I’m an expert on Islamism but even I was shocked at how October 7 was celebrated

German historian and political scientist Dr Matthias Küntzel sees the influence of Nazi Germany in the virulent antisemitism now evident in the Arab world


LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 9: People wave flags and flares as they take part in a demonstration in support of Palestine at the Israeli Embassy on October 9, 2023 in London, England. Protesters are demanding that Israel puts an end to its cycle of violence against the Palestinian people. This call to action comes after the Israel Defense Forces initiated air strikes on Gaza late Saturday in response to a surprise attack on Israel from the Palestinian militant group Hamas. (Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)

Footage of Muslims celebrating Hamas’s atrocities on October 7 has been deeply shocking — even for an expert on Jew-hate in the Arab world.

Dr Matthias Küntzel, a German historian and political scientist who documents in a new book how the dehumanisation of Jews in the Muslim world has its roots in Nazi propaganda, told the JC that even he was stunned to see people praising terrorists after they butchered women and children.

Nazis, Islamic Antisemitism and the Middle East describes in detail how the Nazis took pains to disseminate anti-Jewish hate through their Arabic-language propaganda outlets.

The book also presents new evidence showing how the perception of Jews in the Islamic world changed between 1937 and 1948 under the influence of the Nazis.
Küntzel, who is not Jewish, previously worked in academia.

During his career he has delivered lectures on the topic at institutions including Yale University and Pennsylvania State University in the US and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. His previous works include the 2007 title Jihad and Jew-Hatred: Islamism, Nazism and the Roots of 9/11.

Küntzel defines Islamic antisemitism as a “particularly virulent and dangerous” strain of Jew-hatred because it is informed by antisemitism from two different periods in mankind’s history.

“Historically in the Muslim world, the image of the Jew is quite different from that of the Christian view,” Küntzel said.

“In the Muslim world, it was Muhammad who killed the Jews, while in the Christian world it was Jews who allegedly killed God’s only son. The Christian world saw Jews as diabolical, the big evil, and that they are suffering because of this evil, while in the Islamic world Jews are considered to be cowards, inferior, and subhuman.

“Islamic antisemitism then is a special kind of antisemitism that brings together the bad notions of Jews from the 7th century with the bad notions of Jews of the Christian world in the 20th century.”

This unholy blend developed in the 1930s, when the Third Reich played a major role in changing the image of the Jew in the Arab world, he said.

Their main instrument of propaganda, Küntzel says, was through radio broadcasts from Berlin in Arabic that were transmitted across the Middle East and North Africa, where there were already latent anti-Jewish currents.

These broadcasts would use verses from the Quran to “convince the Arabs that Jews were like devils”, Küntzel said.

This theory, Küntzel said, is reflected in the Hamas charter, published in 1988: “They [adopted] a lot of Nazi language, and charge Jews with being responsible for both world wars and every historical revolution, controlling the world’s media, while simultaneously hiding like cowards behind trees. They even quote from the The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.”

Reflecting on the October 7 atrocities, he added: “Hamas killed indiscriminately, shooting… any direction there was a Jew. It did not matter if that Jew was a fan of Netanyahu or anti-Netanyahu, if he was a baby or an old man, it is not a factor, only that he is a Jew.”

The attacks did not surprise Küntzel. “I deal with this ideology and know what it is like. It dehumanises Jewish people in rhetoric, and then dehumanises them in practice,” he said, but the celebrations that broke out among some Muslim populations afterwards did.
Küntzel was also shocked at how quickly the world “ate up” Hamas’s version of events after last Tuesday’s explosion at Gaza’s Al-Ahli Arab Hospital.

Immediately after the explosion media outlets amplified the claim by the Hamas-controlled Ministry of Health that it was caused by an Israeli missile strike. Later analysis of the scene and footage of the blast revealed the most probable cause to be a misfiring rocket launched by Palestinian terrorists.

Küntzel said: “[Hamas] know that if they blame the Jews, people will be jubilant and fill the streets.”

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