Nine part must-read series that details the influence of the propaganda arena in the war between the Palestinian Arabs and Israeli Jews
Part II of The War of Words (for part I, click here)
As German historian Peter Longerich explained, when Hitler met the Grand Mufti on November 28, 1941 at the Reich Chancellery in Berlin, Hitler informed him that Germany was “resolved to urge one European nation after the other, step by step, to contribute to the solution of the Jewish problem, and when the time comes to non- European peoples with a similar appeal.” He would “carry on the fight until the total destruction of the Jewish-Communist European,” and in the “not too distant future” his army would reach the southern tip of the Caucasus and into the Middle East after defeating the Russians.
Hitler assured the mufti, who from 1941 to 1945 lived in Berlin as an honored guest of the Third Reich, Germany had no imperial designs in the Arab world. The country’s only goal was to liberate the Arabs. “The German objective would be solely the destruction of Jews residing in the Arab sphere under the protection of British power.” Although this declaration should be viewed from a pragmatic military perspective, Longerich noted that it demonstrates that Hitler’s vison of extermination of the Jews at this point already went beyond Europe.
Hitler viewed the mufti as a “sly old fox,” and ascribed his “quite exceptional wisdom” to the likelihood of “Aryan” blood according to Israeli historian Robert Wistrich. “With his blond hair and blue eyes,” Hitler speculated, “he gives the impression that he is, in spite of his sharp and mouse-like countenance, a man with more than one Aryan among his ancestors and one who may well be descended from the best Roman stock.” (See Haaretz: Never-before-seen Photos of Palestinian Mufti With Hitler Ties Visiting Nazi Germany)
Special Office Established for the Mufti to Transmit Arabic-language Broadcasts
The Germans established a special office for the mufti in Berlin, with branches in Germany, Greece, Japan and Italy. Arabic-language broadcasts were transmitted to Turks, Arabs, Persians, and Indians from Zeesen, a village south of Berlin observed German political scientist Matthias Küntzel. The Oriental Service, with a staff of 80, including announcers and translators, had “absolute priority” over all other foreign language service broadcasts. From 1939 to 1945, when most of the Arab world listened to radio broadcasts in cafes and pubic arenas, the Zeesen service was the most popular. Küntzel added that antisemitic propaganda was cleverly mixed with Arab music and passages from the Koran, all supervised by the mufti.
Nazi leaders considered radical antisemitism and anti-Zionism as an “indispensable” means of engaging the “hearts and minds” of Muslims and Arabs observes historian Jeffrey Herf. He noted that in the radio broadcast to the people of Egypt on July 2, 1942, the mufti said that the initial successes in North Africa of German Field Marshal Erwin Rommel, commander of the Deutsches Afrika Korps, “filled all Arabs in the whole Orient with joy.” The English and the Jews were “common enemies” of the Arabs and Axis powers, who were now waging a war against the Bolsheviks. With the possibility of Germany occupying Egypt, the mufti saw a parallel between Egypt’s attempt to free itself from British imperialistic domination with the struggle of the Palestinian Arabs against the “concentrated British power and its alliance with the Jews.”
Killing Jews—A Religious Imperative
On July 7, 1942 at 8:15 p.m., Herf discovered a Voice of Free Arabism program that aired a segment called "Kill the Jews Before They Kill You,” which started with a lie: "A large number of Jews residing in Egypt and a number of Poles, Greeks, Armenians, and Free French have been issued with revolvers and ammunition" to fight "against the Egyptians at the last moment, when Britain is forced to evacuate Egypt." The broadcast continued:
Kill the Jews, who have appropriated your wealth and who are plotting against your security. Arabs of Syria, Iraq, and Palestine, what are you waiting for?
"In the face of this barbaric procedure by the British we think it best, if the life of the Egyptian nation is to be saved, that the Egyptians rise as one man to kill the Jews before they have a chance of betraying the Egyptian people. It is the duty of the Egyptians to annihilate the Jews and to destroy their property. … You must kill the Jews, before they open fire on you. Kill the Jews, who have appropriated your wealth and who are plotting against your security. Arabs of Syria, Iraq, and Palestine, what are you waiting for? The Jews are planning to violate your women, to kill your children and to destroy you. According to the Muslim religion, the defense of your life is a duty which can only be fulfilled by annihilating the Jews. This is your best opportunity to get rid of this dirty race, which has usurped your rights and brought misfortune and destruction on your countries. Kill the Jews, burn their property, destroy their stores, and annihilate these base supporters of British imperialism. Your sole hope of salvation lies in annihilating the Jews before they annihilate you."
This program combined secular allegations with a plea to the religious mandates of Islam, which was unusual in that it clearly expressed murder—intentions, Herf said, only implied in other statements about the unprincipled and unscrupulous Jews and their unbridled power.
Following the American landings in North Africa in November 1942, the mufti assailed the US in a broadcast in Arabic to North Africa on November 26, 1942. The speech is a remarkable example of how the Nazis adapted their propaganda to Arab and Muslim audience, Herf continues. He accused the “Jews and capitalists” of pressuring the US to expand the war in order to increase their own influence and wealth from energy resources in newly acquired territories.
The North Africans, the mufti said, “know very well what unhappiness the Jews have brought them. They know that the Jews are the vanguard fighters of imperialism that mistreated North Africa for so long. They [North Africans] also know the extent to which the Jews served the imperialist as spies and agents and how they seek the energy resources of North Africa to expand their wealth…The American intervention in North Africa strengthens the power of the Jews, increases their influence, and doubles their misdeeds. America is the greatest agent of the Jews, and the Jews are rulers in America.
The mufti urged Arabs and Muslims throughout the world, including those living in the US, to become a fifth column and carry out acts of sabotage against the Allies and kill Jews wrote Joseph B. Schechtman, chairman of the World Council of the Zionist Revision Movement. The mufti claimed helping the Axis powers was imperative for the Arabs, even if it meant martyrdom. If they were willing to demonstrate adequate sacrifice, God would ensure their success. Should England prevail, “Israel would rule the whole world, the Arabian fatherland would suffer an unholy blow, and the Arab countries would be torn apart and turned into Jewish colonies.” Only when England and her allies were vanquished, would “the Jewish danger” to the Arabs be swept away.