Monday, November 09, 2009

The Nazi skeletons in the Middle East's cupboard

In her blog Warped mirror Petra Marquardt-Bigman drives home the point, on the anniversary of Kristallnacht, that while the Germans are expected to own up to the evils of Nazism, no such demands are made of the admirers and collaborators of Nazism in the Middle East:

"The argument that the danger posed by Iran's nuclear ambitions must also be assessed in view of the Holocaust denial of Iran's president and the threats against Israel that are a staple of the Iranian regime is often rejected, not least because the implied comparison between Iran and Nazi Germany is regarded as very controversial.

"In an article on "Iran, the Jews and Germany" written in March, New York Times columnist Roger Cohen haughtily dismissed criticism "from several American Jews unable to resist some analogy between Iran and Nazi Germany" and asserted firmly that "Iran's Islamic Republic is no Third Reich redux."

"Of course, much has changed in the meantime, and some experts have argued that Iran is evolving into a military dictatorship. Moreover, as far as history is concerned, it is worth remembering that during the Third Reich, relations between Nazi Germany and Iran were excellent. In an article on this subject, Edwin Black has pointed out that it was admiration for Nazi Germany that prompted the shah in 1935 to change his country's official designation from Persia to Iran, because this term refers to the Aryans so admired by Nazi racial ideology.

"It may be debatable if this past is relevant for today's developments, but what is certain is that a curious double standard exists: Europeans firmly believe that it is important to confront the past, and particularly the Germans were and still are expected to own up to the evils of Nazism. But no such demand is made of the admirers and collaborators of the Nazis in the Middle East.

"Quite the contrary - Middle Eastern enthusiasm for Nazism is something of a taboo in Europe. In a recent Wall Street Journal article, Daniel Schwammenthal reported on the difficulties encountered by the German organizer of an exhibition that was devoted to the subject "The Third World in the Second World War" and included one section on the role of the Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al Husseini, who was a Waffen SS recruiter and Nazi propagandist in Berlin.

"The exhibition was scheduled to be shown in a multicultural center located in a Berlin neighborhood with many Turkish and Arab residents, but the center's director objected to the segment that focused on the mufti's enthusiastic collaboration with the Nazis.

"It is worthwhile to note in this context that even before the mufti came to Berlin, he had played a role in what has been described as "Kristallnacht in Baghdad," the pogrom in June 1941 that is commonly known as "Farhood" (also spelled Farhud or Farhoud), which was no less brutal that the German Kristallnacht.

"As Schwammenthal rightly emphasizes, there is no justification for the "politically correct" tendency to downplay the role of the mufti:

The mufti 'invented a new form of Jew-hatred by recasting it in an Islamic mold,' according to German scholar Matthias K√ľntzel. The mufti's fusion of European anti-Semitism - particularly the genocidal variety - with Koranic views of Jewish wickedness has become the hallmark of Islamists world-wide, from al Qaeda to Hamas and Hezbollah. During his time in Berlin, the mufti ran the Nazis' Arab-language propaganda radio program, which incited Muslims in the Mideast to 'kill the Jews wherever you find them. This pleases God, history and religion.'

Among the many listeners was also the man later known as Ayatollah Khomeini, who used to tune in to Radio Berlin every evening, according to Amir Taheri's biography of the Iranian leader. Khomeini's disciple Mahmoud Ahmadinejad still spews the same venom pioneered by the mufti as do Islamic hate preachers around the world."

"In recent years, there have been a number of scholarly studies examining the lasting influence of Nazi propaganda in the Middle East. A new book on Nazi Propaganda for the Arab World, by Jeffrey Herf, has just been released. In a class of its own will be the forthcoming work A Lethal Obsession: Anti-Semitism from Antiquity to the Global Jihad by Robert S. Wistrich, the Director of the Vidal Sassoon International Center for the Study of Anti-Semitism at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem."

Read post in full

See also articles under 'Holocaust in Arab and Muslim lands' label

No comments: