Decades of Soviet propaganda and western post-colonial anti-Zionism have served to obscure the Nazi roots of genocidal anrisemitism propagated by the wartime Mufti of Jerusalem and the Muslim Brotherhood, as Jeffrey Herf, author of Israel ‘s Moment, explains in The Tablet. Founded in Egypt in 1928, the Muslim Brotherhood was a reactionary movement which incited hatred against Egyptian Jews and Copts from the 1930s onwards (with thanks: Nitza):
In early June 1946, Haj Amin el-Husseini, also known as the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, escaped from a year of pleasant house arrest in France and flew to Cairo. Husseini, by then often referred to in Egypt simply as “the Mufti,” was internationally renowned as a collaborator with Nazi Germany as a result of his meeting with Adolf Hitler in Berlin in November 1941, and his Arabic language tirades to “kill the Jews” broadcast to the Middle East on the Third Reich’s short wave radio transmitters. Husseini was a key figure in an ideological and political fusion between Nazism and Islamism that achieved critical mass between 1941 and 1945 in Nazi Germany, and whose adherents sought to block the United Nations Partition Plan to establish an Arab and a Jewish state in former British Mandate Palestine, helping to define the boundaries of Arab politics for decades thereafter.
On June 11, 1946, Hassan al-Banna, the leader of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, penned the following welcome home to Husseini:
Al-Ikhwan Al-Muslimin and all Arabs request the Arab League on which Arab hopes are pinned, to declare that the Mufti is welcome to stay in any Arab country he may choose, and that great welcome should be extended to him wherever he goes, as a sign of appreciation for his great services for the glory of Islam and the Arabs. The hearts of the Arabs palpitated with joy at hearing that the Mufti has succeeded in reaching an Arab country. The news sounded like thunder to the ears of some American, British, and Jewish tyrants. The lion is at last free, and he will roam the Arabian jungle to clear it of wolves.
The great leader is back after many years of suffering in exile. Some Zionist papers in Egypt printed by La Societé de Publicitéshout and cry because the Mufti is back. We cannot blame them for they realize the importance of the role played by the Mufti in the Arab struggle against the crime about to be committed by the Americans and the English…The Mufti is worth the people of a whole nation put together. The Mufti is Palestine and Palestine is the Mufti. Oh Amin! What a great, stubborn, terrific, wonderful man you are! All these years of exile did not affect your fighting spirit.
Hitler’s and Mussolini’s defeat did not frighten you. Your hair did not turn grey of fright, and you are still full of life and fight. What a hero, what a miracle of a man. We wish to know what the Arab youth, Cabinet Ministers, rich men, and princes of Palestine, Syria, Iraq, Tunis, Morocco, and Tripoli are going to do to be worthy of this hero. Yes, this hero who challenged an empire and fought Zionism, with the help of Hitler and Germany. Germany and Hitler are gone, but Amin Al-Husseini will continue the struggle.
Al-Banna, himself an ardent admirer of Hitler since he first read Mein Kampf, then compared Husseini to Mohammed and Christ.
When al-Banna wrote his panegyric to Husseini, the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt had a membership approaching 500,000 sympathizers and was the world’s leading Islamist organization. The Brotherhood sought to establish a state based on sharia law. It proposed to abolish political parties and parliamentary democracy. It called for nationalization of industry, banks, and land. It proposed an Islamist version of national socialism and anticommunism, and waged cultural war for male supremacy against sexual freedom and equality for women. It led the cry of opposition to the Zionist project in Palestine with language that made no distinction between antisemitism and anti-Zionism. It was recognized at the time by the Egyptian left as a reactionary if not fascist organization. Hence, al-Banna’s praise for the Nazi collaborator Husseini was not at all surprising for his liberal and left-leaning contemporaries.
After four decades of Soviet and PLO propaganda during the Cold War, then another four decades of Islamist propaganda from the government of Iran and organizations such as Hamas and Hezbollah, the reactionary and antisemitic core of the Muslim Brotherhood and the ideas of al-Banna and Haj Amin el-Husseini have, for many, been lost from view, were never known in the first place, or are dismissed as musty historical details.