Nazi radio incitement helped cause Farhud massacre

 As we mark the 76th anniversary of the Farhud massacre of hundreds of Jews in Iraq, Edy Cohen writes a BESA Centre Paper arguing that one of the causes was the continuous propaganda broadcast by the first Nazi Arab-language radio station to win Arab and Muslim hearts and minds. Such incitement is sustained today, he claims, by the Palestinian heirs of the Mufti, Haj Amin al-Husseini, one of the main instigators of the Farhud. (With thanks: Melvyn, Imre)

This propaganda mill employed many teams of both civilian and
military personnel, including writers, translators, academics, and
Middle East experts. Among others, the broadcasts featured Arab
immigrants and leaders. The mythic broadcaster and director of the
Arabic station was the journalist Yunus Bahri (left), who reached Berlin after
fleeing his native Iraq, where he had been sentenced to death for
pro-Nazi activity. He was recruited by Grobba and opened his broadcasts
with his famous line, “The Arab Lord Haw-Haw, this is Berlin, greetings
to the Arabs.”

Known for his virulent anti-Semitism, Bahri stated proudly in a
memoir he wrote after the war, “I was the first Arab to collaborate with
the Nazis.” His hatred towards Jews was so intense that he was summoned
for a reprimand in Propaganda Minister Goebbels’s office because of his
excessively vitriolic attacks on Jews and especially his constant use
of the term “Jewish criminals.”

Four days before the Farhoud, Bahri stated on Radio Berlin:

Judaism, which is compounded of Zionism and Freemasonry,
has created a fortress in England behind which it carries out its
crimes. The Arabs fought the Jews and expelled them from the Arabian
Peninsula 1,400 years ago. The Prophet Muhammad was the first to expel
them. In our time, the Arabs witness what the Jews have done under
English sponsorship. The Jews have declared that they want to establish a
national home in Palestine which is an inseparable part of the Arab
homeland. The Arabs of Iraq now see what the Jews of Basra are capable
of doing under English directives. The Arabs take note of the
declarations of the English statesmen, particularly the latest two by
Churchill and Smuts. Smuts said that he and England owe thanks to the
Jews for their help in the war. These words have hardened the Jews’
determination to fight the Arabs, in the certainty that after the war
they would be allowed to establish the Hebrew state…. The Jews are an
abomination everywhere. And recall the verse in the Koran: “The greatest
enemies of humanity are those who trust the Jews.”

In broadcasts after the pogrom, Bahri justified the massacre and
accused the Iraqi Jews of obtaining and disseminating propaganda
material from the British embassy in Baghdad. He also charged them with
providing the British embassy with military information about the Iraqi
army. With such malicious fabrications he lent legitimacy to the Farhoud

Bahri was too self-laudatory about being the first Arab to
collaborate with the Nazis. The Mufti had beaten him to it long before.
Within weeks of Hitler’s rise to power, he rushed to the German consul
in Jerusalem to assure him that “the Muslims in Palestine and elsewhere
were enthusiastic about the new regime in Germany and looked forward to
the spread of fascism throughout the region.”

Hajj Amin had been deeply implicated in the widespread massacre of
Jews in Mandatory Palestine – from the April 1920 Jerusalem pogrom, for
which he was sentenced to 10 years in prison by a British military court
but managed to flee the country, to the 1929 riots in which 133 Jews
were murdered and hundreds injured, to the 1936-39 “revolt” in which
hundreds of Jews were murdered. Against this backdrop, it was only
natural for him to play a central role in the Farhoud, both in inciting
the local Iraqi population against their Jewish compatriots and through
his close involvement with the Rashid Ali regime.

It comes as no surprise, then, that in his memoirs the mufti blamed
the Iraqi Jews for the failure of the pro-Nazi “revolution” (which in
turn forced him to flee to Tehran, whence he came to Berlin where he
spent the rest of the war years), thus implicitly justifying the
Farhoud. As he wrote:

The fifth column played a large role in the failure that
the movement [the Rashid Ali regime] suffered in Iraq. This column
consisted of different elements, of which the main one was Iraqi Jewry….
During the war, Jews who were employed in the telephone service would
record the important and official conversations on reels and pass them
to the British embassy in Baghdad. The Jews in the postal and
telegraphic authority did the same. They hurriedly sent the embassy the
telegrams and letters that reached them.

 The Palestinian Mufti: his heirs have learned nothing and forgotten nothing

Regrettably, seventy-six years after the Farhoud, it appears that the
mufti’s heirs to the Palestinian leadership have learned nothing and
forgotten nothing. When Mahmoud Abbas stood beside President Trump on
the White House lawn and declared to one and all that the Palestinians
educate their children for peaceful coexistence with Israel, not a
muscle twitched in his face. In fact, during its 20-year-long control of
the Palestinian population of the West Bank and Gaza as part of the
Oslo “peace” process, Abbas’s Palestinian Authority, not to mention
Hamas, has subjected its subjects to a relentless hate campaign of
racial and political incitement unparalleled in scope and intensity
since Nazi Germany. That campaign not only delegitimizes the idea of
Jewish statehood but also propagates the murder of Jews simply for being
Jews. And if history teaches us anything, it is that the translation of such words into action is all too easy.

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