When your neighbor unfurls a Nazi flag

Palestinians must liberate themselves from their infatuation with the swastika and the dream of a Judenrein Palestine.

June 2, 2013 22:02
4 minute read.
Protester burns Israeli flag with swastika on it in El Salvador

Protester burns Israeli flag with swastika on it 370. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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Israelis live in a tough neighborhood on the verge of a complete meltdown. Most would very much like to reach a final peace deal with their Palestinian neighbors, but as the Jewish state is one-20th the size of California, there is literally no margin of error. The core issue is as much psychological as it is territorial. Do my neighbors want peace? Here is one answer, hoisted above the town of Beit Umar, adjacent to the Jewish communities of Gush Etzion: An oversized Nazi flag fluttering next to a local mosque.

A Jewish neighbor put it this way: “I felt we were going back 75 years, losing our hold on the land. The Arabs no longer feel the need to hide their murderous tendencies, announcing out loud that they wish to annihilate us.”

He is referring to the fact that Gush Etzion existed on this land even before the State of Israel was founded and that 250 Jews were massacred there by the Arab Legion the day before Israel was declared a state in May 1948.

Their children would return to Gush Etzion to rebuild their families’ legacies after the 1967 war.

The Nazi swastika: The ultimate symbol of hate and genocide. Illegal in Germany. Its use considered an actionable act of hate in most democracies. When young American neo-Nazis march with Nazi flags in Skokie, Illinois, people of all faiths rallied to back their Jewish neighbors.

But not in the Holy Land, where too many Palestinians continue to play the Nazi card over and over again in some creatively destructive ways in the media, mosques and madrassas.

Among the themes: • “Six Million” is a hoax or gross exaggeration.

• Israelis are today’s Nazis, their crimes worse that Hitler’s.

• We are sorry Hitler didn’t finish the job, but we will...

All this has been woven into a Palestinian pseudo-historical narrative, in which King David and both Solomon’s Temple and the Second Temple never existed.

The Palestinian paper Al-Hayat Al-Jadida informed its readers, “members of the Jewish religion must awaken from the coma of historical distortion” because it was “the Zionist movement and world capitalists... who wheel and deal in the Nazi and Fascist slaughter of Jews during WWII.”

Furthermore, Israelis were admonished that “what they are doing in Palestine against the Palestinian Arab people is more dangerous and criminal than what Hitler’s Holocaust brought on the Jews and the nations of the world of the 1940s.”

Today, Arab and Muslim media, bookstores, and the Internet are rife with admiring references to Hitler’s Third Reich. The sad historical truth is that Hitler found a key ally in the Holy Land: the grand mufti of Jerusalem, Muhammad Amin al-Husseini. Glorified by the German press as “the fuhrer of the Middle East” when he visited Berlin in 1941, the grand mufti organized a Muslim SS Battalion that slaughtered 90 percent of Bosnia’s Jews and made broadcasts to the Middle East urging Muslims to honor Allah by implementing their own Final Solution.

Yasser Arafat, the founder of the PLO, was the grand mufti’s nephew and admirer.

Today, the Palestinian Authority, which controls the West Bank, and Hamas, which controls Gaza, are locked in a struggle for control of Palestinians’ destiny. They agree on precious little, but gleefully play their Nazi cards. PA President Mahmoud Abbas completed his doctoral dissertation in Russia, defended it at the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, and published it in 1984 under the title, The Other Side: the Secret Relationship Between Nazism and Zionism.

Claiming that six million Jewish deaths at the hands of the Nazis is “a gross exaggeration,” the book also argued that Zionists collaborated with Nazis in planning the Holocaust. Though he has since admitted that six million Jews were murdered by the Nazis, the themes of Abbas’ book resonate throughout the PA’s educational and propaganda apparatuses, and according to the Center for Near East Policy Research Center “is the basis for Holocaust studies in the PA.”

Hamas’ claims to Hitler bona fides are not inconsiderable.

Hamas is an offshoot of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, founded in 1928 by schoolteacher Hassan al-Banna, who modeled his organization on both Mussolini’s sqaudristi and Hitler’s brownshirts.

Hamas’ founder, Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, a disciple of Banna and admirer of Hitler, was also inspired by “the brigand sheikh” ’Izz al-Din al-Kassam whose followers killed Jews during the 1936-1939 Palestine Uprising and then joined the grand mufti in providing the Nazis with Middle Eastern operatives during World War II.

Regarding Hamas’ 1988 founding charter, which relies heavily in the notorious Protocols of the Elders of Zion, historian Robert Wistrich concludes that it “could have been written by a committee of experts composed of Adolf Hitler, Joseph Goebbels, Henry Ford and a bevy of French, Austrian, Polish or Russian anti-Semites.”

Memo to Middle East brokers – from the EU to Secretary of State Kerry: Diplomats may draft treaties but only people can make peace. Until Palestinians liberate themselves from their infatuation with the swastika and the dream of a Judenrein Palestine, there will be no hope for this generation of Palestinians and Israelis to live side-byside in peace and security.

Rabbi Abraham Cooper is associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center.

Dr. Harold Brackman, a historian, is a consultant to The Simon Wiesenthal Center.

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