|The New Islamic Fascism
Robert S. Wistrich - November 16, 2001
|In his prison journals, Albert Speer recalled an astonishing scene towards the end of the World War II: Adolf Hitler, in a kind of delirium, "pictured for himself and for us the destruction of New York in a hurricane of fire." The Nazi leader described skyscrapers being turned into "gigantic burning torches, collapsing upon one another, the glow of the exploding city illuminating the dark sky."
On September 11, 2001, this frenzied Wagnerian imagery became fact.
There is something apocalyptic about the sheer scale and seismic shock effect of the Twin Towers massacre in New York. The Islamic terrorist perpetrators of this act, like the Nazis and fascists 60 years ago, speak a language of unquenchable hatred for the Jewish people, for America and the West, indeed for civilization itself. They, too, enjoy - at least in the Muslim world - the acclamation of significant sectors of the population.
Like the Nazis, they too have chosen a cult of death over life - turning motifs of martyrdom, sacrifice, and death into something urgent, elemental, pseudo-religious, and mythical. Their Bible may be the Koran and not Mein Kampf, but the mental structures and world-view behind their actions have many similarities with totalitarian fascism.
In this war they are worthy successors of the wartime Palestinian leader and Hitler"s ally Haj Amin al-Husseini, who in 1944 urged the Arabs over Radio Berlin: "Kill Jews wherever you find them for the love of God, history, and religion." Such murderous calls have become commonplace across the Muslim world today.
There are other parallels, too. The same intolerance of dissent, the same will to control every aspect of everyday life, and the desire to export terrorism throughout the world are common ground to the radical nihilists of yesterday and today. In organizations such as al-Qaida, the Taliban, Hamas, Hizbullah, and other like-minded terrorist groups, one finds a totalitarian mind-set, hatred of the West, fanatical extremism, repression of women, loathing of Jews, a firm belief in conspiracy theories, and dreams of global hegemony.
Like pre-war European fascists, these Muslim radicals claim to speak for frustrated, underprivileged, and impoverished masses. They have condemned the "anonymous powers" of globalization and the plutocratic West (symbolized by America) as fiercely as they ever did Soviet Communism.
"Jewish" New York, as much as the Zionist State of Israel, is to them an incarnation of capitalist evil, just as Wall Street embodied the General Headquarters of the mythical State of Judah to the Nazis and other fascist true believers.
The cataclysm of the Manhattan massacre is in fact far more than just another example of international terrorism. The symbolism of the burning towers announced a new kind of world-wide jihad. It was a dramatic fanfare for the Islamic fascism of the 21st century, whose perpetrators are bent on total confrontation, on the either-or politics of victory or death, on the Manichean polarization between East and West, and on the destruction of what they call "Jewish-Crusader" civilization.
This Middle Eastern radicalism is a distinctly modern movement, though it also has indigenous Islamic roots. The conspiracy theory at its heart, which links plutocratic capitalism, international freemasonry, Zionism, and Marxist Communism, is almost identical with the mythical structure of Nazi anti-Semitism. For contemporary jihadists, a "Judaized" America and Israel, together with heretical, secular Muslim regimes are the godless spearhead of these dark occult forces that seek to destroy Islam and undermine the cultural identity of Muslim believers.
Israel in this cultural context is in a particularly exposed position - perceived both as occupying sacred and inalienable Muslim territory and as a Western implant in the Dar al-Salaam (House of Peace). Its vulnerability has been further underlined by the willingness of many in the West to believe that the new Muslim terrorism ? la Osama bin Laden is a result of Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands.
In the twisted Orwellian political morality of our own times, Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat - the godfather of Middle Eastern terrorism - is internationally feted while the Jewish State is warned to keep quiet wherever it is not actually blamed for the crimes of its enemies. Similarly, the double game of Saudi Arabia is deliberately obfuscated, along with its undeniable heavy responsibility in spawning the bin Ladens and the Taliban in Afghanistan.
Bin Laden and those who support him do at least have the virtue of straightforwardness. They are not open to bargaining or compromise. For Muslim radicals, Israel"s willingness to make territorial and political concessions is irrelevant. A Palestinian state will never satisfy them. The West unfortunately prefers not to relate to such unpalatable facts.
Something not so dissimilar happened 60 years ago when Western democracies preferred to minimize the Nazi war against the Jews, for tactical propagandist and political reasons - though to little avail.
Appeasement and denial did not help the West then, and for the Jewish people it proved to be a catastrophic mistake.
Now, as then, we face an implacable enemy - an Islamic fascism which exploits the Palestinian problem as the ultimate "just cause," the revolutionary prologue to global jihad. But though their ideology and long-term goals may be different, the Palestinian Authority under Arafat shares with the Muslim radicals of Hamas an ontological hostility to Israel and fierce desire to see its demise.
The vicious anti-Jewish hysteria of Durban this summer provided, under the cloak of "anti-racism" and the UN human rights umbrella, the political prelude to the Twin Towers massacre. It showed that the "Palestinian cause" has once more become the main vehicle for seeking to destroy the moral foundations of Israel"s existence as an intrinsically "criminal," "genocidal," and racist state built upon systematic "ethnic cleansing."
This ideological Trojan Horse of "anti-racist" Judeophobia masquerading as anti-Zionism has over the past 30 years sought to undermine Israel and the West from within. It is a deadly political tool that the Islamic fascists, like the more "mainstream" PLO, have cleverly manipulated to intoxicate millions of naive people. The "hurricane of fire" in Manhattan was not just a warning - it was a final wake-up call to the West, Israel, and the Jewish people.
(The writer is professor of Modern History at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and author of the just-published Hitler and the Holocaust.)