Hamas’ genocidal massacre on October 7 has deep historical roots

  • Themes: Israel-Palestine

The 1929 Hebron massacre perpetrated by followers of Haj Amin Husseini, the Mufti of Jerusalem, demonstrates the deep roots of Islamist ideology.

A funeral for one of the victims of the 1929 Hebron Massacre.
A funeral for one of the victims of the 1929 Hebron Massacre. Credit: UtCon Collection / Alamy Stock Photo

A massacre of unarmed Jews is under way. Homes have been ransacked and their inhabitants tortured, raped and slaughtered. Hearing screams in one house, a policeman rushes in to find ‘an Arab in the act of cutting off a child’s head with a sword’. Behind him another with a dagger looms over a ‘Jewish woman smothered in blood’. Another policeman finds one Jewish body dumped in the street that had been ‘burned so much that the legs were separated from the body’.

This is not an account of the heinous massacres perpetrated by Hamas in Israel on 7 October, although the details are practically identical. These are British reports of the 1929 massacres in Hebron and other Jewish areas of mandate Palestine. More than 130 Jews were murdered in ‘acts of unspeakable savagery’ by ‘ruthless and bloodthirsty evildoers’ according to the British authorities. They blamed these atrocities on ‘racial animosity on the part of the Arabs’.

Some of the most callous and immoral Western progressives and apologists for terror have tried to justify, excuse and even celebrate this past weekend’s pogroms as acts of ‘resistance’ against occupation. As if anything could justify the rape of innocent women, the butchery of the elderly and the murder of babies. But the example of Hebron gives even further proof, as if any was needed, to the lie that such extreme religiously motivated terror is a response to occupation. This is not any way a response to occupation. There had been a continuous Jewish presence in Hebron stretching back to biblical times prior to the 1929 pogrom. Yet, before the state of Israel even existed, Arabs slaughtered their Jewish neighbours without remorse and without regard for age, sex or how long they had resided in the land.

Just as now, evidence of these barbaric crimes still could not convince the most bigoted. The socialist Fabian member, and co-founder of the London School of Economics, Beatrice Webb, responded to the massacres in Hebron with disdain: ‘I can’t understand why the Jews make such a fuss over a few dozen of their people killed in Palestine. As many are killed every week in London in traffic accidents, and no one pays any attention.’

Fanning the flames of these barbaric assaults in 1929 was Haj Amin Husseini, the Mufti of Jerusalem. It was the mufti who propagated the idea that the Jews were planning to conquer the Temple Mount in Jerusalem and destroy the Al-Aqsa Mosque. He drew on religious rhetoric to urge violent resistance, infusing the emerging Palestinian Arab national movement with a radical Islamic aspect. He would go on to be a confidant of Adolf Hitler and a zealous supporter of the ‘Final Solution’, recruiting three mostly Muslim Waffen SS divisions in the Balkans. Despite the overwhelming evidence of his collaboration with the Nazis, the Allied powers decided against prosecuting him for ‘war crimes’ for fear of insulting Arab sensibilities in the geopolitically pivotal Middle East.

After the war, the mufti escaped house arrest and fled to Egypt, where he was lauded by Hasan al-Banna, founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, as the ‘hero who challenged an empire and fought Zionism with the help of Hitler and Germany’.  The Nazis ‘are gone’, al-Banna proclaimed, ‘but Amin Al-Husseini will continue the struggle’ with the help of the ‘Arab youth, Cabinet Ministers, rich men, and princes’.

As the leader of the Arab Higher Committee in Palestine, Husseini was influential in rejecting the UN partition plan in 1947-8 and rallying Arab leaders to wage war for the ‘elimination of the Jewish state’. Yet Husseini’s most enduring and darkest legacy is his collaboration with al-Banna to forge a radically anti-semitic, Islamist movement to carry on their struggle against the Jews. Forty years after Israel’s independence, Hamas, an offshoot of al-Banna’s Muslim Brotherhood, was established. Its founding charter appealed to divine sanction for genocide: ‘The Day of Judgement will not come about’, it maintained, ‘until Muslims fight the Jews (killing the Jews), when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say O Muslims, O Abdulla, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him.’ The gruesome anti-semitic barbarities that the world witnessed in Israel are just the latest, if most horrific, crimes in a terror campaign stretching back a century.

In 1929, British authorities responded to the massacres by evacuating the entire Jewish community from Hebron and placating the mufti further by reducing Jewish immigration. This time, as the current British government has made clear, there can be no concession to terror. The Hebron massacres should serve as a reminder that, unless this murderous ideology is extinguished, even worse crimes await.


Charlie Laderman