Palestinians object to photograph of mufti

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JERUSALEM — A group of Palestinian journalists toured the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial here last week in an effort to demonstrate openness toward Jewish and Israeli history.

But during the visit, the visitors took issue with a photograph documenting ties between Haj Amin al-Husseini — the mufti of Jerusalem at the time of World War II — and Nazi Germany.

The mufti of Jerusalem, an Arab nationalist leader at the time, "had a conflict with the Zionists," Lawi Khouri, of the Media and Communications Center in eastern Jerusalem, told reporters who covered the visit.

"True, he called for the death of the Jews, but these calls were tied to the political dispute in Palestine and had no connection to the Nazi racist philosophy," Khouri said.

The British deported the mufti from Palestine during World War II for his role in the Arab revolt against British rule in Palestine and against Jewish immigration there.

He went to Iraq, and later to Nazi Germany, where he was responsible for Germany's propaganda broadcasts in Arabic.

Of the 20 Palestinian journalists invited by Israel's Government Press Office to visit Yad Vashem, six accepted the invitation. Only three took part.

Their reactions to the visit did not focus solely on the mufti.

Mohammed Abu Hadir, from the East Jerusalem Arab newspaper Al-Quds, wrote in the guest book after the tour, "The sites were shocking. I have read about [the Holocaust], but to see these things is something else. It is tragic."

"I hope this is a lesson in building a better future," wrote Hania el Bitar, of the English-language newspaper The Jerusalem Times.