Arab-Muslim attitudes to the Holocaust are manifold, cunningly complex and often ostensibly contradictory. But these apparent incongruities are predominantly tactical. The endgame is how to best combat the remnants of Europe’s destroyed Jewry and their descendants in Israel. The common denominator for the diverse ploys is an underlying hypocrisy that allows Holocaust-justification, Holocaust-denial and cynical Holocaust-exploitation to thrive simultaneously in Arab discourse.
MK Ahmed Tibi (Ra’am-Ta’al), whose parliamentary salary is paid by you and me, not infrequently invokes the old canard that the Holocaust’s true victims were Palestinian Arabs, whom a guilt-ridden West saddled with the unwanted Jewish state. In other words, hapless Arabs paid Europe’s penalty despite their self-proclaimed innocence. Tibi, incidentally, who loses no opportunity to undermine anything of potential advantage to the Jewish state (even acceptance to the OECD), was just voted the most popular politician in Israel’s Arab sector. This was the uniform finding of the three leading Israeli-Arab papers: Panorama, Kul al-Arab and a-Sinara.
The second most popular Israeli-Arab politician, according to all three polls, is Hadash MK Muhammad Barakei, who created a stir with his decision to join the Knesset delegation to the Auschwitz liberation memorial ceremony.
Tibi and Barakei often play bad cop and good cop, respectively. Both, as a preliminary measure to dismantling Israel, wish to replace the Jewish state with “a state-for-all-its-citizens.” Both reject its national anthem, flag, emblem and Declaration of Independence.
Tibi is generally rowdier. As Yasser Arafat’s sidekick, he once headed a delegation of hundreds of Israeli-Arabs to Ramallah, where they shrilly chanted “a million shahids [martyrs] will march on Jerusalem,” and “we will open al-Aksa’s gates with the shahids’ blood.”
Barakei prefers the politically correct context. His most recent antic, on the eve of the Auschwitz journey, was to walk out of a Yad Vashem symposium because he objected to a lecturer who noted that today Arab and Muslim societies – along with leftist movements and hard-line communists in the erstwhile Soviet bloc – are tainted with Judeophobia. Out to impress us with his care and compassion, Barakei pulled his stunt in the name of “opposition to Holocaust trivialization.” The solicitous good cop seeks to silence the truth for unadulterated memory’s sake.
His fellow Arabs spent decades mightily striving to obfuscate the truth and curry favor with whoever may find harangues about genocide unsavory. They present themselves not as heirs of Nazism’s virulent collaborators but as resistance fighters. Concomitantly they manage to tarnish Jews as Nazis. It’s a massive undertaking, satanic and successful. As Goebbels’s devout disciples, they implement his big-lie theory and find the world all-too-receptive, if not altogether keen to imbibe the perfidy.
BARAKEI IS hardly original. Back in 1983 Yasser Arafat proposed to lay a wreath at the Warsaw Ghetto monument. We may quite safely assume that Arafat never intended to pay homage to the ghetto’s desperate and very Zionist heroes, who fought a hopeless fight because they had no safe haven, state or army of their own. Arafat was out to score PR points, while mocking the Jewish tragedy and national resurgence. He strove to dissociate the Jew from Zion and portray himself as the spiritual successor of the ghetto heroes, doing battle with latter-day Nazis. The survivors and their descendants, obviously, were cast in the role of evil incarnate.
It was the most diabolical contrivance since the UN equated Zionism with racism.
The same twisted logic that could condemn the national liberation of the most downtrodden people on earth could cynically confer the title of “freedom fighters” on those who aim to destroy the national home of those who endured the Holocaust and of their children.
Barakei merely follows in his mentor’s footsteps. By appearing to identify with Auschwitz’s victims, he implies an analogy between them and Palestinians. He schemes to usurp the most enormous Jewish loss to advance its anti-Jewish sequel.
For this purpose Barakei must dodge the question of why the Arab world sheltered so many Nazi war criminals, including the infamous Alois Brunner. He must avoid the fact that Arab hostility to embryonic Israel predated World War II. He is motivated to obscure the inextricable link between Arab aspirations then and now.
Fraudulent narratives facilitate the cover-up of the direct connection between undying Arab enmity to the Jewish national renaissance and Hitler’s final solution to the Jewish problem. Barakei cannot admit that the Arabs were among the first to latch on to Nazi ideology. Undisguised fascist parties proliferated prewar among them – from Syria’s Nationalist Socialists headed by Anton Sa’ada to Ahmed Hussein’s Young Egypt. They were anything but blameless bystanders, which is why their Holocaust record remains ever-relevant.
Local Arabs eagerly awaited Rommel’s conquest of this country. They hoarded arms, openly rehearsed maneuvers to assist the Afrika Korps, harbored German paratroopers, spied and greeted each other with “Heil Hitler” and Nazi salutes. Palestinian newborns were given names like Hitler, Eichmann or Rommel.
Their still-revered leader Haj Amin el-Husseini was a fervent Nazi. His 1936-39 terrorist bloodletting, then-unprecedented, was financed by Hitler. Husseini spent the war years in Berlin as the fuehrer’s personal guest, convened with him and the two reached a perfect meeting of the minds on the Jewish question.
Husseini – as “prime minister” of a pan-Arab government formed in the German capital – was lodged in a confiscated Zionist Hebrew school on Klopstockstrasse and awarded the equivalent of $10,000 a month (when the dollar was almighty) by the German Foreign Ministry. The sum was more than matched by the SS from its sonderfund
(funds robbed from Jews). Himmler organized guided tours for Husseini in Auschwitz, and Husseini plotted a Mideastern extermination-camp near Nablus.
He was put in charge of Nazi propaganda to Arabs and Muslims and recruited Bosnians to torture, brutalize and concentrate Balkan Jews for death transports, much as Ukrainians did such dirty work elsewhere.
Himmler introduced Husseini to Eichmann and the two got along famously. This is backed by ample documentation from both the Nuremberg and Eichmann trials.
At the end of 1942, Eichmann ordered 10,000 Jewish children sent from Poland to Theresienstadt. The Red Cross offered to trade German civilians for them. Husseini got wind of the plan and protested vehemently to Himmler, warning that “little Jews grow to become big Jews.” The deal was scuttled.
Husseini personally foiled any deal on the Holocaust’s last-minute victims. His direct intervention was felt in every attempted negotiation on Hungary’s Jews in 1944. He sealed their fate. They perished at the very end of World War II in the very Auschwitz where Barakei sanctimoniously chose to playact and thereby mask his milieu’s still-unaltered propensities and purposes.
His tack is exceedingly more effective and sophisticated than his predecessors’ fiery oratory about finishing what Hitler began. Yet Arab objectives haven’t changed. The rhetoric has merely become more refined and conducive to winning friends and influencing people.