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

April 1 2016

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.

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


When It Comes to Peace with Israel, Many Saudis Have Religious Concerns

Sept. 22 2023

While roughly a third of Saudis are willing to cooperate with the Jewish state in matters of technology and commerce, far fewer are willing to allow Israeli teams to compete within the kingdom—let alone support diplomatic normalization. These are just a few results of a recent, detailed, and professional opinion survey—a rarity in Saudi Arabia—that has much bearing on current negotiations involving Washington, Jerusalem, and Riyadh. David Pollock notes some others:

When asked about possible factors “in considering whether or not Saudi Arabia should establish official relations with Israel,” the Saudi public opts first for an Islamic—rather than a specifically Saudi—agenda: almost half (46 percent) say it would be “important” to obtain “new Israeli guarantees of Muslim rights at al-Aqsa Mosque and al-Haram al-Sharif [i.e., the Temple Mount] in Jerusalem.” Prioritizing this issue is significantly more popular than any other option offered. . . .

This popular focus on religion is in line with responses to other controversial questions in the survey. Exactly the same percentage, for example, feel “strongly” that “our country should cut off all relations with any other country where anybody hurts the Quran.”

By comparison, Palestinian aspirations come in second place in Saudi popular perceptions of a deal with Israel. Thirty-six percent of the Saudi public say it would be “important” to obtain “new steps toward political rights and better economic opportunities for the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.” Far behind these drivers in popular attitudes, surprisingly, are hypothetical American contributions to a Saudi-Israel deal—even though these have reportedly been under heavy discussion at the official level in recent months.

Therefore, based on this analysis of these new survey findings, all three governments involved in a possible trilateral U.S.-Saudi-Israel deal would be well advised to pay at least as much attention to its religious dimension as to its political, security, and economic ones.

Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Islam, Israel-Arab relations, Saudi Arabia, Temple Mount