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Nazi Germany and the Islamists

Nazis, Islamists, and the Making of the Modern Middle EastBarry Rubin/Wolfgang G. Schwanitz, Nazis, Islamists, and the Making of the Modern Middle East, Yale University Press, New Haven 2014, 360 pp.

There has been an intense collaboration and cooperation between Nazi Germany and the Islamists forces like the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and others that determine the course of events in the Middle East till today. These forces not only collaborated with the Nazi regime but they also provided thousands of Nazis with a safe haven after the war.

The Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Amin al-Husaini, was a Jew hater and an advocate of Islamist radicalism who spent the war years in Berlin where he lived in luxury. He was the only Muslim figure who supported Hitler in his evil and sinister crime against European Jewry. In return, Hitler promised the Mufti that the extermination of Jews in Palestine would start as soon as Rommel would arrive there. Thanks to the British, he never made it.

The authors, Barry Rubin and Wolfgang Schwanitz, came up with new archive material that inspired them to formulate provocative and highly problematic theses. They make astonishing and weird claims: For them, al-Husaini was the supposed architect of the “Final Solution”.

They argue that the mufti had such great influence on the Nazi top brass that he might have well authored the mass murder of the Jews of Europe. To put it bluntly, the mufti as the string-puller behind Hitler seems outlandish.

Rubin and Schwanitz want to prove that “eliminationist anti-Semitism” drives the Islamic Middle East, and that al-Husaini was worst than Hitler. Consequently, his influence on Islamist movements, such as the Muslim Brotherhood, is blown up by the authors.

“When Islamism revived in the 1970s, its ideology bore the mark of al-Husaini and the other wartime collaborators, especially the Muslim Brotherhood.”

The authors demonstrate an apparent influence of former German Nazis in the Arab world. A political alliance between the Third Reich, Arab nationalists and Muslim religious authorities was forged that have survived until today. In contrast, the authors waste no words to the close cooperation between Fascism and Zionism that was documented in Lenni Brenner’s book “Zionism in the Age of Dictators”.

According to the authors, Israel came only into being because the mufti rejected the White Papers and opposed the U.N partition plan of 1947. Rubin and Schwanitz should know better that the establishment of the State of Israel was due to the successful diplomatic lobbying of the then Zionist leadership, the interest of the imperial powers, the military superiority of the Zionist forces and the disorganized resistance by the Palestinian Arabs.

All the political problems of the Middle East are blamed by the authors on the Muslim side, as these could never shake off their "Nazi past". The fact that the problems of the Middle East have been primarily caused by the Zionist colonization and the brutal policies of the Israeli political establishment, apparently does not reach the authors’ mind.

After having read the book, one gets the impression that the authors want to pursue a political agenda by establishing a close connection between the Nazi ideology and Islamist thinking. Some quoted material is heavily biased against Islam like the work of Bernard Lewis, Ephraim Karsh and others.

This is not surprising since Schwanitz is an associate fellow of the Middle East Forum, headed by the notorious Daniel Pipes. Schwanitz is also a visiting professor at the Global Research in International Affairs Center of the Interdisciplinary Center, Israel, of which Barry Rubin was the director till he passed away shortly after the book was published.

Although the authors have processed enormous amounts of archive material and literature, they partly devalue the results of their work by their ideological bias and their bizarre theories.  Whether this politically motivated and distorted historical retrospect contributes anything substantial to the understanding of the present Middle East must be questioned.


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