Nazi antisemitism influenced Islamic Jew-hatred

The brutal murder of eight students at a Jerusalem Yeshiva by a Hamas-supporting resident of east Jerusalem fits almost seamlessly into the reactionary campaign waged against the Jews of Palestine and the Arab world as early as the 1920s and 30s. Neither the Mufti nor the Muslim Brotherhood were creations of European fascism, but both were immeasurably strengthened by it, writes Benjamin Weinthal in his Haaretz review of Matthias Kuntzel’s groundbreaking book Jihad and Jew-hatred.

“In the book’s opening chapter, “The Muslim Brotherhood and Palestine,” Kuentzel demonstrates that the mufti was filled with loathing of Jews even before Hitler leveraged himself into power in 1933. That helps to explain why Kuentzel attaches significant empirical weight to Husseini’s Judeophobia. In his role as the president of the Muslim Supreme Council in Jerusalem from 1921 to 1948, the mufti was the prime mover in shaping and influencing the formative stages of modern Arab-Jewish relations.

“Act II of the mufti’s campaign to abolish Zionism – and participate in the Holocaust – begins with his passionate support of German fascism (“in the struggle against Jewry, Islam and National Socialism are very close,” he said in a talk to the imams of the Bosnian SS division in 1944). Husseini traveled to Berlin in 1941 with a staff of 60 Arabs to unify his Islamic project with the Nazi movement. Via a Nazi-sponsored radio apparatus in Zeesen, Germany, Husseini was able to broadcast to the Arab world his anti-Jewish diatribes, into which he threaded selected quotations from the Koran.

“That the man who became Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini was an avid listener of the mufti’s Germany-based broadcasts, which were transmitted to Iran in Farsi, introduces a new perspective on the after-effects of Hitlerism on the Islamic Revolution in Iran. Kuentzel carves out new social-scientific territory as he covers the socialization of Khomeini, whose “anti-Jewish outlook, which contributed so much to his popularity from the beginning of the 1960s onwards, had been shaped during the 1930s.”

“Kuentzel is dazzling in the way he shifts back and forth between German anti-Semitism and its ability to condition and influence extremist Islamic hatred of Jews. A telling example of his comparative analysis is the ideological language of the National Socialists when contrasted with Ahmadinejad’s outbursts. “The extermination of Jewry throughout the world,” according to a Nazi directive from 1943, is “the precondition for an enduring peace.”

“Ahmadinejad states: “The Zionist regime will be wiped out and humanity will be liberated.” There is a temptation to be lulled into a kind of psychological avoidance when reading and hearing such emotionally destructive language, as Kuentzel himself notes, but human history is riddled with totalitarian leaders whose rhetoric was filled with conviction and praxis.

The collaboration between the mufti and the Nazis almost culminated in the destruction of Jewry in Palestine. Referring to recent research by the German historians Klaus-Michael Mallmann and Martin Cueppers, Kuentzel writes that an “SS special unit had been on standby in Athens, ready to implement the Shoah in Palestine in alliance with the Nazis’ Arab allies following an anticipated victory by Rommel in the North African theatre.”

“The incorrigibly anti-liberal and anti-democratic ideas of the mufti and Nazism gained astonishingly fast momentum within the Muslim Brotherhood movement in Egypt in the 1930s, triggering the Palestine campaign of 1936, in which a general strike was launched to stop Jewish refugee immigration. The Muslim Brotherhood introduced the oft-quoted notion of jihad; the pathological devotion to dying a martyr’s death when waging war with the forces of non-believers. Kuentzel avoids the sweeping generalizations that tend to dominate the discourse about Nazism and Islamic anti-Semitism: “Neither the Mufti nor the founders of the Muslim Brotherhood were creations of European fascism. However, both were strengthened by it. Like an elder brother, National Socialism had backed the fledgling Islamist movement up with catchwords, intellectual encouragement and money.”

“Kuentzel crisscrosses a host of academic disciplines in his account of the rise of Egyptian Islamism, from the time of Nasser to the present day. He assimilates vast quantities of information covering the Koran; the leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, Hassan al-Banna; the Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser’s affinity for the mufti, and the role of “former Nazis who decamped there [Egypt] in droves in the 1950s.” This enables him to apply his comparative methodology to bring to the fore the interconnections between Nazism and Islamism.

“The extension of the ultra-reactionary ideas of the mufti and the Muslim Brotherhood find their expression in Hamas, which is still viewed by many Germans – and Europeans – with a sort of incurable naivete; that is, as a fabulous social service organization with an army of social workers. Kuentzel carefully scrutinizes the Hamas charter’s ideological justification for waging its war against Israel. He concludes that the Hamas program is reminiscent of the “Protocols of the Elders of Zion,” the famous czarist-era forgery, blaming international Jewry for the world’s misfortunes. Hamas shifts the onus of world evil to “world Zionism.” Kuentzel, invoking the powerful role of radical anti-Jewish ideology, writes: “Amazingly, this most obvious of explanatory sources, Hamas’ program, very rarely gets a mention in the interminable journalistic musings about the motivation for suicide bombing.”

“Kuentzel presents a strong case in his final chapter, on “September 11 and Israel,” that there cannot be a separation between “the murder of American civilians by bin Laden and that of Israeli civilians by Hamas.” The nexus between bin Laden and the Muslim Brotherhood, and their mutual enthusiasm about Khomeini’s victory in Iran shows a commonality in the desire to dissolve Israel coupled with a virulent hatred of American democracy.

Read article in full

Useful sources on Arab-Nazi collaboration (via Eliyahu M’ Tsiyon)

One Comment

  • It was my misfortune to once count among my friends, a woman who defended Arab support for the Nazis on the basis that it was a reasonable response to Jewish immigration from Europe.

    Funny. I would have thought, in the absence of a shared hatred of an identifiable group of people, the recourse to opposing the settlement of refugees from Europe would have been to oppose the people causing the refugee crisis in the first place and not make common cause with the persecutors.

    But such are the times we live in, where there is one acceptable form of bigotry.


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