When Jews and Arabs Fought Together against the Nazis

While the story of the cooperation of the grand mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini, with the Third Reich has been told many times, an Israeli historian has recently published an article, based on extensive research, showing that many Palestinian Arabs instead chose to cast their lot with the Allies during World War II. Mustafa Abbasi, who came to the topic via research into his own family history, has found that the British created many Palestine-based units, made up of Jews and Arabs, to fight against Germany. Nadav Shragai explains:

All in all, some 12,000 Arabs from Mandate Palestine volunteered for the British army during World War II, approximately half the number of Jewish volunteers. Hundreds of Palestinian fighters were captured. Approximately 300 died in battle. . . . At the time, the Arab population in pre-state Israel was split between the Husseinis, [led by the grand mufti], and the Nashashibi clan who openly supported the British and usually maintained good ties with the Jewish population.

Abbasi has also discovered that several dozen Jews and Arabs fought together alongside thousands of British and Egyptian troops at the First Battle of El Alamein in July 1942. . . . A few of the volunteers also took part in the Allied invasion at Normandy in the summer of 1944.

There were a total of 4,041 Arab volunteers and 10,000 Jewish volunteers from Palestine in the British infantry. . . . Jews and Arabs also served together in the Middle East Commando unit, which included 240 Jews and 120 Arabs under a team of British commanders. The volunteers with the unit underwent exhausting physical training and long marches in difficult conditions. At the end of 1940, some members of the unit took part in the first British attack in [Egypt’s] Western Desert and burst through Italian lines at Bardia on the Egyptian-Libyan border. In the winter of 1941, the unit fought fierce battles against the Italians.

Read more at Israel Hayom

More about: Amin Haj al-Husseini, Israeli Arabs, Mandate Palestine, World War II

 

Why Egypt Fears an Israeli Victory in Gaza

While the current Egyptian president, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, has never been friendly to Hamas, his government has objected strenuously to the Israeli campaign in the southernmost part of the Gaza Strip. Haisam Hassanein explains why:

Cairo has long been playing a double game, holding Hamas terrorists near while simultaneously trying to appear helpful to the United States and Israel. Israel taking control of Rafah threatens Egypt’s ability to exploit the chaos in Gaza, both to generate profits for regime insiders and so Cairo can pose as an indispensable mediator and preserve access to U.S. money and arms.

Egyptian security officials have looked the other way while Hamas and other Palestinian militants dug tunnels on the Egyptian-Gaza border. That gave Cairo the ability to use the situation in Gaza as a tool for regional influence and to ensure Egypt’s role in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict would not be eclipsed by regional competitors such as Qatar and Turkey.

Some elements close to the Sisi regime have benefited from Hamas control over Gaza and the Rafah crossing. Media reports indicate an Egyptian company run by one of Sisi’s close allies is making hundreds of millions of dollars by taxing Gazans fleeing the current conflict.

Moreover, writes Judith Miller, the Gaza war has been a godsend to the entire Egyptian economy, which was in dire straits last fall. Since October 7, the International Monetary Fund has given the country a much-needed injection of cash, since the U.S. and other Western countries believe it is a necessary intermediary and stabilizing force. Cairo therefore sees the continuation of the war, rather than an Israeli victory, as most desirable. Hassanein concludes:

Adding to its financial incentive, the Sisi regime views the Rafah crossing as a crucial card in preserving Cairo’s regional standing. Holding it increases Egypt’s relevance to countries that want to send aid to the Palestinians and ensures Washington stays quiet about Egypt’s gross human-rights violations so it can maintain a stable flow of U.S. assistance and weaponry. . . . No serious effort to turn the page on Hamas will yield the desired results without cutting this umbilical cord between the Sisi regime and Hamas.

Read more at Washington Examiner

More about: Egypt, Gaza War 2023, U.S. Foreign policy