of the Waffen SS. The participation in the war by Hitler’s side was not purely ideological in the anti-British and anti-Zionist cause, but also operational. This is all historical fact.

All of which makes it difficult to understand why pro-Palestinian organizations are involved with the preparations for the ceremony marking the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Italy. This historical event has everything to do with the fight for liberation from the Nazis, and nothing to do with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In this context it remembers the victims of the genocide against the Jewish population of Europe and the service of the soldiers of the Jewish Brigade alongside the English and Americans on the Italian front.

There is no argument that every individual, whether pro or anti-Zionist, should have the right to take part in the Liberation Day ceremony. But what of the groups which, when placed in this context, can’t help but remind us of the side on which the Palestinians fought during World War 2? They are not just being placed among the organizers, they are being given legitimacy, and that is sheer lunacy.

*Anna Foa is a scholar and historian. The article was translated by Sahar Zivan.