[Note: the term ‘Palestine’ refers to the British Mandate, i.e. a geographical area in the Middle East, not to a state or nation. The term ‘Palestinians’ refers to the Arabs who lived under the British Mandate and the Arabs who live in Judea-Samaria and Gaza.]
The Palestinians on trial
“The National Socialist movement of Greater Germany has, since its inception, inscribed upon its flag the fight against the world Jewry. It has therefore followed with particular sympathy the struggle of freedom-loving Arabs, especially in Palestine, against Jewish interlopers. In the recognition of this enemy and of the common struggle against it lies the firm foundation of the natural alliance that exists between the National Socialist Greater Germany and the freedom-loving Muslims of the whole world.”
– Telegram from Himmler to Haj Muhammud Amin el-Husseini sent on November 2nd, 1943.
Palestinian nationalism, with all its connotations of violence and intransigence, has its roots in the Islamic clerical fascism of the post-Ottoman era. Defined almost entirely by its opposition to secular Jewish self-determination, Palestinian nationalism was a religious and Judeophobic response to Zionist immigration and settlement in the 1920s and 1930s, only fully emerging as a coherent terrorist movement in the 1960s.
What is fascinating about Palestinian nationalism is its ability to appeal to such a wide range of people. Liberals, left-wing Christians, Muslim radicals, far-right activists and trade unions are all drawn to the so-called plight of the Palestinians. The secret of its success lies in its ability to present itself as a liberation movement, a casualty of imperialism and the victim of Zionist aggression.
The Palestinians have done this through deliberate acts of deceit, disinformation, media manipulation and historical revisionism. But their greatest triumph is their success in concealing – or at least radically downplaying – their role in the Holocaust.
Palestinians never miss an opportunity to refer to the Israelis as Nazis. But the irony is that it was the Palestinian leadership in the 1930s and 1940s that colluded and collaborated with Hitler. And it wasn’t just their leaders who admired the Nazis. The Palestinian people and the Arab media were enthusiastic supporters of Hitler and his virulent brand of anti-Semitism.
Moreover, the Palestinians, with the support of belligerent Muslim states and terrorist groups, are continuing Hitler’s war against the Jews and are responsible for destabilising the entire Middle East.
In 1938, French magazine Marianne published an article revealing the Palestinians’ incredible enthusiasm for Hitler. The magazine reported that in the town of Nablus, the Arab population “received British troops with shouts of ‘Heil Hitler’.” Marianne also revealed to the French public that a number of Arab journals were regularly publishing racist editorials but also large portraits of Third Reich leaders. According to the magazine, the Arab newspapers “do not even try to conceal the fact that they have become pupils of the Ministry of Propaganda in Berlin.”
This wasn’t the first display of Palestinian affection for the Fuehrer. When Hitler proclaimed the Nuremberg Race Laws in 1935, a number of Palestinians sent telegrams congratulating him. Two years later, on the occasion of Prophet Muhammad’s birthday, photographs of Hitler and Mussolini, as well as Nazi flags, were carried by Arab demonstrators in Palestine.
The man who did most to bring Nazism to British Palestine and the Middle East was Haj Muhammud Amin el-Husseini, the exiled Mufti of Jerusalem and spiritual leader of the Palestinians. Nicknamed the Arab fuehrer, Husseini collaborated with the Nazis to an astonishing extent during the 1930s and 1940s, and met Hitler on several occasions. His alliance was so successful that the Nazis declared their readiness to eradicate the Yishuv, the Jewish National Home in Palestine.
Husseini was behind the anti-Jewish riots in 1920-21 and the Hebron massacre a few years later. He believed it was a religious impossibility for Muslims to share the land with Jews. Even areas where Jews formed a majority were considered to be a defilement. In 1929, Husseini distributed pamphlets saying: “O Arabs, do not forget that the Jew is your worst enemy and has been the enemy of your forefathers.” He also announced that the Jews had “violated the honour of Islam.” This led to a pogrom in Jerusalem and a massacre in Hebron, where 60 Jews were killed and the town ethnically cleansed. The British attributed the attacks to “racial animosity on the part of the Arabs.”
This wasn’t the first time the British had encountered Muslim animosity towards the Jews. Following the demise of the Ottoman Empire, which had ruled over Palestine for centuries but had lost the First World War, international law recognised that the Jews in Palestine were there “by right.” The British took control of Palestine in 1917 and some years later established the first Palestinian state of Transjordan. The Jews living in this part of Palestine were told to leave. It soon became clear that any Jewish presence in any part of Palestine was not favoured by the Muslims. Aref Pasha Dajani, the mayor of Jerusalem, declared that it was “impossible” to live alongside the Jews because they “suck the blood of everybody.”
It was as early as 1933 that Husseini was in contact with the new regime in Germany. Within weeks of Hitler’s rise to power, the German consul-general in Palestine sent a telegram to Berlin reporting Husseini’s enthusiasm for Nazism and for the spread of fascism in the Middle East. When Husseini and several Arab sheiks met with the consul-general a few weeks later, he expressed his approval of the anti-Jewish boycott in Germany.
Very soon, the Husseini family had set up the Palestinian Arab Party, which was nicknamed the “Nazi Scouts.” Husseini’s brother, Jamal, was chairman of the Palestine Arab Party and a delegate to his brother’s Arab Higher Committee. It was this committee that led a led a campaign of boycotts and terror against Jews, and the bombings of British offices between 1936 and 1939.
In 1937, Husseini visited the Jerusalem German Consul, where he met with Eichmann to discuss “the Jewish question.” This meeting resulted in the Nazis agreeing to finance Husseini’s pogroms against the Jews in Palestine.
Hitler publicly expressed his support for the Palestinian Arabs. This support was motivated by anti-Semitism and a suspicion of Britain’s colonial rule in the Middle East. In a speech made before the Reichstag in 1939, Hitler opined that Palestine is “occupied not by German troops but by the English,” and he accused British troops of oppressing the Arabs for “the benefit of Jewish interlopers.”
Not surprisingly, Husseini was keen to capitalise on the Fuehrer’s sympathy. Under the Mufti’s influence, the Nazi regime gave the go-ahead for the conversion to Islam of 25,000 Nazis in 1939. The newly-formed Jamait-e-Muslimin (“Muslim group”) were sent to Cairo to assist Nazi operations in Egypt, Palestine, Sudan and Transjordan. In the spirit of cultural exchange, a number of young Arabs were given training in Germany and Italy.
Husseini used his influence to promote Arab nationalism in Iraq. Pro-Nazi Muslims, at the behest of Husseini, slaughtered dozens of Jews in Baghdad in 1941. The Farhud or “violent dispossession” was led by the Hitler youth-modeled Iraqi-Arab Futuwwa paramilitary group under the pro-Nazi Iraqi minister of education, Saib Shawkat. The massacre was the beginning of the end of the Jewish community in Iraq, a community that had existed for 2,600 years.
The Mufti travelled to Berlin in November 1941 to meet Hitler and his foreign minister, Joachim von Ribbentrop. Hitler, apparently impressed by Husseini’s blond hair and blue eyes, believed that “in more than one case the Mufti’s ancestors must have been Aryan.” In his meeting with the Fuehrer, the Mufti stressed that “the Arab peoples are Germany’s natural friends fighting common enemies.” Husseini pressed for a solution regarding the elimination of Jews in Palestine. Hitler, in response, stated “that Germany is committed to the uncompromising struggle against the Jews.”
During the war Al-Husseini spent most of his time in Berlin. The Nazis paid him huge amounts of money, some of which was used to fund the Arab war against the Jews in 1948. He also petitioned the Nazis leadership on several occasions to prevent thousands of Jewish children leaving for Palestine.
In 1941 Husseini began recruiting Bosnian Muslims to the Nazi cause. In a visit to Bosnia, he convinced Muslim leaders that a Muslim S.S. division would be advantageous to Islam. The Bosnian Muslims were organised into several divisions of the Waffen SS and other units. The largest was the 13th Hanzar division, which had more than 21,000 members. Declaring himself the “protector of Islam,” Husseini and his recruits were responsible for the deaths of thousands of Serbian Christians and Jews.
In a speech to his Bosnian Muslim Waffen-SS Division in 1944, Husseini declared that his Bosnian division was an “example for Muslims in all countries”. He continued:
“Many common interests exist between the Islamic world and Greater Germany, and those make cooperation a matter of course […] Further, National Socialist Germany is fighting against world Jewry […] There are also considerable similarities between Islamic principles and those of National Socialism, namely in the affirmation of struggle and fellowship, in stressing leadership, in the ideas of order, in the high valuation of work. All this brings our ideologies close together and facilitates cooperation.”
Muslim soldiers not only helped the Nazis deport Jews in east Europe, they were also involved in the liquidation of the Warsaw ghetto in 1943. On another occasion, Husseini dispatched his soldiers to Palestine in order to fight the Jews.
The Palestinians were willing recipients of Nazi funding and propaganda. On July 7th, 1942, the Voice of Free Arabism aired a program titled, “Kill the Jews Before They Kill You.” Husseini was allowed to broadcast from Berlin. One on occasion in 1944 he urged Arabs to “kill Jews wherever you find them for the love of God, history and religion.”
Operation Atlas was eerily prescient of contemporary fears of terrorists obtaining biological weapons. In 1944, at the behest of Husseini, Hitler ordered a five-man team to dump a lethal toxin in the water supply of Tel Aviv. Luckily, the unit, which comprised three Germans and two Arabs, was caught by police in Jericho before they had chance to execute their plan. It is estimated that a quarter of million people would have died if the plot had succeeded.
As well as petitioning the Nazis to halt the emigration of Jewish children to Palestine, Husseini was also complicit in the mass killings of Jews in Europe. According to Klaus Gensicke, who has studied the relationship between the Mufti and the Nazis, Husseini must have known the full extent of the Holocaust. He cites a radio broadcast made on September 20th, 1944. In this broadcast, Husseini urged the Arabs to give up 11 million Jews. The total number of Jews at the beginning of the war was 17 million. Therefore, Husseini must have known that 6 million Jews had already perished at the hands of the Nazis. Gensicke also points out that Husseini used very similar language when referring to the mass murder of Jews. While the Nazis spoke of a “Final Solution,” Husseini referred to a “Definitive Solution.”
Indeed, Husseini made several visits to the camps. He is known to have visited Auschwitz at least once, as well as Sachsenhausen and Majdanek. Husseini was apparently impressed by what he saw and gloated over the deaths of the Jews. He deliberated the possibility of building a concentration camp in the Palestinian town of Nablus.
It could be argued that it was Husseini’s fanatical hatred of Jews that encouraged the Nazis to press on with their plan to make Europe Judenrein (“Jew free”). According to testimony given at Nuremberg by Dieter Wisliceny, Adolf Eichmann’s deputy, the Mufti “was one of the initiators of the systematic extermination of European Jewry and had been a collaborator and adviser of Eichmann and Himmler in the execution of this plan […] He was one of Eichmann’s best friends and had constantly incited him to accelerate the extermination measures.”
There is no doubt that had the war gone Hitler’s way, Husseini would have been able to execute his ‘Definitive Solution’ in Palestine, probably starting with a concentration camp in Nablus. The fact that his first task in Europe was to press Mussolini, and then Hitler, for their support in his vision of a Jew-free Palestine strongly suggests that the Holocaust would not have ended in Europe in 1945 but would have continued for several more years across the Middle East and North Africa. It goes without saying that a world run by Hitler and Husseini would not be a world in which the State of Israel exists.
In his memoirs, Husseini wrote: “Our fundamental position for cooperating with Germany was a free hand to eradicate every last Jew from Palestine and the Arab world. I asked Hitler for an explicit undertaking to allow us to solve the Jewish problem in a befitting our national and racial aspirations, and according to the scientific methods innovated by Germany in the handling of its Jews. The answer I got was: ‘The Jews are yours’.”
Husseini’s legacy is considerable. Having escaped to Egypt, Husseini used his influence to persuade the Arabs to reject the UN’s partition plan, the source of today’s Israeli-Palestinian crisis. He also encouraged the participation of Egypt in the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. Hassan Al-Banna, the leader of the Muslim Brotherhood (which went on to form Hamas in 1987), hoped that Husseini would continue Hitler’s war on the Jews. He wasn’t disappointed. The Arab League, co-founded by Husseini, was involved in all major wars against Israel, as well as the two Intifadas.
Husseini also had disciples who would continue his work. Husseini’s nephew, Yasser Arafat, began working for the Mufti when he was 16. Arafat was involved in the Mufti’s covert terrorist network and assisted in the smuggling of weapons to attack Jewish settlers in Palestine. Arafat, who went on to become the chairman of the PLO and president of the Palestinian Authority, considered Husseini to be a hero of the Palestinians.
Another of Husseini’s disciples was Albert Huber, a Swiss-German journalist who converted to Islam in 1962 and became increasingly sympathetic to both Arab nationalism and Nazism. Like Husseini, Huber believed Nazism and Islam shared the same ideologies and he spent much of his life advancing the Nazi-Islam axis. Huber not only admired Osama bin Laden, he also met with bin Laden sympathizers in Lebanon before 9/11. Two months after the attack on New York, Huber was accused by the US government of funding Al Qaeda.
Husseini was the Middle East’s answer to Hitler. He had the support of fellow Muslim leaders and the backing of the Palestinians, who were very amenable to Nazism. Palestinian scholar Edward Said, who is no friend of Israel, has conceded that Husseini “represented the Palestinian Arab national consensus.” He had “the backing of political parties that functioned in Palestine,” and was “recognised in some form by Arab governments as the voice of the Palestinian people.”
There is no doubt that Husseini’s pathological hatred for Jews and Zionism, as well as his admiration for Nazism, left a deep impression on his followers. His influence can be detected in the rejectionist policies of the PLO and Hamas, the violent uprisings of 1987 and 2000, and the anti-Semitic hate speech of radical clerics that permeates the airwaves in the Palestinian territories.
The Muslim-Nazi Axis
“It’s been our misfortune to have the wrong religion […] The Mohammedan religion […] would have been more compatible to us than Christianity.”
– Adolf Hitler, August 1942.
It is no secret that most contemporary Muslim states and Islamist radical groups are quasi-fascistic and anti-Semitic. Oppressive, violent, irrational and pathologically obsessed with destroying the Jewish state, these modern-day fascists have inherited a great deal from the Nazis.
During the 1930s and 1940s, Mein Kampf and the notorious anti-Semitic tract Protocols of the Elders of Zion were translated and widely read in Arab countries. These books are still very popular in the Middle East.
In his day, Hitler was celebrated in large parts of the Arab world, with some newspapers likening him to Muhammad.
The Syrians were particurlarly susceptible to the influence of Nazism. The Syrian Social Nationalist Party (SSNP) pressed for the establishment of a single Syrian nation state spanning the present day Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Jordan, the Palestinian Territories, Israel, Cyprus, Kuwait and the Sinai, as well as parts of Turkey and Iran. Hitler had a similar expansive vision for Europe. The Syrian Social Nationalist Party’s emblem, the red hurricane, was taken from the Nazi swastika.
The political philosophy that has dominated Syria and until recently Iraq is Ba’athism. A secular Arab nationalist ideology , Ba’athism endorses a one-party state that enforces itself on the masses by means of authoritarianism and repression. The Ba’athists were fascinated by Nazism and translated Mein Kampf into Arabic. Sami al-Jundi, Member of the Syrian Ba’athist Party admitted the Ba’athists were racist. “We were immersed in reading Nazi literature and books […] Anyone who lived in Damascus at that time was witness to the Arab inclination toward Nazism.” Indeed, several shops in Syria in the early months of the second world war displayed posters declaring, “In heaven God is your ruler, on earth Hitler.” After France’s defeat in 1940, Arabs in Damascus were heard chanting, “Allah’s in Heaven and Hitler’s on earth.”
According to his own memoirs, Anwar Sadat, who later became president of Egypt, willingly collaborated with Nazi spies. In fact, Sadat was a member of the Arab ultra-nationalist Young Egypt Party which consciously modelled itself on Nazism. The paramilitary wing of the party was known as the Green Shirts, in tribute to Hitler’s Brown Shirts and Mussolini’s Black Shirts. The Young Egypt Party, which owed its raised arm salute and its slogan, “One Folk, One Party, One Leader”, to the Nazis, pressed for the boycott of Jewish businesses and abuse of Egypt’s Jewish communities. Gamal Abdel Nasser, who was president of Egypt from 1956 until 1970, was also a member of the party. It was Nasser who, with the assistance of former Nazi officers and officials, drove Egypt into a unsuccessful war with the Israelis in 1967.
Many Arab leaders in the 1930s and 1940s sought alliances with Hitler and the Nazis. One example is the alliance between the Tunisian Arabs army and the Nazis, who between them murdered hundreds of Jews in North Africa. There were Nazi-inspired pogroms in Algeria in the 1930s, and massive attacks on the Jews in Iraq and Libya in the 1940s.
Hitler admired Islam’s partiality for violence and colonial expansion. According to the Nazi leader, the Muslim religion is “perfectly suited to the Germanic temperament” and described it as a cult that “glorifies the heroism and which opens up the seventh Heaven to the bold warrior alone.” What is less well known is Hitler’s support for the Palestinian Arabs. This support was motivated by anti-Semitism and a suspicion of Britain’s colonial rule in the Middle East. In a speech made before the Reichstag in 1939, Hitler opined that Palestine is “occupied not by German troops but by the English” and accused British troops of oppressing the Arabs for “the benefit of Jewish interlopers.”
It cannot be doubted that Nazis ideology had a profound effect on Arab and Muslim behaviour in the Middle East. But did Islam exert an influence on leading Nazis?
At least one Muslim theologian has claimed that he influenced Hitler. Before the creation of Pakistan, Muhammad Inayat Allah Khan wanted a separate state for Indian Muslims. In 1926 – several years before Hitler’s rise to power – Khan met Hitler in Berlin. According to Khan, Hitler “discussed Islamic Jihad with me in details.” Khan also claimed that Hitler’s Brown Shirt movement was modelled on Khan’s own vision for an Islamic grassroots movement called the Khaksars.
Himmler was particularly struck by Islam and he wasted no time in exploiting Muslim anti-Semitism in the Middle East to further the Nazi cause and undermine British rule. He was impressed by Islam’s attitude towards war, which made Muslim jihadists natural allies of Nazi soldiers. The creation of a Bosnian Muslim Waffen-SS division also appealed to Himmler, partly because Bosnian Muslims provided the missing link between National Socialism and Arabism. Under the guidance of Husseini, the 13th Hanzar Division of the SS was created in 1943 and was largely comprised of Bosnian Muslims. The Hanzars participated in the massacre of Serbian Jews and Christians, and volunteered to join the hunt for Jews in Croatia.
Hitler, like Houston Stewart Chamberlain before him, was a great admirer of Islam, which he believed was vastly superior to Christianity. According to Albert Speer, Hitler imagined an alternate history in which Islamized Germans would have been the crowning glory of the Muslim empire. The dream of a German-led Islamic caliphate may explain his own drive to create a Greater Germany, a kind of Nazi Ummah without any Jews.
Once Hitler came to power, he set about stripping the Jews of their citizenship. Since the Muslim conquest of Spain and the Middle East, Jews were dhimmis or second-class citizens. Depending on the time and the place, Jews were barred from public office and made to wear distinctive clothing, both of which foreshadow Nazi legislation. And like the Nazis, Muslims had the option of simply killing the Jews en masse, which is exactly what happened in Granada in 1066, when 4,000 Jews were massacred.
Maimonides, the great 12th century Jewish scholar, was shocked by the level of violence and discrimination meted out by Muslims. Islam, he said, had done the most harm to the children of Israel. “None has matched it in debasing and humiliating us,” he wrote in an epistle to the Jews of Yemen. His letter cites the “imposed degradation”, “the lies” and “their absurdities,” which are “beyond human power to bear.” He continues:
“We are not spared from the ferocity of their wickedness and their outbursts at any time. On the contrary, the more we suffer and choose to conciliate them, the more they choose to act belligerently toward us.”
Fast-forward to the 18th and 19th centuries when Jews were systematically expelled and/or massacred by Muslims. Between 1770 and 1786, Jews were expelled from Jedda in Saudi Arabia. Massacres took place in Morocco (1790), Baghdad (1928), Iran (1839, 1867), Syria (1840, 1848, 1850, 1875, 1890), Lebanon (1847, 1862, 1874), Jerusalem (1847), Egypt (1844, 1870, 1871, 1873, 1877, 1882, 1890, 1891, 1901–08), and Turkey (1864, 1866, 1868, 1870, 1872, 1874).
There were also more innocuous – but still shocking – incidents that deprived the Jewish people of dignity. In Righteous Victims: A History of the Zionist-Arab Conflict, 1881-2001, Benny Morris writes that one symbol of Jewish degradation was the phenomenon of spitting and stone-throwing at Jews by Muslim children. The victims of these abuses were in no position to retaliate.
Pogroms, humiliations, expulsions, massacres. Islam’s disregard for the Jews was a shocking precursor to the Third Reich’s treatment of the Jewish people. However, such similarities do not prove that Hitler’s genocide hatred was directly influenced by Islam.
Part 3: The Armenian example
“Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?”
– Adolf Hitler, August 1939.
It has already been argued that Hitler’s attitude towards the Jews was partly influenced by the rabid anti-Semitism of Haj Muhammud Amin el-Husseini, the exiled Mufti of Jerusalem and spiritual leader of the Palestinians. Husseini not only urged Hitler to spread fascism in the Middle East, he also stands accused of helping to initiate the Holocaust, if testimony given at Nuremberg in June 1946 by Dieter Wisliceny can be trusted.
But would Hitler have carried out the ‘Final Solution’ in the first place if there hadn’t been a recent precedent? It is impossible to answer, but the fact that Muslim colonialists had succeeded in wiping out more than a million Armenian Christians just a couple of decades ago, must have had some effect on Hitler’s vision for a Jew-free Europe. And the fact Husseini was an Ottoman staff officer during the Armenian genocide may also have played a part.
The Armenian Christians had come largely under Ottoman rule during the 15th and 16th centuries. Like the Jews, the Armenians were second-class citizens and were subject to the cruel urges of their oppressors. British ethnographer William Ramsay writing in the late 1890s after having visited the Ottoman Empire, described the conditions of the Armenians:
“Conceive the inevitable result of centuries of slavery, of subjection to insult and scorn, centuries in which nothing belonged to the Armenian, neither his property, his house, his life, his person, nor his family, was sacred or safe from violence – capricious, unprovoked violence – to resist which by violence meant death.”
Even before the disaster of the Armenian Holocaust, the Armenian people were being slaughtered. Between 1894 and 1909, around 250,000 Armenians were murdered by Muslim Turks.
During and just after the first world war, Ottoman Turks systematically killed up to 1.5 million Armenians in what has been dubbed the forgotten Holocaust. Starting in 1915, the Ottomans systematically uprooted Armenians from their homes, forcing them to march for hundreds of miles, without food and water, to what is now Syria. Not surprisingly, many Armenians died on the journey or in the Syrian desert. Rape was commonplace.
The massacres were horrific. Mass burning, drowning and poisoning were among the methods used by the Ottomans to eliminate the unwanted Armenians. Other forms of torture were employed, too gruesome to mention. In a grim foreshadowing of the Nazi atrocities, the poisonings were carried out by doctors and sometimes involved the use of gas. The Turks also prefigured the Nazis in the use of infrastructure. Many Armenians were crammed into cattle cars and sent away. Many were kept in concentration camps.
And it wasn’t just the Armenians who were targeted. In 1914, ethnic Greeks were uprooted in order to make room for Muslims from the Balkans. Torture, rape and forced conversions were routine. Between 1914 and 1925, as many as 750,000 Assyrians were slaughtered by the Ottomans and their Turkish successors. This led to a large-scale migration of Assyrian people into Syria, Iran, and Iraq, where they were to suffer more violence at the hands of Arabs and Kurds.
The hatred of the Armenians and other minorities is eerily prescient of how the Nazis treated the Jews and other ‘inconvenient’ populations. The desire to create an exclusive Muslim-Turkish empire in Asia Minor presages Hitler’s attempt to create an Aryan empire in Europe. The Armenians (and Greek and Assyrians) were robbed of their dignity and subjected to terrible acts of cruelty. And in the end, they were victims of the world’s first systematic case of ethnic cleansing.
How could Hitler have failed to be impressed?
“Thanks to Hitler of blessed memory, who on behalf of the Palestinians, revenged in advance against the most vile criminals on the face of the Earth. Although we do have a complaint against him for his crime was not enough.”
– Ahmad Ragab , in his daily column for Egyptian paper Al-akhbar, April 20th 2001, the anniversary of Hitler’s birthday.
The shared ideology of Nazism and Islamism did not disappear after the 1940s. There was an influx of several hundred SS and Gestapo officers into Arab countries following the war, including Eichman’s deputy, Alois Brunner. Following the Second World War, Nazis war criminals collaborated with Arabs in Cairo and Damascus in an effort to reverse Israel’s independence. Husseini was also involved in providing safe havens to former Nazis. He was visited three times after the second world war by Francois Genoud, the Swiss financier of the Third Reich and the ODESSA, the Organization of Former SS Members. The purpose of the ODESSA was to facilitate the escape of SS members to South America and the Middle East. (Genoud set up a sham import-export company in Morocco and Egypt that circulated anti-Semitic propaganda.)
The Egyptian army made full use of Nazi expertise. With the aid of Luftwaffe pilot Hans-Ulrich Rudel and SS commando Otto Skorzeny, the army recruited Nazi fugitives who went on to fill key posts in Egypt. According to the Israelis, around 80 former Nazi officials military experts and SS officers, were active in the Egyptian military and police. Another 200 scientists from Germany and Austria were employed at an aircraft and missile centre in Egypt. In 1956-57, 4,000 Jews were expelled from Egypt and many more were stripped of citizenship. Three years later, many synagogues – as well as Jewish orphanages, schools, hospitals – were shut down. In 1967, Jews were barred from public office.
Having escaped to Egypt, Husseini used his influence to persuade the Arabs to reject the UN’s partition plan. He also encouraged the participation of Egypt in the 1948 Arab-Israeli War.
On June 1st, 1946, US intelligence in Cairo sent a report to Washington about a statement made by Hassan Al-Banna, the leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, to the Arab League. Banna praised Husseini as a “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.”
As the world’s attention shifted to the US standoff with the Soviets, the legacy of the war against the Jews in Europe had gone underground in the Middle East, only to re-emerge gradually in the 1960s, reaching a crescendo in the first years of the 21st century.
The absorption of Nazi themes, literature, propaganda and personnel before, during and after the war has had a disastrous effect on stability in the Middle East. The multi-pronged attack on Israel in 1948, 1967 and 1973 were all motivated by Arab nationalism and anti-Semitism. Even today, newspaper cartoons throughout the Muslim and Arab world rely heavily on Nazi propaganda. Editorial cartoons routinely depict Jews (not just Israelis) as spiders, vampires and octopuses. Another frequent depiction is that of the bearded Orthodox Jew with a hooked nose and dressed in black, which is reminiscent of Nazi propaganda. Jews are depicted as inhuman and an enemy of both Islam and humanity. Some cartoons repeat the well-worn canard that the Jews killed God. Another motif is that Jews are in control of the United States and the media. Other themes include the rich Jew, the blood-drinking Jew, and Jews as killers of children. All of these motifs can be found in Nazi literature.
In May 2013, a Nazi flag was waved over a mosque in the village of Beit Omar near Hebron, shocking many Israelis who felt like they had been transported back to the 1930s. But Walid Shoebat, a Palestinian who used to a PLO terrorist, claims that such an action should not be a surprise. “Islamic fundamentalists and Nazis are like-minded,” he said. “That a Nazi flag would be flying over a Palestinian village near a mosque should actually be less shocking than the fact that so many are shocked by it.”
In the Palestinian territories, Hitler’s Mein Kampf is ranked as one of the best-selling books. So it is no surprise that in 2009 the US State Department reported that many Palestinians and Muslim religious leaders regularly publics expressed anti-Semitic opinions.” (There are even Palestinians whose first name is Hitler.) Earlier this year, a spokesman at a Fatah anniversary celebration declared that “war with the descendants of the apes and pigs is a war of religion and faith.” Nader Tamimi, the Mufti of the Palestinian Liberation Army, stated on Al-Jazeera television that “the Jews have a sadistic mentality derived from the Torah.”
Even in Israel itself, there are some Arabs who hold disturbing views. During a speech in 2007, Israeli-Arab Raed Salah, the leader of the northern branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel, accused Jews of using children’s blood to bake bread. ”
Holocaust denial among the Palestinians is also something that refuses to go away. Mahmoud Abbas, now the president of the Palestinian Authority, has written a book called The Other Side: the Secret Relationship Between Nazism and Zionism in which he suggests that the number of Jews murdered in the Holocaust was “less than a million.” In July 1990, the Palestinian Red Crescent published an article in its magazine Balsam claiming that Jews had fabricated “the lie concerning the gas chambers.” In August 2009, Hamas denounced the Holocaust as a lie and referred to Holocaust education as a “war crime.”
In neighbouring Jordan, 100% of Jordanians hold “somewhat unfavourable” or “very unfavourable” attitudes towards Jews, according to a 2005 survey conducted by Pew Global Attitudes Project.
Lebanon-based Hezbollah, which is funded by Iran, makes no distinctions between the Israelis and Jews in general. Hezbollah leader Hasan Nasrallah declares: “If we searched the entire world for a person more cowardly, despicable, weak and feeble in psyche, mind, ideology and religion, we would not find anyone like the Jew. Notice, I do not say the Israeli.”
In Egypt, Islamic scholar Muhammad Hussein Yacoub, delivered a speech on television, in which he said that the fight against the Jews is “eternal.”
Saddam Hussein, another Arab who espoused conspiracy theories, once said that “international” Zionists and “the wicked Jews” are among those who wish “our people ill and our nation harm.” Israel, he opined, was an “accursed freak entity.”
Mahathir bin Mohamad, who served as Prime Minister of Malaysia from 1981 to 2003, wrote in his 1970 book, The Malay Dilemma: “The Jews for example are not merely hook-nosed, but understand money instinctively.”
Saudi Arabia, one of the world’s biggest exporters of terror, is guilty of institutional anti-Semitism. Saudi king Abd al-Aziz ibn Saud once said that “for a Muslim to kill a Jew or for him to be killed by a Jew ensures him an immediate entry into Heaven.” Abdul Rahman Al-Sudais, the leading imam of the Grand mosque in Mecca, has referred to the Jews as “the scum of the human race.” In 2001–2002, Saudi Arabia’s Arab Radio and Television produced a 30-part television series that contained dramatizations of the anti-Semitic forgery, Protocols of the Elders of Zion. A May 2006 study of Saudi Arabia’s curriculum discovered that schoolchildren were being taught that some Jews worship the devil.
Muslim anti-Semitism is not confined to the Middle East but is increasingly common in Europe. A government study in 2006 estimated that 39% of the Muslim population in Sweden harbour strong and consistent anti-Semitic views. Four years later, the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation revealed that anti-Semitism was common among Norwegian Muslims, with many students holding favourable views of Hitler. And in the Netherlands, Muslim football fans frequently shout: “Hamas, Hamas, Jews to the gas!”
France and Britain also have issues with Muslim hatred of Jews. The situation in France is so bad that between 2001 and 2005, around 12,000 French Jews fled to Israel, with many citing Muslim anti-Semitism as the reason for leaving France. In the UK, it has been discovered that some schoolchildren are being taught to hate Jews. Two years ago, the BBC revealed that Muslim religious schools were teaching children as young as six that Jews are descended from “monkeys” and “pigs,” and that Zionists are conspiring to take over the world. The textbooks that contained these anti-Semitic slurs came from Saudi Arabia.
Islam and the Far Right
It is well documented that Islamic radicals have tacit and overt support from certain elements in the European Left. What is less well known is that Muslim extremists and Islamic regimes have been forging links with European neo-Nazi organisations and Holocaust deniers for several decades. Both camps share the belief that Zionism is the predominant force in the world. Both share strong anti-Semitic and pro-Palestinian views. There is also mutual hatred of US policymakers.
In the 1960s, George Lincoln Rockwell, the founder of the American Nazi Party (ANP), expressed (ironic) admiration for black supremacists Elijah Muhammad and Malcolm X, the main players in the extremist Nation of Islam organisation. The ANP and Nation of Islam came to an agreement that both parties should challenge the civil rights movement, which was considered a Jewish conspiracy to integrate “white” and “black” people.
German neo-Nazi Willi Pohl provided weapons and fake passports to Palestinian terrorists who kidnapped and murdered Israeli athletes during the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich. Pohl was arrested the same year but only served a two-year sentence. Before his arrest, German police believed Pohl intended to carry out terrorist attacks on behalf of the Palestinians.
An increasing number of neo-Nazis are converting to Islam or are coveting a close relationship between the two ideologies. In the 1980s, Louis Beam, an American neo-Nazi, called for an alliance between the Far Right and Muslim terrorist groups. The aforementioned Albert Huber, the journalist who converted to Islam in 1962 and changed his first name to Ahmed, became increasingly convince that Islam and Nazism shared the same ideological platform. Another example is David Myatt, a neo-Nazi who converted to Islam in 1998. Myatt, who has referred to the Holocaust as a “hoax”, called for an international jihad against Jews.
In the last few years, the neo-Nazi/Islam pact has manifested itself at street level. In the aftermath of 9/11, German neo-Nazis dressed in Palestinian headscarves burnt an American flag. More recently, members of the Aryan Guard marched alongside supporters of Hamas at an anti-Israel rally in Canada. One of the newest radical organisations is the extreme-right Bosnian National Pride Movement. Bosnian National Pride, which venerates the cooperation between Nazis and Muslims during World War II, has overwhelming majority of Muslim members.
In 2009, the extreme right National Democratic Party planned a “holocaust vigil” for Gaza in support of the Palestinians. The Central Council of Jews in Germany remarked that “joint hatred of everything Jewish is unifying neo-Nazis and Islamists.”
In 2011, the Neo-Nazi German People’s Party urged its followers to take part in Berlin’s celebration of al-Quds Day, an Iranian-backed anti-Israeli event.
Far Right politics is not limited to grassroots organisations. Saudi Arabia, for example, hired an American neo-Nazi in the 1970s to lobby political decision makers in the US. Iran, another state sponsor of terror, has courted neo-Nazis. In December 2006, the Iranian regime hosted a two-day event called the “International Conference on Review of the Holocaust: Global Vision.” The conference was a deliberate exercise in Holocaust denial and/or revisionism. Among the attendees were American David Duke, the former leader of the Ku Klux Klan leader; Bendikt Frings from the far right National Democratic Party of Germany; French writer Georges Thiel, who had been convicted under Holocaust denial laws in France; Fredrick Töben of Australia who had been imprisoned in Germany for three months in 1999 for Holocaust denial; and Michele Renouf, the wife of Holocaust denier David Irving.
The term “Islamofascism” is included in the New Oxford American Dictionary. It is defined as a term “equating some modern Islamic movements with the European fascist movements of the early twentieth century.” Celebrated journalist Christopher Hitchens defines the rhetoric and activities of some Muslims as “fascism with an Islamic face.”
A fundamentalist, violent and apocalyptic interpretation of Islam is what characterises Islamofascism. Hitchens dubbed the phenomena as a “cult of murderous violence” that glorifies death, terror and destruction. The similarities between the fascism of the 1930 and 1940s are not hard to miss. Hostility to modernity, a nostalgia for a lost golden age and fixation on real and/or imagined humiliations are common to both movements. Both share a paranoid fear of “the Jews,” both repress free expression, both hate homosexuality, and both claim to have implacable enemies that must be eliminated. Like the Nazis, al-Qaeda is anti-American, anti-capitalist, anti-democratic and xenophobic. Like the Reich Ministry of Propaganda, the Palestinian Authority is skilled in the art of disinformation, historical revisionism and spreading anti-Semitism.
Both fascism and radical Islam are populist ideologies. Both are expressions of perpetual outrage. There is the same tendency to submerge logic in favour an irrational and overheated emotionalism. There are also common motifs. Hezbollah and Fatah use the straight arm Nazi salute at their gatherings. Instead of chanting “Heil Hitler” or “Sieg Heil” the mesmerized followers of radical Muslim clerics shout “Allahu Akbar” over and over again.
A perfect example of contemporary Islamofascism is Hamas, which currently has control of Gaza. Hamas was formed in 1987 as an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, which itself established by an admirer of Hitler and the Nazis and received funding from the Third Reich. The Muslim Brotherhood’s Palestine branch was led by none other than Husseini. Hamas’s 1988 charter calls for the replacement of Israel and the Palestinian Territories with an Islamic Palestinian state. According to the charter, Hamas members are Muslims who “raise the banner of Jihad.” Much of Hamas’s ideology relies heavily on Nazi themes. The charter, which incites violence against Jewish people, states that “our struggle against the Jews is very great and very serious”. In support of this call to action, the charter cites anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, the thrust of which is that Zionists are responsible for all kinds of disasters, including the French Revolution.
While Hitler was bent on reviving a Greater Germany and cleansing Europe of the Jews and Slavs, many fundamentalist Muslims want to revive the Caliphate in which non-Muslims are either killed or demoted to second-class citizenship. Muslim fundamentalists hold the racist doctrine that the presence of non-Jews (especially Israelis) in the Ummah or hoped-for caliphate is a violation of Islam. It is particularly infuriating to the Islamofascists that Arab regimes have been unable to dislodge the State of Israel.
At root level, Islamofascism has absorbed anti-Jewish statements in the Quran, which contains descriptions of Jews being transformed into apes and pigs as punishment for not obeying Allah. Another source of contemporary hatred is the hadiths, a collection of Islamic traditions attributed to Mohammed. The hadiths characterise the Jews as ritually unclean, as well as liars and murderers. The most notorious – and perhaps the most widely-quoted hadith, is this one:
“The Hour [of Resurrection] will not come until you fight the Jews. The Jew will hide behind stones or trees. Then the stones or trees will call: Oh Muslim, servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him.”
Belief in this hadith, which is enshrined in the Hamas charter, is widespread among the Palestinian Arabs. A 2011 survey by the Israel Project found that three-quarters of Palestinians accept this teaching. At an event earlier this year marking the 47th anniversary of the founding of Fatah, the current Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Muhammad Hussein, reiterated the Islamic belief that murder of Jews is one of the aims of Islam.
The attitude towards the Jews in Islamic tradition is neatly summed up in Anti-Semitism: myth and hate from antiquity to the present by Frederick M. Schweitzer and Marvin Perry. The authors assert that in the hadiths, the Jews are “debased, cursed, anathematized forever by God and so can never repent and be forgiven.” The hadiths characterise the Jews as ritually unclean, and as liars and murderers.
There are a number of anti-Semitic slurs in the Quran. Several verses describe the transformation of Jews into apes and pigs as punishment for breaking the Sabbath or “worshipping evil.” Before ordering that every adult male of a particular Jewish tribe be killed, Mohammed referred to the Jews as “brothers of monkeys.” The slaughter of Jews in Granada in 1066 was motivated by a poem that included the line. “Many a pious Muslim is in awe of the vilest infidel ape.” So it is no surprise that today’s Islamists refer to Jews as the “descendants of apes and swine”, or why Hamas says that contemporary Jews are sub-human.
This background of Jew-hatred and violence helps explain why opposition to Jewish immigration in the 1920s and 1930s was so strong, and why Hitler found such a willing audience in the Muslim world. It also demonstrates that Muslim and Arab anti-Semitism is the cause, not the consequence, of the Israeli-Palestinian crisis. Hatred of the Jews and violence against Jewish immigrants was an issue in the Middle East well before the State of Israel came into being.
“War is deception. Deceive! Camouflage!”
– Holy Land Foundation president Shukri Abu Baker.
Although Hitler succeeded in destroying two-thirds of European Jewry, some Muslims like the journalist Ahmad Ragab are disappointed that Hitler’s “crime was not enough.” Paradoxically, other Muslims claim the Holocaust is a Zionist hoax. Others claim they are paying the price for Europe’s sins, while others say the Holocaust was a Nazi-Zionist collaboration.
By adopting all these positions simultaneously, Muslims are either the victims of cognitive dissonance or it is a deliberate misuse and misapplication of history. Exclaiming their disappointment that Hitler did not go far enough is a disgusting view, but it at least shows they believe the Holocaust actually happened. Those who claim that the Holocaust is a hoax invented by Zionists to generate global sympathy are attempting to delegitimize the unique suffering of the Jews and claim that suffering for themselves. Those who claim they are paying the price for European anti-Semitism are glossing over their own significant part in the Holocaust. Finally, the assertion that the Nazis colluded with the Zionists to create a homeland for the Jews is not only cheap and dishonest, it ignores the fact that many Jews were forbidden by Husseini to leave for Palestine.
In an attempt to offend Jewish sensibilities, the Palestinians zealously portray the Israelis as Nazis, a tactic which involves drawing the swastika on the Israeli flag and comparing Gaza with the Warsaw ghetto. To some observers, this seems like an act of psychological projection on the part of the Palestinians.
Apart from the fact that Nazism has more in common with Palestinian nationalism and Islamic extremism, it is clear that the Palestinians are denying their history of Nazi collaboration and projecting this inner darkness onto the Israelis. Furthermore, it is easier to demonise the Israelis than admitting that their plight is entirely self-inflicted.
“This is the war technique. Politics is also war and deception.”
– Omar Ahmad, CAIR founding chairman.
The biggest fraud of the 20th century is the commonly-held belief that colonialist Jews invaded a country called Palestine and displaced its inhabitants. The second biggest fraud is that the war against the Jews ended in 1945.
For decades, the Muslim world has been in a state of war with the Israeli people. The widespread desire to see Israel wiped off the face of the map is a continuation of Hitler’s vision of a world without Jews. Due to the malevolent influence of Husseini and other Nazi sympathisers in the Middle East, the spirit of Hitler lives on. Palestinian nationalism, in particular, is not only historically intertwined with the Nazis, it is Nazism’s immediate successor. The Palestinians are on the frontline in the against the Jewish people. The Palestinians are unable to make peace with Israel because that would mean their jihad had failed.
All things considered, the Palestinians have done rather well. Having been on the losing side in two world wars, and in the two Arab-Israeli wars (1947-49, 1967), the Palestinians have received millions of dollars in aid, are able to make demands on Israeli and US policymakers, have been offered a state of their own on several occasions, and are a cause celebre on the Left and in the liberal media.
The Palestinians’ unwillingness to admit their Nazi past is perhaps not surprising as it would destroy their credibility as victims, a status they have been honing for several decades. The Nazis, too, claimed they were the victims of the Jews. The astonishing tirade of anti-Semitic abuse and disinformation in the Arab (and Iranian) media is also indicative of Nazi influence. The growing alliance between Muslim extremists and the Far Right is not paradoxical but entirely natural, given that both movements share the same source. Finally, the Islamofascists who commit acts of terror in the hope of undermining Western and Israeli morale, show clear affinities with the atrocities committed by the fascists in Europe in the 1930s and 1940s.
Islam is at war. It is a war has been going on for decades, but it is only since 9/11 that the West has started to wake up to the gravity of the situation. This clash of civilisations has not arisen in a vacuum, but stems in large part from the breakdown of the Ottoman Empire and the relationship between the Nazis and the Muslim world in the 1930s and 1940s. The persistence of anti-Semitism in the Middle East, the belligerence of Muslim states and the growth of Islamofascism, are the end results of a pervasive sense of defeat and betrayal, a lust for past glories and a desire for revenge. These are the same emotions that festered in the heart of Hitler following Germany’s ignoble defeat in 1918.