As the world has watched, transfixed, at the cascade of horrific images coming out of southern Israel, we strain for an appropriate comparison. How can we understand an ideology that motivates terrorists to butcher over 1,400 men, women, and children in a single day, torturing 80% of their victims and perpetrating mass rapes so brutal that they shattered leg and pelvic bones? U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, who was commander of U.S. forces in the Middle East during the campaign against ISIS, said the outrages that Hamas committed were “worse than ISIS.”
There is only one real model for the force that just killed the most Jews on a single day since the Holocaust, and that, of course, is the Nazi Einsatzgruppen themselves, who initiated the slaughter of 6 million Jews in Europe. In fact, the similarities are more than incidental, as a strain of Nazi-inspired antisemitism has always been inculcated in the Palestinian national movement. For peace to come, that will have to change.
In 1921, Herbert Samuel, the Jewish Briton who was High Commissioner of the British Palestine Mandate, unwisely gave in to pressure to appoint Haj Amin al-Husseini, a leader of the 1920 anti-Jewish riots, as Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, the supreme Islamic religious authority in the country. The Mufti went on to engineer bloody riots against the Jewish presence in the Holy Land in 1929 (murdering 67 Jews in Hebron) and 1936-39 (killing about 415 Jews).
After the 1936 violence, the British finally dismissed al-Husseini from his position, at which point he traveled to the Third Reich and met with Hitler. He became a recruiter for the Nazi SS among the Muslim population of the Balkans. In a 1943 letter to the Mufti, SS Chief Heinrich Himmler wrote that the Nazi leadership “has been closely following the battle of freedom-seeking Arabs – and especially in Palestine – against the Jewish invaders.”
According to Faiz Bei Adrisi, senior Arab officer in the Mandate police and commander of the village subdistrict of the Jerusalem district, al-Husseini told him that his plan in the event of an Axis victory was to “build in the Dotan Valley, near Nablus, giant crematoriums of the Auschwitz kind, to which the Jews of the Land of Israel, as well as the Jews of Iraq, Egypt, Yemen, Syria, Lebanon, and even North Africa, would be brought, so as to annihilate them with the methods used by the SS in the death camps of Europe.” When al-Husseini was laid to rest in Beirut in 1974, his spiritual godson Yasser Arafat – founder of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), which rules in the West Bank today – was his chief mourner.
This is the context for the prevalence of Nazi symbolism in Palestinian political culture. In the 2018 “Great March of Return,” Palestinian marchers adopted the symbol of the Nazi swastika alongside the Palestinian flag; swastikas have also been displayed at anti-Israel marches this year in cities like New York and London. The supposed moderate, PLO and Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas, has made a career of alternately denying and justifying the Holocaust, beginning with a doctoral thesis in the 1970s questioning the extent of the genocide and continuing into his comments of the last few weeks. Ironically, Abbas is also famous for slandering Israel with the Nazi-like behavior he doubts in the actual Nazis, as when he outlandishly accused Israel last year of committing “50 Holocausts” against the Palestinians.
If that is the leadership of the PA, which craves international respectability and depends economically on Western aid, the Iranian-controlled terrorist group Hamas doesn’t even attempt to hide its racist and genocidal ideology. The founding Hamas Covenant calls for the destruction of Israel and the killing of the world’s Jews. Just as the Nazi “Final Solution” to the existence of Jewish people was the extermination of the entire Jewish nation, Hamas today advocates the same goal.
The Hamas-run education system trumpets incitement against Jews, urges children to become suicide bombers, and glorifies Hitler’s Mein Kampf and the Tsarist secret police forgery “Protocols of the Elders of Zion” as textbooks. It’s no accident that since Hamas seized control of the Strip in 2007, an entire generation of Gazans has been brainwashed to be capable or accepting of atrocities against Jews, any more than the Nazi psychological effect on the populations under its control was accidental.
So, everything ends where it began. The Nazis burned Jews in ovens; on October 7, that day of barbarism, Hamas terrorists baked a baby to death in the parents’ oven while repeatedly raping the screaming mother. Behold the power of an idea. The Nazi ideology of hatred was never fully squelched but allowed to fester right where it could do the most harm – among the neighbors of the Jewish state itself.
In allowing the PLO and Hamas to take root in soil that had formerly been under Israeli control, Israel – under world and especially American pressure – made a catastrophic mistake. Israel and the world community must now do for the Palestinian people what the Allies did for the Germans nearly eighty years ago – help us liberate ourselves from Nazism. Only by firmly defeating this wicked ideology once and for all can both the Jewish and Palestinian people finally know peace and security.