If the Pope were to make antisemitic statements, the West would surely condemn him. So why is the cleric Yusuf al-Qaradawi, who recently returned to Egypt from exile, allowed a free pass? It's because the West has misunderstood Nazi-style Arab antisemitism as a response to the Arab-Israeli conflict, when it is its cause - the award-winning scholar Matthias Kuntzel tells Seth Mandel in Front Page magazine:
I asked Küntzel how important individual players, such as Hajj Amin al-Husseini, who was the mufti of Jerusalem during WWII and struck up an alliance with the Nazis, were to the successful transmission of Nazi anti-Semitism to the Muslim world.
Very important, was the answer—especially in light of what was essentially a partnership in Jew-hatred between the two.
“He made the suggestion to the Nazis in the thirties that he they should use this type of radio propaganda against the Jews, so it went both ways,” he said. “At the time, only the Italian fascists used the tool.”
On the other hand, he noted, al-Husseini wasn’t well known or popular in Iran during that time, so there was a limit to how far the mufti could spread the propaganda. In the case of Iran, the Nazis used a popular radio host who could spread their ideology in a way that was localized to Iranian issues and Persian culture.
“The most important thing is the concept on the whole that you sell anti-Semitism in a way which fits to the people’s customs,” Küntzel said. This meant recognizing that the Arab-Israeli conflict was a much more salient issue among Arabs than in Iran. “The Nazis were smart enough to make this differentiation.”
Küntzel is very disappointed with the response by Western leaders to the naked anti-Semitism and the presence of Nazi ideology in public statements by influential clerics like Qaradawi, such as when he praised the Holocaust.
“If the pope would do something like this, or some of those surrounding the pope in Rome, there would be an outcry throughout the world,” Küntzel said. “But if this kind of very important Muslim speaker does the same, there is silence. And the reason is that people underestimate and don’t know much about the roots of this anti-Semitism. The traditional way to analyze this is to say, well this is the result of the Middle East conflict so if Israel and Zionism would behave more correctly and we can finish with the conflict, then we can finish with anti-Semitism as well.”
This is what Küntzel calls the filter that exists between actual events and their interpretation. Anti-Semitism, or at least a certain strain of it, was imported into the Middle East, and is now being exported from it.
“We are just at the beginning of a change in the analysis of the roots of the anti-Semitism in the Middle East,” Küntzel said. “And I consider this a very important task also to educate Western governments that this is not just the outcome of a conflict caused by Jews who immigrated to Palestine, but that this is something very similar to Nazi anti-Semitism and has to be taken as seriously as the Nazi anti-Semitism was taken.”