November 1944. World War Two is moving towards its close, and an Allied victory is assured. From Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force (SHAEF), a document is issued setting forth one of the major war aims of the United Nations - the de-Nazification of Germany.
“It is the declared war aim of the United Nations to extirpate both Nazism and militarism in Germany”, reads the introductory paragraph. The document proceeds to set out the objectives, which in brief were to destroy the Nazi Party, its political organizations and government agencies; to purge and re-organize the police; and to dismiss from government offices and other positions of influence all active Nazis, their sympathizers and leading military figures.Very shortly after the end of the war, the program was set in train.
Why was it done? Because Nazism, with its wild-eyed philosophy of Aryan racial superiority, its virulent anti-semitism, its brutal disregard for human rights, its cynical manipulation of the law to serve its own ends, was seen as a virus that had infected the German state and its population, and had to be eliminated.
The program was fraught with enormous difficulties. It was only made possible because the Allies had won total victory and extracted an unconditional surrender from Germany.
Hamas is an extremist military organization that shares much of the Nazi philosophy. It is an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, whose leaders in the 1930s and 1940s not only supported, but were actively involved in carrying through, the Nazi’s ”Final Solution to the Jewish problem” – the Holocaust.
As Professor David Patterson demonstrates in a recent article, the jihadists’ virulent hatred of Jews can be traced back to three founding fathers of Sunni extremism: Muslim Brotherhood founder Hassan al-Banna, jihadist ideologue Sayyd Quth, and the leader of the Palestinian Arabs from the 1920s to the 1940s, the Jerusalem mufti Hajj Amin Husseini.
Al-Banna was an open admirer of Hitler and Nazi methods of anti-semitic propaganda; modern jihadists take their lead from him. They not only repeatedly quote the long-discredited forgery The Protocols of the Elders of Zion as proof of a world-wide Jewish conspiracy, but deny the Holocaust.
Sayyd Quth followed the Nazi ideologue Alfred Rosenberg in arguing that all Jews were evil and must be annihilated. The Nazis contended that Jews were poisoning the Aryan race; Quth provided an Islamist slant by asserting that Jews were “by nature determined to fight God’s truth and sow corruption and confusion.” Just like the Nazis, he argued, the jihadists must eliminate this source of evil that threatens all humanity. In short, hatred of Jews and their extermination is obligatory for Muslims, as it was for Nazis.
The Sunni jihadist who more than any other espoused the Nazis’ loathing of Jews, and their aim of exterminating them, was Hajj Amin al-Husseini, the one-time mufti of Jerusalem. “He who kills a Jew is assured of a place in the next world” was his rallying cry to the Arabs of Palestine in 1929, when they rose against the British mandate government and went on a frenzy of killing.
Just two months after Hitler became Chancellor of Germany, Husseini met the Nazi general consul in Jerusalem, Heinrich Wolff, and arranged for the Nazis to provide support for the Muslim Brotherhood. He later indicated that the Arab revolt that he instigated in 1936, starting with rioting against the Jews of Jaffa, was engineered with the help of the Nazis.
In October 1937, shortly after the Peel Commission had recommended partition as the best way to resolve the Arab-Jewish conflict, Husseini had his first meeting with Adolf Eichmann head of the Gestapo’s Department of Jewish Affairs. By November 1941 he was in Germany, conferring with Hitler. Before the end of the year, Husseini again met Eichmann, now responsible for carrying out the “Final Solution”. Eichmann’s deputy later stated that the mufti was directly involved in its initiation and execution, and in advising Heinrich Himmler, head of the SS and its architect.
On 2 November 1943, at a rally in the Luftwaffe Hall in Berlin, Husseini declared, “The Germans know how to get rid of the Jews. They have definitely solved the Jewish problem. [This makes] our friendship with Germany permanent and lasting…” In a series of broadcasts, he proclaimed that there are “considerable similarities between Islamic principles and those of National Socialism.” He enjoined Muslims to “kill the Jews wherever you find them.”
As the war turned against Germany, Husseini began to fear that it might end before the extermination of the Jews could be accomplished. He wrote to Himmler twice, urging greater speed in completing the enterprise.
Exemplified by Hamas, the modern jihadist movement has remained faithful to its origins. expands on the theme of the God-approved duty of every Muslim to kill Jews. A good Muslim mother must prepare her children for the fighting that awaits them, for, as article 28 asserts: “The Zionist invasion of the world…[aims] at undermining societies, destroying values…and annihilating Islam. Israel, Judaism and Jews challenge Islam and the Muslim people.”
The essential pre-requisite for a de-Hamasification program in the Gaza strip would be a decisive victory by Israel following a ground invasion, but also a well-conceived, comprehensive and fully worked-out plan, prepared and ready to put into execution. Only half the necessary elements were in place when the de-Ba’athification program was initiated in Iraq back in May 2003 by the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA). The goal was to remove the Ba'ath Party's influence in the new Iraqi political system, and accordingly all public sector employees affiliated with the Ba'ath Party were removed from their positions and banned from future employment in the public sector. The policy was less than fully successful mainly because the CPA had no plans in place to fill the vacuum in administration it had created. The policy was officially rescinded a year later, but the current problems afflicting the Iraqi government are partly ascribable to a continuation of the anti-Sunni program under the Shia prime minister, Nouri al-Malaki.
The de-Ba’athification exercise is an object lesson in how not to proceed in the case of Gaza. In any case the current conflict may not provide the opportunity to initiate a de-Hamasification program. International pressure to agree a cease-fire may pre-empt a complete Israeli victory. A cease-fire would, however, simply provide a breathing space allowing Hamas to regroup and re-arm in preparation for the next encounter.
Limited conflicts followed by ineffective cease-fires cannot go on for ever. If not on this occasion, the time will eventually arrive when Israel will be forced to undertake an all-out effort aimed at achieving a decisive victory over Hamas. That is when it should seize the opportunity to purge the malevolent Hamas philosophy root and branch, extirpate its Nazi-based anti-Jew, anti-Judaism and anti-Israel ideology from within the Palestinian body politic, and dislodge its leaders and adherents from their positions of power within Gaza.
The writer is the author of One Year in the History of Israel and Palestine (2011) and writes the blog “A Mid-East Journal” (www.a-mid-east-journal.blogspot.com)