How did Europe manage to drag Arabs to the wrong side of history – a confusion, pride, shame and denial – all which resurfaces again, 75 years after. How is this possible that the ‘never-again’ takes place today? Do we fake our surprise? How expensive is our European denial, and Monarchist Arabs claim of innocence?
Haj Amin Al-Husseini was instrumental in ushering in National Socialism within the Arab World and in contributing to tens of thousands of deaths both directly and indirectly during the WWII. He has influenced men from Adolf Eichmann, Abdul Nasser to Yasser Arafat (to whom he was related) and was directly supported by Adolph Hitler. During his life, al-Husseini was responsible for briefly overthrowing the Iraqi government in 1941, creating Nazi SS divisions comprised of Muslims, representing and spreading National Socialism within the Arab World, fostering and implementing a radical departure within Arab-Jewish relations from peaceful co-existence to that of mass killings (eliminating ninety percent of all the Jews within the Balkans alone), and being responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands of Jews. Additionally, he had successfully fused National Socialism, Islamic fundamentalism, and Pan-Arabism into a hybrid that exists to this day.
The Nazi connection to Islamic extremism is a topic little known and understood in modern society. As the West attempts to understand the long simmering blood feud between Arab and Jew, little is spoken of the role that Haj Amin al-Husseini played in escalating the conflict through his collaboration with the Third Reich.
Haj Amin al-Husseini was born in 1895 in Jerusalem, which at the time was a protectorate of the Ottoman Empire. After attending the Al-AzharUniversity in Cairo for a year, he left to join the Ottoman Army at the outbreak of World War One. He achieved the rank of officer and was stationed among various ports near the Black Sea, primarily in the Greek Christian city of Smyrna. While there is little documentation to suggest that Husseini was directly involved with the subsequent Turkish genocide against the Christian Armenians, there can be no doubt that at the very least, he was consciously aware of the extermination program as much of the genocide was perpetrated within the areas where he was stationed. It was during these formative years of his youth that he began to embrace a fundamental pan Arab view of autonomy concerning not only Palestine, but later to include the entire Arab Peninsula. Throughout his life, this fundamental belief experienced various incarnations as Husseini struggled to deal with what he referred to as the “Jewish Question,” finally culminating by advocating Jewish extermination during World War Two and after.
Haj Amin al-Husseini’s rise to power
After being convicted by the British authorities for inciting a campaign of violence against Jewish settlers in 1920, he was suddenly pardoned by the British High Commissioner Sir Herbert Samuel, who was attempting to control the widespread violence against the Jews by pacifying Husseini and appointing him the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem (regardless of the fact that the Palestinian leadership had always voted for the position and that Husseini had finished a distant fourth). He was also given control of the Supreme Muslim Council that was created by the British to provide a voice concerning political matters within the British mandated rule of Palestine. Husseini would use this position by ridding himself of any opposition concerning his views toward the expulsion and eradication of Jews within Palestine. Throughout the decade of the 1920’s, Husseini carried out several anti-Jewish pogroms against Jewish communities in Jerusalem, Motza, Hebron, Safed, Haifa, Tel Aviv, Jaffa, as well as those living in the countryside. Husseini ordered that slaughtered Jewish settlers should have their corpses disguised and then photographed as slain Arabs to further instigate and enflame Arab opinion. During these pogroms, Husseini organized and chaired the All-Islamic Conference in which he further consolidated his power and prestige within the Arab world. It was through this recognized entity throughout the Muslim world that Husseini would justify his position of authority to the Germans as being representative of Arab sentiment.
The birth of National Socialism within the Arab World
The election of Adolf Hitler as Chancellor of Germany in 1933 galvanized the Arab world; this in turn further accelerated and cemented Husseini’s influence. Using the new Nazi regime’s rise to power and subsequent infrastructure as a template, Husseini played a decisive role in creating pro-Nazi parties within the Arab world, most notably in Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco and indirectly helping in the creation of the Social Nationalist Party in Syria. The emulation went far beyond just simple admiration as pan-Arab partied began to model themselves after the Nazi infrastructure. A young and powerful Abdul Gamal Nasser was heavily influenced by Husseini. Later to become one of Israel’s greatest enemies, Nasser belonged to the Green Shirts who went so far as to adopt the Nazi party motto, “One Folk, One Party, One Leader.” Consequently, National Socialism had a far more prevalent role in creating today’s Arab nationalist parties and subsequent governments. Sami al_Joundi, the founder and father of the Syrian Ba’ath Party, influential both in Syria and later Iraq wrote, “ We were racists. We admired the Nazis. We were immersed in reading Nazi literature and books that were the source of the Nazi spirit. We were the first who thought of a translation of Hitler’s Mein Kampf. Anyone who lived in Damascus at that time was a witness to the Arab inclination toward Nazism.”
Further evidence as to the enormous popularity that Hitler’s policies were prevalent within the Arab world were the congratulatory telegrams sent to Hitler concerning his election to Chancellor, the first sent by foreign sources outside of Germany. It is at this point that Husseini first exclaims his desire to emulate and support Nazi policies toward the Jewish race, as evident by his message to the German Council in Jerusalem, “the Muslims inside and outside Palestine welcome the new regime of Germany and hope for he extension of the fascist, anti-democratic, governmental system to other countries.” Further giving display to his admiration of Hitler was the creation by Husseini of a Palestinian youth organization called the “Nazi Scouts.”
Contact between Husseini and leading Nazi figures
The time was fast approaching when a greater level of cooperation would be initiated between that of the Arab world, and that of the Nazi Germany. The first known contact between Husseini and a Nazi official was in 1936 when Husseini met with Francois Genoud, a prominent Swiss banker who represented much of the Third Reich’s financial endeavors outside of Germany. This was a position awarded him by Hitler himself, who made Genoud an honorary member of the Nazi Waffen SS as well as receiving the decoration of the Gold Badge. During World War Two, Genoud provided financial assistance to Husseini and his Berlin sponsored government in exile in order to continue his anti-Jewish propaganda campaign that was disseminated throughout the Muslim world. While this was Husseini’s first contact with a Nazi official, this was in no way his first contact with a representative of a fascist government; that “honor” belonged to the Italian Foreign Minister Count Galeazzo Ciano, who gave millions of dollars to Husseini for the sole purpose of poisoning the water wells in Tel Aviv.
Contact between Husseini and Nazi officials began to escalate after his first initial meeting with Genoud. On July 15, 1937, six days before his personal role in inciting riots against the local Jewish populace, Husseini met with the Nazi Ambassador Doehle, the German consul in Jerusalem. Doehle reported his meeting with Husseini, telling his superiors in Berlin that,” The Grand Mufti stressed Arab sympathy for the new Germany and expressed the hope that Germany was sympathetic toward the Arab fight against Jewry and was prepared to support it.” The riots though, continued unabated, so much so that the British sent Lord Peel, as the head of a fact finding commission, to interview all the various parties embroiled in this Jewish-Arab conflict, hoping to provide the British government with a better model to govern Palestine. One of these interviews was with Husseini, who made it very clear to Peel that his primary, if not sole, goal was the establishment of an all Arab Muslim state and the total eradication of four hundred thousand Jewish settlers. This transcribed interview with Peel directly contradicted the contemporary Arab nationalist belief that Zionists were attempting to evict all the Arabs from Palestine. The Peel commission recommended a partition between the Jewish and Arab settlements, an action that Husseini did not accept, expressing his vehement antagonism not only against those Jews in Palestine but also against those Arab moderates who agreed in principle with the Peel Commission’s findings and recommendations. Waves of assassinations resulted in the wake of Husseini’s anger against those within his own camp who openly disagreed with him.
Husseini’s influence on Nazi policy concerning the Jewish question
By this time, Husseini had attracted the attention of Nazi SA 0bergruppenfuehrer Reinhard Heydrich, who sent both Hauptschanfuehrer Adolf Eichmann and his assistant Nazi SS Oberscherfuehrer Herbert Hagen to Palestine as his personal envoys to meet with Husseini. While there is little documentation surviving regarding the nature of their meeting, it is already apparent as to the strength of Husseini’s persistence and personality in influencing Nazi policy concerning their dealings with the Jewish population. This is evident because of Eichmann’s meeting with the Zionist Feivel Polkes. Polkes, who, in his meeting with Eichmann, argued for the increased Jewish immigration from Germany into Palestine, an idea that was openly discussed and even supported by high-ranking members of the Nazi hierarchy at the beginning of the war. Eichmann though, who met with Husseini afterward, reveals Husseini’s influence by arguing against such immigration measures by filing reports of Nazi influence within the Palestinian populace. This was certainly not the last time Husseini would be able to influence Eichmann, nor for that matter, Nazi decisions concerning the fate of the Jews. Husseini’s growing importance to the Nazis resulted in Nazi Admiral Wilhelm Canaris, the head of the Nazi Abwehr Intelligence Division, putting Husseini on the Nazi payroll.
The revolt in Iraq
By 1939, the British had tired of Husseini’s influence and violent reprisals against British rule and stripped away Husseini’s various political titles, eventually deporting him from Palestine. Husseini fled to Lebanon and solicited additional Nazi support. This resulted in sending his personal assistant Doctor Said Imam to Berlin. Accompanying Imam was a personal letter to the Nazi leadership offering support and “disseminating National Socialist ideas within the Arab-Islamic world.” To further bolster his loyalty to the Nazi cause, Husseini traveled to Iraq to participate in the Nazi backed coup conducted by the pro-Nazi Iraqi National Party. In 1941, Husseini formed the Iraqi Committee of Seven, which included the top leaders of the planned pro-Nazi government. In the months leading up to the coup, Husseini was instrumental in arranging the meeting between coup planners and the Nazi officials Joachim Ribbentrop, the Nazi Foreign Minister, and Franz von Papen, the Nazi ambassador to Turkey. As Nazi successes on the battlefield filled newspaper headlines across the world in 1941, Husseini sent his personal envoy, Uthman Kamal Hadded, on a secret mission to Berlin with a letter from Husseini. At the beginning of the letter, Husseini immediately presents himself as the only qualified and legitimate leader of the Arab world. In the letter, Husseini makes clear his alignment with German racial policy particularly concerning the Jews: “His excellency is well aware of the problem faced by this country, which has suffered from the deceitful actions of the English. They attempted to place an additional obstacle before the unity and independence of the Arab states by abandoning it to world Jewry, this dangerous enemy whose secret weapon…finance, corruption, and intrigue…were aligned with British dangers…Full of unvanquished faith, the Arabs of Palestine fought with the most elementary mutual hatred of the English and the Jews….”
After the pro-Nazi coup was launched successfully on April 1, 1941 (though in power for only a month), Husseini wrote Hitler again, asking that Hitler “recognize the right of the Arabs to solve the Jewish question…in the same manner as in the Axis countries.” The coup though failed, largely as a result of a British backed insurrection. This action infuriated Husseini and resulted in him publicly blaming the fall of Iraqi “nationalism” on the shoulders of the ancient Jewish community that resided within Iraq for millennia, tracing back its lineage to the time of Judah’s captivity by the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar. The result of Husseini’s allegation was six hundred dead Jews and the looting and destruction of Jewish shops and homes. This pogrom is known to Sephardic Jews as the Fahud.
Husseini meets with Benito Mussolini
As the Nazi backed provisional government collapsed, Husseini fled to Berlin, stopping on the way to meet with the Italian Fascist Dictator, Benito Mussolini, during which they discussed their mutual hatred for the Jews. During his stay, Mussolini gave him one million Lira for expenses. At this point, the Axis powers viewed Husseini as their most trusted conduit, not only to the Middle East but also to the Muslim world in general. His arrival into Berlin was heralded with the pomp and circumstance usually given to those of head of state. He continually met with high-ranking Nazi officials and while awaiting a first meeting with Hitler, he wrote that “to settle the question of Jewish elements in Palestine and other Arab countries in accordance with the national and racial interests of the Arabs and along the lines similar to those used to solve the Jewish question in Germany and Italy.”
Husseini meets with Adolf Hitler
After meeting with SS leader Heinrich Himmler and Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop, who prepared him in his request for an interview with Hitler, Husseini drafted fifteen different documents concerning a joint declaration that he desired both Hitler and Mussolini to issue publicly in support of Arab nationalism and cooperation with the Axis powers. In the fateful meeting between Hitler and Husseini, which occurred on November 25th of 1941, Hitler told him the Jews were his foremost enemy. The Nazi dictator rebuffed the Mufti’s requests for a declaration in support of the Arabs, telling him the time was not right. Husseini then offered Hitler his “thanks for the sympathy which he had always shown for the Arab and especially Palestinian cause, and to which he had given clear expression in his public speeches….The Arabs were Germany’s natural friends because they had the same enemies as had Germany, namely….the Jews….”
Hitler replied: “Germany stood for uncompromising war against the Jews. That naturally included active opposition to the Jewish national home in Palestine, which was nothing other than a center, in the form of a state, for the exercise of destructive influence by Jewish interests. Germany would furnish positive and practical aid to the Arabs involved in the same struggle…. Germany’s objective [is]…solely the destruction of the Jewish element residing in the Arab sphere…. In that hour the Mufti (Husseini) would be the most authoritative spokesman for the Arab world.” The Mufti thanked Hitler profusely.
Germany was involved in a life and death struggle against Russia and Great Britain (which Hitler referred to as two citadels of Jewish power) and was actively involved on all fronts; the fact that Operation Barbarossa was so consuming made Hitler hesitant to send any badly needed troops to the Arab world. Hitler though did promise one thing which pleased Husseini greatly, that once the war against Russia and Britain was won, Germany’s objective would then be the destruction of the Jewish elements residing in the Arab sphere under the protection or control of British power. In that hour the Mufti would be the most authoritative spokesman for the Arab world.
Husseini creates S.S. divisions and is the sole mouthpiece for Nazi propaganda within the Muslim world
After meeting with Hitler, Husseini was filled with new purpose, that of the promise of Nazi intervention to restore Palestine as a sovereign state and he eradication of the entire Jewish population. In May of 1942, Husseini began a series of radio broadcasts to the Arab world via Bari radio. The Bari station was equipped with an extremely powerful radio transmitter, which was located on the southern tip of Italy, its signal reaching a large segment of the Arab world. Beginning in 1942, as the German army began to suffer tactical setbacks under the command of Erwin Rommel at El Alamein, Husseini began to increase his inflammatory dialogue. He broadcast his plans to set up concentration camps outside of Nablus as soon as the Nazis were victorious in driving Allied forces out of Northern Africa and the Middle East. One such famous quote from his broadcasts is: “Arise. O sons of Arabia, fight for your sacred rights. Kill the Jews wherever you find them. Their spilled blood pleases Allah, our history and religion. That will save our honor.”
In addition to the radio broadcasts and other conduits available to the dissemination of propaganda (leaflets, booklets, publications, etc) Husseini was given the responsibility by SS leader Heinrich Himmler in recruiting and maintaining SS divisions comprised of Muslims. Husseini broadcast messages into Nazi occupied Russia, exhorting local Muslims to join various Nazi sponsored military units. He was given this authority to create and raise these divisions as a result of a meeting with Gottlob Berger, the chief recruiter for the Schutzstaffel SS. Berger stated at the onset “a link is created between Islam and National Socialism on an open, honest basis. It will be directed in terms of blood and race from the North, and in the ideological-spiritual sphere from the East.” The creation of these units were known as Hanzar Brigades and resulted in the addition of several Einsatzgruppen divisions to the Axis cause. These Hanzar units were responsible for the extermination of ninety percent of the Jewish population within Bosnia as well as similar actions within Croatia and Hungary. As each of these divisions became active, they received speeches upon ceremonial activation by Husseini exhorting them that the “Jews are the worst enemies of the Muslims.” Himmler also established a school in Dresden to train mullahs who would then be placed directly under the control of Husseini. At the end of the war, there were over one hundred thousand European Muslims recruited to fight in specially designed Nazi brigades.
Husseini’s role with the Holocaust
His role in the Final Solution was also well known to the Nazi Hierarchy. On several occasions, Husseini directly intervened to stop any attempt to either help the Jews or hinder or delay their destruction. When Red Cross officials attempted to negotiate the exchange of four thousand Jewish children from Poland, Husseini directly intervened by writing to von Ribbentrop who then forwarded the letter to Adolf Eichmann, who was at the time contemplating agreeing to the Red Cross request. Instead, the children were sent to Auschwitz. Husseini also wrote to the foreign ministers of both Romania and Hungary requesting they also stop emigration attempts in trying to resolve the Jewish question without resorting to extermination. In both cases, Romania with two thousand Jews, and Hungary with one thousand Jews, relented and sent their Jewish allotments in question to extermination camps. Husseini went so far as to actually castigate those Germans who had shown either an unwillingness or wavered in abiding by Nazi racial policies. This is evident by his brazen letter to the Nazi foreign minister von Ribbentrop in which he admonished Ribbentrop in not following Nazi directives concerning the extermination of Jews. Even when Rudolf Kastner, of the Jewish Rescue and Relief Committee in Budapest (later to be tried in Israel for collaborating with the Nazis) contacted Eichmann in an attempt to allow Jews to emigrate to Palestine, he received a response from Eichmann in which the reply was, “I am personal friend of the Grand Mufti. We have promised him that no European Jew would enter Palestine anymore.”
As the war progressed, Husseini escalated his attempts to influence those in command in the Nazi hierarchy to exterminate Jews in ever growing numbers. On a visit to Auschwitz, he was said to have urged the German guards to work more diligently in exterminating the Jews. In a document presented to the United Nations in 1947, Husseini’s correspondence with the Hungarian Foreign Minister was made public requesting the deportation of Hungarian Jews to Poland. The document contained the following notation: “As a sequel to this request 400,000 Jews were subsequently killed.” Dieter Wisliceny, Adolf Eichmann’s deputy, testified during his trial in Nuremberg that Husseini 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….He was one of Eichmann’s best friends and had constantly incited him to accelerate the extermination measures.”
There is speculation as to how great Husseini’s influence was on Nazi efforts to eradicate the Jewish “problem.” Historians do know that two months before the Wansee Conference, Husseini wrote in his diary “I am resolved to find a solution for the Jewish problem, progressing step by step without cessation. With regard to this I am making the necessary and right appeal, first to all the European countries and then to countries outside of Europe.”
In his own memoirs, published before he died, Husseini wrote that “Our fundamental condition for cooperating with Germany was a free hand to eradicate every last Jew from Palestine and the Arab world. I asked Hitler for an explicit undertaking to allow us to solve the Jewish problem in a manner befitting our national and racial aspirations and according to the scientific methods innovated by Germany in the handling of the Jews. The answer I got was” ‘The Jews are yours.’”
The assimilation of Nazis within the Arab world at the end of WW II
After fleeing Germany at the end of the war, Husseini was instrumental in ferrying certain Nazis to various locations within the Arab world as well as helping in the placement of these figures who would be beneficial to the various respective Arab governments who could use their services in promoting their own nationalistic endeavors against the newly created state of Israel. This was known as Project Odessa. Husseini was to ferry key Nazi figures fleeing from war crimes charges into key positions within the Arab world, primarily Egypt and Syria who were the main antagonists advocating the destruction of Israel and attempted to do so several times within the span of Husseini’s life, most notably during the Six-day war in 1967 and in the Yom Kippur War in 1973.
In 1962, Al-Husseini would lead the Islamic World Congress for the last time, retiring shortly thereafter. Before leaving office, the Congress, while under the leadership of Husseini, drew up a resolution that was eerily similar to that of the invective spewed forth by Nazi officials two decades earlier. The resolution called for the ethnic cleansing of all Jews within the Arab World and to establish a Middle East that was “Judenrein” (free of Jews).
On July 5th, 1974, Husseini died, passing the torch to a new protégé, his nephew, Yasir Arafat who in a later interview called his diabolical uncle “a great hero.” Throughout the years Arafat has gone on record several times in praising the “virtues” of his uncle. That Husseini groomed Arafat for this role of leadership within the newly created PLO is of no question. Husseini placed him in command of arms procurement for his militia as well as arranging for Arafat to fulfill the role of a leader, grooming him for the necessary tenacity required to fill the vacancy that Husseini would leave behind.
In light of the historical record, which shows indisputably Husseini’s role in the Holocaust, one wonders as to the absurdity prevalent within the Arab world in denying not only allegations of wrongdoing through their idealistic and nationalistic leaders but also the very Holocaust itself. The historical record though is clear. The Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, the one man who could claim to be the spokesman and ideological leader of the Arab world, was an accomplice to mass murder.
National Socialism and its integration within Arab foreign policy
Since the end of World War Two, National Socialism has continued to steadily influence political and ideological thought in the Muslim world. The first such signs were apparent during the trial of Adolf Eichmann in 1961 when Arab newspapers, providing coverage of the trial for their readers, were openly sympathetic to Eichmann’s cause, going so far as to complain that the only fault visible to them was the inability of Eichmann to complete the Final Solution. At the same time was General Gamal Abdul Nasser, who after seizing power in 1952, incorporated literally dozens of former officials from the Nazi hierarchy, including notorious S.S. members such as Otto Skorzeny, Obersturmbannführer of the Waffen S.S. and also labeled at one time by the OSS as the most dangerous man in Europe; and Joachim Daumling, the former chief of the Gestapo in Dusseldorf, who completely rebuilt the Egyptian intelligence services.
Financial connections between Arab extremist organizations and former Nazis
Husseini spent much of the post-war period funneling money to extremist Islamic groups whose views corresponded with his own, money that had been pilfered from Jews at the hands of the Nazis. This money was used in a variety of ways, from supporting terrorist organizations, to producing his propaganda. The Swiss Nazi banker, Francois Genoud, aided him heavily in this endeavor. Genoud was an unrepentant Nazi until his death in 1996 at the age of 81; in the midst of investigations into his support for terrorist organizations. Genoud was instrumental in supplying Husseini with funds throughout Husseini’s post war life, primarily because of his creation and involvement in the Arab Commercial bank in 1958. The bank offered loans to Arabic nationalist groups that fought against or attacked Israel. Genoud was so adamantly anti-Semitic that he actually ordered his bank to manage the fighting fund of the Islamic Algerian independence movement. Genoud was highly influential in transporting key Nazi figures into the Arab World through the Odessa project which was created and funded by Genoud, who oversaw the transfer of millions of marks into his accounts which were then used to finance Odessa and Husseini’s own endeavors. The principal source of the finances that made this possible originated from the personal holdings, property, and belongings from Jewish victims of the Holocaust. Additionally, Genoud acquired the rights to the published writings of leading Nazi figures such as Joseph Goebbels, Martin Bormann, and that of Hitler. His acquisition came as a result of becoming personally involved with the families of each. The primary reason however, in his support for Husseini and Islamic extremism, was a conversation he had with Major Herman Bernhard Ramcke, during which he learned of Martin Boormann’s account of the many conversations with Hitler in the last three years of his life. These written accounts were later handed to him in full by SS Captain Hans Reichenberg, resulting in Genoud publishing them several years later. Genoud wrote the preface, claiming, “Hitler wanted the people of the Third World to carry on the work of the Thousand Year Reich.” Genoud was also instrumental in the hijacking of a Lufthansa 747 in Bombay by Islamic terrorists who demanded five million dollars for the Organization for the Victims of the Zionist Occupation. It was Genoud who carried the ransom letter, though at the time, his complicity was not known. In 1962, Genoud moved to Algiers where he became the director of the Arab People’s Bank, yet another institution that he used to transfer over fifteen million dollars belonging to the National Liberation Front to Swiss bank accounts. For this action he was arrested in Algiers but later rescued by the Egyptian President Abdel Nasser, who was well versed in the ideological trappings of National Socialism, due in no small part to the influence of Husseini. Throughout Husseini’s public career, Genoud served as his personal financial advisor.
Genoud was not Husseini’s only Nazi contact. The American H. Keith Thompson, an influential Nazi activist, has readily admitted to helping Husseini in his post-war activities by stating that he “did a couple of jobs for him, getting some documents from files that were otherwise unavailable.” Another collaborator was Youssef Nada who served with Husseini during the war as a member of the Muslim Brotherhood party. The Muslim Brotherhood party directly supported the operations set forth by Husseini and Nazi Military Intelligence, who in 1936, recruited Nada and others to link up with the Young Egypt Party, whose membership included Gamal Nasser and Anwar Sadat. The Young Egypt Party was an exact carbon copy of the Nazi Party, going so far as to use translated Nazi slogans and call themselves the “Green Shirts.” Youssef Nada, who worked closely with Nazi intelligence, until recently was the director of the al-Taqwa bank, an institution that the U.S. Treasury has condemned for laundering money and financing al-Qaeda as well as having connections to various extremist Islamic organizations.
Key Nazi figures within various Arab governments
In the several decades following the conclusion of World War Two, thousands of Nazi fugitives, collaborators and sympathizers flooded into the Arab World, particularly Egypt. The Egyptian President made it very clear that he desired the propagation of these Nazi’s into the Egyptian hierarchy, “We will use the services of those who know the mentality of our enemies.” Among the many Nazis who fled (or were invited) to Egypt was Franz Bartel, the Gestapo head of Katowice, Poland who subsequently ran the “Jewish Department” of the Egyptian War Office, Standartenfuhrer Baumann, who was instrumental in the liquidation of the Warsaw Ghetto and who now was an integral part of the Palestinian Liberation Front, also based in Egypt. Various Nazi medical personnel, such as Doctor Herbert Heim and Doctor Willerman who committed atrocities under the guise of “medial experimentation” at Mauthausen and Dachau, were also welcomed within the Arab world. Nasser particularly sought those Nazis from the realm of Jewish anti-propaganda. Nasser established an Institute for the Study of Zionism in Cairo in 1959, which employed former key figures in Goebbel’s Ministry of Propaganda, including Luis Heiden, who translated Hitler’s Mein Kampf. into Arabic, which was then issued to every officer in the Egyptian army. Nasser, was impressed with the success of the integration of Nazis within the military infrastructure of Egypt and ordered Colonel Muhammad al-Shazli, his attaché in London in 1962, to contact prominent Nazi sympathizers in London such as Colin Jordan and John Tyndall and discuss the funding and financial support of the National Socialist Movement in Jordan.
The assimilation of the tenets and adherents of National Socialism within the Arab world continues to reverberate through the decades. In 1976, the Saudi representative in the United Nations denied the claims of a historical Holocaust in a speech to the United Nations Security Council and laid the creation of such a “myth” as the result of Zionist media. Exactly one year later, the Saudi government gave twenty five thousand dollars to the American Neo-Nazi William Grimstad to write a book detailing a collection of quotes concerning anti Semitic behavior throughout the centuries called Anti-Zion. In the 1980’s, Inamullah Khan, the director of the World Muslim league located in Pakistan, paid thousands of dollars for this Nazi-influenced book to be sent via mail to every member of the United States Congress and the Senate, as well as every British MP in Parliament. Mein Kampf has been a best seller within the Palestinian territories as well as having been published across the Arab world and other Islamic countries; currently it is on the bestseller list in Turkey. In Lebanon, there are several translations in circulation, all under the watchful eye of Syrian leadership. The translation of Mein Kampf is primarily handled by Luis al-Haj who wrote the introduction: “We made a point to deliver Hitler’s opinions and theories on nationalism, regimes, and ethnicity without any changes because they are not yet outmoded and because we, in the Arab world, still proceed haphazardly in all three fields.” Clearly the link between Islamic extremism and National Socialism has been shown time and time again by not only the leaders of the Arab world but in the simple beliefs of their constituents. Fatma Abdallah Mahmoud, writing for the Egyptian government daily Al-Akhbar, wrote on April 29th, 2002, “Hitler himself, whom they accuse of Nazism, is in my eyes no more than a modest ‘pupil’ in the world of murder and bloodshed. He is completely innocent of the charge of frying them in the hell of his false Holocaust!!” The entire matter, as many French and British scientists and researchers have proven, is nothing more than a huge Israeli plot aimed at extorting the German government in particular and the European countries in general. But I, personally and in light of this imaginary tale, complain to Hitler, even saying to him from the bottom of my heart, ‘If only you had done it, brother, if only it had really happened, so that the world could sigh in relief [without] their evil and sin.’“
Today, the Arab run cable channel Al-Manar, is disseminating and propagating anti-Semitic material into France, Germany and other countries with sizeable Arab populations. The broadcasting of the twenty-nine part series “Al Shatat” deals with the prevalent Islamic belief that the WorldTradeCenter bombing was the result of an Israeli Intelligence Services operation. After the French Prime Minister pressed for charges in order to block the broadcasts from airing in France, the heads of Al-Manar immediately sought help from the German Ministry in keeping the controversial program alive. This action in turn caused Udo Steinbach, head of the Deutsche Orient-Institut in Hamburg, to comment about the “lingering effects of the sympathy traditionally evinced for Germany in the whole region.”
Of particular interest since 9/11, is Adolf Hitler’s own vision for his attack on New York City, as accounted by Albert Speer in his biography, in which he recounts Hitler describing New York’s skyscrapers turning into “gigantic burning torches, collapsing upon one another, the glow of the exploding city illuminating the dark sky.”
Recent connections between Arab countries and Neo-Nazis
In recent years, especially since the 9/11 attacks on American soil, there has been increased communication between Neo-Nazis and their Islamic counterparts, united in a single goal, that of the elimination of International Jewry. In 2005, the offices of a prominent neo Nazi (as well as a convert to Islam), Ahmed Huber was raided by Swiss police at the request of the United States government because of the American accusations that Huber was instrumental in providing financial assistance to Osama Bin Laden. At times, neo-Nazis have offered more that financial support. During the beginning of the first Gulf War, German neo-Nazis created an anti-Zionist brigade called the “Freedom Corps” that paraded around Baghdad in SS uniforms. Jorg Haider, who also governs the Austrian province Carinthia, runs an organization linked to this attempt, entitled the Freedom Party, composed of former Nazis as well as younger neo-Nazis. The Freedom Party has continuously downplayed or rejected Nazi atrocities and German war guilt. In 2000, Colonel Muammar Ghaddafi of Libya, deposited twenty five million dollars into a bank in Carinthia under Jorg Haider’s control. The “gift” was meant to alleviate sanctions imposed on Austria by the European Union in response to the Freedom Party being integrated into Austria’s governing coalition. This was not Ghaddafi’s first encounter with neo-Nazis; in 1982, the Italian neo-Nazi Stefano delle Chiaie, who had committed several bombings in Rome and Milan wrote to Ghaddafi, “Libya can, if it wants, be the active focus, the center of national socialist renovation [that will] break the chains which enslave people and nations.” Neo Nazis have since appeared in newspapers across the Arab world, their writings reaching a much larger audience than in the West.
There is no question as to the substantial influence that National Socialism has had on Arab nationalism. I believe that history shows that the main conduit for the spread of National Socialism was Haj Amin al-Husseini and that the following decades have seen the rise of Islamic extremism, which can be directly attributed to National Socialism and its many adherents. Part of this blame is to be placed at the feet of the Superpowers, primarily the United States and the Soviet Union; both countries began adhering to their respective foreign policies during the Cold War. This included ignoring the influx of Nazi officials and other sympathizers during the last stages of the war as well as the decades after 1945. Several of these figures that escaped into the Middle East were able to cut deals with the United States in return for the exchange of information concerning Nazi funded weapons programs. Lax security measures also played an important part in allowing thousands of Nazis to escape, not only to the Middle East but also to locations all over the world. It was not until the 1980’s that bank accounts and other financial institutions were examined by the West in attempting to recover funds that were attributable, directly or indirectly, to power brokers within the Arab world.
Ironically, it is the Arab World, which so strenuously denies that the Holocaust ever took place. It is a denial that is based not only on ignorance concerning the historical record, but also concerning their own role in the Holocaust. Ex-Nazi officials aided their governments and the various institutions of their military, and their own recognition of Husseini’s role in World War Two has been placed in a decidedly supportive light. Additionally, Israel is now looked upon as being synonymous with Nazi-like oppression in their dealings with their neighboring Arab countries, a horribly misconstrued role reversal in which the past Nazi aggression is now looked upon as being somewhat justifiable in their past persecution of the Jewish race. This can only be directly attributed to the symbiosis of National Socialism and Islamic extremism, in which the truth is considered expendable, a trait that both ideologies seem to share. There is only one weapon that can be use to combat this deadly symbiosis and that is education; an objective understanding of history and what role National Socialism has played in the formation of foreign policy in Arab countries, especially with that of Israel. Until then, the tenets of National Socialism have found a comfortable home indeed within the Middle East and in other Islamic countries.
First published under the title: “Haj Amin al-Husseini and Nazi Racial Policies in the Arab World” by the LAMED.
Israel-China Relations: Staring Into the Abyss of US-Chinese Decoupling
Israel knew the drill even before US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo boarded his flight to Tel Aviv earlier this month four days after the death of his father. It was Mr. Pompeo’s first and only overseas trip since March.
Echoing a US warning two decades ago that Israeli dealings with China jeopardized the country’s relationship with the United States, Mr. Pompeo’s trip solidified Israel’s position at the cusp of the widening US-Chinese divide.
Two decades ago the issue was the potential sale to China of Israeli Phalcon airborne warning and control systems (AWACS). Israel backed out of the deal after the US threatened withdrawal of American support for the Jewish state.
This month the immediate issue was a Chinese bid for construction of the world’s largest desalination plant and on the horizon a larger US-Chinese battle for a dominating presence in Eastern Mediterranean ports.
Within days of his visit, Mr. Pompeo scored a China-related success even if the main focus of his talks with Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu was believed to be Iran and Israeli plans to annex portions of the West Bank, occupied by Israel since 1967.
Israel signalled that it had heard the secretary’s message by awarding the contract for the Sorek-2 desalination plant to an Israeli rather than a Chinese company.
The tender, however, is only the tip of the iceberg.
China’s interest in Israel is strategic given the fact that the Jewish state is one of the world’s foremost commercial, food and security technology powerhouses and one of the few foreign countries to command significant grassroots support in the United States.
If there is one thing Israel cannot afford, it is a rupture in its bonds to the United States. That is no truer than at a time in which the United States is the only power supportive of Israeli annexation plans on the West Bank.
The question is whether Israel can develop a formula that convinces the United States that US interests will delineate Israeli dealings with China and reassure China that it can still benefit from Israeli assets within those boundaries.
“Right now, without taking the right steps, we are looking at being put in the situation in which the US is telling us we need to cut or limit our relations with China. The problem is that Israel wants freedom of relations with China but is not showing it really understands US concerns. Sorek-2 was a good result. It shows the Americans we get it.” said Carice Witte, executive director of Sino-Israel Global Network and Academic Leadership (SIGNAL) that seeks to advance Israeli-Chinese relations.
Analysts, including Ms. Witte, believe that there is a silver lining in Israel’s refusal to award the desalination plant to a Chinese company that would allow it to steer a middle course between the United States and China.
“China understands that by giving the Americans this win, China-Israel relations can continue. It gives them breathing room,” Ms. Witte said in an interview.
It will, however, be up to Israel to develop criteria and policies that accommodate the United States and make clear to China what Israel can and cannot do.
“In order for Israel to have what it wants… it’s going to need to show the Americans that it takes Washington’s strategic perceptions into consideration and not only that, that it’s two steps ahead on strategic thinking with respect to China. The question is how.” Ms. Witte said.
Ports and technology are likely to be focal points.
China is set to next year takeover the management of Haifa port where it has already built its own pier and is constructing a new port in Ashdod.
One way of attempting to address US concerns would be to include technology companies in the purview of a still relatively toothless board created under US pressure in the wake of the Haifa deal to review foreign investment in Israel. It would build in a safeguard against giving China access to dual civilian-military use technology.
That, however, may not be enough to shield Israel against increased US pressure to reduce Chinese involvement in Israeli ports.
“The parallels between the desalination plant and the port are just too close to ignore. We can’t have another infrastructure divide,” Ms. Witte said.
The two Israeli ports will add to what is becoming a Chinese string of pearls in the Eastern Mediterranean.
China already manages the Greek port of Piraeus.
China Harbour Engineering Company Ltd (CHEC) is looking at upgrading Lebanon’s deep seaport of Tripoli to allow it to accommodate larger vessels.
Qingdao Haixi Heavy-Duty Machinery Co. has sold Tripoli port two 28-storey container cranes capable of lifting and transporting more than 700 containers a day, while a container vessel belonging to Chinese state-owned shipping company COSCO docked in Tripoli in December 2018, inaugurating a new maritime route between China and the Mediterranean.
Major Chinese construction companies are also looking at building a railroad that would connect Beirut and Tripoli in Lebanon to Homs and Aleppo in Syria. China has further suggested that Tripoli could become a special economic zone within the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and serve as an important trans-shipment point between the People’s Republic and Europe.
BRI is a massive infrastructure, telecommunications and energy-driven effort to connect the Eurasian landmass to China.
Potential Chinese involvement in reconstruction of post-war Syria would likely give it access to the ports of Latakia and Tartous.
Taken together, China is looking at dominating the Eastern Mediterranean with six ports in four countries, Israel, Greece, Lebanon, and Syria that would create an alternative to the Suez Canal.
All that is missing are Turkish, Cypriot and Egyptian ports.
The Chinese build- up threatens to complicate US and NATO’s ability to manoeuvre in the region.
The Trump administration has already warned Israel that Chinese involvement in Haifa could jeopardize continued use of the port by the US fifth fleet.
“The writing is on the wall. Israel needs to carve out a degree of wiggle room. That however will only come at a price. There is little doubt that Haifa will move into the firing line,” said a long-time observer of Israeli-Chinese relations.
Will Gulf States Learn From Their Success in Handling the Pandemic?
The economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic for Gulf states has done far more than play havoc with their revenue base and fiscal household. It has propelled massive structural change to the top of their agenda in ways that economic diversification plans had not accounted for.
Leave aside whether Gulf states can continue to focus on high-profile, attention-grabbing projects like Neom, Saudi Arabia’s $500 billion USD 21st century futuristic city on the Red Sea.
Gulf rulers’ to do list, if they want to get things right, is long and expensive without the burden of trophy projects. It involves economic as well as social and ultimately political change.
Transparency and accurate and detailed public reporting go to the core of these changes.
They also are key to decisions by investors, economists, and credit rating companies at a time when Gulf states’ economic outlook is in question. Many complain that delays in GDP reporting and lack of easy access to statistics complicates their decision-making.
Nonetheless, if there is one thing autocratic Gulf governments have going for themselves, beyond substantial financial reserves, it is public confidence in the way they handled the pandemic, despite the fact that they failed to initially recognize crowded living circumstances of migrant workers as a super spreader.
Most governments acted early and decisively with lockdowns and curfews, testing, border closures, repatriation of nationals abroad, and, in Saudi Arabia, suspension of pilgrimages.
To be sure, Gulf countries, and particularly Saudi Arabia that receives millions of Muslim pilgrims from across the globe each year, have a long-standing history of dealing with epidemics. Like Singapore, South Korea, and Taiwan, they were better prepared than Western nations.
History persuaded the kingdom to ban the umrah, the lesser Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca, in late February, days before the first case of a Covid-19 infection emerged on Saudi soil.
Beyond public health concerns, Saudi Arabia had an additional reason to get the pandemic right. It offered the kingdom not only an opportunity to globally polish its image, badly tarnished by human rights abuses, power grabs, and the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, but also to retain religious influence despite the interruption in the flow of pilgrims to the kingdom.
“Saudi Arabia is still a reference for many Muslim communities around the world,” said Yasmine Farouk, a scholar of Saudi Arabia at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
It also allowed Saudi Arabia to set the record straight following criticism of its handling of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) in 2012 when the kingdom became the epidemic’s epicenter and in 2009 when it was hit by the H1N1 virus.
Saudi Arabia is also blamed for contributing to a public health catastrophe in Yemen with its frequent indiscriminate bombings.
A country in ruins as a result of the military intervention, Yemen has grappled for the past four years with a cholera epidemic on the kingdom’s borders.
Trust in Gulf states’ handling of the current pandemic was bolstered by degrees of transparency on the development of the disease in daily updates in the number of casualties and fatalities.
It was further boosted by a speech by King Salman as soon as the pandemic hit the kingdom in which he announced a raft of measures to counter the disease and support the economy as well as assurances by agriculture minister Abdulrahman al-Fadli that the crisis would not affect food supplies.
Ms. Farouk suggested that government instructions during the pandemic were followed because of “trust in the government, the expertise and the experience of the government [and] trust in the religious establishment, which actually was following the technical decisions of the government.”
To be sure, Ms. Farouk acknowledged, the regime’s coercive nature gave the public little choice.
The limits of government transparency were evident in the fact that authorities were less forthcoming with details of public spending on the pandemic and insight into available medical equipment like ventilators and other supplies such as testing kits.
Some Gulf states have started publishing the daily and total number of swabs but have yet to clarify whether these figures include multiple swabbings of the same person.
“It is likely that publics in the Middle East will look back at who was it that gave them reliable information, who was it who was there for them,” said political scientist Nathan Brown.
The question is whether governments will conclude that transparency will be needed to maintain public confidence as they are forced to rewrite social contracts that were rooted in concepts of a cradle-to-grave welfare state but will have to involve greater burden sharing.
Gulf governments have so far said little about burden sharing being allocated equitably across social classes nor has there been transparency on what drives investment decisions by sovereign wealth funds in a time of crisis and changing economic outlook.
Speaking to the Financial Times, a Gulf banker warned that the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman “needs to be careful what he spends on . . . Joe Public will be watching.”
Headed by Prince Mohammed, the kingdom’s sovereign wealth fund has gone on a $7.7 billion USD shopping spree buying stakes in major Western blue chips, including four oil majors: Boeing, Citigroup, Disney, and Facebook. The Public Investment Fund is also funding a bid for English soccer club Newcastle United.
The banker suggested that Saudi nationals would not appreciate “millionaire footballer salaries being paid for by VAT (value added tax) on groceries.” He was referring to this month’s hiking of sales taxes in the kingdom from five to 15 percent.
The fragility and fickleness of public trust was on display for the world to see in Britain’s uproar about Dominic Cummings, a close aide to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who violated lockdown instructions for personal reasons. Mr. Johnson is struggling to fight off demands for Mr Cummings’ dismissal.
To be sure, senior government officials and business executives in the Gulf have cautioned of hard times to come.
A recent Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry survey of CEOs predicted that 70 percent of the United Arab Emirates’ companies would go out of business in the next six months, including half of its restaurants and hotels and three-quarters of its travel and tourism companies.
Saudi Finance Minister Mohammed Al-Jadaan warned earlier this month that the kingdom would need to take “painful” measures and look for deep spending cuts as a result of the collapse of oil prices and significantly reduced demand for oil.
Aware of sensitivities, Mr. Al-Jadaan stressed that “as long as we do not touch the basic needs of the people, all options are open.”
There was little transparency in Mr. Al-Jadaan’s statements on what the impact would be on employment-seeking Saudi nationals in a labor market where fewer migrant workers would be available for jobs that Saudis have long been unwilling to accept.
It was a missed opportunity considering the 286 percent increase in the number of Saudis flocking to work for delivery services.
The increase was fueled by an offer by Hadaf, the Saudi Human Resources Development Fund, to pay drivers $800 USD a month, as well as a newly-found embrace of volunteerism across the Gulf.
The surge offered authorities building blocks to frame expectations at a time when the kingdom’s official unemployment rate of 12 percent is likely to rise.
It suggested a public acknowledgement of the fact that well-paying, cushy government positions may no longer be as available as they were in the past as well as the fact that lesser jobs are no less honorable forms of employment.
That may be the silver lining as Gulf states feel the pressure to reinvent themselves in a world emerging from a pandemic that potentially will redraw social, economic, and political maps.
Author’s note: This story was first published in Inside Arabia
Foreign intervention in Libya
Since the ouster of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, Tripoli has transformed into an appalling sight of consistent injustice, rising fundamentalism and morbid law and order situation. Amidst the whirlwind of fractured institutions and failed socio political system in Libya, foreign countries have also found a suitable battleground for fighting their proxy wars. Currently, there are two governments operating in libya, each claiming to reflect the genuine mandate of Libyan people. The United Nations backed government of National Accord, under the leadership of President Fayaz al serraj is being supported by Turkey, Qatar, Italy and publically by all western democracies. Whereas, a shadow government, is being maneuvered from the eastern city of Tobruk. It enjoys the support of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, France and the United Arab Emirates.
In 2012, less than a year after NATO intervention, Libyans turned to polls, in the pursuit of voting for an efficient leadership. As a result of elections, the General National Congress or GNC came into power. It was tasked with devising a constitution within the next eighteen months. Despite, it’s full capacity, the government failed to deliver on time due to evident disorganization and post-gaddafi mayhem, which was still at large. However, Libyans again went to vote in 2014, electing a House of Representatives or HoR in power, this time. These elections were repudiated and their result was declared illegitimate by GNC, on the claims of low voter turnout and series of violence which engulfed the entire electoral process, across the country. Rejection to form government, forced HoR to flee Tripoli and establish itself in Tobruk, where they aligned themselves, with Libya’s strong man, commander Khalifa Haftar and his Libyan National Forces.
Haftar had remained a part of Libya’s political arena for as long as Muammar Gaddafi had, he joined the military in 1961 and served in its ranks until, the Chad misadventure of 1987, which not only made him fall out with Gaddafi, but also enforced him into exile in the United States. Nonetheless, Haftar returned to Libya after the war and started rebuilding his former network of loyalists who worked with him decades ago, and ended up establishing the Libyan National Forces. His forces launched “Operation Dignity”in 2014, with the official intentions of relieving Libya from local militias, radical nationalism and religious fundamentalism.
Amidst the chaos of political deterioration and significant power vacuum, foreign countries started to manipulate the Libyan crisis for their own interests. Turkey is a regional player, and is severely concerned about their maritime trade route. For, being surrounded by hostile neighbors, Turkey finds it hard to trade through any other channel smoothly, except Mediterranean which it shares with Libya. Thus, it is actively vouching for a friendly government in Tripoli. Turkey’s parliament has recently passed the controversial law that has permitted the deployment of Turkish troops on Libyan soil, in order to support al Serraj’s government. Meanwhile, states like Italy and France are interested in Libya’s oil resources, and are also supporting respective governments as per their interests. International oil companies such as Italian Eni, French Total and Russian Taftnet, along with British Petroleum are on and off, getting exploration and management contracts to tap oil resources, with the Libyan National oil corporation. Where Russian mercenaries are fighting on ground with Haftar’s forces, France has also provided covert logistical support to his forces, each interested in their own share of resources.
Furthermore, the United Arab Emirates, Cairo and Kingdom of Saudi Arabia are eagerly backing Haftar’s LNA for the sake of preventing another wave of Arab spring, to reach their borders. UAE has conducted airstrikes on Benghazi in 2014, from an Egyptian base in Libya, in order to support Haftar’s operation Dignity. They have also recently established their own base in eastern province of Al-Khadir, to support further LNA’s advances. Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has also pledged it support to Haftar under the crown prince, Muhammad Bin Salman. As, just before Haftar’s Tripoli offensive, Riyadh promised him millions to buy tribal leader’s loyalties and to financially support the fighters in LNA.
Another reason behind Arab countries ardent sponsorship is, the question of muslim brotherhood. LNA has vowed to eliminate all the elements of religious extremism, including the muslim brotherhood. Cairo, UAE and KSA are known for their crack down on the brotherhood, while Turkey and Qatar are assumed to support the political activities of organization. Such difference in approaches has also led these countries into a state of perennial proxy war with each other.
Recent Moscow talks and Berlin conference, in the beginning of this year, has indeed provided an opportunity for all the parties in conflict to come on the negotiating table, and draw out strategies for adherently following the Libyan arms embargo of 2011, for effective ceasefire. Yet, without a proper policy in place, which can prevent foreign interventions in Libyan domestic crisis. It will create a potential environment for Tripoli to transcend into a turmoil similar to Syria and Yemen. War in Libya, has already incited an endless cycle of unnecessary fighting, uncountable deaths and a vicious void of ills like; human trafficking and smuggling. From, exponential worth of 53.2 billion dollars in 2012 to 4.6 billion dollars in 2016, Libya’s natural revenues have shrunken conspicuously over the last decade. In addition to that, with global coronavirus pandemic still out and loose, conflicts like one in Libya have a higher potential of turning into a major confrontation. It’s a textbook example of how precarious the situation might get, if not taken sensibly, by international community.
 Anderson, Jon Lee. “The unravelling.” The New Yorker 23 (2015).
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