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Jihad and Jew Hatred

A fascinating book that examines the connection between radical Islam and anti-Semitism, between modern Islam and Nazism.

reviewed by Yonatan Silverman

Jihad and Jew Hatred by Matthias Kuntzel

Jihad and Jew Hatred, by Matthias Kuntzel.

Matthias Kuntzel's premise is that through the hands of Haj Amin El Husseini, as Grand Mufti of Jerusalem in the 1930s, and Hassan al Banna, as founder of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt in 1928, Nazi style Jew hatred impregnated itself in the Arab world, and the seed thereby spread in particularly vicious manifestations throughout the Arab world.

Following the Egyptian revolution of 1919, the Egyptian Jewish community of 70 – 80,000 enjoyed relatively good conditions.

Palestine "was a peripheral concern for Egyptian public opinion and a non-issue for the Egyptian government in the 1920s."

But the Nazi rise to power in Germany sparked massive protests, not only the Jewish community but also other sections of the population launched a systematic boycott of German products and firms that dealt in German goods.

An Egyptian Nazi group tried to combat the boycott with anti-Jewish propaganda. But when this effort failed, the Nazis threatened to boycott Egyptian cotton.

The Cairo Nazi group saw as early as 1933 that they needed to focus on the point where real conflicts of interest between Arabs and Jews existed i.e. in Palestine. They resolved to transplant the Palestine conflict to Egypt.

Finally in 1936, when the flood of refugees to Palestine increased the number of Jewish immigrants to new levels, the Mufti called for an Arab general strike against Jewish immigration and British mandate policy in Palestine. These disturbances have become known as "The Arab revolt of 1936-39."

This was a cue to Hassan Al-Banna's Muslim Brotherhood, which linked the idea of jihad, one of its principle platforms, to the clashes in Palestine. Among other things, the Brotherhood became a mass organization between 1936 and 1938. Its ranks grew in this period from 800 to 200,000 members.

The Muslim Brotherhood persisted in organizing violent student demonstrations in Cairo, Alexandria and Tanta in April and May 1938 in which such calls rang out as "down with the Jews," "Jews out of Egypt and Palestine.". Leaflets renewed calls for a boycott of Jewish shops and businesses. There is also evidence that prior to October 1939 the German News Agency (affiliated with the official German legation in Cairo) provided subsidies to the Muslim Brotherhood.

By the end of the 1930s Egyptian public concern about Palestine had been incited to such an extent that it greatly increased the Egyptian government's readiness to take an anti-Zionist position.

Then there is the somewhat more extreme case of Haj Amin El Husseini.

As early as 1933, the Mufti assured the German consul in Jerusalem that "the Muslims inside and outside Palestine welcomed the new regime of Germany and hoped for the extension of the fascist anti-democratic governmental system to other countries."

The Mufti's tireless appeals for cooperation were answered in the form of supplies of money and weapons. In the period 1937-39 the Mufti's ability to sustain the Arab revolt depended not the least on Berlin.

"The Mufti himself…"acknowledged that at that time it was only due to the German funds he received that it had been possible to carry through the uprising in Palestine. From the outset he made high financial demands which the Nazis to a great extent met."

"The Mufti hated Western civilization…Speaking at a religious conference in 1935, the Mufti complained: 'The cinema, the theater and some shameless magazines enter our homes and courtyards like adders, where they kill morality and demolish the foundations of society.' The Jews were blamed for this alleged corruption of moral values."

After the Nazis were defeated in World War II, the Muslim Brotherhood cleared the way for the Mufti's second career:

"…whose Nazi past they considered a source of pride, not shame. Moreover the lack of punishment for his commitment to Nazism only further increased the Mufti's prestige amongst the Arabs."

A few weeks before the Six Day War, Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser stated explicitly why he was preparing his country's military forces for a confrontation with Israel:

"Our basic objective will be to destroy Israel."

Israel, of course defeated Egypt and the other Arab armies in The Six Day War, and this had a devastating psychological effect on the Arabs. Says Kuntzel:

"pious Muslims experienced the Six Day War as a well nigh unbearable humiliation…"

According to Kuntzel, the 1952 military coup in Egypt, which Nasser headed was prepared in close coordination with the Muslim Brotherhood. Apparently, Egypt's new rulers made no secret of their Nazi sympathies, and it was no accident that Egypt became a haven and a refuge for former Nazis who escaped there in droves during the 1950s.

This openness to Nazi barbarism conforms with the views of popular Islamist writer Sayyid Qutb (1906-1966). Among other things, Qutb's Islamic writings are also venomously anti-Jewish notes Kuntzel:

It seems that Qutb's anti-Semitism is not a response to the founding of Israel, shortly before publication of his essay on Islam's struggle with the Jews. The target of his hatred of the Jews is "the threatening side of modernity, with which he identifies them."

Toward the beginning of Chapter Three, Kuntzel quotes Dr. Issam Sissalem, a history professor at the Islamic University of Gaza, a Hamas stronghold, who stated in a broadcast on a Palestinian Authority television channel in November 2000:

"Of course, all this is lies and unjustified assertions. No Chelmno, no Dachau, no Auschwitz! This was about disinfection facilities."

But this is prologue to the statements about Jews in the Hamas Charter. In the Charter "world Zionism" is held responsible for all the evils of world history:

"There was no war that broke out anywhere without their fingerprints on it."

In the book's fourth and last chapter the author draws a direct line from the intellectual underpinnings of Osama bin Laden's Al Qaeda movement to the mind of radical Islamist Sayyid Qutb.

Bin Laden apparently studied Qutb's writings intensively while a student at King Abd al Aziz University in Jeddah Saudi Arabia. According to Kuntzel, Qutb's writings became part of the training program at all the training camps bin Laden established in Afghanistan.

But bin Laden also established a close friendship with one of his teachers, Abdallah Azzam. Jihad was the most important subject in Azzam's teachings:

Kuntzel's review of the conditions which gave rise to modern Jihadism reveals that from the start it has been inextricably bound with the hatred of the Jews. Kuntzel notes that this is not self-explanatory.

"The effects of British colonialist policies and the capitalist crisis at the end of the 1920s fostered the emergence of Islamism as a movement of resistance to modernity and provoked the appeal for a return to a new sharia-based order. Nevertheless, the Muslim Brothers' call to jihad was almost exclusively targeted on Zionism and the Jews: the Muslim Brotherhood became a mass organization not as an anti-colonial but as an anti-Jewish movement. Jihadism did not merely spur this anti-Semitism: it was constituted by it."


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