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Nazi Germany’s Support for Muslim Antisemitism

Most people will tell you that formal Muslim antisemitism started in 1948 with the establishment of the State of Israel. Right? Wrong!

It actually started many years earlier. The independence of the State of Israel only formalized Muslim animosity towards Jews by motivating neighboring countries to join the war against Israel, whereas prior to the war antisemitic incidents were the actions of mostly informal groups.

So, what happened before 1948?

A pamphlet called “Judaism and Islam” was published in Egypt in 1937, and widely distributed in Germany. The purpose of that pamphlet was nothing but to inculcate hatred against the Jewish people. The publication was a consequence of the British Peel Commission’s making the first proposal for a partition of Palestine into two independent states. In November 1938, while synagogues burned in Germany, under pressure from the mufti of Jerusalem, the British withdrew the resolution of the Peel Commission (which had been supported by the Jews in order to maintain their good relations with the Arabs and as a way of dealing with the Arab threats not to cooperate with Germany.

But let me first introduce you to a person who, although well known in a general sense, is relatively unknown for his activities as the greatest antisemite and Jew hater before, during and after WWll. His name is Amin El-Husseini (AEH), born in 1897 in Jerusalem and died in 1974. He was appointed mufti of Jerusalem by the British in 1921. From 1922 until 1936 AEH made the threat to the Jerusalem Holy Places as his center of antisemitism.

Husseini’s father had already battled against the Jews during the Ottoman times. During World War I, AEH was in the Turkish Army where he was in contact with German-style discipline, which he admired. Upon his return to Palestine in 1920, he instigated riots against the Jews, causing numerous deaths and injuries. Again in 1929, AEH instigated anti-Jewish riots in Hebron and Safed, causing many deaths to both Arabs and Jews.

In 1937 an anti-Jewish pamphlet was published in Cairo and translated into German in Berlin in 1938 under the title “Islam and Judaism.” The authorship has not been definitively ascertained, but judging by the language, the writer is assumed to have been AEH. The full title includes the words “Appeal by the Grand Mufti to the Islamic Worlds.” It is also not known whether Germany played any part in this publication. As president of the Muslim Supreme Council, Husseini was the highest religious authority. In 1937, when the British finally realized that AEH was causing all Muslims to stop their support for the Peel Plan, it was agreed to arrest AEH and deport him to the Seychelles; however, the arrest failed since the mufti was tipped off and he fled to the Temple Mount, where he stayed for several months.

In 1941, after instigating a “German Putsch” in Baghdad, Husseini went to Berlin, where together with 60 employees he promoted cooperation between Islam and the Nazis. From 1941 on, he supervised the antisemitic broadcasts out of Zeesen. As World War ll was winding down in 1945, AEH, with 50,000 marks from the German Foreign office, fled to Switzerland. There he was extradited to France where he lived with four employees until 1946, residing in a villa in a Parisian suburb. France refused to extradite him to Britain. The U.S. supported Britain but when the Muslim Brotherhood, supported by the Arab League, protested violently, all relented and nothing was done to punish AEH for his pro-Nazi activities. On June 10 of that year, he was able to flee from France in disguise, and on June 19 King Farouk of Egypt gave him asylum.

Back in 1937, when Husseini was hiding on the Temple Mount, he had a lot of time to write the above-mentioned “Judaism and Islam” pamphlet. When in 1942 AEH gave a speech in Germany, the content found its parallel in the 1937 pamphlet. In March 1943, with the Axis powers in full retreat, AEH spoke again in Germany, warning what would happen if the “Jew-controlled Western powers would win the war.” To be able to continue the war against the Jews after the world war, AEH got the Germans to supply the Arabs with arms in November 1944. Germany also supplied AEH with gold and huge sums of money that he was able to smuggle out of Germany via Switzerland. After the war he should have been arrested as a Nazi, since he had been instrumental on several occasions in preventing rescue of Jews whom the Germans were willing to trade for cash. But instead of trying to distance himself from the defeated Nazis, Husseini continued to talk admiringly about Adolf Hitler and his henchmen as late as 1954.

Now that we know who Husseini was as an individual, we also must understand an organization that has played a very important role in the history of antisemitism—the Muslim Brotherhood. It was started in Egypt in 1928 by a preacher named Hassan al-Banna. It grew, and in the late 1940s it had 500,000 members. The Brotherhood was the forerunner of Hamas and was also close to Osama bin Laden. Its politics were guided by the fascism of Germany in the 1930s. The Brotherhood is credited with insisting that jihad is a holy war. Shortly after the end of WWll they started the greatest anti-Jewish riots in Egypt, shifting the main antisemitic activities from Germany to the Mideast. After the end of the Cold War, their activities in Palestine started in the form of mass murders of Israelis.

Going back in history, in November 1917 the British government announced its support of a national home for the Jews in Palestine. Although it is generally understood that Muslims in all countries opposed the Balfour Declaration, it is not widely known that many highly placed representatives in Arab countries supported it, feeling that economically it would be beneficial for the area to bring it up to European standards.

The Nazis coming to power in 1933 sparked wide protests by the Jewish communities in Egypt, and was supported by many non-Jews. The German agents were very disturbed by this situation and an organization that had been formed in 1926 as part of the German Nazi party overseas by Alfred Hess (whose family had lived in Alexandria since 1865, brother of Rudolf Hess, who later became Hitler’s deputy), distributed copies of a pamphlet “The Jewish Question in Germany.” In further response Germany threatened to boycott the importation of Egyptian cotton, a main export of that country. The threat by Germany resulted in Egypt making an about face and promising stronger measures against the Jews.

It was not until 1936 that the anti-Jewish activities moved from Egypt to Palestine, led by the mufti, whose hatred of the Jews was as strong as that of his German friends. The Peel Commission partition plan in 1937, mentioned above, further added fuel to the fire. In 1938, leaflets published by the Muslim Brotherhood called for the Jews to get out of Egypt and Palestine. Already in the late 1930s, the Brotherhood received money from the German news agency affiliated with the German delegation in Cairo, enabling them to organize a printing plant to create their hate pamphlets. In 1937 also, two members of the Jewish department of the SS Secret Service (including Adolf Eichman) carried out a mission in the Middle East followed by visits by Baldur von Schirach, the leader of the Hitler Youth, as well as Wilhelm Canaris, the head of the Abwehr, the German counter-intelligence service. As a result of their findings the mufti’s appeals were now taken more seriously, and the result was a generous supply of money and weapons.

Most people have never heard of the existence of the daily Arab-language broadcasts from Zeesen, a small town south of Berlin starting in 1939. These broadcasts were very popular in the Arab world, as antisemitic pronouncements were mingled with sentences from the Koran and Arab music.

Hitler did not only want to eradicate all Jews from Europe, but rather his ideas covered the whole world, which included Palestine, where a large number of Jews lived. His wish was almost carried out when General Erwin Rommel’s armies neared the conquest of Egypt in 1942. A special SS unit of about 20 soldiers was sent to Rommel to help the Muslims murder Jews after Rommel completed his conquest of the Mideast.

The fact that the perpetrators of the destruction of the two towers on 9/11 were all educated or lived in Germany is well known. What is not so well known is that in 2002 Egypt made a 41-part television program of the “Protocols of the Elders of Zion,” a work first published in 1903, that Hitler had used as his inspiration for the Holocaust. In 2003 Syria followed Egypt’s lead and made a 29-part television series of the Protocols with the help of Hezbollah. The idea of blowing up buildings was not developed first by these suicide bombers. The idea originated in Berlin where Hitler had a fantasy of seeing the downfall of New York by turning the skyscrapers into huge burning torches. But it was not only a fantasy. Hitler had Daimler-Benz make up drawings of four huge motored planes without landing gear, filled with explosives.

From the information noted above, it is clear that without German help and cooperation, Husseini would not have been so successful in his hate campaigns against Jews. Had the British attempt to arrest him been successful in 1937, and had they been able to keep him in the Seychelles during the war, hundreds of thousands of Jews could probably have been saved and the history of Palestine/Israel might have turned out with much less loss of lives, both Jews and Arabs.

Norbert Strauss is a Teaneck resident who frequently speaks to groups to relay his family’s escape from Nazi Germany in 1941.

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