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ARABS AND NAZISM

by Arie Stav

 (Editor's note: Writing in the November 1995 issue of the Israeli journal
Nativ, of which he is editor, Arie Stav describes the similarities between
Islam and Nazism. The following are excerpts.) 

The Arabs' identification with the Nazis is normally explained in terms of a
common enmity to France and Britain but this is only a partial explanation.
The Arab masses admired Hitler in the 1920s and this admiration broke out with
great enthusiasm after he seized the government in 1933. The day after he was
appointed chancellor, the first telegrams of congratulation Hitler received
were transmitted by Wolf, the German Consul in Jerusalem, followed by those
from Arab countries. 

Germany's anti-French and anti-British policies were not at all obvious to the
Arabs until its open breach of the Versailles treaty. Until 1939, when Hitler
invaded Poland, there was no reason to assume Hitler, who was an anglophile
and based his strategy in Mein Kampf on long term cooperation with England,
might be the one to save the Arabs from English colonialism. The Middle East,
precisely because it was primarily
an area of British influence, had relatively low priority in Hitler's plans. 

The Jews were, of course, the victims of Nazi anti-Semitism but, at least
initially, Nazi anti-Semitism was nostalgic. Admiration of Nazis has remained
strong in Syria,  directed against all members of the "Semitic race,"
including the Arabs. The Nazi leadership expressed disdain and racial
abhorrence toward the Arabs and was confused and discomforted by the efforts
of Haj Amin el-Husseini, the Jerusalem Mufti, to woo it, at least prior to the
outbreak of the war. 

As soon as Hitler rose to power, parties that imitated National Socialism were
founded in Arab countries, like the Social-Nationalist Party in Syria led by
Anton Sa'ada, who openly and enthusiastically copied the Nazis. Sa'ada, who
styled himself as the Fuhrer of the Syrian nation, stated in the party
platform that the Syrians were the superior race by their very nature. Hitler
was "Islamicized" and known by his new name Abu Ali (in Egypt, for some
reason, it was Muhammed Haidar). Egyptian followers even "found" the house in
which Hitler's mother was
born in Tanta, Egypt and the place became a pilgrimage site. 

The most influential Arab party to follow the Nazi model was Young Egypt,
known also as the Green Shirts, in tribute to the Nazi Jung Deutschland and
the Brown Shirts of the SA. The party was founded by Ahmed Hussein in October
1933, and followed the German model down to the raised hand greeting. There
were stormtroopers, torch processions, Nazi slogans including a literal
translation into Arabic of "one folk, one party, one leader" as well as "Egypt
over all." Bands of hooligans were formed for the suppression of opponents
and, of course, Ahmed Hussein took the role of Fuhrer. Nazi anti-Semitism was
emulated in every day                           
from a boycott of Jewish businesses to physical attacks and anti-Semitic
incitement.

Indeed, Nazi anti-Semitic theory, practice and policy fitted the needs of Arab
nationalism of  the 1930s like a glove. During the war, members of the Young
Egypt
spied on behalf of Rommel's Afrika Korps and a young lieutenant by the name of
Anwar Sadat was tried and imprisoned. After the war, Gamal Abdul Nasser,
another member of Young Egypt, was among the group of officers who led the
July 1952 revolution in Egypt.

The first step of the new regime after it had seized power--shades of
Hitler--was to
outlaw all the other political parties in Egypt. Sadat continued to express
open admiration for Hitler in a letter he sent to the Egyptian daily Al
Mussawar on September 18, 1953.

This open bow to Hitler--despite the revelations of Nazi atrocities in the
Nuremberg trials--is evidence of the depth of Sadat's identification with
Nazism. Nazi ceremonials continue to be used in today's Egypt. The President's
ceremonial
troops wear Wehrmacht helmets and receive heads of government at Cairo airport
with a military parade which contains the famous goosestep. 

One of the most surrealistic sights during the negotiations surrounding the
peace treaty with Egypt was the figure of Begin, survivor of the Holocaust,
walking past the
honor guard like someone in a trance. 

Nostalgic admiration of Nazis has remained strong in Syria. Sami al-Joundi, a
founder of the Syrian Ba'ath movement, writes: "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
Mein Kampf. Anyone who lived in Damascus at that time was witness to the Arab
inclination toward Nazism." 

Needless to say, Hitler's definition of Zionism in Mein Kampf is endlessly
quoted. "They [Zionists] do not have any intention to establish a Jewish state
in Palestine in order to settle there. They only fight for one place in which
they [can base] a central organization for carrying out their global plot, a
city of refuge for criminals and a training center for the scoundrels of the
future." This paragraph, cited in most anti-Zionist writings in the Arab
world, bestows the weight of supreme authority. 

Similarly, in answering the argument of "the Zionists" that the Protocols of
the Elders of Zion are a fabrication, Mein Kampf is quoted as proof of their
authenticity, which settles the matter, given that Hitler's authority has
assumed canonical status. Mein Kampf, incidentally, continues to be published
in numerous editions in the Arab world, especially in Egypt. 

The Arab countries were not unique in serving as refuge for fleeing war
criminals, but only in the Middle East, and particularly in Egypt, could the
Nazis find shelter bestowed on the basis of ideological identification. 


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