Sunday, January 04, 2009
The True Roots of Palestinian Nationalism and Islamic Jihad
On October 28, 2005, President George W. Bush used for the first time the term “Islamic fascist” to describe the Muslim terrorist groups currently at war with the West. He denounced them as movements that have a “violent and political vision”, and call for “the establishment by terrorism, subversion and insurgency, of a totalitarian empire that denies all political and religious freedom.”
The Muslim groups which today threaten the West with terrorism, subversion and insurgency, and which, in their own words, seek to bring about a global totalitarian empire are not only fascist in the broad sociological sense, but can trace their literal historical origins to Nazism and its genocidal ambitions.
The ideology of the Islamists whose ranks today include not only al-Qaeda but also Hamas and Hezbollah -- originated with Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood. And the Muslim Brotherhood finds not just its roots, but much of its symbolism, terminology, and political priorities deep within the heart of Nazi fascism.
Hassan al-Banna (1906 - 1949) was born into the family of a poor watchmaker in southern Egypt. As a child, he was attracted to the extremist and xenophobic aspects of Islam which were hostile to Western secularism and to its system of rights, particularly women’s rights.
While still in his teens, the young al-Banna and friends (they referred to each other as ‘brethren’) met frequently to discuss the situation in the Middle East, to argue about the ills of Arab society, and to lament the decline of Islam. Their angst was in large part a reaction to the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, the end of the Muslim Caliphate, the British occupation of Egypt, and the resulting exposure of Arab society to Western values.
It was to strike back against these evils that al-Banna founded the Muslim Brotherhood in 1928. Among the perspectives he drew on to address these issues were the anti-capitalist doctrines of European Marxism and especially fascism.
The group expanded during the 1930’s as Al-Banna would describe, in inflammatory speeches, the horrors of hell expected for heretics, and consequently, the need for Muslims to return to their purest religious roots, re-establish the Caliphate, and resume the great and final holy war, or jihad, against the non-Muslim world.
The first big step on the path to the international jihad came during “The Great Arab Revolt” of 1936-9, when one of the most famous of the Muslim Brotherhood’s leaders, the Hajj Amin al-Husseini, Grand Mufti (Supreme Muslim religious leader) of Jerusalem, incited his followers to a three-year war against the Jews in Palestine and the British who administered the Mandate. By the end of the 1930’s there were more than a half million active members registered, in more than two thousand branches across the Arab world.
It was during this time that the Muslim Brotherhood found a soul mate in Nazi Germany. The Reich offered great power connections to the movement, but the relationship brokered by the Brotherhood was more than a marriage of convenience. Long before the war, al-Banna had developed an Islamic religious ideology which previewed Hitler’s Nazism. Both movements sought world conquest and domination.
Both were explicitly anti-nationalist in the sense that they believed in the liquidation of the nation-state in favor of a trans-national unifying community: in Islam the umma (community of all believers); and in Nazism the herrenvolk (master race). Both worshipped the unifying totalitarian figure of the Caliph or Führer.
And both rabidly hated the Jews and sought their destruction.
As the Brotherhood’s political and military alliance with Nazi Germany developed, these parallels facilitated practical interactions created a full-blown alliance, with formal state visits, de facto ambassadors, and overt as well as sub rosa joint ventures.
Al-Banna’s followers easily transplanted into the Arab world a newly Nazified form of traditional Muslim Jew-hatred, with Arab translations of Mein Kampf (translated into Arabic as “My Jihad”) and other Nazi anti-Semitic works, including Der Sturmer hate-cartoons, adapted to portray the Jew as the demonic enemy of Allah.
The single best known and most active Nazi sympathizer in the Muslim Brotherhood was not al-Banna himself, but the Hajj Amin al-Husseini, Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, and one-time President of the Supreme Muslim Council of Palestine. As one commentator has noted, to understand the Hajj’s influence on the Middle East in the 1930s and 40s is to understand the ongoing genocidal program of the Arab terrorist organizations warring against the Jews of Israel today.
Al-Husseini used his office as a powerful bully pulpit from which to preach anti-Jewish, anti-Zionist, and (turning on his patrons) anti-British vitriol. He was directly involved in the organization of the 1929 riots which destroyed the 3000-year-old Jewish community of Hebron. And he was quick to see that he had a natural ally in Hitler and in the rising star of Nazi Germany.
As early as the spring of 1933, he assured the German consul in Jerusalem that “the Muslims inside and outside Palestine welcome the new regime of Germany and hope for the extension of the fascist, anti-democratic governmental system to other countries.”
The youth organization established by the Mufti used Nazi emblems, names and uniforms.
During the “Great Arab Revolt” of 1936-9, which al-Husseini helped organize and which Germany funded, the swastika was used as a mark of identity on Arabic leaflets and graffiti. Arab children welcomed each other with the Hitler salute, and a sea of German flags and pictures of Hitler were displayed at celebrations. The Grand Mufti declared certain zones in Palestine to be “liberated” from the Jews and British; and he mandated Shari’a - Islamic religious law. Christian as well as Muslim women were forced to veil themselves. Opponents were liquidated.
The British sent massive reinforcements to put down the revolt. Al-Husseini fled to Lebanon, where he worked tirelessly on behalf of Germany and Nazism. He played a pivotal behind-the-scenes role in instigating a pro-Nazi coup in Iraq in 1941, in urging Nazis and pro-Nazi governments in Europe to transport Jews to death camps, in training pro-Nazi Bosnian brigades, and, after Hitler’s cause was lost, in funneling Nazi loot into post-war Arab countries.
His Muslim “Hanjar” division was credited with the murder of roughly 90% of Bosnian Jewry.
He succeeded, almost single-handedly, in engraving on the Arab consciousness the image of the Jew as the demonic apotheosis of all things evil. Not only was everything Jewish evil; but under al-Husseini’s deft diatribe, everything evil was Jewish.
After meeting with Hitler on November 21, 1941, Husseini praised the Germans because they “know how to get rid of the Jews, and that brings us close to the Germans and sets us in their camp.”
On March 1, 1944, the Mufti called out in a broadcast from Zeesen: “Arabs! Rise as one and fight for your sacred rights. Kill the Jews wherever you find them. Kill them with your teeth if need be. This pleases God, history, and religion. This saves your honor.” His goal, with the help of the Nazis, was “to solve the question of the Jewish elements in Palestine and in other Arab countries as required by national interests, and in the same way as the Jewish question in the Axis lands is being solved.”
His own memoirs, and the testimony of German defendants at the Nuremberg trials later on, showed that he planned a death camp modeled on Auschwitz to be constructed near Nablus for the genocide of Palestine’s Jews.
It was the Mufti who urged Hitler, Himmler, and General Ribbentrop to concentrate Germany’s considerable industrial and military resources on the extermination of European Jewry. The foremost Muslim spiritual leader of his time helped in his own way by lobbying to prevent Jews from leaving Hungary, Romania, and Bulgaria, even though those governments were initially willing to let them go.
As Eichmann himself recounted: “We have promised him [the Mufti] that no European Jew would enter Palestine any more.”
But Germany’s defeat in North Africa meant that the Einsatsgruppen, which had murdered more than one million of the six million Jewish victims of the Holocaust, never took its ghastly show to Palestine. The Mufti suddenly found himself a prisoner of war in France, and condemned as a war criminal by the Nuremberg prosecutors.
But with the Cold War looming, the British and the Americans sought to curry favor with the Arab world (and prevent the USS R from making political headway there) by allowing him to escape. He fled first to Egypt, and later to Syria. From Damascus, Hajj Amin al-Husseini reestablished himself as the foremost spokesman for the Arabs of Palestine.
A few years later, when the question of Palestine came before the United Nations, he and Hassan al-Banna urged the Arab world to unite in opposition to it. The two men saw in the UN resolution for the partition of Palestine an example of the “Jewish world conspiracy,” even though the plan provided for an Arab state in Palestine alongside of the Jewish one. But in their view a state for the Arabs of Palestine took a back seat to the eradication of Zionism and the annihilation of Palestine’s Jews.
As the armies of Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Arabia and Morocco invaded Israel in 1948, the general-secretary of the Arab League, Abd al-Rahman Azzam (aka Azzam Pasha), who had previously stated privately that he considered the partition of Palestine to be the only rational solution, now stood shoulder to shoulder with the Mufti. “This war,” he declared on the day of the Arab attack, “will be a war of destruction.” It was: but it was the armies assembled by Arab generals, many of whom had fought with Rommel in behalf of the Third Reich that were destroyed.
Al-Husseini’s Nazi ambitions, even though they were now seen as part of the Holocaust that he had helped in his small way to engineer, continued to be a source of pride for his Arab supporters after his death in 1948.
And he found admirers elsewhere in the decades ahead as well. Professor Edward Said -- an associate of Barack Obama -- praised al-Husseini, former partner with the Nazis in their crimes against humanity, as “the voice of the Palestinian people.”
Yasser Arafat, a cousin of al-Husseini, referred to him as “our hero.”
Source: The Terrorism Awareness Project's The Nazi Roots of Palestinian Nationalism and Islamic Jihad (PDF)
Related: Pajamas Media's Comparing Hamas to Hitler is an insult to the Nazis