How Nazi Anti-Semitism United Arabs against Israel

To most Westerners, there are two default explanations for the Israeli-Arab conflict: either it is a response to Israeli oppression of the Palestinians, or it is the product of ancient hatreds that stretch back to a time before memory. Neither explanation gets close to the truth, which Matthias Küntzel’s recent book Nazis, Islamic Anti-Semitism, and the Middle East seeks to expose by examining how so many Arabs came to hate Jews. Daniel Ben-Ami writes in his review:

It was the Nazis, Küntzel argues, who played the key role in bringing genocidal anti-Semitism to the region. Küntzel identifies several channels through which the Nazis exerted their influence. From 1937 onwards they gave financial backing and other forms of support to Amin al-Husseini, the mufti of Jerusalem. . . . The Nazis distributed large numbers of Husseini’s pamphlet, Judaism and Islam, first published in Cairo in 1937. For Küntzel, it was a seminal document, the first to link the Jew hatred of classical Islamic texts with the conspiratorial anti-Semitism that emerged in Europe in the late 19th century.

Finally, even when it was clear that the Nazis were losing the Second World War they still provided support for a forthcoming Arab war against Israel. This included an attempt to provide a large store of light arms for Muslims to use to fight the nascent Jewish state.

Yet, Ben-Ami observes, some of the seeds were sown even before Husseini and Hitler came on the scene:

Earlier developments had already prepared the ground for the Nazis’ ideological intervention in the region. Christian missionaries had already begun to export traditional European conceptions of Jews into the region in the 19th century. For example, the idea of the blood libel—that Jews drank the blood of non-Jewish children—was an import from Europe.

Read more at Fathom

More about: Amin Haj al-Husseini, Anti-Semitism, Israel-Arab relations, Nazism


Recognizing a Palestinian State Won’t Help Palestinians, or Even Make Palestinian Statehood More Likely

While Shira Efron and Michael Koplow are more sanguine about the possibility of a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict, and more critical of Israel’s policies in the West Bank, than I am, I found much worth considering in their recent article on the condition of the Palestinian Authority (PA). Particularly perceptive are their comments on the drive to grant diplomatic recognition to a fictive Palestinian state, a step taken by nine countries in the past few months, and almost as many in total as recognize Israel.

Efron and Koplow argue that this move isn’t a mere empty gesture, but one that would actually make things worse, while providing “no tangible benefits for Palestinians.”

In areas under its direct control—Areas A and B of the West Bank, comprising 40 percent of the territory—the PA struggles severely to provide services, livelihoods, and dignity to inhabitants. This is only partly due to its budgetary woes; it has also never established a properly functioning West Bank economy. President Mahmoud Abbas, who will turn ninety next year, administers the PA almost exclusively by executive decrees, with little transparency or oversight. Security is a particular problem, as militants from different factions now openly defy the underfunded and undermotivated PA security forces in cities such as Jenin, Nablus, and Tulkarm.

Turning the Palestinian Authority (PA) from a transitional authority into a permanent state with the stroke of a pen will not make [its] litany of problems go away. The risk that the state of Palestine would become a failed state is very real given the PA’s dysfunctional, insolvent status and its dearth of public legitimacy. Further declines in its ability to provide social services and maintain law and order could yield a situation in which warlords and gangs become de-facto rulers in some areas of the West Bank.

Otherwise, any steps toward realizing two states will be fanciful, built atop a crumbling foundation—and likely to help turn the West Bank into a third front in the current war.

Read more at Foreign Affairs

More about: Palestinian Authority, Palestinian statehood