For Gilbert Achcar to write that the “Nazi-Islamist wartime collaboration” is “a figment of Herf’s and his co-thinkers’ imagination” is yet further evidence of the dismissal of evidence that mars his own work. It is also a bizarre neglect of evidence of enthusiasm for Nazism by Islamist ideologues in addition to Husseini that Achcar presents in his own book. Hajj Amin al-Husseini was both a radical Arab nationalist as well as one of the significant contributors to Islamist ideology and politics in the twentieth century. The evidence of his contributions to the traditions of Islamism, that is, his selective reading of the traditions of Islam in ways that fostered both support for Nazism and radical anti-Semitism, was both broadcast on the radio and published in print at the time.
The details of collaboration and of the cultural fusion that resulted have been elaborated by further archival work. Readers can readily view that evidence for themselves in my own recent work on collaboration in the field of propaganda as well as in English translations of two important works or recent years by German scholars. Klaus Gensicke offers abundant detail of Husseini’s collaboration with high ranking officials of the Nazi regime in The Mufti of Jerusalem and the Nazis: The Berlin Years. Klaus-Michael Mallmann and Martin Cüppers’s Nazi Palestine: The Plans for the Extermination of the Jews in Palestine explores the impact of that collaboration in Nazi military policy in North Africa and in the Balkans. Achcar is a writer who does not work in archives. Given the thin foundations in evidence for his claims and attacks, it is disturbing that he attacks the labors of scholars who do so.
His comments about Zionism as a “fundamentally racist colonial movement” illustrate the partisanship that I referred to in my review.
To read Jeffrey Herf's original review, click here.
To read Gilbert Achcar's response, click here.