Antisemitism, the root of the problem, interview with Matthias Küntzel

Matthias Küntzel is an aknowledged scholar in the field of studies which analyze the links between antisemitism, contemporary jihad and Islamism.

He is the author of a  seminal book like, “Jihad and Jew-Hatred: Islamism, Nazism and the roots of 9/11” winner of the Grand Prize at the London Book Festival in 2007. In 2016 he published “Germany and Iran: From the Aryan Axis to the Nuclear Treshold”.

His latest book, “Nazis, Islamic Antisemitism and the Middle East, The 1948 Arab War Against Israel and the Aftershocks of World War II” has just been published.

L’Informale has interviewed him.

This interview cannot but start with what has happened on the 7th of October in Israel, the worst massacre on Jewish people from the end of Second World War. As a scholar of jihadism and jihadist movements where you surprised by the ferocity of Hamas? 

I was particularly surprised by the incredible gaps in the Israeli security system. That Islamists go into a bloodlust with defenseless Jews and behave barbarically was well known. In the Koran, Jews are dehumanized several times; this holy scripture calls on Muslims to behead or burn them. 

In your latest book, Nazis, Islamic Antisemitism and the Middle East, you describe the 1948 Arab war against Israel as an aftershock following the Nazi war against the Jews of 1945. Can you expand the concept? 

Nazi Germany flooded the Arab world with antisemitic radio propaganda in Arabic on a daily basis between 1939 and 1945. This created an extremely distorted image of Jews in the Arab world. In 1947 the United Nations decided on the partition plan for Palestine. I show in my book that most of the leaders in the Arab world at that time did not want the fateful 1948 war against Israel. However, they were overtaken by a mass antisemitic sentiment, further fueled by the Muslim Brotherhood and Amin el-Husseini, the Mufti of Jerusalem. Between 1946 and 1948, the genocidal anti-Zionism that the Nazis had spread until 1945 found an extremely effective echo. Because of this ideological proximity, I interpret the war of 1948 as an aftershock that followed the Nazi war against the Jews. 

In your last book you consider Islam and Judaism, an inflammatory antisemite pamphlet published in 1937 in Cairo “the founding text of Islamic antisemitism”. Why? 

Because the pamphlet “Islam and Judaism”, which the Nazis distributed 10,000-fold and in several languages, and which I document in my new book, is the first important document combining Islamic Jew-hatred from the 7th century (Muhammad’s alleged experiences with the Jews of Medina) with European Jew-hatred of the 20th century. The combination of the worst images of Jews from Islam with the worst images of Jews from Christianity – that is what I call “Islamic antisemitism”. 

According to Robert Wistrich, in his magnus opus, A lethal obsession, the exterminatory war against the Jews was to be carried on beyond the European continent once the German armies had reached the southern exit of Caucasia. By then the objective of Germany would have been the destruction of the Jewish element residing in the Arab sphere. There is no difference in this objective from what Arabs tried to do inn 1948, 1967 and 1973, and what is the main aim of Hamas. Do you agree? 

I disagree. In 1948, 1967 and 1973 it was about the extermination of Israel, but not about the killing of all Jews in the Arab world. We must differentiate: Gamal Abdel Nasser did not justify the war he waged in 1967 on religious grounds, but on “anti-imperialist” grounds, which were related to his closeness to the Soviet Union and his hatred of the Muslim Brotherhood. Hamas, in turn, is the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood. Its antisemitism most resembles the antisemitism of the Nazis. 

The Hamas Charter of 1988 is a deeply antisemitic text, a ghastly blending of Islamic Jew hatred and Western antisemitism. What is the connection between this paranoid and extremist political manifesto and how Iran perceives Israel? 

On the subject of Israel, the goals of the Hamas charter are identical to those of the Iranian regime. 

The morbid fascination with martyrdom in Sunni and Shia culture provide the perfect setting for a culture of death and apocalyptic visions. How seriously must the West take this way of thinking? 

Hamas calls its war a “religious war” and massacres people in the name of Allah and his prophet. As long as the West remains ignorant of this dimension of the war, all its efforts to stop the global pro-Hamas camp are doomed to failure. For example, the Western media ignored the fact that the influential Al-Azhar mosque in Cairo renounced any criticism of the Hamas massacre in its October 11 statement, although this was a decision of the highest political importance. 

In your work you have been very clear in not washing away Islamic antisemitism and in your last book you write, “Even if Israel disappeared antisemitism would remain”. There are many people, especially on the left, and not a few in Israel also, who think that if there will be another tiny Arab State alongside Israel, the main reason of  the conflict will be addressed and things will indeed improve. It doesn’t seem you are among them. Am I right?

In 2014, the Anti-Defamation League found in a global survey that over 90 percent of people in Gaza and the West Bank are antisemitic. Until this changes radically, every tiny Arab state alongside Israel will want to destroy the Jewish state. Nothing would change.   Many believe that antisemitism is caused by Jewish behavior. But this is absolute nonsense. Thousands of Jews had to die, although the claimed ritual murders never happened. Millions died in the Holocaust – without any plausible reason. Nor do the recent massacres have anything to do with Jewish or Israeli wrongdoing. They were intended, on the contrary, to torpedo Israel’s efforts to reconcile with the Arab world and to bring greater prosperity to the Gaza Strip. They were successful in that regard. 

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