Thursday, August 05, 2010

Saudi columnist condemns Arab sympathy for Hitler

Arab sympathy for Hitler may have been understandable when the Arabs were fighting British and French colonialism, but there is no excuse for it now - argues liberal columnist Iman Al-Quwaifli in the Saudi newspaper al-Watan. Via MEMRI: (with thanks: Eliyahu)

In an article in the Saudi daily Al-Watan, liberal columnist Iman Al-Quwaifli criticized the phenomenon of sympathy for Adolf Hitler and for Nazism in the Arab world. She pointed out that sympathy for Hitler takes two forms: popular admiration for him as a strong leader who was "more powerful than the Jews," and sympathy cloaked in intellectual terms, such as the pseudo-scientific argument that truth is a fluid concept and history is written by the victors. She wrote that the latter kind of argument is a travesty of true scientific thinking, and that sympathy for Hitler contravenes Islamic and Arab values.

An example of admiration for Hitler in today's Arab world can be seen in a talk show recently aired on the Egyptian channel Al-Nas, where Egyptian cleric Hussam Fawzi Jabar justified Hitler's actions against the Jews.[1]

Following are excerpts from Al-Quwaifli's article:[2]

"Those Who Wave the Slogan 'History Is Written by the Victors' Do Not Bother to Find Out the Truth about Hitler"

"The Arabs' enthusiasm for Hitler during World War II was understandable. In that period, they were [living] under British or French occupation, or, in the better case, under mandatory rule, and it seemed like a victory by Hitler and the Axis was the only way to get rid of the British and French. Slogans like 'Allah hai, Allah hai, Hajj Muhammad Hitler jai' ['Allah lives, Allah lives, Hajj Muhammad Hitler is coming']... presented Hitler as a Muslim. Though applying the name 'Hajj Muhammad' to Hitler is ludicrous, the Arabs' aspirations [at the time] were understandable, especially assuming that they were ignorant of the Nazi philosophy and its implications. But what is not understandable, and must not be accepted, is Arab sympathy for Hitler that persists to this very day, based on various justifications.

"Contemporary sympathy for Hitler is of two kinds: First, there is popular sympathy, [fueled by the Arabs'] present hardships, [which cause them to be] impressed [by the fact] that there used to be someone more powerful than the Jews. This sympathy is manifest in support for dictators like Hitler, Stalin, and Mao, who are perceived as models of achievement, constructivism and discipline imposed at all costs.

"The other kind of sympathy, which is more significant, involves exonerating Nazism in the guise of a cultured, scientific [debate]. [The proponents of this stance] take a critical approach to knowledge and history, arguing that 'history is written by the victors,' and questioning Hitler's image as an icon [of evil]. This pseudo-scientific approach is weak and thin, and has nothing to do with [real] scientific [thinking]. Those who wave the slogan 'history is written by the victors' do not bother to find out the truth about Hitler by reading histories – neither those written by the victors nor those written by critical thinkers who do not belong to the imperialistic West that won [WWII]."

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Sylvia said...

"sympathy for Hitler contravenes Islamic and Arab values."

No it doesn't. It only confirms them.
See Andrew G. Bostom's "The Legacy of Islamic Antisemitism"

Sylvia said...

""The Arabs' enthusiasm for Hitler during World War II was understandable. In that period, they were [living] under British or French occupation, or, in the better case, under mandatory rule, and it seemed like a victory by Hitler and the Axis was the only way to get rid of the British and French."

This statement derives from a fallacy also present in Jewish historiography (particularly the revisionist brand) that presents the colonizers as Hitler's enemies. Worse yet, there are those Jewish new historians and bloggers, who either out of ruthless malice or utter ignorance of the nature of European occupation in North Africa and the Middle East, declare day in day out that "the Jews collaborated with the European colonizers" which fuels more hatred.

The truth of the matter is that North Africa was occupied by Vichy France and Fascist Italy (Libya), whose principles and goals were exactly those of Nazi Germany. Jews were under Nazi racial laws, which in Morocco were in effect long after the war ended. The Americano-British invasion didn't change much as to the status of the Jews. Libyan and Tunisian Jews were deported to Auschwitz and other concentration camps, Algerian and Eastern Moroccan Jews were used as slave labor for the sub-saharan railroad and generally were discriminated against for rationing. True, Jews were employed in the lower echelons of the administration not because they were liked but because they represented the literate portion of the indigenous population, while the Muslims were employed in law enforcement and recruited as soldiers. Ifanything, there was between the Europeans and their Arab "gendarmes" to attack Jews.

So at least in North Africa and some parts of the Middle East under French mandate, a Nazi victory was certainly not what the nationalists hoped for. Quite the contrary. Indeed, it was the American and British victory f0ollowing the landing in North-Africa that emboldened them. Yet, they took it on the Jews.

Sylvia said...

I meant to say: If anything, there was connivance between the Europeans and their Arab "gendarmes" to attack Jews.

bataween said...

Sylvia, there is a lot wrong with the author's assumptions, they feed the common fallacy that the Arabs were pro-Nazi because 'my enemy's enemy is my friend' even though as you rightly point out, 'my enemy was also at times my enemy's friend'(pro-Nazi Vichy French and Italians). What's more worrying is that this fashionable view of the Arabs as pragmatic anti-colonialists minimises the anti-Jewish ideology behind pan-Arabism and Islamism - as Matthias Kuntzel points out.
Of course the British were never pro-Nazi, but were willing to sacrifice the Jews when it suited them, viz the British army's criminal delay in quelling the Farhud pogrom.

Eliyahu m'Tsiyon said...

Sylvia, you would be interested in reading Gitta Amipaz-Silber's book on the mainly Jewish underground in North Africa that enabled the American army to land at Algiers in Nov. 1942 without firing a shot.

Her book is available in Hebrew [issued by the Ministry of Defense publishing house], French and English editions.