Küntzel also discloses the widely unknown fact that it was the Mufti who first made overtures to Nazi Germany, which at first was reluctant to accept them for fear of offending the British. The German Foreign Office only began to respond after the Peel Commission's plan made a Jewish state in Mandatory Palestine seem possible, something it sought to prevent at all costs. Subsequently, the Mufti prevailed, first by fomenting terror in Palestine, then by broadcasting propaganda to the Arabs from Berlin, setting up a Muslim SS division, and opposing leniency toward the Jews by countries that belonged to the Axis but were not under direct Nazi rule such as Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, and Italy. When he could, he also sabotaged all attempts at rescue, including children.
Also not widely known are the lasting effects of the Nazi ideology in the Middle East. Nasser had strong sympathies for Nazi Germany, as did many of his compatriots in the Egyptian military. After World War II, as mentioned, Egypt welcomed Nazis who continued their war against the Jews. They helped distribute anti-Semitic writings and broadcasts to foster hatred not only of Israel, but all Jews, using and supplementing the language and thinking of the Muslim Brotherhood. One such achievement was the translation of Mein Kampf into Arabic.
Depicting the manifold relationships between leading members of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood and political as well as terrorist leaders of the Middle East, Küntzel demonstrates that the ideological origins of present-day terrorism were in Egypt - not in Saudi Arabia, as many now believe. It was in Egypt that the Brotherhood laid the groundwork for today's Islamist movement. Despite changes in strategy - from fighting mainly the "infidel" Arab establishment since the mid-1950s to switching priority to the "Zionist entity" and the United States since the 1990s - one aim always prevailed: extermination of the Jews. This was not linked to Israeli policies but to the very existence of the Jewish state in what Islamists believe is an integral part of the House of Islam.
Küntzel also points to the ties between the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood and major political and military figures of the Palestinian movement, and notes that today's Palestinian leaders' genocidal attitudes are identical to those of Arab leaders in the past. Thus, both for Yasser Arafat and Sheikh Yassin, Oslo was only an interim stage toward Israel's destruction. Palestinian maps, including in textbooks, do not show Israel at all; Palestinian sources omit the Mufti's role in Nazism and deny the Holocaust, while viewing jihad as the only means to defeat Israel. A mostly overlooked point is the Palestinian Authority's explicitly authorizing the dissemination of the 1999 edition of Mein Kampf, whose preface by the translator declares that Hitler was one of the few great men in history and that National Socialism did not die with its founder.
Although relating to the subject throughout the book, Küntzel devotes the last chapter to German perceptions about the Middle East. In Germany, the Left as well as the extreme-Right and neo-Nazi camps support terror against Israel and the United States as a struggle for freedom. The Left - and increasingly, mainstream groups - mistakenly view Islamist terror as expressing the frustration and desperation of a progressive anticapitalist movement. They do not seem to grasp that an anticapitalist mass movement could be of a fascist character, instead ignoring or denying the blatantly fascist aspects. In reality, common fascistic and anti-Jewish themes led neo-Nazi groups to embrace Islamists as brothers-in-arms against the "Jewish world conspiracy." Küntzel shows how both Left and Right embrace anti-Semitism by supporting Islamism without understanding its aspirations to world dominance.
Although Küntzel's study is well documented, he demonstrates what is not esoteric, but denied: that the Islamist mass movement must be understood in a societal context, not in terms of political and economic postulates. Küntzel's special contribution is to provide this context that is missing from the perceptions both of Germany's ideological fringes and its mainstream.
Tuesday, April 05, 2011
Herbert Eiteneier reviews Djihad und Judenhass: Über den neuen antijüdischen Krieg, by Matthias Küntzel, on the Jewish Center for Public Affairs website: