[The intentions of the Jew] have been laid out in the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, and their present conduct is the best proof of what is said there.
The Hamas “Charter of Allah,” Article Thirty-Two
God gave the umma that is skilled in the practice of death. He has imposed jihad as a religious duty on every Muslim, categorically and rigorously, from which there is neither evasion nor escape. He has rendered it as a supreme object of desire, and has made the reward ofmartyrs and fighters in His way a splendid one.
Hasan al-Banna, “On Jihad”
In Part I of this four-part series on the Israeli Palestinian conflict, the argument was made that the remaining vestiges of the 100 year Arab Israeli conflict has effectively reverted to a religious struggle overlaid with a changeable notion of “Palestinian” nationalism, a notion not yet matured in its goals or in its evolution as mere opposition to Jewish sovereignty in the Levant.
This was done through a brief overview of Islam and Islamism as a direct adherence to the word of Muhammad, possessor of isma, divine immunity from sin and error, and the stated principles of Islam as Muhammad envisioned and practiced it: a religion that claimed the right to order all earthly affairs through Muhammad’s ostensible fusion of religion and politics (and warfare as an extension of politics). Part I ended with an exploration of Islam’s historic Judeophobia and Islam’s mandated discrimination against Jews (and Christians).
Part II will explore the nexus between this political element of Islamism inherent in the religion Islam, the jihadism it undertakes to achieve its ends and the nexus between conservative extremist Salafi-jihadism and right wing white supremacist extremism. Later sections will explore the connect between the Salafi-Wahabi influenced Muslim Brotherhood on the ruler of Gaza and Ramallah, Hamas and the PLO/Fatah/PA as it pertains to the ongoing Israeli Palestinian conflict.
The ideological similarities between jihadism and extremist white supremacism
At the outset, both jihadism and extremist white supremacism must be recognised as reactionary and conservative political movements and the most violent iterations of their respective belief systems.
Both treat any form of social or political progress, reform, change or democratic liberalization with great suspicion, viewing these as a threat to their power base(s). “In this sense, jihadists too are extreme right-wing actors even if they are rarely referred to in such terms.
Both movements share a similar underlying diagnosis for the ills of their respective societies, placing blame primarily on the forces of liberal progress, pluralism, democracy and tolerance.” (Meleagrou-Hitchens, 2021, 4)
Both groups have a sense of a collective identity anchored in a sense of superiority and a requirement where those on the outside are viewed as both inferior and inherently threatening. This is as true in its manifestation of what Tibi (Tibi, 2012: 54-55, Islamism and Islam) termed Muslim “Judeophobia” as it is of white supremacist antisemitism. Thus, National Socialist supremacist and Islamist Jihadi ideologies make reference to the “world Jewish hydra” that poisons humanity and must be opposed with extreme prejudice or holy war, jihad.
Both conservative groups have a strong sense of identity and belonging which is rooted in their narrative of a “glorious past”, but also as seeing themselves as part of a historic project dedicated to saving that past or the purity of their religion. As Kapustyan and Nelson put it with regard to the Jews, “The Islamic Resistance Movement considers itself to be the spearhead of the struggle with world Zionism” where what is actually a Jihadist struggle to control the world is cast in terms of saving the world. And Islam. (Kapustyan and Nelson, 2007, The Soul of Terror: The Worldwide Conflict between Islamic Terrorism and the Modern World, 147–48.)
Both Islamist jihadis and the white extremist movements are supremacist to the extent that they disavow the concept of other, and both hold similar views on the traditional gender roles of men and women in society.
Islamist jihadis and white supremacists both subscribe to the notion of conspiracism where outside evolution, revolutions and progress are a threat which seeks to annihilate them. For jihadis, “…Muslims face a “war on Islam,” while white supremacist extremists warn of a “white genocide” or “great replacement” of white populations.” (Meleagrou-Hitchens, 2021, 4). And for both, while contexts and language differ, the content of this conspiracism is similar because of the virulent antisemitism which underwrites each movement.
Islamist jihadism and white supremacism both legitimise the necessity of violence through violent conflict, be it a race or a holy war, and both strive for inward-looking societies in which their dominant narrative reigns supreme at the cost of most, if not all, others. They are thus totalitarian in nature because both require strict control over many aspects of citizens’ lives to maintain both the religious/racial order and purity they desire.
The Religious Context of Hamas and PLO jihadism in the Israeli Palestinian conflict
The history of Islamic thought since the second half of the 19th century is intrinsically linked to the history of Western expansion. Western dominance of the Arab-Muslim world and the indigenous reaction against it, are the main factors that shaped modern Islamic thought. Western dominance on the military and economic levels was accompanied by attacks on the cultural identity of the Arab-Muslim world.
Perceived numerous attacks on Arab-Muslim society forced the main trends of Islamic thought into a defensive position. Islamic discussion focused on the reasons for the relative backwardness and weakness of Arab-Muslim societies.
As a consequence, many Arab thinkers turned to religious reform as a tool for social and political change. One outcome was a reversion to conservative Muslim rejection of Western concepts and institutions, what the Islamic world termed Western colonialism. This was exemplified by the Egyptian Muhammad Abduh (1849-1905) who finally developed a reinterpretation of Islam which shared with later fundamentalists an insistence on the need for a return to some sort of original Islam.
By 1928, some 20 years after Abduh’s death, this concept was further developed into politicised Islam by fellow Egyptian Hasan al Bana, founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, of which Hamas is the Gazan branch, and the PLO/Fatah/PA which was guided by the national socialist supremacist Haj Amin al Husseini who advocated, in Berlin, for the Reich’s solution and methods in Europe, for the Jews of Palestine (see Part I).
Hasan al-Banna was the most prominent fundamentalist current in Sunni Islam in the Arab world. Influenced by the ideas of Abduh and his disciple Rashid Rida, he launched a movement for education which soon developed a political dimension calling for an Islamic reform of state and government, where the existing order should be displaced by one based on Islamic law (the sharī`a).
However, the most important intellectual and theoretician of the Muslim Brotherhood was Sayyid Qutb. In the majority Sunni Muslim world, his interpretation of Islamic thought labelled man-made Muslim governments a contravention of the one true religion, Islam, and thus that the Muslims of today should be able to live and practice true Islam in the same way as the early Islamic generations. (Muhammad Qutb in the Introduction to the English translation of his brother’s “Tafsīr In the Shade of the Qur’ ān”, (London, 1979), p. xvi.).
By living and practising “in the same way as the early Islamic generations”, Qutb “ …elaborated the theory of an ever growing nucleus of “true” believers that should be developed until it can wage a Jihād against the surrounding society and its rulers…[believing] that only through Jihād could the sovereignty of God (ākimiyyat Allāh) could be re-established.” (Nusse, 1998, Muslim Palestine – The Ideology of Hamas, 10).
Hamas and Fatah as torch bearers of the Mohamedan ethos in the “West Bank” and Gaza
Thus far, we have seen that Islamic law aspires to “regulate(s) life in all its aspects, including politics and government…Early Islamic historians depict Muhammad as making an all-encompassing claim to authority over social, religious and political life, and thus, “Islamists” appear to be nothing more than traditional Muslims faithfully following Muhammad’s example.” (Spoerl, 2022: 13, Islam and Islamism )
It then further follows that jihad (also termed intifada, “resistance by all means”, “righteous war against the “colonising” Zionists”) in the context of the Israeli Palestinian conflict is carried out today following classical jihad per the tenets of Islam. Muslim purists will argue that this is not the case because classical jihad can only be carried out under the authority of the caliph, and, as there has not been a caliph since 1924, the term is wrongly used.
However, we may refer to “…the orthodox, mainstream, and non-Islamist teaching of the Asharite-Shafi legal manual, The Reliance of the Traveller, according to which it is merely offensive (makruh), not forbidden (haram), to conduct a military expedition without the caliph’s permission, and, if there is no caliph, then no permission is required.” (al-Misri, Reliance of the Traveller: A Classic Manual of Islamic Sacred Law, 602 (o9.6))
This brings us to the well-spring of Hamas and PLO/Fatah/PA violence in the Israeli Palestinian conflict, predicated as it is on the radical fundamentalist tenets of a “revitalised” Islam per al Bana’s Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and close connection between al-Bana and Hitler’s mufti, the Muslim national socialist, Haj Amin al-Husseini.
Hamas and religious Islamic jihad
Hamas (an acronym for the Arabic phrase meaning “The Islamic Resistance Movement”) is a conservative, fundamentalist Sunni- Islamist organization dedicated both to the destruction of the state of Israel and absolute opposition to the establishment of any non-Islamic entity on lands once controlled by the colonising Islamic empires of geographical Palestine.
It published its official charter in 1988, stating unequivocally then – as it does today – that the destruction of Israel and its replacement with a Sunni-Islamic state is the group’s primary objective, and that violent “struggle” (per the theorising of Sayyid Qutb in Egypt) is the only acceptable means of achieving this end. The Hamas charter viewsall Islamic lands gained through war as religious endowments (a waqf ); territory not subject to non-Muslim governance.
Hamas effectively becomes the gold standard, in the Israeli Palestinian conflict, of the nexus between extremist Islamic jihad and extremist white supremacist groups in that they disavow the concept of other as well as the concepts of pluralism and tolerance, actively proclaim an identity anchored in a sense of superiority, legitimise violent conflict in a holy war, and espouse a totalitarian inward-looking organisation in which their world view must needs reign supreme no matter the cost.
“The Jewish state is presented by Hamas as a purely religious state which is part of a world-wide Jewish conspiracy against the Muslims in particular and the whole world in general. On these grounds, all Muslims have the duty to fight the Jewish enemy.” (Nusse, 1998: 19 Muslim Palestine – The Ideology of Hamas).
For extremist quasi-nationalist organisations like Hamas and the PLO, the issue of a Jewish state, Israel, in the Middle East is compounded by the fact that the Jews no longer fit the Muslim stereotype of cowards who will always be humiliated as dhimmis and kept in place by the Muslims, an image of wretchedness and humiliation in the traditional Islamic narrative which was sustained by the (past) strength and confidence of Islamic civilisation until at least the 15th century.
For supremacist fundamentalist Islamist organisations like Hamas, their description of Jews as “sons of Satan”, “bloodsuckers of mankind”, “racists”, “criminals of the tribe of Zion”, “sons of pigs and apes” and “Nazis” is a clear throwback to modern European antisemitism.
However, these doubtful analogies notwithstanding, the 20th and 21st century Muslim vitriol against Jews has a source explicated below:
“This influence is particularly obvious in the wide circulation of the “Protocols of the Elders of Zion” in the Arab world, forged anti-Semitic documents which circulated in Europe in the 1920s and 1930s, [and which] were translated into Arabic for the first time in 1926. They are quoted in the Covenant of Hamas as a proof for the allegations against the Jews. For Hamas, they are supposed to prove the existence of a Jewish government which, through a world-wide network of camouflaged agencies and organisations, controls political parties and governments, the press and public opinion, banks and economic development.” (Nusse, Ibid, 25)
However, in opposition to Koranic “Judeophobia”, the enthusiastic adoption of the Protocols in the Arab world and the penetration of European [Christian] antisemitism became a major factor in the Arab world only in the later 1950s and 1960s.
With the creation of the State of Israel in 1948, and the succession of Arab-Muslim military defeats in 1948, 1967 and 1973 against vastly smaller Jewish forces, and in view of an increasing dissonance of the Arab and Muslim worlds’ image of itself and its victorious past, the advent of European anti-Semitism demonising the Jews and presenting them as the sons of Satan was welcomed in the Muslim world’s search for an explanation,
Islamic antisemitism as Quranic “Judeophobia”, and fundamentalist Islamist jihad by Hamas and the nationalist socialist inspired PLO, was developed as a weapon in the struggle against Israel, whose very existence is the starting point of the whole conflict.
In the radical Islamist ideology followed by Hamas, the Jews in Israel are aggressors that occupy Muslim land and are therefore considered “war enemies”. Thus, Muslims, as inspired by Hams’ radical Islamist beliefs, are no longer bound by the Islamic teaching that demands respect for the people of the book and are fought because of the hostile action they take against Muslims.
By doing this, the Hamas Islamists thus ensure that their struggle is perceived as conforming to the Koran, along two (contradictory) strands: the Koranic Muslim obligation to wage war in self-defense when Islamic territory is attacked or occupied by non-Muslims and the second strand that nobody can be persecuted because of his belief.
This despite the fact that i) Judaism was born in the very same lands occupied 1700 years later by the followers of Muhammad, and ii) the persecution and violence initiated against the Jews of the Hejaz then and since who did not believe that Muhammad was the Jewish Messiah per an established Jewish monotheistic belief documented in the Torah which preceded the creation of Islam by one and a half millennia.
Fatah, al-Husseini and the Nazification of Partition
We have seen that the ideology of Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood has deep roots in classical Islam which considers the territory of the State of Israel Muslim property in perpetuity.
Although not a religious organisation per se, Fatah, headed by Cairo-born Yasser Arafat (who also led the PLO) was inextricably linked to the ideology of the fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood through his mentor Sheikh Amin al Husseini, with an overlay of leftist national socialist ideology in the wake of distressing Arab losses to the Jews in 1948, 1967 and 1973.
Al Husseini was a Muslim cleric with a deep anti-Jewish antipathy learned in the Cairo school of Muslim Brotherhood acolyte Sheikh Rashid Rida.
“From his earliest point of awareness, young Amin knew that the Jews were not Muslims. He knew that the Jews were determined to take his homeland. He believed that the Jews were part of a grand conspiracy that would ultimately destroy Islamic civilization. For the mufti, reading The Protocols of the Elders of Zion for the first time was a revelation. This was the book that explained his world, that accurately described precisely the events taking place in his beloved homeland, British-occupied Palestine.” Dalin and Rothman, 2008:7, Icon of Evil)
But, apart from his Cairo, Egypt, Muslim Brotherhood schooling, al Husseini is perhaps most notorious for his embrace of German Nazi ideology where known German Nazis, found, in Egypt, the home of the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood, a welcoming safe haven.
These included Otto Skorzeny (1908–1975), the Nazi commander once labelled by the OSS as ‘the most dangerous man in Europe,’ in the employ of the Nasser government’, former Goebbels assistants Johann von Leers (1902–1965), Franz Bunsche, Louis Heiden (d.1994), the man who converted to Islam, took the name Luis al-Haj and translated Mein Kampf into Arabic, Luftwaffe ace Hans-Ulrich Rudel (1916–1982), Himmler staff member SS Colonel Eugen Dollman (1900–ca. 1982), SS Colonel Leopold Gleim, chief of the Gestapo department for Jewish affairs in Poland, SS General Alois Moser, a war criminal who was involved in the extermination of the Soviet Jews in the Ukraine, SS Captain Wilhelm Bockler, who participated in the liquidation of the Warsaw Ghetto and Wehrmacht General Wilhelm Fahrmbacher, who took over the central planning staff in Cairo, to name but a few who hid out in Egypt.
Arguably, al Husseini did more to Islamicise and internalise European antisemitism for generations of Arab Muslims not yet born, where fundamentalist supremacist Islamist organisational epithets of Jews as “cowards”, “dogs”, “evil racists” and “scum” still pervade the language used by Hamas and the PLO today.
Thus, al Husseini was a bridge figure of a hazy and contested pan-Arabism between a throwback to conservative extremist Islamism per the Muslim Brotherhood and German national socialism per the National Socialist Third Reich in the context of his legacy: the continuing Israeli Palestinian conflict.
And, in the same way that al-Husseini represented the pan-Arab point of view in the southern Levant of the 1930s, Adolf Hitler, whose career parallels and intersects with al-Husseini’s, r epresented the pan-Germanic point of view.
The pan-Arab agenda, one that was still not “Palestinian” in its focus, as promoted by al-Husseini, is made plain in the Palestine National Covenant of the PLO, of which Yasser Arafat became the Chairman.
Here, Palestine was considered in the Covenant to be an “indivisible” and “integral” (Articles 2-3) part of the Arab home-land, or ummah, which included all regions of the world where Arabic was the majority language. This concept was, for all intents and purposes, identical to the Nazi concept of the Third Reich, in which the Nazis claimed for themselves the right to directly control all German-speaking peoples.
Over time what changed in the Arab Israeli context was that where the ideology of the extremist Muslim Brotherhood was influenced and supported by the Third Reich in the 1930s and 1940s, it was later backed by the emergence of an equally puritanical sect of Islam in Saudi Arabia known as (Sunni) Wahabism.
“Both the Egyptian-based Muslim Brotherhood and the Saudi Arabian Wahabi radicals borrowed heavily from an Islamic movement called the Salafiyya, which believes that true Muslims must tow a path in strict accordance with that of the seventh-century Islam of the Prophet Mohammed.” (Morse, 2010: 76, The Nazi Connection to Islamic Terrorism)
In this, both groups were reacting at the time to the introduction of modernity, inclusivity, pluralism and democracy in the Islamic world, both groups came to believe that these Western ideas posed a threat to Islam, both groups insisted on what they perceived to be a pure form of Islamic practice and way of life untainted by the un-believers or kuffar and both groups found resonance in the quite similar approach that the Nazis took toward the concept of racial/ethnic “purity”.
Today that ideology finds its expression in the statements of both Hamas and the PLO/Fatah/PA where, for example, the current President of the Palestinian Authority (PA), Mahmoud Abbas stated in 2013 that “that no Israeli settlers [Jews]…could remain in a future Palestinian state.”
This despite the presence, as full citizens, of 2.1 million Arab Israeli Muslims, Arab Christians and Druze in a pluralist, multicultural democracy in the Jewish State of Israel.
Yasser Arafat founded Fatah in Kuwait in 1959 with a view to destroying Israel in the process. His sojourn in Kuwait was not a voluntary one. He and other fedayeen had been expelled from Egypt. In 1948, Arafat fought in a Muslim Brotherhood unit against the Israelis in the War of Independence. Between 1939 and 1940, Arafat served as one of Muslim Brotherhood Sheikh Amin al Husseini’s enforcers in Husseini’s struggle for power against another Jerusalem clan. Following the Suez crisis of 1956, he was expelled by the UN to Kuwait in 1957. There he met two Arab Jihadists: Salah Khalaf (1933–1991, aka Abu Iyad) and Khalil al-Wazir (1935–1988, aka Abu Jihad), both of whom were devoted members of the Muslim Brotherhood. Arafat took the name Abu Ammar, demonstrating that he and his friends were “pious Muslims,” with a decided “Islamic orientation.”
A protégé of Sheikh Amin al Husseini and his brand of extremist Islamist national socialism, Arafat stated in a 1996 speech in Stockholm, “We plan to eliminate the State of Israel and establish a purely Palestinian state. We will make life unbearable for Jews by psychological warfare and population explosion… We Palestinians will take over everything, including all of Jerusalem.”
While neither a recognised Islamist nor leftist, Arafat was a Muslim and what differentiated him from “religious” Islamic Jihadists was the absence of a firm insistence that Sharia be the law of the land, not a rejection of Islam.
Arafat learned from the political, radical and revolutionary experience of both camps: Islam and national socialism. His majority Fatah faction in the PLO was a secular nationalist organisation in principle which bought into, and weaponised, Islamic Nazism into the quest for a Palestinian state free of Jews. In this regard then, Arafat and the PLO/PA, in the context of the Israeli Palestinian conflict, shared both the extremist Islamist belief and extremist white supremacist belief in religious/ethnic purity in homogenous territories through targeted violence.
In other words, where for Hamas Islamism was the solution to remove Western influence in the Arab world including the “little satan” Israel, for Fatah and the PLO, a national socialist nationalism was the solution to removing this Western influence.
For both, demonising and deligitmising the Jews through violence and inversion of history was the method.
Arafat’s hatred of Jews and Israel, nurtured by his Muslim Brotherhood and National Socialist inspired mentor al Husseini, was able to effectively poison a generation of Levantine Arabs through the fact that Yasser Arafat had complete control of all the organs of Palestinian education and propaganda.
The Egyptian-born Arafat taught hatred. His television, his newspapers, his clerics inculcated an antisemitism unmatched in virulence since Nazi Germany….and just as Osama bin Laden spent the ’90s indoctrinating and infiltrating in preparation for murder, Arafat raised an entire generation schooled in hatred of what radical Islam termed “Judeo-Nazis” and a “Palestinian” incitement to murder in the name of Allah. (Krauthammer, 2002, Arafat’s Harvest of Hate, The Washington Post)
Early during the 2nd intifada in 2000, while Israelis were preparing their people for peace in line with the September 1993, Israel and the PLO signatures on the Declaration of Principles on Palestinian Self-Rule (Oslo I), Yasser Arafat was cynically preparing his people for a religious war.
In that period of the 2nd intifada, a sermon by Arafat-appointed and Arafat-funded Muslim Council imam Ahmad Abu Halabiya, was broadcast live on official Palestinian Authority television: “[Jews] must be butchered and killed, as Allah the Almighty (emphasis added) said: ‘Fight them: Allah (emphasis added) will torture them at your hands.’ . . . Have no mercy on the Jews, no matter where they are, in any country. Fight them, wherever you are. Wherever you meet them, kill them.
Statements like these, given the formative antecedents of their speakers, point once again to the radical extremist religion-based ideologies that lead to their utterances and the continuation of the Israeli Palestinian conflict.
One could go on at length with further documentation of the Hamas/PLO/Fatah/PA acceptance of terror as a substitute for politics, where, with wiser leadership there could have been a flourishing Palestinian state for years.
However, such documentation would only serve to strengthen the notion that, in essence, the Israeli Palestinian conflict remains at heart a religious Muslim war variously overlaid with fundamentalist Islamist and left national socialist ideology which shuns the concept of other, of inclusivity, and of peace predicated on the acceptance of other no matter their ethnicity, religion, beliefs or race.
Part III of this four-part series will look at the extent to which this Islamist ideology has (arguably very successfully) revised history in the Levant in pursuit of legitimising a people who never historically existed in a polity that never was. A revision which, at its core, tries to shred the legitimacy of a people and a nation with an unbroken presence in the area for over 3000 years and around 1700 years before the Muslim Arab invasions and occupation of that land.