The Mufti of Jerusalem inspects a unit of the Handschar (Scimitar) division
If, like me, you missed the BBC Radio 4 programme Hitler's Muslim Legions, despair not - some kind soul has uploaded it on YouTube (Part 1, Part 2 andPart 3).
However, the programme turns out to be another BBC whitewash and revisionist attempt to downplay the Arab-Nazi alliance. Although the BBC assembled the requisite experts on this subject - Norman Stone, a professor of Soviet history, Jonathan Trigg, the author of Hitler's Jihadis, Matthias Kuntzel, a German authority on the Nazi roots of Muslim antisemitism, the programme gives a platform to the disingenuous professor Gilbert Achcar whose mission in life seems to be to downplay the Arabs' Nazi connection and the role of the Mufti of Jerusalem.
To believe the BBC, you would think that the Nazis hastily recruited Muslims during the war because they had run out of genuine Aryans. The truth is that Arabs and Muslims ceased to be viewed as inferiors back in the 1930s. Achcar misleads by inferring that Hitler made an exception of the Mufti and agreed to meet him because 'he didn't look Semitic' with his red hair and blue eyes.
The programme gives the impression that Muslims only joined the Nazis for opportunistic reasons ('starve or join'). It misleadingly lumps together Muslim deserters from the Soviet army with elite SS divisions in the Balkans. According to the Muslim expert Taj Hargey, the Bosnian Muslims only wanted to get their own back on the Serbs and the Croats. They were struggling to survive, and find 'their place in the sun.' ....So that's alright then.
The programme portrays the Muslim recruits as homesick and ready to desert to the Allies at the drop of a helmet. The Scimitar (Handschar) division committed atrocities, but these were 'no worse than any others'. We are not told how these troops burned Serb churches and slaughtered 90 percent of Bosnian Jews*, nor are we given examples of their unspeakable cruelty.
Achcar says that the Mufti was only a figurehead, an (ineffectual) intellectual. The Mufti's long record of anti-Jewish murder and incitement, not just in Palestine but across the Arab world, is barely alluded to. The Mufti personally recruited not just the Waffen SS Scimitar division but the Albanian Skanderberg Division, and sent tens of thousands of Jews to their deaths, egging on the Nazis themselves in their genocidal project. The only person to allude to the Mufti's fundamental role in spreading an enduring legacy of antisemitism in the Arab world is Matthias Kuntzel, but his voice is rather drowned out.
Achcar is allowed to get away with the lie that the Mufti was 'discredited' amongst Arabs and Palestinians for being 'associated with defeat'. Yet Yasser Arafat was quoted as recently as 2002 saying that the Mufti, his mentor and model, was his 'hero'. When Palestinian police first greeted Arafat in the self-rule areas, they offered the infamous Nazi salute - the right arm raised straight and upward. Hitler's autobiography Mein Kampf is a bestseller not just in Palestine, but across the Arab world.
But the BBC is embarrassed at the mere juxtaposition of 'Hitler' and 'Muslims', and even more anxious to deny any association between the Nazis and the Palestinians, the 'darlings' of the Left. "Circumstances, not ideology, brought Muslims and Nazis together," the programme demurs, and millions of listeners, who do not know any better, will concur.
Hezbollah members give the Nazi salute
Antonio J Muñoz, Lions of the Desert: Arab Volunteers in the German Army
Jeffrey Herf, Nazi Propaganda for the Arab World
Matthias Kuntzel, Jihad and Jew-hatred
Jonathan Trigg, Hitler's Jihadis: Muslim Volunteers of the SS (Hitler's Legions)
Martin Sugarman, Fighting back
James Holland, Italy's sorrow
*Bosnian Muslims collaborated with Croats in the deaths of Jews. The figure is over 80 percent - assuming that 65,000 Yugoslav Jews died in the Holocaust out of a pre-war population of 81,000. See comments below.