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Are Hamas terrorists Nazis?

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Are Hamas terrorists Nazis?



Earlier this month, in an interview with the BBC, President Isaac Herzog produced an Arabic translation of Adolf Hitler’s antisemitic manifesto Mein Kampf. According to the president, the book was in the possession of a Hamas terrorist killed by Israeli security forces in Gaza. 

This book adds a new dimension to a debate about whether the massacre of Israeli residents by Hamas terrorists on October 7 can be compared to the Holocaust, raising questions about the ideological motivations of the perpetrators. 

“After the massacre and atrocities committed by Hamas terrorists on October 7 – the day on which the largest number of Jews were murdered since the Holocaust – this is another revelation that testifies to the sources of inspiration of the terrorist organization, Hamas, and proves once again that all its actions have the same goal as the Nazis – the destruction of Jews,” declared Herzog during the interview. 

In other words, the president suggests that the atrocities committed by Hamas in early October, at least in part, were motivated by the same anti-Jewish worldview that underpinned the genocide of six million Jews by the Nazis.

Influence of the Nazi worldview on the Middle East

A body of scholars has long established the influence of European Nazi ideology on hostility toward Jews in the Islamic world and the Palestinian movement. Hamas is the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood. Founded in 1928 by schoolteacher and imam Hassan al-Banna, it is often considered the organization that pioneered Islamism. 

HAMAS CHARTER: A movement member in Gaza brandishes a copy. (credit: Abid Katib/Getty Images)

“From 1935 onward, the Brotherhood sent delegations to the Nazis’ rallies in Nuremberg,” notes Prof. David Patterson, chair of Holocaust Studies at the University of Dallas, in a recent article published on the website of the Institute for the Study of Global Antisemitism and Policy. 

In his study “Nazi Propaganda for the Arab World,” historian Jeffery Herf reviews verbatim records of Arabic antisemitic radio programs produced by the German Nazi regime that were broadcast from Berlin to the Middle East between 1939 and 1945. The creation of these transmissions in Arabic represents an important part of the infamous collaboration between Hitler and Palestinian leader Haj Amin Al Husseini, known as the Mufti of Jerusalem. 

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Hitler’s people joined forces with the Mufti’s followers to create a form of propaganda intertwining Muslim and Western anti-Jewish ideas. German historian Matthias Küntzel adds that similar adaptations of Nazi propaganda in Persian were broadcast in Iran. According to him, while building on and catering to preexisting anti-Jewish currents in Muslim culture, this Arabic and Persian Nazi propaganda infected the Middle East with the radical and genocidal Jew-hatred of European providence that, until then, had been alien to the Muslim world. 

The historian sees a direct connection between this export of Nazi ideology to the Middle East and the Black Shabbat of 2023: “Hamas’s antisemitism follows the tradition of the National Socialist genocidal ideology,” writes Küntzel in an editorial for the German weekly Jungle World a few days later.

Disputes about ideological motivations behind the massacres of October 7

In contrast to Küntzel, Uria Shavit, a professor of Islamic studies at Tel Aviv University, doubts that the Hamas assaults of October 7 were driven by antisemitism. “Those crimes were not committed out of antisemitic motives but territorial ones, and certainly cannot be compared to what happened in Auschwitz,” writes the researcher in a recent analysis published on Tel Aviv University’s website. 

Shavit could, arguably, draw corroboration to support his viewpoint from the fact that the lines highlighted on one page of the Arabic copy of Mein Kampf, displayed by Herzog during the BBC interview, don’t say anything about the Jews. Instead, they pertain to the Nazi leaders’ plea for German national unity and territorial integrity, while discussing the conditions under which it would be permissible for Germany to engage in colonial conquests. 

However, spokespersons for the president and the IDF were unable to provide further details about this copy of Hitler’s tome. Accordingly, we simply don’t know if other sections featuring the Führer’s anti-Jewish views were marked as well. Just the first page of the book was presented to the media; and according to an army spokesperson, to date, this copy of Mein Kampf is the only one found in Gaza.

Contrary to Shavit’s thesis that the Hamas assaults were driven by concerns about territory rather than antisemitism, Haaretz columnist Anshel Pfeffer observes that the “Hamas charter is a genocidal document aimed at eradicating Jews, not Israelis or Zionists.” Likewise, Yad Vashem’s historic adviser Dina Porat, also writing in Haaretz, notes that “much as Nazi ideology did… [the Hamas] charter blames the Jews for the ills of the entire world.”

Criticism of comparisons between Hamas assaults and the Holocaust 

It should be noted that both Pfeffer and Porat cast a critical perspective on such comparisons. They do so largely on the grounds of the different historical circumstances under which the two events occurred. Like Yad Vashem chairman Dani Dayan in a Newsweek editorial earlier this month, Pfeffer and Porat contrast the helplessness of Jews as a stateless people in the time of the Shoah with the current existence of a Jewish state and its defense force. 

Based on this view, Pfeffer criticized Israel’s UN Ambassador Gilad Erdan for wearing a yellow Star of David while addressing the massacre during a session of the UN General Assembly late last month. In his article, Pfeffer quotes Dani Dayan’s rebuke of Erdan’s General Assembly appearance on X (formerly Twitter): “The yellow star symbolizes the Jewish people’s helplessness and the Jews being at the mercy of others. Today we have an independent state and a strong army. We are the masters of our fate. Today we shall wear a blue-white flag, not a yellow star.”

Without relating to the Erdan incident (her article was published before the occurrence), Porat opines that comparisons of the Hamas attacks and the Holocaust are “acceptable” but adds that “comparisons between Hamas and the Islamic State may soon replace references to the Holocaust, or at least be voiced at the same time. And that may well be a more apt comparison.”

Islamic State or Nazism: Which movement can Hamas be compared with?

Since October 7, Hamas has been compared with the Islamic State terror group at least as frequently as with the Nazis. Some political leaders are not shy to use both comparisons at the same time, arguably to simply highlight the gruesome nature of the Hamas atrocities. Yet ISIS didn’t single out Jews as the exclusive victims of its attacks. Hence, comparing Hamas with ISIS, strictly speaking, implies a different assessment of the Palestinian terror group’s ideological background than when comparing it with the Nazis.

Be that as it may, both Pfeffer and Porat recognize connections between the Hamas and the Nazi ideologies, and they appear to agree that the struggle of Hamas is not simply about Palestinian national liberation but rather about a view of Jews as an incarnation of cosmic evil that must be challenged.

This point is also emphasized by David Patterson, who suggests that “for both Hitler and [Muslim Brotherhood founder Hassan] al-Banna, the first principle is not that all Jews are evil but that all evil is Jewish. Therefore, the Jews must be hated and ultimately exterminated. For the jihadists of the Brotherhood, it is, indeed, a holy act pleasing to God and therefore a religious duty.”

This genocidal variety of Jew-hatred, predicated on the assumption that Jews represent an omnipotent incarnation of cosmic evil, according to Küntzel, was brought to the Middle East by the Nazis.

Differences between European and Middle Eastern traditions of Jew-hatred

This viewpoint is not blind to the fact that the anti-Jewish elements in Muslim culture predate the Nazis’ Middle Eastern propaganda campaign. As historian Jeffery Herf states: “Radical antisemitism did not enter Arab and Islamic politics because of the cleverness of Nazi propagandists; on the contrary, their cleverness lay partly in understanding that some currents in Arab politics and the religion of Islam offered points of entry for a positive reception of Nazism’s message.” 

However, drawing on the findings of Bernard Lewis, Küntzel suggests that traditionally, Muslim denigration of Jews has been predicated on the idea of Jews as being inferior and ridiculous beings rather than being all-powerful. In contrast, the idea of Jews as a powerful satanic force, expressed in notions of world Jewish conspiracy, is based on the Christian idea that the Jews committed deicide, killing their god.

Paraphrasing Lewis once more, Küntzel suggests that, whereas in Muslim tradition it was the prophet who defeated the Jews, Christians believed the Jews murdered the prophet. This difference led to two different forms of anti-Jewish worldview. It was the Christian notion that inspired the genocidal worldview of the Nazis. And it was the Nazis who brought this idea to the Middle East, where it merged into the worldview of the Muslim Brotherhood and, in turn, into the ideology of Hamas.

The myth of Jewish conspiracy in Hamas worldview

According to Herf, “The Nazis taught the Arab exiles the finer points of 20th-century antisemitic conspiracy thinking and how to apply it to ongoing events in the Middle East.” 

This is evident in the appropriation of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion as it can be found in Article 22 of the charter of Hamas: “Thus [the Jews], by means of their money, have taken over the international… media… they used their money to incite revolutions… all over the world for their own interests… They were behind the French Revolution, the Communist Revolution, and most of the revolutions we have heard about. They used their money to found secret organizations and scattered them all over the globe to destroy other societies and realize the interests of Zionism… In fact, they were behind the First World War, through which they achieved the abolishment of the Islamic caliphate.”

Clearly, the quote echoes The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, the myth of a Jewish conspiracy responsible for all the evils in the world. Fabricated by pro-Zarist Christian reactionaries in early 20th-century Russia, the authors blamed the progressive movements of Communism and the French Revolution – which they opposed – on the Jews. The Hamas charter draws on this to blame the Jews for the loss of the Islamic caliphate and other Muslim and Palestinian concerns.

Hamas’s hate crimes and world antisemitism

A shocking testimony of the vicious hate that underpinned the Black Shabbat, circulated in the international media, features an audio recording of a telephone conversation between a Hamas terrorist in the southern Kibbutz Mefalsim and his parents in Gaza on the day of the massacre. 

“Look how many I have killed… Open your WhatsApp and now you’ll see all those killed! Look how many. I killed them with my own hands! Dad, I am talking from a Jewish woman’s phone. I killed her and I killed her husband. I killed them with my own hands! Dad, 10 with my own hands!” 

While we cannot say with certainty which combination of beliefs, drugs, and other factors were at work to ignite the frenzy of the terrorists, it is not hard to see how the Nazi-style antisemitic worldview, blaming Jews for all the world’s evils, can stir such hatred. It certainly did so in 20th-century Germany, promoting the murder of six million Jews during the Holocaust. Given the strong inroads Nazi antisemitism made into Hamas ideology, it is not unlikely that it also played a role in motivating the October 7 attacks.

At the same time, we need to be concerned about the use of classic antisemitic tropes in reaction to the massacre and the war that it triggered, both in the West and in the Middle East. Invoking the antisemitic blood libel, an image of a vampire-toothed Benjamin Netanyahu consuming a Palestinian girl was displayed during a pro-Palestinian rally in Berlin a few weeks ago. 

During an anti-Israel rally in London, a participant held up a sign echoing The Protocols of the Elders of Zion’s myth of Jewish conspiracy. The sign read: “Wake up: Our Media TV and Government are controlled by Zionists. Zionists are Ruthless, Brutal Heartless.” These are just some examples that show how antisemitism continues to shape the view and distortion of current affairs.

An antisemitism researcher, the writer holds a PhD in sociology from the Hebrew University. In addition to working as a freelance journalist, he is a lecturer and Holocaust educator at Yad Vashem.





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ICJ: Settlements in West Bank, east Jerusalem are illegal

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ICJ: Settlements in West Bank, east Jerusalem are illegal



The International Court of Justice said on Friday it can give a non-binding advisory opinion on Israel’s ‘occupation’ of Palestinian territories, rejecting calls by Israel and a handful of other countries to refuse to give one.

The decision is expected to address the West Bank, east Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip as a single entity. 

The ICJ claimed that Israel’s settlement policies and exploitation of natural resources in the Palestinian territories were in breach of international law.

 





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US military aid may be withheld over alleged human rights abuses by haredi units – CNN

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US military aid may be withheld over alleged human rights abuses by haredi units – CNN



Former Commanders of Netzah Yehuda battalion have been allowed to climb IDF ranks despite the US State Department finding in April that five units within the battalion violated human rights in incidents pre-dating Hamas’s October 7 attack, CNN reported on Saturday. The department is now considering withholding military aid as some fail to remedy their behavior. 

While the CNN investigation explicitly looked at Netza Yehuda, current and former US officials said that the department was examining other IDF units as well. An additional three units were found to have committed human rights violations prior to October 7, the officials claimed.

Four of the five Netzah Yehuda units had, according to the department’s findings, had “effectively remediated” themselves. 

The United States reportedly considered withholding military aid from the remaining unit, which did not correct itself following the discovery of violations, but no decision has yet been made.

Awaiting the decision, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “If anyone thinks they can impose sanctions on a unit of the IDF, I will fight with all my strength.”

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken with Foreign Minister Israel Katz at the NATO Summit in Washington on June 10, 2024. (credit: MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS)

A department spokesperson told CNN that it had “concluded that several Israeli security force units were credibly implicated in gross violations of human rights” and that for four of those, the Israeli government had “taken effective steps to bring those responsible to justice.”

“We continue to assess reports of GVHRs by Israeli security forces, in accordance with the law, and all US security assistance to Israel is provided consistent with domestic and international law,” the spokesperson added.

 US Secretary of State Antony Blinken wrote to House Speaker Mike Johnson in a letter seen by CNN. In it, Blinken said the US was working with Israel “on identifying a path to effective remediation” for the Netzah Yehuda battalion. Blinken did not explicitly name the remaining unit.

About Netzah Yehuda and the controversy surrounding it 

The battalion was created in 1999 to facilitate ultra-Orthodox Jews’ religious requirements while they fulfilled their service in the military. 

The unit has been accused of abuses in the West Bank over the last 10 years. In one case, leading to the death of an elderly Palestinian-American man, CNN reported. Omar Assad, 78, was reportedly held gagged and bound. After freeing Assad, he was reportedly abandoned while unresponsive and died of a heart attack.

After investigating the death of Assad, the IDF concluded the incident was the result of “a moral failure and poor decision-making on the part of the soldiers.” It promised to see  Lt. Col. Mati Shevach reprimanded and the platoon commander and company commander removed from their positions. 

Shevach, despite being reprimanded for the incident, was later promoted to deputy commander of the Kfir Brigade, which oversees Netzah Yehuda. After two years in this role, Shevach transferred to a role allowing him to train forces at the military’s Urban Warfare Training Center.

In a similar case, Lt. Col. Nitai Okashi, who oversaw the Netzah Yehuda battalion from 2018 until 2020, received a number of promotions, which led him to commanding roles. These promotions were given despite 14 soldiers from his unit being arrested for assaulting a Bedouin man in the West Bank in 2019. In an earlier incident, Okashi spoke in support of some of his soldiers in court in January of that year after the soldiers were filmed beating and verbally abusing a father and son in the West Bank, CNN reported.

Asked to comment on the leadership mentioned in the above incidents, the IDF told, CNN “It should be noted that in relation to the events that took place in 2015 and 2019 … the involved had been indi,cted and the military court had imposed prison sentences in both cases, along with additional punishments.”

A former unit member told CNN that Palestinians were subjected to excessive and violent treatment by Netza Yehuda soldiers. The anonymous member also claimed that commanders encouraged vigilante violence against Palestinians.

The whistleblower feared that the promotion of commanders from Netza Yehuda into other battalions and roles would spread criminal behavior throughout the IDF.

“A lot of us probably did not see Arabs, Palestinians in particular, as someone with rights – okay, like they’re really the occupier of some of the land, and they need to be moved,” he said, explaining the mentality of the units.

The soldier added that his unit was well exercised in performing acts of “collective punishment [against] Palestinians.”

Responding to CNN’s request for comment on the alleged abuses, the IDF asserted that the battalion “operates in a professional and ethical manner” and that its soldiers and commanders “act according to the orders and protocols expected of soldiers in the IDF.” 

The IDF also assured CNN that it would investigate “every exceptional incident” that and would be responsible.

The other Israeli units accused of human rights violations

The Yamam unit was accused of violations over the killing of Ahmad Jamil Fahd, who was shot by counterterrorism forces in 2021 near Ramallah; the alleged shooting of Bedouin man Sanad Salaam al-Harbad by Israel Border Police in Rahat in March 2022 and the alleged rape of a teenager at the Russian Compound (Moscobiyya detention center) in Jerusalem in 2021 by an interrogator from the Israeli Internal Security Forces.

Former director of the State Department’s political-military affairs bu,reau Josh ,Paul told CNN that there was “not even the slightest basis” to believe the three aforementioned units had made efforts to reform. 

Speaking on the alleged rape of a teenage boy in custody during a previous interview, Paul said that the allegation was credible. He alleged a charity had informed the State Department of the allegation and that Israel proceeded to shut down the charity’s base shortly after. 

“Do you know what happened the next day? The IDF went into the [charity’s] offices and removed all their computers and declared them a terrorist entity,” Paul told CNN.

Alleged violations after October 7

CNN cited three examples of alleged violations conducted by the IDF after October 7. 

While admitting that CNN couldn’t verify the civilian death count provided by Hamas or Israel, it cited the successful hostage rescue mission, which saw four hostages released from captivity in June. The hostages were being held in the Nuseirat refugee camp, and a firefight between terrorists and the IDF during the rescue mission led to “under 100 deaths,” according to Israel. Hamas claimed the number of casualties to have reached over 270. However, Hamas has regularly inflated numbers and fails to distinguish between civilians and combatants.

In addition to the rescue mission, CNN reported Israeli Border Police shot and killed a 3-year-old Palestinian girl in the West Bank in January and a 12-year-old boy in east Jerusalem in March.

Paul told CNN that, under the Leahy Law (1997), the US would be prohibited from supplying military aid to foreign security units credibly implicated in human rights violations. 

“Had the US used the leverage that Leahy laws provide over the years to encourage the IDF to crack down on misbehavior and to snuff out its current culture of impunity, we would have seen at the very least a much stronger unit discipline at a tactical level,” said Paul.

Commanders, such as those promoted from the Netza Yehuda battalions, would also be under vetting under the Leahy Law.





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Starmer talks Gaza, Palestinian statehood in calls with Netanyahu, Abbas

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Starmer talks Gaza, Palestinian statehood in calls with Netanyahu, Abbas



Newly elected Prime Minister Kier Starmer put the Gaza war and a two-state solution high on his foreign policy agenda, with calls to both Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Sunday.

Starmer underscored Great Britain’s commitment to recognizing Palestinian statehood in his conversation with Abbas.

He noted that Great Britain could recognize Palestinian statehood during the process for a two-state solution rather than at the end of one.

It’s a stance that had been held by former Foreign Secretary David Cameron from the Conservative Party, but who had said that the time to do so was not now.

Starmer brought the issue up in his first phone call with Abbas. A readout of the call from 10 Downing Street framed it this way: “Discussing the importance of reform, and ensuring international legitimacy for Palestine, the Prime Minister said that his longstanding policy on recognition to contribute to a peace process had not changed, and it was the undeniable right of Palestinians.”

PA HEAD Mahmoud Abbas attends the World Economic Forum in Riyadh, last month. To rely on Abbas’s corrupt, impotent, poisonous, and terror-glorifying Palestinian Authority as a ruling alternative to Hamas would be insane, the writer argues. (credit: HAMAD I MOHAMMED/REUTERS)

Abbas affirmed his commitment to a two-state resolution to the conflict and underscored the importance of British unilateral recognition of Palestinian statehood, according to WAFA, the Palestine News & Information Agency.

WAFA further reported that newly appointed Foreign Secretary David Lammy would soon visit the region, including the West Bank.

Calls made by the UK’s new PM

Starmer’s calls with Netanyahu and Abbas were the 14th and 15th ones he made to heads of government or international blocs since taking office on Friday. His first call was to US President Joe Biden, his second was to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and his third was to European Union European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

The British politician swept into office on Friday as the head of the left-wing Labour Party, marking a dramatic upset for the United Kingdom which has been ruled by the right-wing Conservative Party since 2010. 

Starmer had worked since his wresting of the party’s helm from its former leader Jeremy Corbyn, to distance Labour from the anti-Israel and antisemitic accusations leveled against it during the Corbyn years. 

He alluded to that transformation in his victory speech on Thursday night, when he said it took four-and-a-half years to change the party.

“This is what it is for, a changed Labour Party,” he said.

Pundits have speculated that Starmer, whose wife Victoria is Jewish will maintain the strong Israeli-British ties, but would be more critical of Israel with respect to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Former British prime minister Rishi Sunak had been one of Israel’s staunch allies during these last nine months when it has fought Iranian proxies on its southern and northern borders.

Great Britain was also one of five armies that took to the skies in April to defend Israel against an Iranian drone and missile attack. 

Starmer told Netanyahu he looked forward to “further deepening the close relationship between the two countries” as the two men discussed the “importance of regional security in the Middle East,” according to Downing Street.

The British Prime Minister said he was “committed to continuing the UK and Israel’s vital cooperation to deter malign threats,” Downing Street said in its readout of the call. Starmer also said he was concerned by the cross-border violence between the IDF and Hezbollah as he called on all parties to act cautiously.

Lammy told Reuters he wanted a balanced position on the war in the Middle East and would use diplomatic efforts to ensure a ceasefire is reached and the remaining 120 hostages held by Hamas are released.

“The time has come for the United Kingdom to reconnect with the outside world,” Lammy said in an interview in Berlin.

“I want to get back to a balanced position on Israel and Gaza. We’ve been very clear that we want to see a ceasefire … We want to see those hostages out.”

He added: “The fighting has to stop, the aid has got to get in, and I will use all diplomatic efforts to ensure that we get to that ceasefire.”

Lammy did not elaborate.

Reuters contributed to this report.





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