Jihad and Jew-Hatred makes a major contribution to the understanding of radical Islamism by tracing the impact of European fascism on the Arab and Islamic world. Drawing extensively on German-language sources, Matthias Küntzel analyzes the close relationship that began in the 1930s between Nazi leaders and Muslim extremists, especially the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood and the Mufti of Jerusalem. This pathbreaking book provides compelling documentation of the Nazi roots of what became Islamo-fascism and jihadist terror.
This study demonstrates in historical detail how the Muslim Brotherhood has consistently placed the hatred of Jews at the center of its ideology and policies through an incendiary rhetoric that interweavespassages from the Koran hostile to Jews with elements of Nazi-style world-conspiracy theories. Ancient prejudice and modern fantasies have become a deadly combination.
Jihad and Jew-Hatred also explains how the defeat of Nazi Germany in 1945 led to the shift of the center of global antisemitism to the Arab world, laying the foundation for radical Islamist currents in and around the Muslim Brotherhood and more recent terrorist organizations.
Küntzel convincingly shows that antisemitism is no mere supplementary feature of modern jihadism, and certainly no afterthought but its defining ideological core. This hatred also goes far beyond questions of Zionism and Israel. For Islamism, not only is everything Jewish evil, but every evil is Jewish, as the writings of Sayyid Qutb and the Charter of Hamas clearly explain to anyone willing to read them. It was this Jew-hatred that fueled the Jihad of the 9/11 terrorists.
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Jihad and Jew-HatredIslamism, Nazism and the Roots of 9/11
By Matthias Küntzel
Telos Press PublishingCopyright © 2007 North America by Telos Press Publishing
All right reserved.
Chapter OneThe Muslim Brotherhood and Palestine
On November 2, 1917 the British government, through its Foreign Minister, Lord Balfour, announced its support for the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people. The Balfour Declaration has since then been accepted as the starting point for the Jewish-Arab conflict.
This view, however, overlooks the fact that important representatives of the Arab world of the day supported the Zionist settlement process. They hoped that Jewish immigration would boost economic development thus bringing the Middle East closer to European levels. For example, Ziwar Pasha, later Egyptian Prime Minister, personally took part in the celebrations of the Balfour Declaration in 1917. Five years later Ahmed Zaki, a former Egyptian cabinet minister, congratulated the Zionist Executive in Palestine on its progress: "The victory of the Zionist idea is the turning point for the fulfilment of an ideal which is so dear to me, the revival of the Orient." Two years later the Chairman of the Zionist Executive, Frederick H. Kisch, travelled to Cairo for talks with three high-ranking Egyptian officials on future relations. These officials "were equally emphatic in their pro-Zionist declarations", noted Kisch in his diary. All three "recognized that the progress of Zionism might help to secure the development of a new Eastern civilization." In 1925 the Egyptian Interior Minister Ismail Sidqi took action against a group of Palestinians protesting against the Balfour Declaration in Cairo. He was at the time on his way to Jerusalem to take part in the opening of the first Hebrew university.
Twenty years later scarcely anything remained of this benevolent attitude. In 1945 the worst anti-Jewish pogroms in Egypt's history were perpetrated in Cairo. On November 2, 1945, on the anniversary of the Balfour Declaration, demonstrators "broke into the Jewish quarter, plundered houses and shops, attacked non-Muslims, and devastated the adjacent Ashkenazi synagogue before finally setting it on fire." The event left some 400 people injured and a policeman dead. Meanwhile in Alexandria, at least five people were killed in the course of even more violent riots "which according to a British embassy official were clearly anti-Jewish and, to his relief, not directed against the British." A few weeks later Islamist newspapers "launched a frontal attack against Egypt's Jews as being Zionists, Communists, capitalists, bloodsuckers, traffickers in arms, white slave-traders and, more generally, a 'subversive element' in all states and societies", and called for a boycott of Jewish goods.
In the following sections, we shall look at the reasons why, between 1925 and 1945, a shift in direction was effected in Egypt from a rather neutral or pro-Jewish mood to a rabidly anti-Zionist or anti-Jewish one, a shift which changed the whole Arab world and affects it to this day. The driving force behind this development was the "Society of Muslim Brothers" (Gamiyyat alikhwan al-muslimin), founded in 1928. The significance of this organization goes far beyond Egypt. For today's global Islamist movement the Muslim Brothers are what the Bolsheviks were for the Communist movement of the 1920s: the ideological reference point and organizational core which decisively inspired all the subsequent tendencies and continues to do so to this day.
The Islamist Vanguard
The Egyptian situation in the 1920s was marked by multifaceted social changes. In the First World War, with British help, the Arab elites had defeated the Ottoman despotism. In 1924 the last Caliphate of Istanbul was abolished. European ideologies such as liberalism and nationalism met with a positive response in Egypt's leading circles, literature began to follow European models, scholarship began to open up to Western influences and Egyptian women took off their headscarves.
The independence which Britain had promised its former colony in 1922, had however, never been fully granted and relations were stretched to the breaking point. National resistance to British imperialism was further fuelled by social conflicts. The First World War had unleashed an industrial and employment boom, which collapsed with the war's end. Industrial action ensued in Cairo, Alexandria and the Canal Zone. The world economic crisis exacerbated the already tense situation. Between 1928 and 1931 the world price for cotton, Egypt's most important export, fell from 26 to 10 dollars per unit.
It was against this culturally, politically and socially agitated background that in March 1928 the charismatic preacher Hassan al-Banna founded the Muslim Brotherhood with six employees of the Suez Canal Company. After a period of cadre training, the Brotherhood "grew from insignificance and mediocrity to the largest group in the whole of the Near and Middle East, capable of exerting a great deal of pressure upon public opinion and government circles." Its membership rose from 800 in 1936 to 200,000 in 1938, to reach its highpoint of 500,000 members, with 2,000 sub-units and some 500,000 sympathisers, in 1948. At that time, its paramilitary wing alone, established to carry out an armed Islamic uprising, had 40,000 members.
On the one hand, this was a religious movement. Following his teachers Muhammad Abduh and Rashid Rida, al-Banna advocated a return to early Islam as the only true religion, and as such destined to supremacy. In his view, contemporary Islam had lost this social dominance, because most Muslims had become corrupted by Western influence and seduced into surrendering their religiosity. The Koran and Sunna had equipped Muslims with God-given laws valid for all time and all spheres of life - from problems of everyday life to the organization of states and the world. For al-Banna, only a return to orthodox Islam could pave the way for an end to the intolerable conditions and humiliations of Muslims and newly establish the righteous Islamic order.
At the same time, the Muslim Brothers were also a revolutionary political movement and as such in many respects trailblazers. The Brotherhood was the first Islamic organization to put down roots in the cities and organize as a mass movement. Unlike other Salifist reformers, al-Banna was a populist and activist, not an elitist. The Brotherhood put itself forward as the representative of the interests of the workers against the tyranny of foreign and monopoly owners. A committee for the unemployed was founded, the employment of British workers combated and a community of interests between Egyptian labour and capital sought. Wherever Egyptian hospitals, pharmacies or schools were lacking the Brotherhood stepped in. It offered loans to the needy and established its own industrial enterprises for the unemployed whose structures, by presenting an alternative to the exploitative practices of other workplaces, were intended to demonstrate the advantages of an Islamic economy.
In addition, the Brotherhood was the first Islamist movement that systematically set about building a kind of "Islamist international." To this end, it purposefully recruited foreign students in Cairo in order to create the backbone of branches in other countries, such as Lebanon (1936), Syria (1937) and Transjordan (1946). In 1940 it set up the Palestine and Islamic World Committee, comprised of the Near East Committee (Arab world and Africa, Turkey and Iran), Far East Committees (Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, China, India, Indonesia and Japan) and Europe committee. The Cairo headquarters of the Ikhwan (Brotherhood) was expanded into a centre and meeting place for representatives of the whole Islamic world.
What were the main points of the ikhwans' revolutionary program? Tightly organized according to the leadership principle, it demanded the dissolution of all parties and the abolition of parliamentary democracy in favour of an "organic" state based on sharia law and the Caliphate. No political current was more fiercely opposed than the Communist Party, denounced as "foreign." When the Communist Party's influence rose in 1946, the Brotherhood devoted a daily column in its newspaper to the "Fight against Communism", infiltrated members of its secret service into the Communist Party and handed over the latter's members to the state security organs.
On the economic front, it called for the abolition of interest and profit and propagated a community of interests between labour and capital. While finance and interest-bearing capital, perceived as the mysterious and abstract side of capitalism, were declared the root of all evil, its seemingly concrete manifestations-machines, factories and labour discipline-were glorified. In addition, the use of "Western" science and the most advanced technology was propagated as the precondition for military supremacy and Islamic world rule. The Brotherhood's list of demands in 1952 were; (1) A ban on interest and closure of the stock exchange; (2) nationalization of natural resources; (3) a crash industrialization program with priority for military industries and industrial branches which could be supplied from domestic sources; (4) nationalization of the banks; (5) land reform through expropriation of large land holdings; and (6) social security for workers and the unemployed.
But at the forefront of the Brotherhood's efforts lay the struggle against all the sensual and "materialistic" temptations of the capitalist and communist world. At the tender age of 13, the pubescent al-Banna had founded a "Society for the Prevention of the Forbidden" and this is in essence what the Brothers were and are - a community of male zealots, whose primary concern is to prevent all the sensual and sexual sins forbidden according to their interpretation of the Koran. Their signature was most clearly apparent when they periodically reduced their local night clubs, brothels and cinemas - constantly identified with Jewish influence - to ashes.
While it is not possible here to shed light on the issue of the origins of "pleasure in un-pleasure" and how libido can, paradoxically, be linked to its own repression, the point at least needs to be made that the Muslim Brothers were projecting their own libidinal wishes and fantasies onto the unbelievers. Projection is a defence mechanism where the subject makes others responsible for his own rejected or denied feelings and desires. As part of this process, the aggression with which the Muslim Brothers denied their own sensual needs had to be worked off in the form of hatred of "Western decadence" and "Jewish amorality"; the only permitted way of drawing closer to the prohibited objects of desire was to destroy them.
Gripped by this phobia, the Society of Muslim Brothers, from the day of its foundation, at the same time provided a haven for any man dedicated to the restoration of male supremacy; the Brotherhood was almost 100% male. Al-Banna had, admittedly, founded a society of "Muslim Sisters", recognizable by their white headscarves. This was a weak sector within the organizational structure, however, and in the 1930s and 40s it was shunned by the majority of Western-educated Egyptian women; it never had more than 5,000 members.
At the start of the 1920s, Egyptian women had founded an independent and influential section in the united party of the national independence movement, the Wafd. In 1923, the president of the Egyptian Women's Rights Union, Huda Sharawi, demonstratively threw her headscarf into the sea. In the same year Mustafa Kemal, who bore the honorific name Atatürk (Father of the Turks) and supported women's equality, founded Turkey. "Nothing in our religion requires women to be subordinate to men", declared the modern Muslim Atatürk. He abolished polygamy, decreed legal equality, opposed the headscarf and ensured that his adopted daughter was able to have a career as a pilot and, indeed, that a Muslim aristocratic woman could have one as an actress.
At the very time when the liberation of women from the inferiority decreed by Islam was gradually getting under way, the Muslim Brotherhood set itself up as the rallying point for the restoration of patriarchal domination: for is it not written in the Koran that "men are in charge of women" (sura 4, verse 34) and "stand a step above women (sura 2, verse 228)?"
According to the ikhwans' reading of the Koran, women must not leave their homes unless clad from head to toe in opaque garments. Late marriage and contraception were frowned upon. Divorce was strictly rejected and polygamy for men allowed, although in practice restricted to cases of female infertility, illness or "insanity." Public association of men and women was as a rule not allowed. While in the Brotherhood's code men were considered potential leadership material, women's allotted "natural" destiny was the home, the family and above all the raising of male children. Employment for women was only permissible in cases of dire necessity and was concentrated in the areas of education and health care. The education of girls was to focus primarily on preparing them for their "natural" role as mother and wife. The denial of female sexuality and the idealization of the mother's role went hand in hand. Among al-Banna's first projects was an Institute for the Mothers of Believers, later converted into the headquarters of the "Muslim Sisters."
The Brotherhood's most significant innovation was their concept of jihad as holy war, which significantly differed from other contemporary doctrines and, associated with that, the passionately pursued goal of dying a martyr's death in the war with the unbeliever. Before the founding of the Brotherhood, Islamic currents of modern times had understood jihad (derived from a root signifying "effort") as the individual striving for belief or the missionary task of disseminating Islam. Only when this missionary work was hindered were they allowed to use force to defend themselves against the unbelievers' resistance. The starting point of Islamism is the new interpretation of jihad, espoused with uncompromising militancy by Hassan al-Banna, the first to preach this kind of jihad in modern times. "What concerns us here about this new understanding is the concept of jihad, which had been almost absent from Islamic education before the foundation of the Muslim Brothers ... [p]olitical parties were involved with political struggles and mosque Imams and preachers treated jihad as irrelevant to their religious brief" emphasises El-Awaisi in his study.
On the "Art of Death"
The jihad motif is, for example, central to the Muslim Brothers' emblem, which displays the first two words of a verse of the Koran extolling jihad surrounded by two swords. The same note is struck by the Brotherhood's founding manifesto, reiterated at every opportunity: "Allah is our goal, the prophet our model, the Koran our constitution, the Jihad our path and death for the sake of Allah the loftiest of our wishes."
In 1938, in a leading article entitled "Industry of Death," which was to become famous, Hassan al-Banna explained to a wider public his concept of jihad-a concept in which the term Industry of Death denotes not something horrible but an ideal. He wrote: "to a nation that perfects the industry of death and which knows how to die nobly, God gives proud life in this world and eternal grace in the life to come."
According to al-Banna, the Koran enjoins believers to love death more than life. Unfortunately, he argues, Muslims are in thrall to a "love of life." "The illusion which had humiliated us is no more than the love of worldly life and the hatred of death." As long as the Muslims do not replace their love of life with the love of death as required by the Koran, their future is hopeless. Only those who become proficient in the "art of death" can prevail. "So, prepare yourself to do a great deed. Be keen on dying and life will be granted to you, so work towards a noble death and you will win complete happiness," he writes in the same essay, republished in 1946 under the title "The Art of Death."
Excerpted from Jihad and Jew-Hatred by Matthias Küntzel Copyright © 2007 by North America by Telos Press Publishing. Excerpted by permission.
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Table of Contents
ContentsForeword by Jeffrey Herf....................VII Preface....................XIX
1. The Muslim Brotherhood and Palestine....................6
The Islamist Vanguard....................8
On the "Art of Death"....................14
The Muslim Brothers, the Mufti and the Nazis....................25
The Mufti's Antisemitism....................31
Nashashibis versus Husseinis....................37
The Sanctuary of National Socialism....................43
War against Israel....................48
2. Egyptian Islamism from Nasser to the present day....................61
Comrade Brother Nasser....................67
Islamism under Sadat....................73
Unity and Submission....................75
Jihad against the Muslims....................85
Islamization under Mubarak....................91
3. The Jihad of Hamas....................103
Islamist terror in Gaza....................104
The Hamas Charter....................107
El-Husseini and Arafat....................112
Mass Murder as Strategy....................119
4. September 11 and Israel....................123
Bin Laden and the Muslim Brothers....................124
Hatred of America....................128
The Antisemitic Signal....................133
Epilogue: "... the Beginning of Complicity."....................151