He Meant What He Said

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FEBRUARY 2, 2004

He Meant What He Said

Hitler's Second Book: The Unpublished Sequel to Mein Kampf

By Adolf Hitler

Edited by Gerhard L. Weinberg

(Enigma Books, 293 pp., $32)

Click here to purchase the book.

Adolf Hitler's so-called second book was not published in his
lifetime. Written, as Gerhard Weinberg convincingly speculates, in
late June and early July 1928, the book's publication was postponed
because Mein Kampf, Hitler's first massive text, was selling very
badly and could hardly stand competition with another publication
by the same author. Later, after Hitler was appointed chancellor
and Mein Kampf became one of the greatest (and allegedly most
unread) best-sellers of all times, the second book was apparently
seen as disclosing his foreign policy plans too explicitly to allow
publication. It was locked away, only to be discovered by Weinberg
in 1958. Published in German three years later, the second book
came out in a pirated and unreliable English edition in 1962. It is
only now that the public can read this text in an authoritative
translation, accompanied by extensive and updated notes by
Weinberg.

Must we read another ranting book by Hitler? This book is certainly
as close to the heart of darkness as a book can be. But it should
have been read in its time, and it should be read now. It was an
explicit warning to the world of what could be expected from the
Fhrer of what was to become for twelve terrible years the Third
Reich. When Hitler wrote it, no one could tell whether his plans
and fantasies would ever be transformed into reality. Much of what
Hitler put together in this book could already be found in Mein
Kampf, if anyone had bothered to read it, and other ideas were
expressed unambiguously in his speeches. Yet it was difficult to
believe that anyone in his right mind would try to translate such
rhetoric into policy. It was generally thought that in power Hitler
would be constrained by the realities of diplomacy, the limits of
Germany's power, the national interests of the Reich, and the
military, economic, and political partners with whom he had to make
policy.

Today we know that this was a fatal misunderstanding, rooted more in
wishful thinking than in the kind of realism on which contemporary
observers prided themselves and expected would eventually keep
Hitler, too, in his place. Today we know that Hitler said precisely
what he meant to say. We can also note, with the benefit of
hindsight, that Hitler was neither insane, nor irrational, nor a
fool. Several decades ago A.J.P. Taylor wrote that Hitler may have
been mad or criminal as far as his plans and policies for world
conquest and genocide were concerned, but in the conduct of his
diplomacy in the 1930s he acted very much like everyone else,
seizing opportunities and moving gradually toward the goals he had
set himself. Reading this second book, I tend to agree. Hitler's
rhetoric here is not more empty-headed than that of many of his
contemporaries; his use of clichs hardly exceeds what one
encountered in the newspapers; his knowledge of history, his
psychological observations, his criticism of his rivals, are in
many respects typical of his place and time.

But of course Hitler was about much more than this. He was also a
pathological mass murderer who caused the death of millions and the
destruction of Europe, and so it is important to know that he did
precisely what he promised to do. For we still do not seem to have
learned a simple crucial lesson that Hitler taught us more
definitively than anyone else in history: some people, some
regimes, some ideologies, some political programs, and, yes, some
religious groups, must be taken at their word. Some people mean what
they say, and say what they will do, and do what they said.

Most liberal-minded, optimistic, well-meaning people are loath to
believe this. They would rather think that fanaticism is merely an
"epiphenomenal" faade for politics, that opinions can be changed,
that everyone can be corrected and improved. In many cases, this is
true--but not in all cases, and not in the most dangerous ones.
There are those who practice what they preach and are proud of it.
They view those who act otherwise, who compromise and pull back
from ultimate conclusions, as opportunists, as weaklings, as targets
to be easily conquered and subdued by their own greater
determination, hardness, and ruthlessness. When they say they will
kill you, they will kill you--if you do not kill them first.

Reading Hitler's second book is useful, of course, for students of
Nazism. But they will have already read it in part or in whole, and
nothing that Hitler says here will come to them as much of a
surprise. This is a book that should be read, rather, by
contemporary journalists, political observers, and all concerned
people who have the stomach to recognize evil when they confront
it. For one of the most frightening aspects of Hitler's book is not
that he said what he said at the time, but that much of what he
said can be found today in innumerable places: on Internet sites,
propaganda brochures, political speeches, protest placards,
academic publications, religious sermons, you name it. As long as
it does not have Hitler's name attached to it, this deranged
discourse will be ignored or allowed to pass. The voices that
express these opinions do not belong to a single political or
ideological current, and they are much less easy to distinguish
than in the 1930s. They belong to the right and the left, to the
religious and the secular, to the West and the East, to the rabble
and the leaders, to terrorists and intellectuals, students and
peasants, pacifists and militants, expansionists and
anti-globalization activists. The diplomacy advocated by Hitler is
no longer relevant, but his reason for it, his legitimization of
his "worldview," is alive and kicking, and it may still kick us.

II.

Hitler never had a particularly complicated ideology. He painted a
clear picture of the world, distinguishing between the bad and the
good, the sinful and the righteous, the guilty and the innocent,
the dirty and the clean, the inferior and the superior. He
articulated clear goals, as follows. The Aryan race needs domestic
unity and freedom from polluting racial elements, and so it must
expand into an undefined and likely limitless "living space" in the
East. Germany's most important short-term enemy is France, for
historical reasons and because it has become "negroized." Germany's
most likely allies are Italy and Britain, with whom the Reich
should have no quarrel since they also seek to expand in different
directions. The greatest long-term enemy is the United States, not
least because it is made up of healthy Aryan stock that has turned
its back on the fatherland. The Slav states and the nations to
Germany's east are to be taken over. The Slavs, and especially the
Poles and Russians, are not worthy of ruling themselves, for
whatever is great and worthy in the East was created by German
colonizers and rulers. The greatest danger to the world are the
Jews, who have taken control of the Soviet Union and are behind all
the Marxist parties in Europe, and at the same time are the bosses
and the manipulators of international capitalism. The Jews rule the
world through a global conspiracy, and it is Germany's duty to
destroy them before they subjugate humanity forever.

Hitler made no bones about the direct link between his "analysis" of
world history and his plans for Germany's policies. For him, as he
wrote,

politics is not just the struggle of a people for its survival as
such; rather, for us humans it is the art of the implementation of
this struggle.... Politics is always the leader of the struggle for
survival--its organizer--and regardless of how it is formally
designated, its effectiveness will determine the life or death of a
people.... The two concepts of a peace policy or a war policy thus
immediately become meaningless. Because the stake that is struggled
for through politics is always life....

Promoting economic autarky and opposing the ills of a global
capitalistic economy, Hitler was similarly swift in identifying the
agents of globalization whose goal it was to "kill the others
through peaceful industry," by way of depriving people of the
necessary Lebensraum that would ensure their healthy development.
The urban centers created by the global industrial economy were
"hotbeds of blood-mixing and bastardization, usually ensuring the
degeneration of the race and resulting in that purulent herd in
which the maggots of the international Jewish community flourish
and cause the ultimate decay of the people." For Hitler, the "Jew"
was directly identified with anything international, and
internationalism was directly associated with the degeneration of
the race, with immorality and corruption. Once a people loses its
"genetically conditioned cultural expression of the life of its own
soul," he wrote, it will "descend into the confusion of
international perceptions and the cultural chaos that springs from
them. Then the Jew can move in, and not rest until he has
completely uprooted and thereby corrupted such a people."

While he strenuously opposed "internationalism" as a Jewish
conspiracy to take over the world and to corrupt the nobler races,
Hitler saw no limits to his own aspirations for expansion. As he
noted, "Wherever our success ends, that will always be the starting
point of a new battle." And as Hitler never tired of emphasizing,
he was opposed to a policy of returning to the borders of
1914--that is, of revising the Versailles agreement in which the
Reich had been "robbed" of its territories. That restitution would
hardly suffice. Hitler argues that

the foreign policy of the bourgeois world is in truth always only
focused on borders, whereas the National Socialist movement, in
contrast, will pursue a policy focused on space. The German
bourgeoisie will, with its boldest plans, perhaps attain
unification of the German nation, but in reality it usually ends in
bungling border adjustments. The National Socialist movement ...
knows no Germanization ... but only the expansion of our own
people.... The national conception will not be determined by
previous patriotic notions of state, but rather by ethnic and
racial conceptions....

The German borders of 1914 ... represented something just as
unfinished as peoples' borders always are. The division of
territory on the earth is always the momentary result of a struggle
and an evolution that is in no way finished, but that naturally
continues to progress.

So much for the idea of appeasement, of letting Hitler have what he
had already declared would never suffice. The racial state that
Hitler outlined had certain duties. It could "under absolutely no
circumstances annex Poles." It would "have to decide either to
isolate these alien racial elements in order to prevent the
repeated contamination of one's own people, or it would have to
immediately remove them entirely, transferring the land and
territory that thus became free to members of one's own ethnic
community." Here again we hear Hitler saying quite clearly that he
would undertake the kind of demographic re- structuring of Eastern
Europe that was indeed managed by Heinrich Himmler after 1939. And
whatever might have been the contributions of various German
technocrats in the 1930s to molding this policy, as suggested by
some historians, Hitler unequivocally and ruthlessly expressed it
five years before he became chancellor.

Moreover, Hitler made it clear that in the distant future "the only
state that would be able to stand up to North America will be the
state that has understood how ... to raise the racial value of its
people.... It is, again, the duty of the National Socialist
movement to strengthen and prepare our own fatherland to the
greatest degree possible for this task." If Hitler did not end up
trying to conquer the United States, we now know that he made plans
for producing the kinds of aircraft and ships that would have
facilitated such aggressive action.

Ultimately, as Hitler saw it, there could have been only one
worthwhile goal in World War I, and the same goal would eventually
have to guide the conduct of any future war: the conquest of
"living space." The "only area in Europe that could be considered
for such a territorial policy was Russia." This was also the only
kind of war aim that would motivate Germans and justify the
sacrifices entailed in accomplishing it:

The only war aim that would have been worthy of these enormous
casualties [in World War I] would have been to promise the German
troops that so many hundreds of thousands of square kilometers of
land would be allotted to the frontline soldiers as property or
made available for colonization by Germans.

This is precisely what Hitler did upon the invasion of the Soviet
Union in 1941.

The instrument of such a war would be a new German army, and in his
second book Hitler outlines how he would use the Weimar Republic's
one hundred thousand-man Reichswehr as the framework for the
creation of a massive new military machine based on universal
conscription. By 1935 Hitler was already well on his way to
accomplishing this task, having both purged the SA, which hoped to
become an alternative military organization, and declared universal
conscription in total defiance of the Versailles Treaty.

But Germany's most pernicious enemies were the Jews and those who
had collaborated with them in stabbing the army in the back and
bringing about the collapse of the German Empire in November 1918.
"No enemy," declared Hitler, "had reviled the German army like the
representatives of the November knavery defiled it." Hence, he
warned,

Anyone who today wants to act in the name of German honor must first
announce the most relentless fight against the intolerable defilers
of German honor ... the representatives of the November crime. That
collection [of] Marxist, democratic-pacifist, and Centrist traitors
that pushed our people into its current state of powerlessness....
I admit most frankly that I could reconcile myself with every one
of those old enemies, but that my hate for the traitors in our own
ranks is unforgiving and will remain.

These traitors not only brought the old Reich crashing down, they
were now plotting to establish a "global economy" and a
pan-European movement whose consequences would be "a
Jewish-instigated systematic bastardization with lower- quality
human material." The reason was obvious:

The Jew particularly welcomes such a concept; in its consistent
observance it leads to racial chaos and confusion, to a
bastardization and niggerization of civilized humanity, and finally
to such a deterioration in its racial value that the Hebrew who
keeps himself free from it can gradually rise to be masters [sic]
of the world.

Most dangerously, the Jews had taken over Russia. Hitler opposed any
"German- Russian understanding ... as long as a government that is
preoccupied with the sole effort to transmit the Bolshevist poison
to Germany rules in Russia." For "it goes without saying that if
such an alliance were to materialize today, its results would be
the complete dominance of Judaism in Germany, just as in Russia."
Interestingly, while the Jews dominated Russia, they were in
Hitler's view not true communists but greedy capitalists. Hence "it
is precisely the Jewish press organs of the most noted stock market
interests that advocate a German-Russian alliance in Germany. Do
people really believe that" these Jewish papers "speak more or less
openly for Bolshevist Russia because it is an anticapitalist
state?" No, Hitler insisted, this was in fact nothing but a
"Jewish-capitalist Bolshevik Russia"--Jewish-controlled capitalism
posing as Russian communism.

Hitler did not share the hope that he attributed to nationalist
German circles that, if Russia were to be liberated from the Jews
and reverted to "nationalist, anticapitalist communism," it might
be a good coalition partner for Germany. For Hitler, Germans and
Russians constituted "two ethnic souls that have very little in
common." The Russian people could never rule themselves, but were
rather first under the control of superior "Nordic-German elements"
and, following the Revolution, under the Jews who successfully
"exterminated the previous foreign upper class ... with the help of
the Slavic racial instinct." But as Hitler saw it, this Jewish
takeover would eventually serve Germany's objectives, since "the
overall tendency of Judaism, which is ultimately only destructive,"
would in time lead to "the destruction of Jewry." This in turn
would facilitate the realization of "the goal of German foreign
policy in the one and only place possible: space in the East."

After explaining why the question of the German minority in South
Tyrol, which came under Italian rule after World War I, was a minor
issue compared with the need to "gain further space and feeding of
our people" in the East, Hitler ended his second book with the same
pronouncements that concluded the political testament that he
dictated before his suicide seventeen years later. For Hitler's
entire political career was guided by a single central obsession
with "the Jew." Blaming those who criticized his policies toward
Italy for ignoring the domestic "syphilitization by Jews and
Negroes" of the Fatherland, and for persecuting those Germans who
"resist the de-Germanization, niggerization, and Judaization of our
people," Hitler finally explained what had always been at the root
of all evil and misfortune in the world.

Repeating much of the anti-Semitic verbiage of the previous decades,
but giving it a much more threatening tone thanks to his position
as a political leader on the verge of becoming a major figure on
the world scene, Hitler summarized his views on the Jews in the
following manner. First, this was "a people with certain essential
particularities that distinguish it from all other peoples living
on earth." Second, while Judaism was not a religion but "a real
state ... the essence of the Jewish people lacks the productive
forces to build and sustain a territorial state." Third, because of
this inability, "the existence of the Jew himself ... becomes a
parasitic existence within the life of other peoples." Fourth, the
"ultimate goal of the Jewish struggle for survival is the
enslavement of productively active peoples."

This goal is sought by fighting "for equality and then for
superiority" in domestic policies, whereas in foreign policy the
Jews will "hurl [other peoples] into wars with one another, and
thus gradually--with the help of the power of money and
propaganda--become their masters." Ultimately, the Jew seeks "the
denationalization and chaotic bastardization of the other peoples,
the lowering of the racial level of the highest, and domination
over this racial mush through the eradication of these peoples'
intelligentsias and their replacement with the members of his own
race." Tragically, "Jewish domination always ends with the decline
of all culture and ultimately the insanity of the Jew himself.
Because he is a parasite on the peoples, and his victory means his
own end just as much as the death of his victim." The allies of the
Jew are "Freemasonry ... the press ... [and] Marxism." Having
accomplished the "economic conquest of Europe," the Jew "begins
with securing it politically ... in the form of revolutions" and by
"systematically agitating for world war." The victims of Jewish
"inhuman torture and barbarity" in Russia "totaled twenty- eight
million dead," and meanwhile the Jew "tore away all the ties of
orderliness, morality, custom ... and proclaimed ... universal
licentiousness." But finally, declares Hitler, an end will be put
to all this, for "the National Socialist movement ... has taken up
the fight against this execrable crime against humanity."

It is truly astonishing to see how every sin that Hitler ascribed to
"the Jew" became part of his own policies as he himself outlined
them in his second book and later implemented them: the destruction
of entire nations by the elimination of their elites, their mass
deportation, and in the case of the Jews, their outright genocide.
And it is just as mind-boggling to note that the endless depravity
attributed by Hitler to the Jews became the reality of German
conduct under his rule, which deprived the Reich of every remnant of
moral constraint and finally drove it into an insane storm of
self-destruction. What Hitler said would be done to Germany, he did
unto others; and he and his people became victims of the nemesis
that he prophesied for his enemies. When Hitler wrote his second
book, he was staring into a mirror.

III.

But those who have followed the current wave of anti-Semitism
emanating from the most disparate sources in the last few years may
sense that they, too, are staring into a mirror, a distorted mirror
of a resurrected past, a mutilated, transplanted, transformed,
contorted, monstrous specter whose allegedly exhausted powers seem
to be increasing day by day.

Hitler is dead, as Leon Wieseltier rightly proclaimed in these
pages. What alarmed Wieseltier was the frequent predilection to
view every threat as the ultimate threat, every anti-Semitic
harangue as the gateway to another Final Solution. Clearly we are
not facing the danger of a second Auschwitz. The hysterics need to
remember that Hitler and the Third Reich are history. Germany
apologized and paid generous restitution. The Nazis were tried, or
they hid, or they metamorphosed into good democrats. The state of
Israel was established. The Jews have never been more prosperous
and more successful and more safe than they are in the United
States. (The same could even be said about the nervous Jews of
Western Europe.) The last remnants of communist anti-Semitism
vanished with the fall of that "evil empire." Jews in our day have
reasons to feel much more secure than their ancestors.

But all is not well, not by a long shot. Criticism of Israeli
policies against the Palestinians has long been attached to
anti-Americanism, and the United States was said already by the
Nazis in World War II to be dominated by the Jews. And criticism of
American imperialism is often associated with its support for
Israel, allegedly a colonial outpost populated by Jews in the heart
of Arab and Islamic civilization. Of course, one should never
confuse the legitimate criticism of Israeli policies with what all
reasonable people agree is the despicable ideology of
anti-Semitism. The policies of the current Israeli government in
the territories are indeed contrary to the strategic and moral
interests of the Jewish state. So there is every reason in the world
to reject attempts to justify objectionable Israeli policies by
reference to the Holocaust.

But this does not mean that we should refuse to see the writing on
the wall when anti-Israeli sentiments are transformed into blatant
and virulent anti- Semitism. This was precisely the argument made
in the report "Manifestations of anti-Semitism in the European
Union," as submitted by the Center for Research on Anti-Semitism in
Berlin to the European Monitoring Center on Racism and Xenophobia,
which had originally commissioned it. The monitoring center tried
to suppress its own report, because it gave a measure of
anti-Semitic violence by Muslims in Europe, and because its
definition of anti-Semitism included those who call for the
destruction of Israel. And these grim truths were politically
incorrect. The Israeli occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza
Strip is stupid and destructive, and it should be ended through the
creation of a Palestinian state, but those who preach the
destruction of the Jewish state should not be allowed to hide
behind Sharon's unfortunate policies. It is one thing to support
the cause of Palestinian nationhood, and quite another to deny the
Jews the right to live in their own state.

What we are witnessing today is a broad front of opinion, spanning
the entire spectrum of the political and religious scene, whose
criticism of American and Israeli policies, and whose fears and
phobias about present conditions, utopian dreams of a better
future, and nostalgic fantasies of a mythical past, all converge in
a bizarre and increasingly frightening way on a single figure, a
single cause: "the Jew." I have long believed that it is pointless,
and dishonorable, to debate anti-Semites. Such an exchange of
"ideas" only confers legitimacy upon them. But there are times when
absurdities become political facts and cannot be ignored. They
must, instead, be directly challenged--not by explaining their
violent ideas and feelings away, but by putting limits to them
through all available means, political, judicial, and, if
necessary, by the use of legitimate force. For these are people who
mean what they say. If you do not destroy them, they will destroy
you. There are precedents for this.

Consider again what Hitler wrote in 1928. Yes, it is insane; but
take out the word "race" and replace it, say, with "Zionism" or
"American imperialism," and replace the references to the Soviet
Union with references to the United States, and suddenly the
discourse is not only crazy but also quite common. The "soft core"
of this poisonous rhetoric is to be found among some sectors of
European and American intellectuals and academics. It tends to
identify Israelis as culprits, and Jews as potential Israelis. It
is obsessed with the influence of Jews on culture, politics, and
economics around the world. The partially successful boycott of
Israeli academics in recent years is a case in point, not least
because it tends to affect precisely those who number among the
most determined and articulate opponents of the current Israeli
government's policies. The divestment campaign, calling on American
and European universities to desist from any investments in Israel,
is another example; this campaign provides cover, and even
immunity, for all the regimes around the world that have never
recognized academic freedom. The sympathetic understanding
expressed in academic settings, and in liberal and left-wing
publications, for suicide bombers who blow up innocent civilians in
Israel creates a climate of tolerance for murder that is cleverly
couched in the righteous language of liberation and justice.

Some allegations of an apparent takeover by Jews, or by Jewish
themes, of this or that cultural sphere seem to have nothing to do
with Israel. In October 2001, The Chronicle of Higher Education
published an article by Mark Anderson, a professor of Germanic
languages at Columbia University. Anderson expressed fears about
"the way in which American scholars have distorted the study of
German culture" by reducing "the canon of German literature to a
tiny handful of teachable authors who often have a Jewish
background." This "excessive focus on German-Jewish authors," he
argued, "relied on the subtext of Jewish suffering." This "has
undermined intellectual freedom in American universities" and is
"testimony to an ongoing intellectual paralysis that could and
should be relieved."

It is not clear from Anderson's argument who is to blame, apart from
an ill- defined "pressure from American culture to focus on
minority issues, as well as our fascination with Hitler and the
Holocaust." It is also somewhat ironic that Anderson himself edited
a volume called Hitler's Exiles: Personal Stories of the Flight
from Nazi Germany to America, which testifies to his own
fascination with this topic, if not to his recognition of its
importance. But one cannot help but detect here a clear connection
between the alleged over-emphasis on Jewish authors and Jewish
themes "identified" by Anderson and its distorting effects both on
the study of German literature and on American intellectual
freedom. Somehow the focus on Jewish victims seems to have that
effect.

Sometimes this sort of intellectual-academic-journalistic obsession
with Jews becomes intimately linked with anti-Americanism. Several
best-selling books published in France and Germany by academics,
politicians, and journalists have "confirmed" the already
widespread belief (held by 19 percent of the German population
according to a recent poll, and apparently by a majority in many
Arab and Islamic countries) that the September 11 attacks on the
United States were orchestrated by the CIA and the Mossad, and that
the latter warned the Jews working in the World Trade Center not to
come to work that day. Indeed, the United States, attacked by
Europeans for its support of Israel, has been repeatedly depicted
as controlled by the Jews, whose lobbies, financial and electoral
levers of power, and key figures in the White House and Pentagon,
are manipulating both the American public and world politics.

At the same time Israel has been portrayed as the perpetrator of
Nazi-like crimes even as these very same portrayals carry echoes of
the Nazi representation of Jews. Thus the European media,
especially its more highbrow representatives, were as keen to
portray the Israeli operation in Jenin last year as a war crime and
a massacre as they were reluctant to admit that they had been
fooled by Palestinian propaganda and in turn misinformed their
publics about the nature of the operation, greatly inflating the
number of Palestinian civilians killed in order to justify its
description as a massacre. The Israeli prime minister was depicted
in a cartoon published in The Independent in London in the shape of
a bloody ogre devouring Palestinian children, his features eerily
reminiscent of those popularized by Der Strmer.

Anyone who has access (that is, anyone on the Internet) to racist,
anti- Semitic, and neo-Nazi publications in the United States and
elsewhere will find almost precisely the same opinions and
depictions. These hateful representations are normally not much
remarked upon. But there are some important exceptions. Most
striking was the speech made by Martin Hohmann, a parliamentary
representative of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) in the
German Bundestag, to an audience of one hundred thirty people, on
October 3, 2003. Hohmann argued that one had no right to speak of
the Germans as a "people of perpetrators" (Ttervolk) because the
Jews--presumably those making that argument--were themselves a
"people of perpetrators," considering their high representation
among the murderous Bolsheviks. This was the first time since the
end of Nazism that a member of the Bundestag made an anti-Semitic
argument based on the very logic of Hitler's rationalization for
war against the Soviet Union. And an elite Bundeswehr general
expressed agreement with Hohmann's speech. Under much public
pressure, Hohmann was eventually ejected from the parliamentary
fraction of the CDU--but 20 percent of his colleagues opposed his
removal. And Hohmann knew, like so many fascists before him who said
what he said, what many others were thinking. In a poll recently
conducted by the University of Bielefeld, it was found that 70
percent of Germans resent being blamed for the Holocaust, and 25
percent believe that the Jews are trying to make political capital
out of their own genocide (and another 30 percent say that there is
a measure of truth in this assertion), and three-quarters believe
that there are too many foreigners in Germany.

Much more publicity has been given to anti-Israeli protests on
American campuses, and these have demonstrated a troubling trend. A
group calling itself "New Jersey Solidarity: Activists for the
Destruction of Israel" called for an "anti-Israel hate-fest" to be
held on the campus of Rutgers University, New Brunswick, in October
2003. The group's website declares itself "opposed to the existence
of the apartheid colonial settler state of Israel, as it is based
on the racist ideology of Zionism and is an expression of
colonialism and imperialism."

Richard McCormick, the president of Rutgers University and a former
member of its history department, where I also taught during the
1990s, issued an open letter on the planned meeting. He stated that
he found "abhorrent some elements of NJ Solidarity's mission." But
he went on to say that "intrinsic to Rutgers' own mission is the
free exchange of ideas and discourse on a variety of issues,
including those that are controversial. This university must remain
a model of debate, dialogue and education ... we encourage our
students to express their beliefs and analyze the difficult issues
of the day." So some may think that destroying Israel is legitimate
and some may think otherwise. Some may think that Israel is an
apartheid colonial settler state based on a racist ideology, and
some may have a different opinion. There are two sides to the
question. Through such a "free exchange of ideas" we will all
prosper intellectually. This brings to mind Hannah Arendt's
observation, when she visited Germany in 1950, for the first time
since she fled the Nazis, that the Germans viewed the extermination
of the Jews as a matter of opinion: some said it happened, some
said it had not happened. Who could tell? The average German, she
wrote, considered this "nihilistic relativism" about the facts as
an essential expression of democracy.

Throughout campuses in the United States, students associated with
Arab and Islamic organizations, Christian groups, and the left
carried flags, banners, and posters that were mostly focused on one
theme: the equation between Zionism, or Israel, and Nazism. Banners
portrayed a swastika joined by an equal sign to a Star of David and
an Israeli flag featuring a swastika instead of a Star of David.
Placards issued the call to "End the Holocaust," and proclaimed
that "Zionism = racism = ethnic cleansing," and that "Zionism is
Ethnic Cleansing," and that "Sharon = Hitler." A particularly
ingenious sign asserted: "1943: Warsaw 2002: Jenin." While some
summarized their views with the slogan "Zionazis," others warned,
"First Jesus Now Arafat."

What makes this virulent anti-Semitism respectable is that it
presents itself as anti-Nazism. To accomplish this sinister
exculpatory purpose it needs only to declare that Zionism equals
Nazism, just as the old canard of a Jewish conspiracy to take over
the world is legitimized by its association with American
imperialism, capitalism, and globalization. That the vocabulary of
this rhetoric is taken directly (whether consciously or not) from
Nazi texts is so clear that one wonders why there is such a
reluctance to recognize it. In part this is owed to ignorance,
which is as rampant today in journalism and political commentary as
it always was. In part this is owed to the fact that those who
would most readily identify the provenance of these words and ideas
are largely liberals, some of whom also happen to be Jewish, and
thus are likely to be most harmed, both personally and
ideologically, by making this identification. By exposing the
anti-Semitic underbelly of this phenomenon, they would expose
themselves as Jews and friends of Jews, and would open themselves
to the argument that precisely their opposition to this phenomenon
is the best proof of Jewish domination in the world.

IV.

Which, incidentally, is precisely what Prime Minister Mahathir
Mohamad of Malaysia said following the Western protests against his
warmly received pronouncement to the Organization of the Islamic
Conference in October that the Jews control the world: "The
reaction of the world shows that they [the Jews] control the
world." Mahathir's speech was genuinely astonishing. This was the
first time since World War II that a major head of state made a
speech--to no fewer than fifty-seven other heads of state and well
over two thousand journalists--whose fundamental argument was that
the Jews are to blame for all the ills that have beset Islamic
civilization. And not a single person left the room in protest.

For Paul Krugman, writing in The New York Times on October 21,
Mahathir's anti-Semitic remarks were both "inexcusable" and
"calculated," made by a "cagey politician, who is neither ignorant
nor foolish." Krugman did not elaborate on why such remarks are
"inexcusable." Instead he preferred to see them as reflecting "how
badly things are going for U.S. foreign policy." Mahathir may be
"guilty of serious abuses of power," but he is also, said Krugman,
"as forward-looking a Muslim leader as we're likely to find." Hence
he should be encouraged, not denounced. His anti-Semitism is merely
"part of Mr. Mahathir's domestic balancing act."

Progressive modernizer that he is, in other words, Mahathir cannot
possibly be stupid enough to believe what he spouts, and because he
does not believe it, and uses it merely as a tool for the good
cause of modernizing Malaysia and combating the Muslim clerics who
oppose the acquisition of knowledge, his anti- Semitism is in some
way understandable. This is reminiscent of what many said about
Hitler's anti-Semitism in the 1930s: it was inexcusable but
calculated, and thus it was ultimately both excusable and in the
service of a good cause, the modernization of Germany and its
reintegration into the community of nations.

For Krugman, Mahathir's "hateful words" serve only to "cover his
domestic flank." They do not tell you anything about his own
thinking, but they tell you "more accurately than any poll, just
how strong the rising tide of anti- Americanism and anti-Semitism
among Muslims in Southeast Asia has become." And what is the cause
of this tide? It is America's "war in Iraq and its unconditional
support for Ariel Sharon." Just as Mahathir is not anti-Semitic,
but merely a good reader of his people's collective mind, so, too,
his people are not anti-Semitic, but merely outraged by the same
things that outrage Krugman: Ariel Sharon and George W. Bush.

The Malaysian prime minister's speech was both more offensive and
more interesting than most commentators (including Krugman) have
observed. In many ways it was a restatement of the urge to
modernize, and the will to power, and the fantasies of destruction,
that characterized fascism. Mahathir proposes to "disprove the
perception of Islam as a religion of backwardness and terror." He
wants to "restore the honor of Islam and of the Muslims" and "to
free their brothers and sisters from the oppression and humiliation
from which they suffer today." What sort of action does Mahathir
propose? In part, as Krugman pointed out, he was indeed critical of
the intellectual and political decline of Islam. He thus insisted
that, although according to Islam "we are enjoined ... to acquire
knowledge," it was due to "intellectual regression" that "the great
Muslim civilization began to falter and wither," causing it to miss
entirely the Industrial Revolution. Yet other influences from the
West actually subverted Islam, among which he counts "the Western
democratic system" that "divided us." Moreover, it was thanks to
this democratically induced division that the Europeans "could
excise Muslim land to create the state of Israel to solve their
Jewish problem." Thus the West both denied the Muslims the means to
defend themselves through modern technology and industry and divided
them by the introduction of democracy, all with the goal of solving
a European "Jewish problem" at the expense of Islamic lands.

This "Jewish problem" is not at all peripheral to Mahathir's
argument, a sort of tithe to the masses and the clerics so as to
push his program of modernization. It is central to his thinking.
Modernization is justified, in his account, by the necessity of
destroying the entity that has penetrated the Muslim world and
polluted its soul. For, as he says, "we are all oppressed. We are
all being humiliated." And thus the numerical and economic strength
of Muslims must be complemented by military prowess: "We are now
1.3 billion strong. We have the biggest oil reserve in the world.
We have great wealth.... We control 57 out of 180 countries in
world. Our votes can make or break international organizations....
[But] we need guns and rockets, bombs and warplanes, tanks and
warships for our defense." Hitler used to mock those who were
obsessed with obscure Germanic traditions, who were filled with rage
at the defeat of 1918 and dreamed up all sorts of harebrained
conspiracies in marginal militant fraternities. He wanted to build
a powerful modern military. He was, in this way, a modernizer.

Mahathir, for his part, notes that

today we, the whole Muslim ummah are treated with contempt and
dishonor.... Our only reaction is to become more and more angry.
Angry people cannot think properly. And so we find people reacting
irrationally. They launch their own attacks, killing just about
anybody ... to vent their anger and frustration.... But the attacks
solve nothing. The Muslims simply get more oppressed.... The
Muslims will forever be oppressed and dominated by the Europeans and
the Jews... . Is there no other way than to ask our young people to
blow themselves up and kill people and invite the massacre of more
of our own people?

This is the voice of the rational politician. This is not an Arab
preaching an endless cycle of revenge, but an Asian Muslim calling
for patience and calculation. Suicide bombers will never win the
war. There must be another way. After all, "1.3 billion Muslims
cannot be defeated by a few million Jews." Hence we need "to think,
to assess our weaknesses and our strength, to plan, to strategize
and then to counter attack.... [To] devise a plan, a strategy that
can win us final victory.... It is winning the struggle that is
important, not angry retaliation, not revenge." Is this merely a
subtle way of calling on Muslims to focus on their own societies
rather than waste their energies on the struggle with Israel?
Perhaps. But it is just as possible that Mahathir, like so many
before him, means what he says. And Mahathir paints the Jewish enemy
in colors taken directly from Hitler's diabolical palette:

The enemy will probably welcome these proposals and we will conclude
that the promoters are working for the enemy. But think. We are up
against a people who think. They survived 2000 years of pogroms not
by hitting back, but by thinking. They invented and successfully
promoted Socialism, Communism, human rights and democracy so that
persecuting them would appear to be wrong, so they may enjoy equal
rights with others. With these they have now gained control of the
most powerful countries and they, this tiny community, have become a
world power. We cannot fight them through brawn alone. We must use
our brains also.

The Islamists need none of the fancy extenuations offered by certain
European and American intellectuals. For they have a direct link
with anti- Semitism going all the way back to the Nazis. Mahathir's
anti-Semitic pronouncement was not simply triggered by frustration
with the lack of development in Islamic countries, or by rage at
American and Israeli policies, or by some deep-seated traditional
Muslim anti-Semitism. The analysis that he presented reflects,
rather, the continuing impact of a relatively new and pernicious
phenomenon, whose roots can be traced back to the foundation of the
Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt in 1928 and its success in launching
Islamism as a mass movement. As the German political scientist
Matthias Kntzel has recently shown in his book on "jihad and
Jew-hatred", Islamism quickly became a primarily anti-Zionist and
anti-Semitic movement that was greatly influenced by European
anti-Semitism and directly influenced by Nazism. Indeed, as anti-
Semitism lost its impetus as a revolutionary political movement in
Europe in the wake of World War II, it was transplanted to the
Middle East and from there to other parts of the Muslim world.

This development was responsible for the slaughter of Daniel Pearl
in Pakistan, which was explicitly anti-Semitic in its motivation.
The reluctance of the Western media to concede that Pearl was not
murdered as an American, a journalist, a "spy," or as someone who
might have uncovered connections between the Pakistani secret
service and Al Qaeda, but first and foremost as a Jew--in what was
after all a highly ritualized act of killing recorded on
videotape-- merely manifests the embarrassment that European and
American observers feel upon discovering that one of the dirtiest
"secrets" of Christian civilization has been so seamlessly
transplanted into the Islamic world. After all, it is more
difficult to empathize with the plight of those who are still
largely victims of Western economic exploitation if they turn out
to be led by murderous bigots flaunting slogans that recall
Europe's own genocidal past.

But the most explicit and frightening link between Hitler's
anti-Semitism and the contemporary wave of violence, hatred,
paranoia, and conspiracy theories can be found, first, in the
testimony given by the perpetrators of the September 11 terrorist
attacks, and, second, in the official charter of the Palestinian
Hamas movement.

As Kntzel writes, citing the Reuters reporter Christian Eggers,
during the trial of Mounir el Motassadeq, a core member of the Al
Qaeda cell in Hamburg that planned the attacks of September 11, the
motivation of the perpetrators was amply documented, but the media
have not reported much of what was said at the trial, which took
place in Hamburg, Germany, between October 2002 and February 2003.
The witness Shahid Nickels, a member of Mohammed Atta's core group,
insisted that "Atta's worldview 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." Nickels said that Atta's group was "convinced that Jews
control the American government as well as the media and the
economy of the United States... that a world-wide conspiracy of Jews
exists. .. [that] America wants to dominate the world so that Jews
can pile up capital."

Similarly, the witness Ahmed Maglad, who participated in the group's
meetings, testified that "for us, Israel didn't have any right to
exist as a state.... We believed ... the USA ... to be the mother
of Israel." And Ralf Gtsche, who shared the student dormitory with
Motassadeq, testified that the accused had said: "What Hitler did
to the Jews was not at all bad," and commented that "Motassadeq's
attitude was blatantly anti-Semitic."

There is a history to such statements, which connects the
anti-Semitism of Al Qaeda members planning mass murder in Hamburg
in the 1990s to the anti- Semitism of Hitler fantasizing about mass
murder in Munich in the 1920s. It is not difficult to find. The
charter of the Hamas movement, issued in 1988 as the fundamental
document of this Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, must
be read to be believed. It contains, among its fundamentalist
Islamic preachings, the most blatant anti-Semitic statements made
in a publicly available document since Hitler's own pronouncements.
Citing an array of Islamic sources, Hamas promises that "Israel
will rise and will remain erect until Islam eliminates it as it had
eliminated its predecessors." The Islamic Resistance Movement has
"raised the banner of Jihad in the face of the oppressors in order
to extricate the country and the people from the [oppressors']
desecration, filth and evil." The Prophet, remember, said that "the
time will not come until Muslims will fight the Jews (and kill
them); until the Jews hide behind rocks and trees, which will cry:
O Muslim! There is a Jew hiding behind me, come on and kill him!"
Here there is no talk of compromise or reconciliation. The document
states plainly that "the so-called peaceful solutions, and the
international conferences to resolve the Palestinian problem, are
all contrary to the beliefs of the Islamic Resistance Movement. For
renouncing any part of Palestine means renouncing part of the
religion.... The initiatives, proposals, and International
Conferences are but a waste of time, an exercise in futility."

The opposition expressed by Hamas to any compromise over Palestine
is also intimately linked with its view of the Jewish-Zionist
enemy. These enemies, according to the charter,

have been scheming for a long time.... They accumulated a huge and
influential material wealth ... [which] permitted them to take over
control of the world media such as news agencies, the press,
publication houses, broadcasting and the like. [They also used
this] wealth to stir revolutions in various parts of the globe, in
order to fulfill their interests and pick the fruits. They stood
behind the French and the Communist Revolutions and behind most of
the revolutions we hear about here and there. They also used the
money to establish clandestine organizations which are spreading
around the world, in order to destroy societies and carry out
Zionist interests. Such organizations are: the Freemasons, Rotary
Clubs, Lions Clubs, B'nai B'rith and the like. All of them are
destructive spying organizations. They also used the money to take
over control of the Imperialist states and made them colonize many
countries in order to exploit the wealth of those countries and
spread their corruption therein ... they stood behind World War I
... and took control of many sources of wealth. They obtained the
Balfour Declaration and established the League of Nations in order
to rule the world.... They also stood behind World War II, where
they collected immense benefits from trading with war materials and
prepared for the establishment of their state. They inspired the
United Nations and the Security Council ... in order to rule the
world.... There was no war that broke out anywhere without their
fingerprints on it.... The forces of Imperialism in both the
Capitalist West and the Communist East support the enemy with all
their might, in material and human terms....

This international Jewish conspiracy to take over the world has also
a moral goal. For, as this document goes on to say, the "secret
organizations" working for Zionism "strive to demolish societies,
to destroy values, to wreck answerableness, to totter virtues and
to wipe out Islam." Zionism "stands behind the diffusion of drugs
and toxics of all kinds in order to facilitate its control and
expansion." To be sure, Hamas has its own expansionist goals, for
it plans to control the entire region of the Middle East, promising
in turn "safety and security ... for the members of the three
religions" as long as they agree to live "under the shadow of
Islam." But Hamas "is only hostile to those who are hostile towards
it, or stand in its way in order to disturb its moves or to
frustrate its efforts" to dominate the region. Meanwhile "Zionist
scheming has no end, and after Palestine they will covet expansion
from the Nile to the Euphrates.... Their scheme 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." Hitler could not have put
it better.

So Hitler is dead, but there is a Hitlerite quality to the new
anti-Semitism, which now legitimizes not only opposition to Zionism
but also the resurrection of the myth of Jewish world domination.
And those who foolishly think that doing away with Israel, not
least in a "one-state solution," would remove anti- Semitism had
better look more closely at the language of these enemies. For
they--I mean the enemies--insist that the Jews are everywhere, and
so they must be uprooted everywhere. Their outpost may be Israel,
but their "power center" is in America, and their synagogues and
intellectuals are in Germany and France, and their academics are in
Russia and Britain. Since they are the cause of all evil and
misfortune, the world will be a happier place without them, whether
it is dominated by the Aryan Master Race or by the ideological
soldiers of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Hitler taught humanity an important lesson. It is that when you see
a Nazi, a fascist, a bigot, or an anti-Semite, say what you see. If
you want to justify it or excuse it away, describe accurately what
it is that you are trying to excuse away. If a British newspaper
publishes an anti-Semitic cartoon, call it anti-Semitic. If the
attacks on the Twin Towers were animated by anti-Semitic arguments,
say so. If a Malaysian prime minister expresses anti-Semitic views,
do not try to excuse the inexcusable. If a self-proclaimed
liberation organization calls for the extermination of the Jewish
state, do not pretend that it is calling for anything else. The
absence of clarity is the beginning of complicity.

By Omer Bartov

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