Sunday, January 06, 2008

Islamic Antisemitism's German Roots

From Jeffrey Goldberg's book review article on JIHAD AND JEW-HATRED: Islamism, Nazism and the Roots of 9/11. By Matthias Küntzel. Translated by Colin Meade. 180 pp. Telos Press:-

...German scholar Matthias Küntzel tells us this is a mistake. He takes anti-Semitism, and in particular its most potent current strain, Muslim anti-Semitism, very seriously indeed. His bracing, even startling, book, “Jihad and Jew-Hatred” (translated by Colin Meade), reminds us that it is perilous to ignore idiotic ideas if these idiotic ideas are broadly, and fervently, believed...Hezbollah officials employ language that shamelessly echoes Nazi propaganda, describing Jews as parasites and tumors and prescribing the murder of Jews as a kind of chemotherapy.

The question is not only why, of course, but how: how did these ideas, especially those that portray Jews as all-powerful, work their way into modern-day Islamist discourse? The notion of the Jew as malevolently omnipotent is not a traditional Muslim notion. Jews do not come off well in the Koran — they connive and scheme and reject the message of the Prophet Muhammad — but they are shown to be, above all else, defeated. Muhammad, we read, conquered the Jews in battle and set them wandering...

Obviously, then, these modern-day ideas about Jewish power were imported from Europe, and Küntzel makes a bold and consequential argument: the dissemination of European models of anti-Semitism among Muslims was not haphazard, but an actual project of the Nazi Party, meant to turn Muslims against Jews and Zionism. He says that in the years before World War II, two Muslim leaders in particular willingly and knowingly carried Nazi ideology directly to the Muslim masses. They were Haj Amin al-Husseini, the mufti of Jerusalem, and the Egyptian proto-Islamist Hassan al-Banna, the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood. The story of the mufti is a familiar one: he was the leader of the Arabs in Palestine, and Palestine’s leading anti-Jewish agitator. He eventually embraced the Nazis and spent most of the war in Berlin, recruiting Bosnian Muslims for the SS and agitating for the harshest possible measures against Jews. Küntzel writes that the mufti became upset with Himmler in 1943, when he sought to trade 5,000 Jewish children for 20,000 German prisoners. Himmler came around to the mufti’s thinking, and the children were gassed.

Hassan al-Banna did not embrace Nazism in the same uncomplicated manner, but through the 1930s, his movement, aided by the Germans, led the drive against not only political Zionism but Jews in general. “This burgeoning Islamist movement was subsidized with German funds,” Küntzel writes...

...Küntzel marshals impressive evidence to back his case, but he sometimes oversimplifies...Still, Küntzel is right to state that we are witnessing a terrible explosion of anti-Jewish hatred in the Middle East, and he is right to be shocked. His invaluable contribution, in fact, is his capacity to be shocked, by the rhetoric of hate and by its consequences. The former Hamas leader Abdel Aziz Rantisi once told me that “the question is not what the Germans did to the Jews, but what the Jews did to the Germans.” The Jews, he said, deserved their punishment. Küntzel argues that we should see men like Rantisi for what they are: heirs to the mufti, and heirs to the Nazis.

And a great graphic there:-

And here's the first chapter.

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