Haj Amin al-Husseini
Early Palestinian leader, Grand Mufti of Jerusalem
Haj Amin al-Husseini (1897-1974) was the leader of the Palestinian Arabs from 1921 until 1948. His appointment as Grand Mufti of Jerusalem by the British made him the Islamic religious leader of the city as well as the top political representative of the Muslim community to the British Mandate. He led Arab rejection of Zionism, the Balfour Declaration, and the Jews. His inflammatory speeches incited violence against the Jews and the British, and he refused any compromise. al-Husseini made opposition to the Jews on a religious level a central component of the young Palestinian national movement; in turn, he made Arab nationalism not just about the Arabs, but also about attacking the Jews. During the 1930s he murdered most of his Palestinian opposition to cement his power, allied with the Nazis during World War II, and eventually fell out of favor amongst the Palestinian leadership and died in Beirut. Historians debate whether his opposition to Zionism was primarily grounded in his Arab nationalism or anti-Semitism.