How Nazi Propaganda and the Muslim Brotherhood Led to the 1948 Israel-Arab War

Although the UN plan for partitioning Palestine into Jewish and Arab states was opposed by the vast majority of Arab leaders, most were long unwilling to go to war to prevent it from happening. What pushed the states to war, argues Matthias Kuenzel, was the persistent lobbying of the Muslim Brotherhood, its ability to shape popular Arab opinion with the help of Nazi-sponsored anti-Semitic propaganda, and its support for Grand Mufti Amin Haj al-Husseini—a former collaborator with the Nazis who rejected any compromise with the Jews:

In 1947 most Arabs in Mandatory Palestine itself were opposed to war. Tens of thousands of them had found work in Jewish-dominated economic sectors such as citrus-fruit production. Moreover, they were aware of the Zionists’ military strength. . . . There was a similar absence of war-like intentions in the Arab League states of Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Transjordan, Syria, Yemen, and Iraq. In August 1946, the Jewish Agency reported that “the Egyptians agree that there is no other acceptable solution to the Palestine question except partition.” . . . .

Let us consider this hypothetical proposition. Had the government of Egypt banned the Muslim Brotherhood at the end of 1945, its pro-Husseini campaign would not have taken place and there would have been far less pressure on the Egyptian authorities to re-install the mufti as leader of the Palestinian Arabs. Neither the Brotherhood nor the mufti would have been in a position to whip up war fever through the use of anti-Jewish attacks in Palestine. Egypt would have held fast to its original rejection of war. The outcome would have been different, and partition might have been implemented. History, however, took a different path. . . .

This war was not inevitable. It happened because Nazi anti-Semitic, anti-Zionist propaganda continued to dominate the political culture of the Arab world after the defeat of Germany, thus preventing any viable challenge to the anti-Semitic policies of the mufti and the Muslim Brotherhood. Therefore, the war of 1947-48 appears as an aftershock of the Nazi war against the Jews.

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Read more at Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs

More about: Amin Haj al-Husseini, Anti-Semitism, Arab League, Egypt, History & Ideas, Israeli War of Independence, Muslim Brotherhood, Nazism

No, Israelis and Palestinians Can’t Simply Sit Down and Solve the “Israel-Palestinian Conflict”

Jan. 17 2019

By “zooming out” from the blinkered perspective with which most Westerners see the affairs of the Jewish state, argues Matti Friedman, one can begin to see things the way Israelis do:

Many [in Israel] believe that an agreement signed by a Western-backed Palestinian leader in the West Bank won’t end the conflict, because it will wind up creating not a state but a power vacuum destined to be filled by intra-Muslim chaos, or Iranian proxies, or some combination of both. That’s exactly what has happened . . . in Gaza, Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq. One of Israel’s nightmares is that the fragile monarchy in Jordan could follow its neighbors . . . into dissolution and into Iran’s orbit, which would mean that if Israel doesn’t hold the West Bank, an Iranian tank will be able to drive directly from Tehran to the outskirts of Tel Aviv. . . .

In the “Israeli-Palestinian” framing, with all other regional components obscured, an Israeli withdrawal in the West Bank seems like a good idea—“like a real-estate deal,” in President Trump’s formulation—if not a moral imperative. And if the regional context were peace, as it was in Northern Ireland, for example, a power vacuum could indeed be filled by calm.

But anyone using a wider lens sees that the actual context here is a complex, multifaceted war, or a set of linked wars, devastating this part of the world. The scope of this conflict is hard to grasp in fragmented news reports but easy to see if you pull out a map and look at Israel’s surroundings, from Libya through Syria and Iraq to Yemen.

The fault lines have little to do with Israel. They run between dictators and the people they’ve been oppressing for generations; between progressives and medievalists; between Sunnis and Shiites; between majority populations and minorities. If [Israel’s] small sub-war were somehow resolved, or even if Israel vanished tonight, the Middle East would remain the same volatile place it is now.

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Read more at New York Times

More about: Hizballah, Iran, Israel & Zionism, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Middle East