David Patterson is Hillel Feinberg Chair in Holocaust studies at the University of Texas at Dallas. This article is based on research done for his book A Genealogy of Evil: Anti-Semitism from Nazism to Islamic Jihad (Cambridge University Press, 2011).
The essay explains how Islam, interpreted through the Koran, should in theory accept the Jews because they are considered as the People of the Book and should be respected as such. The hatred of Israel that prevails throughout Muslim lands owes much more to Nazism than to the Koran and Islam itself:
Despite the obsessive preoccupation with Israeli building activities in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, the greatest obstacle to peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians is almost never mentioned in media accounts: virulent, jihadist hatred of Jews. Contrary to what many assume, however, jihadism in its current form is not a throwback to some medieval mindset but a confluence of traditional Islamic teachings and the anti-Semitism and extermination goals of Nazism.
Without understanding how the latter has influenced the former, it would be difficult to identify how modern jihadists find a basis for some of their pronouncements. For example, a faithful Muslim could arguably support a Jewish presence in historic Palestine since the Qur’an designates the Land of Israel as a dwelling place for the Jews, to which they will be returned as the last days approach. Clearly this viewpoint runs counter to the jihadists’ agenda as well as their rhetoric. But it is through their rhetoric that the deadly adaptation of Nazi views surrounding an Islamic core is seen most clearly.
The article goes on to detail the affinity for Nazism held by Muslim leaders in the Middle East, particularly the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, Hassan al-Banna, and the notorious Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin el-Husseini.
Alfred Rosenberg, perhaps the Nazis’ most influential ideologue after Hitler, argued that Jews must be annihilated because the Aryan race had been “poisoned by Judaism” and not merely by Jewish blood: The essence of Jewish evil, he maintained, found its expression in Judaism, and both the “ism” and the essence were in the blood. All Jews, thus, were essentially evil and must, therefore, be eliminated. Such notions are echoed by Sayyid Qutb, the most influential of the modern jihadist ideologues after Banna, who held that “Jews were by nature determined to fight God’s truth and sow corruption and confusion,” and that “the deeper cause of the Jewish hatred of Islam was the malevolent Jewish nature.”
As with the Nazis, the jihadists’ aim is to eliminate this source of evil that threatens all of humanity. “Jihad and Jew-hatred belong together,” German academic Matthias Küntzel correctly observes. What drives this hatred is not the Jewish presence in the Middle East—it is the Jewish presence in the world.
Two years later, he [Husseini] set up his base of operations in Baghdad and joined with Rashid Ali al-Gaylani to lead a Nazi-backed takeover of the Iraqi government on April 1, 1941. By May 31, the British had successfully suppressed the coup but not before Husseini had issued a fatwa (religious edict) announcing a jihad against Britain and the Jews. Months later, on November 28, 1941, the mufti, whom the Nazis now deemed the “champion of Arab liberation,” sat opposite Adolf Hitler, who assured him that the Nazis and the Arabs were engaged in the same struggle, namely, the extermination of the Jews. By the end of the year, Husseini had met again with Eichmann, by now tasked with executing the “Final Solution”; his deputy Dieter Wisliceny later testified that Eichmann had informed the mufti “of the plan concerning the ‘Final Solution of the Jewish Question in Europe.’” Eichmann’s deputy also claimed that “the mufti was one of the initiators of the systematic extermination of European Jewry and had been a collaborator and advisor of Eichmann and Himmler in the execution of this plan.”
The mufti’s actions were as murderous as his words. As early as January 1942, Husseini had begun recruiting Muslims to serve in German SS killing units, the most infamous of which was the Mountain Handschar Division of 21,065 men. Other Muslim SS killing units included the Skanderberg Division in Albania and the Arabisches Freiheitskorps in Macedonia. These murderous Muslim units played a major role in rendering the Balkans Judenrein (free of Jews) during the winter of 1943-44. As these units were doing their work, the mufti was taking other measures to hasten the slaughter of the Jews. According to Wisliceny and Hungarian Jewish leader Rudolf Kastner, Husseini wrote letters to the governments of Bulgaria (May 6, 1943), Italy (June 10, 1943), Romania and Hungary (June 28, 1943) demanding that their Jews be exterminated without delay.
This murderous background brings us to the present day and explains so much of the difficulty in bringing peace between Israel and its Arab neighbours:
In his Nazi mufti mentor, the future Nobel Peace Prize laureate discovered a true soul mate. Arafat expressed his admiration for the mufti until the end of his days, describing him in an interview published in the Palestinian newspaper al-Quds as his “model and hero.” This mentor enlisted him in the Muslim Brotherhood where he received his first military training at the hands of former Nazis. In October 1959, Arafat and some of his colleagues founded Fatah, a word that means “conquest” and is a reverse acronym for Harakat at-Tahrir al-Filastini (The movement for the liberation of Palestine). Fatah’s ultimate aim, as stated in its platform, is “the annihilation of the Zionist entity in all of its economic, political, military, and cultural manifestations.” In late May 1964, a gathering of 422 Palestinian activists in East Jerusalem established the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and approved its two foundation documents—the organization’s Basic Constitution and the Palestinian National Covenant. By the end of the decade, the PLO had been overtaken by Fatah with Arafat appointed as chairman.
Anyone who wants to know what stands in the way of peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians need only read the Palestinian National Charter, which assumed its final form in July 1968. Reminiscent of the Nazis’ focus on blood purity, article 4 sets a similar tone, stating that “Palestinian identity is a genuine, essential, and inherent characteristic; it is transmitted from parents to children.” The covenant allows no room either for negotiations or for a peaceful means of attaining their ends (articles 9, 10, and 21). Just as the Jews threatened the existence and the essence of the Aryan nation, so they threaten the existence and the essence of the Arab nation because “the destiny of the Arab nation and, indeed, Arab existence itself depends upon the destiny of the Palestine cause” (article 14); the elimination of the Jews is not merely a political issue but, most fundamentally, an existential, ontological issue.
Anything that might legitimize Jewish existence, then, must be debunked, which is the point of article 20: “Claims of historical or religious ties of Jews with Palestine are incompatible with the facts of history.” The Jews simply have no place in Palestine, which must be made Judenrein. Furthermore, the implication of article 22 is that there is no place for the Jew anywhere: “Israel is the instrument of the Zionist movement and geographical base for world imperialism … Israel is a constant source of threat vis-à-vis peace in the Middle East and the whole world.”
Despite Arafat’s declaration after the September 1972 massacre of eleven Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympic games that every Jew was a target and his subsequent proclamation that the “end of Israel is the goal of our struggle, and it allows neither compromise nor mediation … Peace for us means the destruction of Israel and nothing else,” the United Nations welcomed the PLO as the representative of the Palestinians and granted it observer status. Small wonder that following that recognition, PLO chief Salah Khalaf had no qualms about asserting that an “independent state on the West Bank and Gaza is the beginning of the final solution,” intentionally echoing the Nazi code word for the extermination of European Jewry that informed the PLO’s own outlook.
The confluence between Nazi aims and jihadist thought continued unabated. Shortly after gaining control of the Gaza Strip and Jericho in accordance with the declaration of principles, Fatah leader Sakhr Habash stated that once the Palestinians had control of Gaza and the West Bank, they would proceed to the “final solution.”
The essay next addresses Hamas’ jihadism and anti-Semitism:
Hamas makes “no distinctions between Jews, Zionists, and Israelis,” which means their war is not about ending the Jewish “occupation” of Palestine but rather ridding the planet of Jews. As British academic Beverley Milton-Edwards noted, “The Hamas view of the Jewish people is not drawn solely from the pages of the Qur’an and Hadith [sayings and actions by Muhammad]. Its myopia is also the product of Western anti-Semitic [primarily Nazi] influences.”
For Hamas then, the issue of Palestine is not about land or the “right of return” or what shall be the capital of the future state, it is about universal, revealed truth and is beyond negotiation. This explains why
initiatives, and so-called peaceful solutions and international conferences, are in contradiction to the principles of the Islamic Resistance Movement. Abusing any part of Palestine is abuse directed against part of religion. Nationalism of the Islamic Resistance Movement is part of its religion…. There is no solution for the Palestinian question except through jihad.
In Hamas’s worldview, evil is rooted not only in the Jews but in Judaism itself. Unlike the rest of humanity, the Jew can be neither redeemed nor rehabilitated, any more than one could make Satan into a saint. The only way to liberate humanity is to cast the satanic Jew into hell, and, as the embodiment of God on earth, Hamas takes the lead in that endeavor:
And now we come to the all-important conclusion:
Politicians who are entrusted with securing the peace in the Middle East fail to see reality. Inasmuch as negotiators will not name the evil they confront, they remain blind to it. Enjoying the complicity of the media, leaders in the Obama administration and elsewhere refuse to refer to Islamist fascists as either Islamists or as fascists.
Such a position reflects an inexcusable, willful ignorance of the history, religion, culture, and languages that go into the making of modern jihadism. What must be understood above all is this: Hamas and Fatah have developed a theological and ideological justification that precludes any negotiations that would lead to a lasting peace with a Jewish state. At best, one can expect an application of the PLO’s phased strategy, which gives the illusion of peace without renouncing its goal of Jewish extermination. Neither Hamas nor Fatah can agree in good faith to any peace with the Jews since in their eyes to do so would amount to treason or apostasy or both. What then is to be done beyond naming the evil? Simply stated, Islamist jihadism must be eliminated, and given their ideological stances, neither Hamas nor Fatah can be a viable partner in peace; therefore, their removal from power is a prerequisite to any future for Israelis and Palestinians alike. Whether the present revolutionary turmoil sweeping the Arab world will produce such a result remains to be seen.
Do you think anyone is listening to these wise words?