Jerusalem (Sep. 21)
McDonald, who, by his book, “Palestine,” misrepresented the situation before the world, is our real enemy, not the Jews, but the British Government, which forced on us the scandalous Balfour Declaration,” said the Grand Mufti in an interview this morning.
“We have lived in peace and amity with the Jews for centuries. Only when Great Britain came here trouble started. This heightened the arrogance of the Zionists who were unwilling to abandon arriere pensee of a Jewish state. At the same time in the matter of fixing the blame in the recent outbreaks no doubt the Palestine Government is on the Arab side, because it recognizes we have been provoked and our case is just.
“We have no complaint against the local administration beyond the fact that we would like the officials to go home. We would run our own country as a free Arabic Palestine. This is our dream and our ideal.”
The Mufti spoke in French and granted the interview in the presence of Jamal Effendi Husseini in the palatial office buildings located in the galleries of the Mosque of Omar. The 31 year old Amin El Husseini, with blond beard, sparkling blue eyes, ingratiating smile and pleasant mundane manners, sat in silken robes on a luxurious divan and smoked cigarettes taken from a gold beaten box, holding a morning levee like a mediaeval Turkish Pasha. The hall and corridors were filled with servants, ushers and courtiers. When politely told that world opinion is holding him personally responsible and partially guilty for the savagery and unspeakable assaults, the Mufti smiled and with a sweeping gesture, showing delicate manicured hands, he declared:
“My hands are clean, I declare before God. Moreover, it is untrue that the world is siding with the Jews Telegrams are pouring in from all parts of the world expressing sympathy and offering to help the Palestine Arabs We have telegrams from Moscow, also the Paris and Berlin branches of the Anti-Imperialist League. We are further assured of the solidarity of the entire Moslem world and have actually offers of armies to help us if necessary. Help is unnecessary. We will win through an economic boycott. The boycott in Moslem countries against Jewish industries is tight and daily growing tighter, until the industries will be broken and English friends, moved by pity, will remove the last remaining Jews on their battleships. Today there’s not a Jewish factory working in Palestine and (which happened to be entirely untrue) as Jewish industry depends on the good will of the surrounding Moslem countries, the factories may as well remain closed. The Moslems will not buy.
“The Arab is not a fiend and murderer, as the Jews would have the world believe, but a kind and loyal creature. The Jews, fortunately, can not easily wipe away what Colonel Lawrence said of the Arabs.”
Asked what proof he had of Jewish designs to the Mosque area, also how came masses of strange Arabs to the Mosque on August 23, by whom were they called and for what purpose, the Mufti was about to answer when he was stopped by Jamal Husseini, who interjected: “His Eminence fears a wrong interpretation will be placed on his answers, therefore he prefers to give his answers in writing. On that Friday,” declared Jamal Husseini, “the Mufti was not in Jerusalem,” referring to the accusation in Egyptian papers that he was trying to establish an alibi by going to Syria, when he was refused a visa by the French authorities. Asked, “then where was the Mufti?” Jamal Husseini said: “The Mufti was at Amman.”
Asked if the Moslems were completely united, hinting at behind the scene quarrels, charges of corruption and fraudulent disposal of the Mosque of Omar funds, the Mufti assured the interviewer in the affirmative, adding that a wave of nationalist sentiment is spreading to the Arabs of Palestine. “Men from every village come here. It is impossible to receive all coming to offer us their lives if wanted.
“All the trouble started at Zurich, where the Jews held a conference in August,” continued the Mufti. “There the aid of rich American Jews for the Palestine upbuilding was assured. This made the Palestine Jews so arrogant, they thought they could start expelling is.” The Mufti was again stopped by Jamal Husseini. Asked to reply to the accusation of the Bourse Egyptienne, that “the murder of the Palestine Jews was an echo of the Mufti’s inflammatory exhortations in the Mosque,” he said he would also put the answer in writing.
Amin Al Husseini was born in 1898, a member of an old Palestine family, a descendant of a grandson of the Prophet. Branches of the family in Gaza, Damascus and Tripoli are among the largest landowners. He studied one year at Al Azhar in Cairo and passed the examination of an Ulaman when already the Mufti. He was a mediocre student and not considered a Koranic scholar, but shrewd. He began his career in 1919 when he was elected a member of the Arab Congress. In 1920 he made a seditious speech when calling upon outside Arabs to come to Jerusalem. He fled to Damascus and in his absence was
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condemned to seven years prison. Two months later he was amnestied by Sir Herbert Samuel and returned. He was appointed President of the Supreme Moslem Council in 1922. His chief claim to fame is for sending requests for money for the repair of the Mosque of Omar to all Moslem countries and also America. He collected Â£200,000. While he started out penniless ten years ago he now boasts a personal fortune of Â£60,000 in the Syrian Bank. This is a cause of the internicine Moslem quarrels through charges that the Mufti diverted the funds to his own ends as the Mosque repairs did not require such great sumis.