Dr. Matthias Küntzel
Posted on May 25th 2003
Updated on July 25th 2004
What kind of ideology pushed the 9/11
perpetrators into acting the way they did? Information from the
first trial, of a core member of the Hamburg al Qaida cell which
took place between October 2002 and February 2003 in Hamburg,
Germany gives a crucial answer to this question. The accused, Mounir
el Motassadeq, had been a close friend of Mohammed Atta, the
ringleader of the 9/11 perpetrators. He had held in trust the bank
account of Marwan al-Shehhi who had steered the plane into the
second Twin Tower. The testimony of many of the witnesses presented
a breath-taking insight into the perpetrators' minds but the
international media paid scant attention to their revealing
One witness, Shahid Nickels, a member of Mohammed Atta's core group
between 1998 and 2000, said the following:
was based on a National Socialist way of thinking. He was convinced
that 'the Jews' are determined to achieve world domination. He
considered New York City to be the center of world Jewry which was,
in his opinion, Enemy Number One."
Sharid Nickels further testified
about the perpetrator's core group:
"They were convinced that Jews control the American government as
well as the media and the economy of the United States. Motassadeq
shared Atta's attitude in believing that a world-wide conspiracy of
Jews exists. According to him, Americans want to dominate the world
so that Jews can pile up capital."
Another witness, Ahmed Maglad, who frequently joined the group's
"For us, Israel didn't have any right to exist as a state. ... We
believed that German and French policies were designed to suit Arab
countries whereas the USA is considered to be the mother of Israel."
Finally, Ralf Götsche who lived in the same student dormitory with
the accused, recalled:
"Motassadeq once said: 'What Hitler did to the Jews was not at all
bad.' His [Motassadeq's] attitude was blatantly antisemitic". (2)
Recognizing this obsessive hatred of Jews enables us to draw a
preliminary conclusion: The concept of Americans as enemies which
motivated the 9/11 perpetrators is clearly not based on sound or
even a partially reasonable perception of reality but is an obvious
phantasmagoria and reveals an antisemitism which strikingly
parallels several central concepts of Nazi ideology.
This essay will investigate the specifics of this antisemitism by
exposing its history, its meaning and its specific dangers. First: I
will give a brief overview of the historical roots of Islamism.
Second: I will explore its meaning by analyzing how Jews are
perceived by Islamists. Third: I will point to the current dangers
which Islamism represents in the post cold war order as well as in
the future. Before proceeding I would like to emphasize two points:
1) Probing into the minds and motives of Islamist perpetrators
should not lead us to attribute 'murder in the name of jihad' to
Islam as a whole. Instead, we should attribute this particular kind
of jihad only to Islamism as a separate political tendency within
Islam. It is critical to make this distinction so as to be able to
pointedly criticize Islamism and to avoid, at the same time, any
hint of a racist discourse.
2) Probing the minds and motives of Islamist perpetrators requires
that we avoid using our Western understanding of the world. If we
stick exclusively to our Western modes of reasoning - such as the
law of cause- and-effect or the importance we place on the survival
instinct - this may lead to the mistaken belief that hopelessness
and deep desperation are at the root of murder-suicide. Under close
inspection, however, this reasoning does not hold up. There are many
people in the world who have every reason to feel desperate about
their wretched and indeed hopeless lives. None of them, however,
resort to killing people by entering overcrowded buses or by
hijacking planes with the sole purpose of blowing themselves up with
the intention of killing as many innocent people as possible.
is definitely not a method of how people respond to misery. By
studying the testamentary videos which so-called 'Palestinian
martyrs' produce[d] before setting off on their deadly missions, we
will find no evidence of desperation or hopelessness but will
instead find an enormous amount of pride and even joy, a joy close
to rapture. Thus, the motives of the perpetrators can be explained
neither by applying our theories of cause-and-effect, nor can the
motives be attributed to 'evil-doers'. These men do not consider
themselves as evil, but see themselves instead as being courageous
liberators and as the God-fearing avant-garde of the best. Probing
into the minds of Islamist perpetrators, therefore, requires our
readiness to take literally and seriously a weltanschauung which
seems alien and even bordering on madness to us.
In order to understand what the similarities between Islamist and
Nazi imaginations are based on, we have to look at the history of
Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood which was founded in 1928 and which
established Islamism as a mass movement.
The continuing significance of the Muslim Brotherhood for Islamism
is comparable to the significance of the Bolshevik party for
Communism in the 20th century:
The Muslim Brotherhood is the
organizational as well as the ideological core which successfully
inspired all subsequent Islamist groups and tendencies. No other
organization has influenced the ideology of the al Qaida cadres more
strongly than the Brotherhood and its leading members Hassan al-Banna,
Sayyid Qutb and Abdullah Azzam have.
In addition, the Moslem Brotherhood has been the organization which
first created the concept of a belligerent jihad for our modern
times and which turned the longing for death into an Islamic ideal.
This is of particular importance, since Islamism stands for a
fundamentalist understanding of Islam combined with the explicit
purpose of creating a belligerent jihad.
As early as 1938, Hassan al-Banna, the charismatic founder of the
Brotherhood, presented his own version of jihad in an essay called
"The industry of death". In this article, he did not describe the
horror of death but instead depicted death as an ideal to long for. Hassan al-Banna wrote:
"To a nation that perfects the industry of death and which knows how
to die nobly, God gives proud life in this world and eternal grace
in the life to come." (3)
The concept of belligerent jihad was welcome with enthusiasm by the
"Troops of God" as the Brotherhood referred to itself. Whenever
their battalions marched down the boulevards of Cairo in
semi-fascist formation, they sang:
"We are not afraid of death, we desire it... Let us die in
redemption for Muslims."
This particular interpretation of the meaning of jihad did not come
about until the 1930's. It should be noted that its concurrence with
the arrival of a newly virulent antisemitism is verified in no
uncertain terms. Originally, the British colonial policies triggered
the call for a Sharia-based new order and produced Islamism as a
social movement and as a means of resisting "cultural modernity".
But the Brotherhood did not conduct its jihad primarily against the
British, against the French or against the Egyptian elite who had
collaborated with the British. Instead, up to 1951 the jihad
movement of the Brotherhood was almost exclusively focused on
Zionism and Jews.
While the membership of the Brotherhood had been eight hundred in
May 1936, by August 1938 it had increased to an amazing two hundred
thousand - not counting its many non-member supporters. (4) However,
in these two years only one large campaign took place in Egypt which
exclusively targeted Zionism and the Jews.
The campaign itself was initiated by the so-called "Arab Revolt" in
Palestine which the notorious Mufti of Jerusalem, Amin el-Husseini,
had incited. "Down with the Jews!" - "Jews get out of Egypt and
Palestine!" were the slogans of the mass demonstrations which the
Brotherhood organized in Egyptian cities in 1936. Their leaflets
called for a boycott of Jewish goods and Jewish shops.
Their newspaper al-Nadhir published a regular column called "The
danger of the Jews of Egypt". They also published the names and
addresses of Jewish businessmen and the publishers of allegedly
Jewish newspapers all over the world, attributing every evil - from
communism to prostitution - to the "Jewish menace." (5)
Obviously, many of their actions as well as the rhetoric and the
slogans used in this antisemitic campaign were clearly taken over
from Nazi Germany. The Brotherhood, however, included Islamic roots
of hatred against Jews as well.
They used and disseminated a quotation from the Koran that Jews are
to be considered 'the worst enemy of the believers.' In addition,
they evoked old stories of the early history of Islam by pointing to
the example set by Mohammed who, as legend has it, succeeded not
only in expelling two Jewish tribes from Medina during the 7th
century, but killed the entire male population of the third tribe
and sold all the women and children into slavery.
And they stressed (and still consider) Palestine as an Islamic
territory (''Dar al-Islam") where Jews should never be allowed to
govern a single village let alone an entire state.
Indeed, most decisively in contributing to and in shaping these
first anti-Jewish rallies in Egypt's history was the status quo as
well as the presence of one man in Palestine. The Mufti of
Jerusalem, Amin el-Husseini, who later became infamous for his
collaboration with Germany's Nazi government, had held the highest
political and religious posts in Palestine since 1921.
There was nobody who instigated the conflict between Muslims and
Jews in Palestine more successfully than did this Mufti. As early as
1929, a Mufti-led pogrom killed 133 autochthonous Jews in Jerusalem
and Hebron. Shortly thereafter, the Mufti declared the relentless
fight against the Jews as the most important responsibility of all
believers. Those who dared to resist his anti-Jewish orders were
publicly denounced and publicly threatened in the mosques during
Nevertheless, the Mufti had to deal with powerful adversaries such
as the clan of the Nashashibis and the Christian minority in
Palestine. In contrast to the Mufti, the Nashashibis tried to get
along with Jews as well as with the British in a more pragmatic way
by negotiating rather than by engaging in fighting and killing. (6)
The controversy between the Husseini clan and the Nashashibis came
to a head during the "Arab Revolt" of 1936 which had at its goal to
put a complete stop to Jewish immigration. This particular revolt
was "a major turning point in the modern, and ultimately tragic
history of Palestine, of Zionism and of the Middle East," as Aaron
S. Klieman wrote, because it created and substantially shaped the
developing movement of Islamism. (7)
The Mufti used this uprising to get rid of all those Palestinians
who disagreed with him and who were willing to negotiate with Jews.
The German scholar Abraham Ashkenasi writes:
"The Mufti killed his opponents within the Palestinian camp with
extreme cruelty. There was more murder and manslaughter within the
Palestinian camp than against the Jews or against the British." (8)
It is noteworthy that the very first Islamist reign of terror was
established in those territories of Palestine which the Mufti
controlled during the revolt.
Palestinians who did not abide by the Mufti's anti-Western dress
code or who did not strictly obey the Sharia law, were immediately
and ruthlessly killed. (9)
Finally, the Mufti used this revolt to make the Palestine issue the
focal point of the Arab world as a whole for the first time in
Middle East history. In a letter to Adolf Hitler, the Mufti
emphasized his unflagging and successful efforts to use the "the
Palestine question'' in order,
"to coalesce all Arab countries in a common hatred against the
British and the Jews." (10)
Nowhere, however, had the hatred against Jews become more deeply
entrenched than in Egypt where the Muslim Brothers called on the
Palestinians to kill the Nashashibis in the name of God and who
mobilized the masses in support of the Mufti against Jews.
I would like to point out that the Mufti's so-called "Arab Revolt"
took place against the background of the swastika: Arab leaflets and
signs on walls were prominently marked with this Nazi symbol; the
youth organization of the Mufti´s political party paraded as
"Nazi-scouts", and Arab children greeted each other with the Nazi
salute. Those who had to pass through the rebellious quarters of
Palestine attached a flag bearing the swastika to their vehicles so
as to insure protection against assaults by the Mufti's volunteers.
Starting in 1933, the Mufti repeatedly offered to serve the German
Nazi government. In the beginning, however, the Mufti's fight
against Jews was supported in terms of ideology alone. It was not
until 1937 that the Mufti's "Holy War" received substantive support
from Nazi Germany in the form of financial assistance and the
shipment of weapons. Klaus Gensicke writes in his dissertation on
the Mufti's collaboration with the Nazis:
"The Mufti himself admitted that it was entirely due to the money
contributed by the Germans that allowed him at that time to carry
out the uprising in Palestine." (12)
Thus, Hitler's agents incited the anti-Jewish hatred of the
Islamists in Palestine with slogans, weapons and money thereby
encouraging the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.
It was not until May 8, 1945, however, that the ideological approach
between the Mufti, the Muslim Brothers and the Nazis reached its
peak. This became obvious as early as November 1945. During this
very month, the Muslim Brothers committed the worst anti-Jewish
pogroms in all of Egypt´s history: The core of antisemitism had thus
begun to shift from Germany to the Arab world. On the anniversary of
the Balfour-declaration, demonstrators rampaged the Jewish quarters
of Cairo. They plundered houses and shops, attacked non-Muslims,
devastated the synagogues and then set them on fire. Six people were
killed, several hundred more were injured.
The Islamist's newspapers attacked Egyptian Jews by slandering them
as Zionists, Communists, capitalists and bloodsuckers, as
traffickers in women and as merchants of war, as subversive elements
in all countries and in all societies. (13)
One year later, in 1946, the Brotherhood made sure that the Mufti Amin el-Husseini who had become a close friend of Heinrich Himmler,
was granted asylum and was given a new political domain in Egypt.
Since 1945, the Mufti of Jerusalem had been searched for as a war
criminal by Yugoslavia as well as by Great Britain. France, however,
where he had been kept in comfortable so-called 'custody', rejected
all demands for extradition. With the support of the Brotherhood ,
the Mufti managed to escape in disguise in May 1946. After arriving
in Egypt, the Mufti was declared al-Banna's official representative
and personal supervisor of the Brotherhood's activities in
"By virtue of his nomination as the Brotherhood's local leader in
Palestine, the Mufti continued to be recognised as the national
leader by most of the Palestinian Arab population." (14)
Let's keep in mind that the Mufti, had revealed himself as the most
ardent Arab supporter of the annihilation of European Jews. during
World War II. Therefore, granting this prominent Islamic figure
amnesty, was consequently seen in most of the Arab world as explicit
acceptance of his antisemitic attitude and of his antisemitic
actions. From this point on, as Bernard Lewis put it,
"a pro-Nazi past was a source of pride, not shame". (15)
The powerful collaboration of the Muslim Brothers with the Mufti and
the pogroms against Jews a few months after the world learned about
Auschwitz clearly showed that the Brotherhood either ignored or even
justified Hitler´s extermination of European Jews. The consequences
of this attitude, however, continue to be far-reaching and
characterize the Arabic-Jewish conflict to this day. (23)
How then did Islamists in 1947 explain to themselves international
support of the creation of Israel? By completely ignoring the murder
of six million European Jews by Nazi Germany, they reverted to
antisemitic conspiracy theories. In this vein, the Brotherhood
considered the UN-decision of 1947 to partition Palestine to be an,
"international plot carried out by the Americans, the Russians and
the British, under the influence of Zionism." (16)
Shortly after the liberation of Auschwitz and the recognition that
most of European Jews had been too powerless to prevent their
murder, the Islamists branded Jews as the true world-ruling power.
The Nazi belief in a world-wide Jewish conspiracy had not only
survived the collapse of the Hitler regime, but was eagerly adopted
in 1947 in an Arabic world where the Muslim Brotherhood had by now
succeeded in mustering a million supporters.
Tens of thousands of Arab copies of one of the most repugnant
anti-Jewish publication, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, were
published in the following decades by two well-known former members
of the Muslim Brotherhood, Gamal Abdel Nasser and Anwar al-Sadat.
(17) Hundreds of thousands copies of the essay by Sayyid Qutb - Our
struggle with the Jews - written in 1950, were distributed
throughout the Muslim World in the aftermath of the 1967
The new impact of the Nazi-like conspiracy theories becomes
particularly obvious if we take a look at the Charta of the Muslim
Brotherhood of Palestine which calls itself Hamas. This Charta,
created in 1988, represents one of the most important Islamist
programs of today. Here, Hamas pointedly makes use of the
antisemitic rhetoric of the Mufti of Jerusalem which he in turn had
adopted from the Nazis. The Brotherhood of Palestine defines itself
as a "universal movement" whose jihad was "the spearhead and the
avant-garde" in their struggle against "world Zionism".
The charta clearly indicates that they were heavily influenced by
the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. According to this Charta,
"the Jews were behind the French Revolution as well as the Communist
"behind World War I so as to wipe out the Islamic Caliphate ... and
also were behind World War II, where they collected immense benefits
from trading in war materials and prepared for the establishment of
"inspired the establishment of the United Nations and the Security
Council ... in order to rule the world through their intermediaries.
There was no war anywhere without their [the Jews'] fingerprints on
The original text of this Charta is clearly stated in Article 32:
The intentions of the Zionists,
"has been laid out in the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, and their
present conduct is the best proof of what is said there." (18)
It is tempting to ridicule this distorted ideology as lunacy, just
like Hitler´s jabbering was ridiculed in the past. But let's
remember the history of European antisemitism in the years before
World War II. Isn't this precisely the story of how a grossly
delusional view of the world, based on infantile fears and ancient
hatreds, led to denigration, torture and murder of such magnitute
that it still strains our imagination?
As the renowned scholar of antisemitism, Jehuda Bauer, says:
"The language of Islamism is plainly and clearly a genocidal one.
They are striving for a repetition of the mass murder of Jews.
That's written down black on white." (19)
It is indeed this insane picture of Jews as the evil ones and as the
villains of the world which is at the root of the mass-murder of
civilians in Israel and in the USA. By committing their murderous
operations against people who they consider to be Jews, Islamists in
their own understanding do not commit crimes but acts of liberation
for which God will reward them in heaven. This is the reason why the
testamentary videos of Palestinian Islamists do not express
desperation but express instead pride and joy.
With this background in mind, it shouldn't surprise us that
witnesses in the trial of Motassadeq in Hamburg, Germany, testified
to the existence of antisemitism and Mohammed Atta's belief in Nazi
concepts. Should it further surprise us that Osama bin Laden accuses,
"the Jews" of "holding America and the West hostage"
...given the fact, that the founder of Hamas, the Palestinian Abdullah
Azzam, was at the same time the most important teacher and patron of
al Qaida's leader? (20) With the Islamists' delusional perception of
the "enemy" in mind, let's look at their delusional image of utopia.
Why are the Islamists so singlemindedly focused on Jews or, more
specifically, on their hatred of Jews? Again, Palestine's history
will provide an answer - though not in the popular sense by putting
the blame on Zionist policy. It is a well known fact that
antisemitic ideologists from the very beginning have identified Jews
with the threatening aspects of modern times. Not surprisingly,
these ideologists did not hesitate to distort reality in order to
justify their claims.
In Palestine, however, the approach of modern life took place in
quite a different way. Here, the correlation between the arrival of
the Jews and the arrival of rapid modernization was not a fantasy
but a fact.
At the beginning of the 20th century when the immigration of Russian
Jews took place, large parts of the Arab community in Palestine were
still leading mostly pre-modern lives dominated by patriarchy, the
subordination of women, the strict loyalty to one's clan, and the
unquestioning adherence to one's religion. The Russian Jewish
immigrants, however, including many Socialists, were embarking on
quite another way of life.
In Palestine, they personified the subversive and therefore
threatening aspects of modernism such as secularization, the
individual pursuit of happiness, freethinking and the equality of
women to most of the local population. There is hardly any other
region in the world where such different life-styles and social
ideas have clashed together at one place.
Rejection of the Modern World
At first glance, the conflict between Zionism and anti-Zionism
appears to deal primarily with the possession of land. On a deeper
level, however, the acceptance or rejection of the modern world was
at stake. At that time, not a few Arabs considered the modernizing
effects of Zionist immigration as favorable. During the 1920's, for
example, prominent leaders in Egypt believed,
"that the progress of Zionism might help to secure the development
of a new Eastern civilization"
...as Mr. Kisch who was at that time Chairman of the Palestine Zionist
Executive noted in his diary after visiting Cairo in 1924. (21)
In Palestine, the members of the Nashashibi family as well as parts
of the Christian minority tended to lean toward this point of view.
But the conservatism of the Mufti, supported by the Muslim
Brotherhood as well as by the National Socialists in Germany,
It is revealing how Giselher Wirsing, a leading German Nazi
journalist and admirer of the Mufti, described this situation after
visiting Palestine on behalf of the SS in 1937 and 1939.
"In Palestine, the capitalist way of thinking and living (as well as
its Marxist equivalent) is exclusively embodied in Jewry." However,
as far as Islam is concerned, "the ideas of the West have not
succeeded in casting doubt on the essence of the traditional way of
In Palestine, due to the rule of the Mufti,
"the breakthrough of liberalistic ideas has barely taken place.
Apparently, for those ideas, only the Nashashibis family would have
been suitable, and for this reason - they received support from
England, in particular." (22)
During the course of the "Arab Revolt" which caused a turning point
in the history of Palestine, the defeat of the Nashashibis and the
birth of Islamism coincided.
There is no doubt that this outcome of the revolt has proven to be
catastrophic for the entire Arab world. Since then, hatred of Jews
has been whipped up relentlessly, because Jews represented the
danger of threatening change, and resistance against modernization
was multiplied because change itself was seen as being
quintessentially Jewish. This antisemitic distortion of facts has
spread throughout the entire Arab world and has more or less impeded
its development to the present day. It is against this background
that the rapid proliferation of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion
in this region is taking place.
The wording of these Protocols is primarily directed against any
influence of Liberalism by depicting it as a secret tool of the
Jews. Consequently, this book, fabricated by the secret agents of
the Tsar in the 1890s, is distributed by the royal successors of Ibn
Saud, to this day. Why did Osama bin Laden's Letter to the American
people of October 2002 accuse the United States of being,
"the worst civilization witnessed in the history of mankind"?
Osama bin Laden himself provides the answer:
"Because you are the nation who, rather than ruling by the
of Allah in its Constitution and Laws, have chosen to invent your own
laws as your will and desire."
The core reason behind any Islamistic attack is the accusation of
propagating heresy which is seen by giving people political and
personal freedom. In order to make a better case against the freedom
of the individual, Islamists connect it to a Jewish conspiracy. In
his Letter to the American people bin Laden continued:
"The Jews have taken control of your economy, through which they
have then taken control of your media, and they now control all
aspects of your life - making you their servants and achieving their
aims at your expense."
The means of this allegedly Jewish control and infiltration are,
according to bin Laden's letter,
"the immoral acts of fornication, homosexuality, intoxicants,
gambling, and trading with interest." (24)
This may sound like madness to most of us. For Islamists, however,
it is precisely this mission of purification and salvation which
provides the eliminatory ingredient of Islamistic antisemitism. The
hatred of Jews as a hatred against the challenges of modern life is
the underlying reason why innocent people were killed on 9/11 -
Islamists consider New York City to be the center of World Jewry, as
was clearly corroborated at the Hamburg trial of Motassadeq.
The Islamist's distorted image of themselves is shaped by claiming
superiority and dominance over the rest of the world.
According to a statement of al Qaida's spokesman, Suleiman Abu Gheith, the Muslim nation
"was created to stand at the center - of hegemony and rule" for it
is "the divine rule, that the entire earth must be subject to the
religion of Allah." (25)
Their characteristic trait is
their hatred of accepting distinct differences.
The "humane" has been developed in the course of centuries by
accepting and valuing distinctions, and the acknowledgement of
equality between women and men has always been the starting point of
The utopia of Islamism, however, is aimed at revoking acceptance of
differences so as to extinguish individuality and to submit
everybody to the binding force of the clan and their religion again.
The Islamists' distorted image of the enemy is directed at
civilizations which do not believe that real life only starts after
death, and who instead value life here on earth thus thwarting the
Islamists' belief of eternal justice by employing such "perfidious"
means as reason and doubt, engaging in fornication and by changing
the ancient structure of the family.
It is precisely this combination of the Islamists' image of
themselves and their distorted image of the enemy which has resulted
in such an insane mission, namely the annihilation of evil - and
this evil is mostly declared as being Jewish - in order to purify
society and to save mankind. It is this mission that creates a
hatred of evil that exceeds the fear of death itself. Just like
National Socialism was propelled by a utopia which advocated
salvation through destruction, Islamism is propelled forward by a
similar utopia. In both cases, it is the distorted image of a
perceived enemy which provides the perpetrator with his own identity.
In both cases, the annihilation of evil is considered to be the
precondition for the realization of an idealized dream of
homogeneity. In both cases this evil is projected onto 'the Jew'.
There is an underlying connection between 9/11/2001 - the al Qaida
attack - and 11/9/1989 - the fall of the Berlin Wall which has
provided fertile ground to the powerful attraction of today's
Islamism. Until 1989, capitalism was criticized not only by
Islamists but more relevantly by the Soviet Union and her allies.
Since 1990, however, Islamism is the only remaining movement that
combines three critical ingredients:
1. a comprehensive ideology to challenge capitalist societies,
2. enormous financial resources,
3. global spreading..
Ruled by Maddness
Many people in the world have ample reason to be dissatisfied with
their wretched conditions of life which are connected to the
relentless law of the market economy throughout the world. Islamism,
however, is a world-wide rebellion which channels this discontent
either against Israel, which is supposedly dominated by Americans,
or against the United States, which is allegedly ruled by Jews. This
particular movement does not fight under the flag of
anti-colonialism but under the flag of antisemitism; it does not
strive for emancipation but for oppression; it is not ruled by a
concept of reason, but by madness.
In spite of this, there is today no other anti-capitalist or
anti-Western movement that is able to influence, to mobilize, to
muster so many people. It should be noted that in the aftermath of
9/11, Islamists were extremely successful in elections in Bahrain,
Morocco and Pakistan. (26) The result of a poll of 38,000 people in
44 Islamic countries, which was conducted in the summer of 2002,
presented a frightening picture: More than 25 per cent of the people
polled in Ghana, Indonesia, Senegal and Uganda said that suicide
bombing was justifiable as a means to defend Islam; more than 33 per
cent in Pakistan and Mali said the same; more than 40 per cent in
Jordan, Bangladesh and Nigeria agreed; and so did more than 50 per
cent in the Ivory Coast; and 73 per cent in Lebanon. (27)
It was precisely 9/11 which has given the Islamists this enormous
But that is not all. The burning towers of the World Trade Center
turned out to be the sign of fire which announced "the reawakening
of antisemitism in its new globalized form." (28)
In the spring of 2002, two million people participated in mass
demonstrations which took place in every Arab capital in favor of
Hamas suicide bombings.
In Europe, at the same time, we witnessed the most severe antisemite
riots against Jewish life since Germany's Reichskristallnacht of
This antisemitism was enthusiastically adopted by Nazi-oriented
organizations throughout the world who openly expressed joy at the
destruction of the World Trade Center and the death of thousands of
innocent civilians. These people are attempting to make formal
alliances with the Islamists. Informally, however, the anti-Jewish
sentiment is more and more becoming the cement of a new coalition
which includes huge parts of the contemporary Left, who do not
loathe Israel and Jews for racist or religious reasons, but for
so-called 'universalist' ones.
Over the centuries, antisemitism has continually mutated into new
forms. Now it seems to change again, into a shape which requires a
new way of thinking and a new vocabulary. The movement against
globalization, for instance, appears to degenerate into a breeding
ground for a modern version of antisemitism. Their activists wear
T-shirts printed with "Burn, Israel, Burn" without any awareness of
breaking a taboo, because they are on the Left. (29)
The present mutation claims that the worst crimes of antisemites in
the past are now attributed to Jews and the state of Israel, so that
if you are against Nazism, you must ipso facto be opposed to Jews.
As Melanie Phillips accurately wrote:
"This has produced an Orwellian situation in which hatred of the
Jews now marches behind the Left's banner of anti-racism and human
rights, giving rise even to mainstream articles discussing the
malign power of the Jews over America and world policy." (30)
Conspiracy theories have clearly gone beyond the adherents of
Islamism. In France, a book claiming that no plane crashed into the
Pentagon, became a best-seller. In Germany, a similar book claims
9/11 was nothing more than a secret maneuver of the CIA. An
"If George W. Bush, his father, other important decision-makers and
top bankers are the members of an elitist secret lodge which had
armed Hitler and Stalin and had thus provoked World War II, then it
seems only logical that they are having a hand in preparing for
World War III as well." (31)
This book, which turns historic facts upside down, went through 28
editions within five months. It was written by a former editor of
the Green Party-oriented daily newspaper, the "Tageszeitung" or "taz"
as it is known in Germany, and was published by a left-wing
publishing house. The above is obviously the German version of the
well-known lie about the 4000 Jews who thanks to having been
informed by the Mossad beforehand, allegedly did not go to work at
the WTC on 9/11. This lie which originated in the Middle East and is
based on theories from
the Protocols of the Elders of Zion was
spread around the world at breakneck speed right after 9/11. For the
first time, an event of enormous global relevance was interpreted in
a blatantly antisemitic way and has been sold successfully as fact.
As if being steered by the invisible hands of an al Qaida leader,
the 9/11 catastrophe contributed to serious damage of Israel's image
and blamed the United States for its own losses of human life.
In the United States it was apparently not an isolated case that
pro-Israel students at San Francisco State University were
confronted with a mob of students shouting "Hitler didn't finish the
job". According to the Anti-Defamation League, there were more than
100 antisemitic incidents on America's campuses between January and
May 2002. Students and faculty at a growing number of universities
are joining in a rising movement to pressure colleges into divesting
themselves of holdings in companies that do business with and in
Israel, (32) whereas nobody seems to be concerned about those
companies that do business in Iran and Syria and did business in
Antisemitism is a disease with no single cause. There seems to exist
a deep-seated psychological need to discard the burden of German and
European guilt about the Holocaust by defaming its victims
posthumously. Others feel a pressing need to atone for European
colonialism and imperialism by embracing Islamism and casting Israel
as the world's worst colonial power.
Elsewhere, antisemitism is gathering strength from all sorts of
misplaced discontent and from resentments. As is amply documented,
antisemitism doesn't need reasoned substance for its existence,
because it is not based on opinions or on prejudice, but is part of
an infrastructure of emotions which are the foundation of the
antisemist's own distorted identity.
Thus, contrasting sharply with all the facts I have presented, we
have to conclude that, although al Qaida' s attack has its roots in
antisemitism, this has not lead to wholesale condemnation of
antisemtism in so-called civilized countries.
Actually, the opposite is happening. At present, we are experiencing
an unprecedented rise in antisemtism all over the world.
Fighting Terrorism Requires ZERO-Tolerance
In the first part of this essay, I pointed out that from the very
beginning Islamism and the hatred of Jews have been closely linked.
It should follow that fighting Islamism demands zero-tolerance of
If antisemitic propaganda and antisemitic acts would be made
socially as well as politically unacceptable and would result in
severe consequences, Islamism and Jihadism would lose its main
In the second part, I discussed modernization and its relationship
to Jews in the Middle East. Promoting democracy in this region
obviously requires a determined effort to combat antisemitism
simultaneously, In the third part, I tried to explain the urgency
for critical decisions to be made. As I mentioned in the beginning:,
we cannot use our Western modes of reasoning to comprehend Islamist
ideology and their suicide murder. However, we have to make use of
our knowledge of Islamist's consciousness, in order to combat a
deadly irrationality and to draw an unassailable demarcation between
a concept of change based on the traditions of the Enlightenment,
and a concept of change that doesn't hesitate to utilize fascist
means to destroy individuality and to prevent the development and
emancipation of societies.
1 Some findings of this paper were first first presented in my
Keynote Address at the conference on "Genocide and Terrorism -
Probing the Mind of the Perpetrator", April 11, 2003 at Yale
University, New Haven. This conference was organized by the Genocide
Studies Program of the Yale Center for International and Area
Studies. I would like to offer my profound gratitude to Ursula Duba
*, New Haven, CT, USA and to R. Range Cloyd Jr., Hamburg, Germany
for their dedication and for the time they were willing to give to
make the English translation of this paper clear and concise.
2 Christian Eggers, Aussagen in dem Prozess vor dem Hamburger
Landgericht gegen Mounir El Motassadeq wegen Beihilfe zum Mord in
uber 3000 Fallen und Mitgliedschaft in einer terroristischen
Vereinigung. (Unpublished) Fortunately, this journalist who works
for Reuters took notes on all the witnesses statements.
3 Quoted from: Abd Al-Fattah Muhammad El-Awaisi, "The Muslim
Brothers and the Palestine Question 1928-1947", London 1998, p. 125.
4 El-Awaisi, p.98.
5 Gudrun Kramer, "Minderheit, Millet, Nation? Die Juden in Agypten
1914-1952", Wiesbaden 1982, p. 282; El-Awaisi, pp.70-71.
6 David Th. Schiller, "Palastinenser zwischen Terrorismus und
Diplomatie. Die paramilitarische palastinensische Nationalbewegung
von 1918 bis 1981", Munchen 1982, pp.91-95.
7 Aaron S. Klieman, "The Arab States and Palestine", in: Elie
Kedourie and Sylvia G. Haim (eds.), "Zionism and Arabism in
Palestine and Israel", Frank Cass, London 1982, p.118.
8 A. Ashkenasi in: Klaus Genicke, "Der Mufti von Jerusalem Amin el-Husseini,
und die Nationalsozialisten", Frankfurt/M. 1988, S. 7.
9 Kurth Fischer-Weth, "Amin el-Husseini. Gro?mufti von Palastina",
Berlin 1943, pp.81-82; Schiller, pp.145-148.
10 Letter of January 20, 1941, see: Gerhard Hopp (ed.), "Mufti-Papiere.
Briefe, Memoranden, Reden und Aufrufe Amin al-Husseinis aus dem Exil,
1940-1945", Berlin 2001, p.18.
11 Ralf Paul Gerhard Balke, Die Landesgruppe der NSDAP in Palastina,
Dusseldorf 1997, p. 260; Iwo Jordan, Araberaufstand. Erlebnisse und
Dokumente aus Palastina, Wien-Leipzig 1943, p. 3, p.97, p. 187.
12 Klaus Gensicke, Der Mufti von Jerusalem Amin el-Husseini, und die
Nationalsozialisten, Frankfurt/M. 1988, S. 234.
13 Kramer, p.320, p.408.
14 Thomas Mayer, "The Military Force of Islam. The Society of the
Muslim Brethren and the Palestine Question, 1945-48", in: Elie
Kedurie and Sylvia G. Haim (eds.), p. 103.
15 Bernard Lewis, "Semites and Anti-Semites", Weidenfeld and
Nicolson, London 1986, p.160.
16 El-Awaisi, p. 195.
17 Concerning the relationship between Nasser, Sadat, and the Muslim
Brotherhood, see: Kirk J. Beattie, Egypt during the Nasser Years.
Ideology, Politics and Civil Society, New York 1994, pp.47-49, p.57.
18 See the English translation of the Charta:
19 Jehuda Bauer, Hitlers islamistische Erben. Spatestens seit dem
11. September 2001 wissen wir: Die Schoa ist nicht Geschichte,
sondern Gegenwart, in: Judische Allgemeine Nr. 24/02, p. 8.
20 Khalid Duran, "Der einen Teufel, der anderen Held", in:
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 20. September 2001.
21 F. H. Kisch, "Palestine Diary", Victor Gollancz Ltd, London 1938,
22 Giselher Wirsing, "Englander Juden Araber in Palastina", Jena
1939, quoted according to the 5th edition, Jena 1942, p. 132 and
23 The German translation of the Protocols is published in: Jeffrey
L. Sammons, Die Protokolle der Weisen von Zion - eine Falschung.
Text und Kommentar. Gottingen 1998.
24 The full text of Osama bin Laden's letter was published in the
British newspaper The Observer, November 24, 2002.
25 ''Why we fight America'': Al-Qa'ida Spokesman Explains September
11 and Declares Intentions to Kill 4 Million Americans with Weapons
of Mass Destruction, in: Special Dispatch of "The Middle East Media
Research Institute" (MEMRI), June 18, 2002.
26 In October 2002, the number of Islamists in Pakistan's parliament
increased from three to fifty and they gained a majority of votes in
two local states bordering on Afghanistan. In May 2002, Islamists in
Bahrain won all parliamentary seats in local elections, in September
2002, Islamists in Morocco were more successful than any other
political party. (See Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, September 30,
2002 and October 25, 2002.
27 Brian Knowlton, "A rising anti-American tide", in: International
Herald Tribune, December 5, 2002.
28 Daniel Johah Goldhagen, The Globalization of Antisemitism, in:
Forward, May 2003.
29 See Gabriel Schoenfeld, "Israel and the Anti-Semites" in:
Commentary, June 2002.
30 Melanie Phillips, "The new nexus of antisemitism", first
published in the Spectator, March 22, 2003 and Jonathan Sacks, "A
31 Mathias Brockers, "Verschworungen, Verschworungstheorien und die
Geheimnisse des 11. 9.", 2001-Verlag, Frankfurt/M. 2002, p. 106.
32 Melissa Radler, "Anti-Semitic riot at San Francisco State
University", in: Jerusalem Post, May 16, 2002; Michael A. Fletcher,
"U.S. campuses divided by anti-Israel campaign", in: International
Herald Tribune, October 14, 2002.
* ursula duba email@example.com is the author of "Tales from a Child
of the Enemy (published by Penguin in 1997). Her book, "Inherited
Pain and Defective Genes - Descendants of the Shoah and the Third
Reich" will soon be published. She is subscribed to PNEWS-L and some
of her essays will be posted there. She is also a published poet.