Tuesday, 4 December 2007

Hitler's Children

Anas Altikriti, an Iraq-born Islamist with close links to both the Muslim Brotherhood and George Galloway's Respect Party (or whatever they're called this week) has been complaining on the Guardian's misleadingly-named Comment is Free blog about the Muslim Council of Britain's decision to attend Holocaust Memorial Day next year. Up until now they have boycotted the admittedly superfluous event, a stance that has attracted growing criticism. Hence the U-turn which, however, has led to splits within the supposedly representative organisation. Altikriti appears to have put himself at the head of the dissidents.

Here's what he says about HMD:

It glorifies the state of Israel, turning a collective blind eye to the immeasurable suffering of Palestinians at the hands of Israelis every single day. Rather than remembering the dead and vowing never to allow similar crimes to occur ever again the event, led by the Israeli ambassador in London, keeps similar crimes hidden, lest the memories of those who died in Nazi camps be disturbed.

The MCB now seems to have made its decision as a result of pressure from the government and certain sectors of the media. It betrays a position of weakness, suggesting that we will relent and change our ways as long as you keep up the pressure. Despite this sorry episode, Muslims and non-Muslims around the world will never forget Palestine.


The statement that Hitler's attempt to murder every Jewish man, woman and child in the whole of Europe and Israeli policy in the West Bank constitute "similar crimes" is particularly telling as to where Altikriti is coming from, isn't it?

A little further down, responding to the Heresiarch's chum Inayat Bunglawala, he attacks the MCB spokesman for:

Your apparent failure to see that this event which remembers the victims of Nazism has become a national day for the state the creation of which has perpetuated one of the most tragic cases in human memory... The tragedy is that those who kill, torture, maim and humiliate the Palestinians today are the very same who weep over the crimes committed by the Nazis against their parents, often resorting to the same means and methods which the Nazis employed.


And then, finally, the mask slips:

The Palestinians had nothing to do with the crimes committed against the Jews in the 20th century, but they certainly bore the brunt of Europe and the West wanting to wash their collective conscience from the guilt of either directly or indirectly allowing those crimes to take place. In a sense, and for the Palestinians, the Holocaust has not yet come to an end.


Is it too much to say that this man is a Nazi? He certainly has a background in an organisation, the Muslim Brotherhood (whose British front, the Muslim Association of Britain, he chairs) which was founded and inspired by Nazi sympathisers.


EXHIBIT A


The man on the left is the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Hajj Amin al-Husseini, effective head of the Muslim Palestinian community during the 1930s and 1940s and one of the spiritual founding fathers of the Muslim Brotherhood. The man on the right needs no introduction.

Husseini spent much of the war in Berlin, where he pumped out propaganda for the Nazis via an Arabic language radio station. According to the German academic Dr Matthias Kuentzel, in a lecture delivered a couple of months ago at Leeds University,

The Mufti’s aim was to “unite all the Arab lands in a common hatred of the British and Jews”, as he wrote in a letter to Adolf Hitler. Antisemitism, based on the notion of a Jewish world conspiracy, however, was not rooted in Islamic tradition but, rather, in European ideological models. The Mufti therefore seized on the only instrument that really moved the Arab masses: Islam. He invented a new form of Jew-hatred by recasting it in an Islamic mould. He was the first to translate Christian antisemitism into Islamic language, thus creating an “Islamic antisemitism”.


The fuehrer was only to happy to support Husseini in his grand project. He was himself an admirer of Islam, which he believed was the best religion for a soldier (along with Shinto). As he confided to Albert Speer,

The Mohammedan religion too would have been much more compatible to us than Christianity. Why did it have to be Christianity with its meekness and flabbiness?


Not Islam's fault, of course. Any more than Hitler's enthusiasm for the Ring Cycle can be blamed on the antisemitic narcissist who wrote it.


EXHIBIT B


Here is Husseini again, this time reviewing some members of the SS Handzar division (recruited from Bosnian Muslims) in 1944. In an address to the troops after the parade, he said "there are considerable similarities between Islamic principles and National Socialism".

Husseini held the rank of honorary colonel in the SS, courtesy of another of his good friends, Heinrich Himmler. Here is part of a telegram Himmler sent Husseini to mark the anniversary of the 1917 Balfour Declaration, which paved the way for the eventual creation of Israel.

The National Socialist movement of Greater Germany has, since its inception, inscribed upon its flag the fight against the world Jewry. It has therefore followed with particular sympathy the struggle of freedom-loving Arabs, especially in Palestine, against Jewish interlopers.

In the recognition of this enemy and of the common struggle against it lies the firm foundation of the natural alliance that exists between the National Socialist Greater Germany and the freedom-loving Muslims of the whole world.



None of this would matter, of course, if Hajj Amin al-Husseini was an isolated crank. But his ideas, and the poison of antisemitism which he injected into the Arab body politic, remain extremely influential, and go some way to explaining the difficulty successive Arab governments and popular movements have had coming to terms with even the existence of the state of Israel.

While the Arabs were not directly involved in the Holocaust, this was not for want of trying on the part of Husseini and his supporters. And while the horrors of the concentration camps have produced postwar generations of Germans ready to face up to their parents' and grandparents' guilt, in much of the Middle East the old (originally European) stereotypes live on. In Egypt, the Protocols of the Elders of Zion is the stuff of tea-time entertainment. In the Gulf, Ken Livingstone's friend Yusuf al-Qaradawi fulminates against the Jewish "apes and pigs" with as much virulence as he denounces gays, apostates and unveiled women.

That supposedly mainstream representatives of British Islam such as Amin Altikriti and his colleague Azim Tamini (a regular "Muslim voice" on the BBC) continue to make odious comparisons between Israeli policy (which, however deserving of criticism, is based on a desire to achieve security for its people) and Nazism, the more the rest of the community will suffer by association, as it suffers, often unfairly, by association with terrorism. Inayat Bunglawala has said that some MCB affiliates might defect over its decision to attend Holocaust Memorial Day. I've got a better idea, Inayat. Don't wait for them to leave. Throw them out.

4 comments:

Thomas Caedmon said...

Hey Heresiarch

I really like your blog but felt moved to disagree with this particular post. There is a huge leap from someone being concerned about Palestine to them being Nazis. So Hitler had a Muslim helping him ... that doesn't indict all Muslims, and i'm sure that Hitler was also popular amongst some people in Britain, and even some Jews were enlisted against their own people. It hardly means all Jewish or British people are Nazis. You claim opposition to Israel comes down to muslims reading the Protocols, despite the fact the author you quote says his problem is with their crimes in Palestine. The fact is, there ARE real wrongs being committed in the name of Israel, and it is unfair to dismiss critique of that state with the label of antisemitism.

The Heresiarch said...

For the record, I don't think that all concern about the plight of the Palestinians is antisemitic or inspired by Nazism. What we're talking about with many Islamists, however, is opposition to the existence of the Jewish state entirely. And it's impossible to understand this deep-seated hatred of Israel, I would argue, without looking at the circumstances in which it arose. The modern Islamist movement has its roots in the 1930s and 40s, and during that period it was supported by Nazi agents and picked up many of the their ideas.

What struck me about Altikriti's post was the way in which you saw, momentarily, the mask beginning to slip, as he is unable to avoid the odious (in my view) comparison between the actions of the Israeli state (which are open to much justified criticism, by the way) and the systematic genocide attempted by Hitler and his cronies. In the Arab world itself, there's little attempt to disguise hatred and contempt for Jews. Cartoons little different from Nazi propaganda appear in Egyptian newspapers; respected religious leaders come out with the most arrant hate-speech.

The tragedy is that for centuries Moslems and Jews (and Christians) lived side by side relatively peacefully. It wasn't perfect, but there was a lot more tolerance than existed in Europe at the time. Arab anti-Jewish paranoia is a relatively recent phenomenon, and is directly influenced by Nazi ideology.

Thomas Caedmon said...

So it is OK to call Muslims 'Hitler's Children', but not to compare Israel with the Third Reich?

The Heresiarch said...

Of course not. Any more than it's OK to call all Muslims terrorists, or extremists, or misogynists.

However, if representatives of some tendencies within political Islam think it's OK to compare Israel with the 3rd Reich, it is legitimate to inquire into the origins of their own ideas, is it not?