Anti-Semitism and Arab Democracy: Connecting the Dots

If you want to understand Israeli concerns about where the Egyptian revolution may go, Richard Cohen’s a must-read.

Instead of talking about strategic issues or superficially discussing the Muslim Brotherhood’s Islamist agenda, Cohen connects the dots between Nazi Germany, Palestinian nationalism, Islamic fundamentalism with today’s players.

Dot no. 1: “Amin al-Husseini, the grand mufti of Jerusalem and as such the titular leader of Muslim Palestinians, broadcast Nazi propaganda to the Middle East, recruited European Muslims for the SS, exulted in the Holocaust and after the war went on to represent his people in the Arab League . . . The Allies originally considered him a war criminal, but to many Arabs, he was just a patriot.”

Dot no. 2: “Some of this hatred was planted by Husseini and some of it long existed, but whatever the case, it remains a remarkable, if unremarked, feature of Arab nationalism. The other day, for instance, about 1 million Egyptians in Tahrir Square heard from Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, an esteemed religious leader and Muslim Brotherhood figure whose anti-Semitic credentials are unimpeachable. Among other things, he has said that Hitler was sent by Allah as “divine punishment” for the Jews.”

Dot no. 3: “The trouble with democracies is that they tend to cater to the prejudices of the people – not just to their good sense. This explains why almost all the nations of Central and Eastern Europe turned rabidly anti-Semitic when democracy was instituted after World War I.”

Dot no. 4: “Nowhere in the Middle East is anti-Semitism considered aberrant or weird. It is inconceivable to me that Arab politicians will not attempt to harness both sentiments, combining nationalism with anti-Semitism – a combustible and unstable compound.”

When you finish connecting the dots, you’re left with a worrying picture. Cohen gets it:

Israel’s critics have a case. Yet they make no case when it comes to Arab anti-Semitism. The prominence of Qaradawi cannot be reassuring to Israelis. They know that words can be weapons and hate is a killer. Nonetheless, since the days of Husseini, a true Hitlerian figure, Arab nations have shamefully been granted an exception to the standards expected of the rest of the world, as if they were children. If I were an Israeli, I’d be worried. If I were an Arab, I’d be insulted. If I were a critic only of Israel, I’d be ashamed.

Read the whole article.

UPDATE: 11:05 a.m.: Point of No Return picks up on a related study with more detail on the dots connecting the three-way alliance of The Muslim Brotherhood, Hitler and the Mufti.

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