Tuesday, June 07, 2005

From Zeesen to Beirut: Matthias Küntzel on the Nazi Roots of Arab Anti-Semitism

In Zeesen, a town with some four thousand inhabitants to the south of Berlin, once stood one of the world's most powerful shortwave transmitters. From 1939 onward, it broadcast its daily Arabic-language program. Of all the foreign-language services, the Oriental Service had "absolute priority. It reached out to Arabs, Turks, Persians, and Indians and had an eighty-strong staff, including freelance announcers and translators." Between 1939 and 1945, at a time when, in the Arab world, listening to the radio took place primarily in public squares or bazaars and coffee houses, no other station was more popular than the Zeesen service, which skillfully mingled anti-Semitic propaganda with quotations from the Koran and Arabic music. The Allies in the Second World War were presented as lackeys of the Jews and the notion of the "United Jewish Nations" drummed into the audience. At the same time, the Jews were attacked as the worst enemies of Islam. "The Jew since the time of Mohammed has never been a friend of the Muslim, the Jew is the enemy and it pleases Allah to kill him." Today, this same message is being put out on satellite by Hizbollah's Al- Manar TV channel. So what are the historical connections between the shortwave transmitter in Zeesen and the Beirut satellite channel?

Thus writes Matthias Küntzel in the introduction to his "National Socialism and Anti-Semitism in the Arab World", previously only available in German and now avaliable in English thanks to the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. Matthias Kuntzel's article details the role of Nazi Germany in transplanting European anti-Semitism to the Arab World - notably via the Nazi-supported Mufti of Jerusalem and Zeesen service collaborator Haj Amin el-Husseini - and in the promotion of the Muslim Brotherhood. It also reveals disturbing evidence of continued complicities between the Islamist anti-Semites of Lebanon's Hizbollah and one of the most powerful foreign policy levers of Germany's (still) ruling Social Democratic Party: the publicly-funded Friedrich Ebert Foundation (previously encountered on Trans-Int here, here, and here.)

Essential reading. The link is here.