The High-Ranking Nazi Who Schooled Arab Regimes in Torture and Repression

Growing up in Damascus in the 1980s, Ziad Khoury would sometimes see a mysterious European coming in and out of a well-guarded, upscale apartment:

We eventually learned that he was “Hitler’s man” and that he was “good, not bad,” having “killed the Jews during World War II.” One of our friends, trying to be funny, raised the Nazi salute at a distance and barked: “Heil Hitler.” The man didn’t see him and neither did the security-service personnel who were standing nearby. This came as a relief to me at the time, not because admiring Hitler in Syria was a crime. It wasn’t. But because we knew the secret identity of a man whom the regime was protecting.

The man’s name was Alois Brunner, and he had worked closely with Adolf Eichmann and served as the director of Drancy, the transit camp where French Jews were imprisoned before being sent to Auschwitz. After the war, Brunner eluded capture by the Allies, and slipped out of Germany in 1954 to embark on the next phase of his bloodstained career:

He first landed in Rome and from there made his way to Egypt, where he found himself the guest of then-president Gamal Abdel Nasser. The details of how he met the Egyptian leader remain unclear, but Nasser was looking for ways to get back at the West in light of an Israeli raid on Gaza in February 1955 that left 38 Egyptian soldiers dead. . . . Brunner ended up being hired by the Egyptian military regime, which had been in power since 1952, as a “consultant” at its security apparatus, working closely with its security chief, Salah Nasser. During the short-lived Syrian-Egyptian union (1958-1961), Brunner was sent to Damascus to train police dogs, a talent he had developed at Hitler’s prisons.

In exchange for protection, Brunner [remained in Syria to] train Syrian troops in interrogation methods, espionage, and torture.

It is impossible to know to what extent Brunner saw the legacy of his brutal tactics bear fruit. But there is little doubt that Syrian and Egyptian interrogators today—all too young to remember Brunner or even know who he was—apply some of the same methods against their own compatriots that the Nazis used against the Jews.

Read more at Newlines

More about: Egypt, Gamal Abdel Nasser, Nazis, Syria

An Israeli Buffer Zone in the Gaza Strip Doesn’t Violate International Law

 The IDF announced on Thursday that it is safe for residents to return to some of the towns and villages near the Gaza Strip that have been abandoned since October 7. Yet on the same day, rocket sirens sounded in one of those communities, Kibbutz Mefalsim. To help ensure security in the area, Israel is considering the creation of a buffer zone within the Strip that would be closed to Palestinian civilians and buildings. The U.S. has indicated, however, that it would not look favorably on such a step.

Avraham Shalev explains why it’s necessary:

The creation of a security buffer along the Gaza-Israel border serves the purpose of destroying Hamas’s infrastructure and eliminating the threat to Israel. . . . Some Palestinian structures are practically on the border, and only several hundred yards away from Israeli communities such as Kfar Aza, Kerem Shalom, and Sderot. The Palestinian terrorists that carried out the murderous October 7 attacks crossed into Israel from many of these border-adjacent areas. Hamas officials have already vowed that “we will do this again and again. The al-Aqsa Flood [the October 7th massacre] is just the first time, and there will be a second, a third, a fourth.”

In 2018 and 2019, Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad organized mass marches towards the Israeli border with the goal of breaking into Israel. Billed by Palestinians as “the Great March of Return,” its name reveals its purpose—invasion. Although the marches were supposedly non-violent, they featured largescale attacks on Israeli forces as well as arson and damage to Israeli agriculture and civilian communities. Moreover, the October 7 massacre was made possible by Hamas’s prepositioning military hardware along the border under false cover of civilian activity. The security perimeter is intended to prevent a reprise of these events.

Shalev goes on to dismantle the arguments put forth about why international law prohibits Israel from creating the buffer zone. He notes:

By way of comparison, following the defeat of Nazi Germany, France occupied the Saar [River Valley] directly until 1947 and then indirectly until reintegration with Germany in 1957, and the Allied occupation of Berlin continued until the reunification of Germany in 1990. The Allies maintained their occupation long after the fall of the Nazi regime, due to the threat of Soviet invasion and conquest of West Berlin, and by extension Western Europe.

Read more at Kohelet

More about: Gaza Strip, Gaza War 2023, International Law, Israeli Security