March 2007 Archives

(This Original Essay is Copyrighted by Shelomo Alfassa - All Rights Reserved)

Published in the Israeli Insider - February 23, 2007 / Israel National News -March 1, 2007

As a Turkophile who understands the history of the inter-relationships between both Jews and Muslims throughout the Ottoman Empire, I am saddened whenever I read an article that mentions or makes indirect reference to that false fact that Jews and Arabs never got along. What is known is that Jews and Muslims, in Arab, Persian and other Islamic countries certainly did get along. The fact that there was never officially sanctioned state-sponsored anti-Jewish attacks in the Ottoman Empire seems to has gotten buried among the piles of propaganda that are continually spewed out in the modern world media.

If one reads books by Sephardic Jewish authors, they will tell you of the many experiences—positive experiences—Jews enjoyed with their Arab neighbors and friends over the centuries. Was it perfect—never. But there was never state-sponsored hatred of the Jews like there was in Christian countries.

The virulent hatred that resonates today throughout the modern world—that ever agonizing disgust of the Jewish people—is not an old time Arab feeling toward the Jews. This hatred is a result of the living Nazi influence that never died. Although the Allies killed Nazi troops, destroyed their buildings, burned Nazi books, and even the fact that German Fuehrer killed himself, the Nazi spirit lived on. This spirit of Jew hatred was brought into the Arab world by Amin Al-Husseini, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem.

The relationship between Amin Al-Husseini and the Third Reich was strengthened when the Mufti visited the German Consul General at Jerusalem in 1937. After that, he met with Eichmann when he visited Palestine. This was when the Nazis were examining the possibility of deporting German Jews to Palestine. It has been reported that based on war-crimes testimony and the Eichmann trial transcripts, Eichmann and the Mufti enjoyed a close relationship. The Mufti would soon become the spiritual leader of the Islamic legions that were trained by-and-for the Nazis.

The rise of Hitler to power in 1933 marked a turning point in the new mufti’s activities. He sent a cable of congratulations to the Nazi leader and expressed support for the Jewish boycott in Germany. Soon after Hitler’s Mein Kampf was translated into four different Arabic translations and circulated between 1933-1939 in Beirut, Baghdad, Cairo and Berlin. In the first few months of WWII, shops in the towns of Syria would frequently show posters with Arabic sayings: “In heaven God is your ruler, on earth Hitler.” In the streets of Aleppo, Homs and Damascus a popular verse in a local dialect said: “No more ‘Monsieur’, no more ‘Mister’-God in heaven, on earth Hitler!”

Anti-Jewish feeling continued to mount in the Middle East during the 1930s, as the Fascist and Nazi regimes and doctrines made increasing sense to many Arab nationalists. King Abdul Aziz of Saudi Arabia sought German arms and contacts and was favorably received. Various delegations of Syrians and Iraqis attended the Nürnberg party congresses, and there were several different Arabic translations of Mein Kampf. Both the German and Italian regimes were active in propaganda in the Arab world, and there was much pro-German sentiment in Egypt.

Anti-Semitic elements seized upon the Palestine problem and Arab Revolt of 1936-1939 to portray international Jewry, including the Jews of the Maghrib, in a negative way to the Muslims, many of whom expressed solidarity with the Palestinian Arabs against Zionism and the British Authorities in the Mandate. Nazi propaganda broadcasts from Berlin and Stuttgart, as well as broadcasts from fascist Italy, added fuel to the ongoing anti-Jewish campaigns.

As part of the new, tough policy against Arab violence, the British dismissed Al-Husseini from his post as head of the Supreme Moslem Council. Fearing arrest, on October 12, 1937, the grand mufti donned disguise and fled to Lebanon, where the French gave him asylum. During 1937, Damascus was center for anti-Jewish activities. During this same year, a Nazi delegation went to Syria where a symbiosis was developed that would lead to intensified anti-Jewish sentiment, especially among both German and Arab youth.

Nazi Germany started transmitting in Arabic for the first time in April 1938. Germany thus became an Italian radio surrogate, providing a new programming dimension by the addition of anti-Jewish and anti-British themes broadcast by several prominent Arab exiles, including Rashid Ali El-Ghailani, an ex-prime minister of Iraq, and the Mufti, Al-Husseini.

The Mufti developed a world headquarters in Germany. In an office in Berlin, his activities included: 1. radio propaganda; 2. espionage and fifth column activities in the Middle East; 3. organizing Muslims into military units in Axis-occupied countries and in North Africa and Russia; and 4. establishment of the Arab Legions and the Arab Brigade. These groups were trained by the Nazis and used by them. The Mufti’s radio broadcasts were some of the most violent pro-Axis broadcasts ever produced. He had at least six stations, Berlin, Zeissen, Bari, Rome, Tokyo and Athens. He used these radio broadcasts to tell Muslims across the world to commit acts of sabotage and kill the Jews.

Hitler had made it clear that the project of killing Jews was by no means confined to Europe. As he explained to the Mufti, “his hopes of military victory in Africa and the Middle East would bring about the destruction of Jews in the Arab World.” In November of 1941 Hitler informed the Mufti at a meeting in Berlin that he intended to kill every Jew living in the Arab world, including those in Palestine as well as “Syria, Iraq, Iran, the Arabian peninsula, Egypt, and French Northwest Africa.” Hitler asserted that, in the event of a German advance into the Middle East, the German objective would be the “destruction” of “Judaism” in Palestine.

During 1941, in Mosul, Iraq, pro-Nazi Arab activists continued to propagandize against Jews. In Baghdad, when the war film For Freedom showed in cinemas, audiences cheered Hitler and booed Churchill. Leaflets circulated: “Rashid Ali, the Leader of all the Arabs, is returning with ropes and gallows to hang a number of criminal Jews, Christian traitors and other enemies of Islam.”

October 5, 1943, the Mufti arrived in Frankfort, Germany visiting the Research Institute on the Jewish Problem where he declared that Arabs and Germans were, “Partners and allies in the battle against world Jewry.” The Mufti beamed radio sermons to the Balkans, the countries of North Africa, and the Muslims in India. Arabs in Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, Iraq and Egypt were called upon for Jihad against the British, these statements included the suggestion Muslims could, “Save their souls by massacring the Jewish infidels” they came across.

In a letter to Himmler, dated September 28, 1944, General Berger of the Waffen S.S. reported: “Today the Mufti came to see me for a long talk. He talked about his work and noted happily that the day is nearing he will head an army to conquer Palestine.” It was during this same year that the Mufti developed an Arab Brigade in 1944 that included Arabs trained in Holland by the Germans.

It was said the Mufti even visited Auschwitz and Maldanek. In both of these death camps, he paid close attention to the efficiency of the crematorium, spoke to the leading personnel and was generous in his praise for those who were reported as particularly conscientious in their work. He was on friendly terms with such notorious practitioners of the “final solution” as Rudolf Hess, the overlord of Auschwitz; Franz Zeireis of Mauthausen; Dr. Seidl of Theresienstadt; and Kramer, the butcher of Belsen.

After VE Day, May 8, 1945, Nazi officials were prepared to allow Jews to be diverted from concentration camps and even let children go to Palestine via “illegal” ships—all in exchange for cash. Yet, Al-Husseini insisted they get dispatched to concentration camps. That same year, liberated Yugoslavia sought to indict the Mufti as a war criminal for his activities in Bosnia, but with help from the Nazi SS, the Mufti had already escaped Germany with other members of his clan.”

While it is easy to reinvent history, it is not easy to overlook original first hand documents, tens of thousands which show the Mufti of Jerusalem in bed with Hitler. As Dr. Bernard Lewis of Princeton University recently said, “The Nazi propaganda impact was immense. We see it in Arabic memoirs of the period...”

The fierce anti-Jewish hatred that was exacerbated by the Mufti in the Islamic world, fueled by the German war machine, continues to resonate today throughout the Arab and Persian world. Incitement, instituted decades earlier, remains a root cause of anti-Semitism as well as the reason for hostility toward the State of Israel after its formation. This is the reason why over 900,000 Jewish people, born in Arab counries, were made refugees after 1948. Simply, because while the Nazis were destroyed and the Holocaust ended, the intense hostility instituted during that era lived on—and continues to live on in the Islamic world.

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