Barry Rubin and Wolfgang G. Schwanitz

May 11, 2014

Nazis, Islamists, and the Making of the Modern Middle East

Yale University Press 2014

purchase at bookshop.org This book tells a remarkable and--to me at least--little known but very important story. In Nazis, Islamists, and the Making of the Modern Middle East(Yale UP, 2014), Barry Rubin and Wolfgang G. Schwanitz trace the many connections between Germany--Imperial and Nazi--and the Arab world. Their particular focus is on a fellow named Amin al-Husseini, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem between from 1921 to 1948. Both Al-Husseini and, a bit later, Hitler inherited a project hatched by the German officials in World War I, namely, to start an Islamist Jihad against the Western Powers in the Middle East. The two found common cause in this project: al Husseini wanted the French and British out and Hitler wanted to Germany to dominate the region. But they were also united by another cause: eliminationist Jew-hatred. Al-Husseini and Hitler worked together throughout the war to murder and plan the murder of as many Jews as they could get their hands on. After the war al-Husseini denied any connection with Hitler, yet he continued their common anti-Western, anti-Jewish project. Al-Husseini enlisted many former Nazis for just this purpose. In the late 1940s al-Husseini remained influential, not only among Palestinian Arabs, but widely in the Middle East. That influence, so Rubin and Schwanitz show, can be seen in the actions of many post-war Arab nationalist and Islamist leader--right down to today.

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