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Arab Responses to Fascism and Nazism

Arab Responses to Fascism and Nazism: Attraction and Repulsion

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    Arab Responses to Fascism and Nazism
    Book Description:

    The first book to present an analysis of Arab response to fascism and Nazism from the perspectives of both individual countries and the Arab world at large, this collection problematizes and ultimately deconstructs the established narratives that assume most Arabs supported fascism and Nazism leading up to and during World War II. Using new source materials taken largely from Arab memoirs, archives, and print media, the articles reexamine Egyptian, Syrian, Lebanese, Palestinian, and Iraqi responses in the 1930s and throughout the war.While acknowledging the individuals, forces, and organizations that did support and collaborate with Nazi Germany and fascist Italy, Arab Responses to Fascism and Nazism focuses on the many other Arab voices that identified with Britain and France and with the Allied cause during the war. The authors argue that many groups within Arab societies—elites and non-elites, governing forces, and civilians—rejected Nazism and fascism as totalitarian, racist, and, most important, as new, more oppressive forms of European imperialism. The essays in this volume argue that, in contrast to prevailing beliefs that Arabs were de facto supporters of Italy and Germany—since "the enemy of my enemy is my friend"—mainstream Arab forces and currents opposed the Axis powers and supported the Allies during the war. They played a significant role in the battles for control over the Middle East.

    eISBN: 978-0-292-75746-2
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-xii)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xiii-xvi)
    Israel Gershoni
  5. Introduction: An Analysis of Arab Responses to Fascism and Nazism in Middle Eastern Studies
    (pp. 1-32)

    Arab responses to Fascism and Nazism during the interwar era and World War II have preoccupied scholars of the Middle East since the early 1950s. A basic assumption that underpinned ongoing scholarly curiosity was that Arab contacts and experiences with Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany definitively influenced individuals and groups in the Arab Middle East from 1933 to 1945. These totalitarian influences were understood to have penetrated Arab politics, society, and culture, leaving behind an indelible authoritarian legacy. At the core of this assumption stands the claim that radical political forces and organizations that emerged in the 1930s and 1940s...

  6. PART 1. Syria and Lebanon

    • CHAPTER 1 A Challenge to the Local Order: Reactions to Nazism in the Syrian and Lebanese Press
      (pp. 35-54)

      The Lebanese and Syrian public closely followed developments in National Socialist Germany. Nazism, as a political regime and an ideology, was a regular topic in local debates; it was scrutinized for signposts with potential directions for future reform and the local political culture in countries under French mandate. As in other countries in this region, the fascination was widespread for modernization projects that promised to rebuild the future of the nation. Nazism in Germany was one of a number of potential models; Fascism in Italy, Kemalism in Turkey, Communism in Soviet Russia, and the authoritarian modernization of Iran were other...

    • CHAPTER 2 Against the Tide: The Secret Alliance between the Syrian National Bloc Leaders and Great Britain, 1941–1942
      (pp. 55-72)

      On December 15, 1940, Nuri al-Sa‘id, former Iraqi prime minister and now foreign minister, sent a letter to the prime minister, Rashid Ali al-Gailani, who headed the pro-German camp, following the escalating tension between Iraq and Great Britain. Referring to the mood that had prevailed in the summer after the German Blitzkrieg in Western Europe, he noted:

      The fall of France put fear among the Iraqi people as well as among other nations, so much so that they began to seek solutions to ensure its very existence. The situation reached a stage that some of its leaders came to the...

    • CHAPTER 3 Memoirs Do Not Deceive: Syrians Confront Fascism and Nazism—as Reflected in the Memoirs of Syrian Political Leaders and Intellectuals
      (pp. 73-98)

      Nassuh Babil (1905–1986) was one of Syria’s leading journalists during the first years of the country’s independence. He was the owner and editor of Damascus’s leading daily newspaper in those days,al-Ayyam, which he purchased in 1932. He also served as chairman of the Association of Syrian Journalists from 1943 until 1963, when the Ba‘th Party carried out its coup d’état. Babil also tried his hand at politics. He linked up at first with ‘Abd al-Rahman Shahbandar, leader of the People’s Party, and after Shahbandar was assassinated in 1940, he drew close to Shukri al-Quwatli, one of the prominent...

  7. PART 2. Palestine

    • CHAPTER 4 More than the Mufti: Other Arab-Palestinian Voices on Nazi Germany, 1933–1945, and Their Postwar Narrations
      (pp. 101-126)

      The story of the “grand mufti,” al-Hajj Amin al-Husayni, is the most famous—or infamous—example of Arab collaboration with Nazi Germany. Various historians have shown the extent of Husayni’s pro-Nazi and anti-Semitic activities in Germany and the Balkans during the war. He is regularly referred to as a symbol of an alleged “natural” Arab or Islamic inclination toward Nazism and anti-Semitism. In the highly politicized debate on Islamist terrorism and the roots of the Middle East conflict, the mufti is mentioned by some as proof of either anti-Semitic notions in Islamic tradition or extremist Arab nationalist ideology, and thus...

    • CHAPTER 5 The Spanish Civil War as Reflected in Contemporary Palestinian Press
      (pp. 127-138)

      The Palestinian press included in its reports references to the Spanish Civil War, recognized as an internationally constitutive event, although it vied for space with the Palestinian revolt of 1936–1939. The war in Spain was usually portrayed as part of journalistic coverage of ongoing events, consisting of information on both sides of the conflict: Republican communist forces on the Left and national Fascist forces led by General Francisco Franco on the Right. However, it was not unusual for writers or editorials to express support for one side or the other. The writers’ political views were evident from the descriptions...

    • [Illustrations]
      (pp. None)
  8. PART 3. Iraq

    • CHAPTER 6 Iraqi Shadows, Iraqi Lights: Anti-Fascist and Anti-Nazi Voices in Monarchic Iraq, 1932–1941
      (pp. 141-168)

      The grandmother of the protagonist in Khalid Kishtainy’s autobiographical novel,Tales from Old Baghdad: Grandma and I, suffers from insomnia. Having been married to a Turkish officer and longing for the return of the glorious days of the Ottoman Empire, the grandmother relies on the advice of a “German” doctor. In her mind, Germany is connected with the much-missed Ottoman past:

      My father had to step in and call Dr. Max Macowiskey, the Polish family doctor whom grandma insisted in identifying as German, for all good Europeans, to her, were German, just as all wicked Europeans were English. The worse...

  9. PART 4. Egypt

    • CHAPTER 7 The View from the Embassy: British Assessments of Egyptian Attitudes during World War II
      (pp. 171-194)

      Some appreciation of Egyptian attitudes regarding World War II and its protagonists can be obtained from the assessments of Egyptian public opinion found in the reports of British officials posted in Egypt. British evaluations of the mood of the Egyptian public during the war provide a partial, although indirect and tangential, indicator of wartime Egyptian sentiment. Maintaining control of Egypt was vital to the British war effort, especially in the early years of the war when North Africa was an active theater of combat. Accordingly, British officials in Egypt paid close attention to the state of Egyptian public opinion and...

    • CHAPTER 8 The Rise of Homemade Egyptian Communism: A Response to the Challenge Posed by Fascism and Nazism?
      (pp. 195-216)

      From the late 1930s, links between international communism and the last remnants of the Egyptian communist movement had hardly existed. This state of affairs would affect the course of the latter’s development. At the same time, the existing labyrinth of Anglo-Egyptian relations and the growing national and social discontent led to the appearance of new radical platforms—both leftist and rightist in their content.

      Whereas right-wing orientations were formulated and led by educated Egyptians, notably Muslims, left-wing trends were a combination of both veteran communists (members of the communist movement of the 1920s and 1930s) and, more noticeably, new ideological...

    • CHAPTER 9 “The Crime of Nazism against Humanity”: Ahmad Hasan al-Zayyat and the Outbreak of World War II
      (pp. 217-242)

      A commonly held theme in the narration of Egyptian intellectual history in the interwar era is that the 1930s ushered in “the shift of Egyptian intellectuals to Islamic subjects.”¹ This trend coalesced and expanded in the latter part of the 1930s and the beginning of the 1940s, as it was expressed through the production of a vast corpus of texts and publications about seventh-century Islamic history, particularly biographies of the Prophet, the rightly guided caliphs (al-khulafa’ al-rashidun), and other Islamic heroes. The very shift to Islam was a topic that was widely debated and contested in scholarly literature. An early...

    • CHAPTER 10 The War and the Holocaust in the Egyptian Public Discourse, 1945–1947
      (pp. 243-268)

      Post–World War II Egypt was a country of great expectations for the fulfillment of its national aspirations in accordance with the promise epitomized in the advent of a new era of world order. Although its parliament resolved to join the war on the Allies’ side in February 1945 with a very small margin and Prime Minister Ahmad Mahir paid with his life for it, official spokesmen and the newspapers went out of their way to express their joy over the victory of democracy, and of humanitarian, liberal, and universal values. Moreover, they emphasized Egypt’s role in the war and...

  10. PART 5. Other Arab Voices

    • CHAPTER 11 The Tiger and the Lion: Fascism and Ethiopia in Arab Eyes
      (pp. 271-288)

      The “Ethiopian Crisis” of 1935 had a tremendous impact on global history. It destroyed the “collective security” concept of the League of Nations and opened a chain of developments that eventually led to the outbreak of World War II. In Arab societies of the Middle East, the international crisis inspired the emergence of a new “political generation.” The students’ riots in Egypt of November–December, the youth demonstrations in Damascus in December, the Palestinian revolt that began in April 1936, and the military takeover in Iraq of October 1936 marked new beginnings in the region’s political culture. Some of the...

  11. Notes
    (pp. 289-344)
  12. Selected Bibliography
    (pp. 345-354)
  13. About the Contributors
    (pp. 355-358)
  14. Index
    (pp. 359-368)