Wednesday, October 17, 2007


By Matthias Kuentzel

This is the lecture that the University of Leeds tried to suppress. On March 14, 2007, Kuentzel was due to address the University of Leeds in England on the topic ‘Hitler’s Legacy: Islamic Antisemitism in the Middle East.’ However, several hours before the talk was due to take place, the talk was unexpectedly cancelled due to "security concerns," following protest e-mails from some of the university's Muslim students. Excerpts only below. Full text here. Background on Kuentzel here

Despite common misconceptions, Islamism was born not during the 1960s but during the 1930s. Its rise was inspired not by the failure of Nasserism but by the rise of Fascism and of Nazism. It was the Organization of the Muslim Brotherhood, founded in 1928 in Egypt, that established Islamism as a mass movement. The significance of the Brotherhood to Islamism is comparable to that of the Bolshevik party to communism: It was and remains to this day the ideological reference point and organizational core for all later Islamist groups, including al-Qaeda and Hamas or the group around Sidique Khan.

It is true that British colonial policy produced Islamism, insofar as Islamism viewed itself as a resistance movement against "cultural modernity." Their "liberation struggle", however, had more in common with the "liberation struggle" of the Nazis than with any kind of progressive movement. Thus, the Brotherhood advocated the replacement of Parliamentarianism by an "organic" state order based on the Caliphate. It demanded the abolition of interest and profit in favour of a forcibly imposed community of interests between capital and labour.

At the forefront of the Brotherhood's efforts lay the struggle against all the sensual and "materialistic" temptations of the capitalist and communist world. At the tender age of 13, the pubescent al-Banna had founded a "Society for the Prevention of the Forbidden", and this is in essence what the Brothers were and are - a community of male zealots, whose primary concern is to prevent all the sensual and sexual sins forbidden according to their interpretation of the Koran. Their signature was most clearly apparent when they periodically reduced their local night clubs, brothels and cinemas - constantly identified with Jewish influence - to ashes.

Gripped by this phobia, the Society of Muslim Brothers, from the day of its foundation, provided a haven for any man dedicated to the restoration of male supremacy. At the very time when the liberation of women from the inferiority decreed by Islam was gradually getting under way, the Muslim Brotherhood set itself up as the rallying point for the restoration of patriarchal domination.

It was on the one hand a conservative religious movement: For al-Banna, only a return to orthodox Islam could pave the way for an end to the intolerable conditions and humiliations of Muslims, and newly establish the righteous Islamic order. It was at the same time a revolutionary political movement and as such in many respects a trailblazer. The Brotherhood was the first Islamic organization to put down roots in the cities and to organize a mass movement able in 1948 to muster one million people in Egypt alone. It was a populist and activist, not an elitist movement and it was the first movement that systematically set about building a kind of "Islamist international."

The Islamists' answer to everything was the call for a new order based on Sharia. But the Brotherhood's jihad was not directed primarily against the British. Rather, it focused almost exclusively on Zionism and the Jews. Membership in the Brotherhood shot up from 800 to 200,000 between 1936 and 1938. In those two years the Brotherhood conducted only one major campaign in Egypt, a campaign directed against Zionism and the Jews.

The starting shot for this campaign, which established the Brotherhood as an Anti-Semitic mass movement, was fired by a rebellion in Palestine directed against Jewish immigration and initiated by the notorious Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Amin al-Husseini. The Brotherhood organized mass demonstrations in Egyptian cities under the slogans "Down With the Jews!" and "Jews Get Out of Egypt and Palestine!" Their Jew-hatred drew on the one hand on Islamic sources. First, Islamists considered, and still consider, Palestine an Islamic territory, Dar al-Islam, where Jews must not run a single village, let alone a state. Second, Islamists justify their aspiration to eliminate the Jews of Palestine by invoking the example of Muhammad, who in the 7th century not only expelled two Jewish tribes from Medina, but also beheaded the entire male population of a third Jewish tribe, before proceeding to sell all the women and children into slavery. Third, they find support and encouragement for their actions and plans in the Koranic dictum that Jews are to be considered the worst enemy of the believers.

Their Jew-hatred was also inspired by Nazi influences: Leaflets called for a boycott of Jewish goods and Jewish shops, and the Brotherhood's newspaper, al-Nadhir, carried a regular column on "The Danger of the Jews of Egypt," which published the names and addresses of Jewish businessmen and allegedly Jewish newspaper publishers all over the world, attributing every evil, from communism to brothels, to the "Jewish danger."

The Brotherhood's campaign used not only Nazi-like patterns of action and slogans but also German funding. As the historian Brynjar Lia recounts in his monograph on the Brotherhood, "Documents seized in the flat of Wilhelm Stellbogen, the Director of the German News Agency affiliated to the German Legation in Cairo, show that prior to October 1939 the Muslim Brothers received subsidies from this organization. Stellbogen was instrumental in transferring these funds to the Brothers, which were considerably larger than the subsidies offered to other anti-British activists. These transfers appear to have been co-ordinated by Hajj Amin al-Husseini and some of his Palestinian contacts in Cairo.

To summarize our first trip into history: We saw that the rise of Nazism and Islamism took place in the same period. This was no accident, for both movements represented attempts to answer the world economic crisis of 1929 and the crisis of liberal capitalism. However different their answers may have been, they shared a crucial central feature: in both cases the sense of belonging to a homogeneous community was created through mobilizing against the Jews.

Initially, however, European Anti-Semitism had proved to be an ineffective tool in the Arab world. Why? Because the European fantasy of the Jewish world conspiracy was foreign to the original Islamic view of the Jews. Only in the legend of Jesus Christ did the Jews appear as a deadly and powerful force who allegedly went so far as to kill God's only son. Islam was quite a different story. Here it was not the Jews who murdered the Prophet, but the Prophet who in Medina murdered the Jews. As a result, the characteristic features of Christian Anti-Semitism did not develop in the Muslim world. There were no fears of Jewish conspiracy and domination, no charges of diabolic evil. Instead, the Jews were treated with contempt or condescending tolerance. This cultural inheritance made the idea that the Jews of all people could represent a permanent danger for the Muslims and might control the media and politics in league with Freemasons seem absurd. This brings us to our second point: The transfer of European Anti-Semitism to the Muslim world between 1937 and 1945 under the impact of Nazi Propaganda.

Islamism and National Socialism.

Amin al-Husseini, the infamous Mufti of Jerusalem, who was closely connected to the Muslim Brotherhood, was already seeking an alliance with Nazi Germany as early as spring 1933. At first, however, Berlin was dismissive. On the one hand, Hitler had already stated his belief in the "racial inferiority" of the Arabs in Mein Kampf while, on the other, the Nazis were extremely anxious not to jeopardise British appeasement. In June 1937, however, the Nazis changed course. The trigger was the Peel Plans two-state solution. Berlin wanted at all costs to prevent the birth of a Jewish state and thus welcomed the Muftis advances. Arab antisemitism would now get a powerful new promoter.

A central role in the propaganda offensive was played by a Nazi wireless station, now almost totally forgotten. Since the 1936 Berlin Olympics, a village called Zeesen, located to the south of Berlin, had been home to what was at the time the worlds most powerful short-wave radio transmitter. Between April 1939 and April 1945, Radio Zeesen reached out to the illiterate Muslim masses through daily Arabic programmes, which also went out in Persian and Turkish. At that time listening to the radio in the Arab world took place primarily in public squares or bazaars and coffee houses. No other station was more popular than this Nazi Zeesen service, which skilfully mingled Anti-Semitic propaganda with quotations from the Koran, and Arabic music. The Second World War allies were presented as lackeys of the Jews and the picture of the "United Jewish Nations" drummed into the audience. At the same time, the Jews were attacked as the worst enemies of Islam: "The Jew since the time of Muhammad has never been a friend of the Muslim, the Jew is the enemy and it pleases Allah to kill him".

Since 1941, Zeesens Arabic programming had been directed by the Mufti of Jerusalem who had emigrated to Berlin. The Muftis aim was to "unite all the Arab lands in a common hatred of the British and Jews", as he wrote in a letter to Adolf Hitler. Anti-Semitism, based on the notion of a Jewish world conspiracy, however, was not rooted in Islamic tradition but, rather, in European ideological models.

The Mufti therefore seized on the only instrument that really moved the Arab masses: Islam. He invented a new form of Jew-hatred by recasting it in an Islamic mould. He was the first to translate Christian Anti-Semitism into Islamic language, thus creating an "Islamic Anti-Semitism". His first major manifesto bore the title "Islam-Judaism, Appeal of the Grand Mufti to the Islamic World in the Year 1937". This 31-page pamphlet reached the entire Arab world and there are indications that Nazi agents helped draw it up. Let me quote at least a short passage from it:

"The struggle between the Jews and Islam began when Muhammad fled from Mecca to Medina. The Jewish methods were, even in those days, the same as now. As always, their weapon was slander. They said that Muhammad was a swindler, they began to ask Muhammad senseless and insoluble questions, and they endeavoured to destroy the Muslims. If the Jews could betray Muhammad in this way, how will they betray Muslims today? The verses from the Koran and Hadith prove to you that the Jews were the fiercest opponents of Islam and are still trying to destroy it."

What we have here is a new popularized form of Jew-hatred, based on the oriental folk tale tradition, which moves constantly back and forth between the seventh and twentieth centuries. This kind of Jew-hatred is used today by the British group Hizb ut-Tahir. In 2002 this organization reproduced a leaflet in its website saying: "The Jews are a people of slander, a treacherous people; they fabricate lies and twist words from their right context. Kill them wherever you find them." .......

Islamism is not motivated by a concept of reason but by a cult of death. It does not strive for emancipation but for oppression. It uses the flag of anti-colonialism to promote Anti-Semitism. It is true that today there is no other anti-capitalist or anti-Western movement that is able to mobilise and influence so many people. Bin Laden's latest message builds on this reality. But it is for this very reason all the more essential for every responsible person to draw an inseparable line between a concept of change that is rooted in the traditions of the Enlightenment and emancipation, and a concept of change that is aimed in a fascist way at destroying the development of societies and the freedom of the individual. You can be in favor of or against Islamism and Fascism, but you cannot be anti-Fascist and pro-Islamist at the same time....

The dumbing down of Britain's teachers

The only real qualification required is willingness to stand up in front of a mob of undisciplined hooligans

A STUDENT was allowed to become a teacher even though it took 28 attempts to pass a basic numeracy test that included questions such as "what is 6.03 multiplied by 100?". Figures released in parliament show that many students retake the basic maths and literacy tests required to join the profession several times. In both 2005 and 2006, there was at least one teacher who needed 28 attempts at the numeracy test; for literacy it was 20 and 19 respectively. In each of the last six years, there was at least one student who had to re-take the basic numeracy test more than 20 times, and the literacy test as many as up to 25 times.

Questions from the tests, which are set by the Training and Development Agency for Schools, included: "A pupil scores 18 marks out of 25. What was the score as a percentage?" In the literacy test, candidates are asked to choose the right answer from four alternative spellings for words such as preference, acknowledge and relieved. Options given included releived, releaved and realived.

The tests were introduced in 2000 and, initially, candidates who failed after four attempts were not allowed to qualify as teachers. This rule was relaxed in 2001 after complaints from the profession and students are now allowed unlimited re-takes. "If they have to do the test nearly 30 times, it's clear they can't read and write and add up. They shouldn't be allowed to teach," said Chris Woodhead, a former chief inspector of schools and a Sunday Times columnist.

Last year the tests were taken by 34,000 aspiring teachers; 700 failed to pass the numeracy test. Students must pass in numeracy, literacy and information and communications to qualify. A spokeswoman for the agency said: "We don't want to deny potential good teachers the opportunity to re-take tests. If you don't pass first time, it does not necessarily make you a bad teacher."


Fresh milk to be banned in Britain

BRITONS may be banned from drinking "traditional milk" in favour of the long-life variety in order to save the environment, according to a government strategy. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in London has recommended the use of long-life UHT milk to limit commercial refrigeration, The Times has reported.

The newspaper said officials have developed a long term goal to reduce the amount of carbon emissions caused by refrigerated milk. They aim to have long-life milk make up 90 per cent of the market by 2020. It has been reported that 93 per cent of milk sold in Britain was the "traditional" fresh type.

According to The Times, a strategy paper has already been sent to dairy industry officials suggesting the changes. "Retail and domestic refrigeration is an area with the potential for significant impact reduction," the paper reportedly said. "The milk chain should enhance the development, marketing and placement of UHT milk products."

The move could see less refrigeration by outlets, but consumers will still have to cool the milk in fridges once the carton has been opened.


Harrabin of the BBC replies

On 14th., I reproduced an internal BBC memo from Roger Harrabin, which put the best possible "spin" on the verdict against Al Gore's movie by the British High Court. The memo was originally circulated by Benny Peiser and Harrabin has now replied to Benny in defence of his memo by drawing attention to the article by him below. He seems to think that the article shows him as a man of balance, despite outright lies such as "the ever-dwindling band of sceptics" and his typically Leftist attack on the motivations and funding of Stuart Dimmock. Leftist are absolute devotees of "ad hominem" arguments, despite their logical irrelevance

The heat and light in global warming

By Roger Harrabin, BBC Environment Analyst

I have spent much of the last two decades of my journalistic life warning about the potential dangers of climate change, but when I first watched Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth I felt a flutter of unease. Not because the central message - that climate change is happening and almost certainly caused by mankind - is untrue; but because in several points of the film, Mr Gore simply goes too far by asserting or implying facts that are contentious. This leaves the film open to attack by the ever-dwindling band of sceptics who do not want to accept that climate change is anything to do with humans, and indeed a successful attack is exactly what has happened in the UK.

Because although Mr Justice Burton agreed in Wednesday's High Court ruling that An Inconvenient Truth is mainly based on consensus science, his judgement will be trumpeted more for finding that the film was studded with green "errors". The judge listed nine areas where Mr Gore had swayed from the scientific consensus position, and it was the "errors" that made the headlines in the media.

The man who brought the complaint, Stuart Dimmock, expressed his delight that this "shockumentary" had been exposed. Mr Dimmock is a member of the "New Party", apparently funded by a businessman with a strong dislike of environmentalists and drink-drive laws. When asked on the BBC's World Tonight programme who had under-written his court costs, he paused long and loud before saying that "someone on the internet" had offered him support.

It always looked likely that Mr Dimmock would make some headway with his court case because, as the judge observed, when the film was first circulated it did not supply teachers with the material needed to help pupils distinguish which of Mr Gore's factoids were still subject to serious mainstream debate.

The film was made as a polemic, not an educational tool for children. The government would have been on safer ground if it had chosen Sir David Attenborough's climate change programme which passed the BBC's own anguished impartiality test.

In the event, ministers seized on the slick, powerful and informative Gore movie as a tool to persuade children, and presumably by extension their parents, to worry about the climate. And this points to the essentially political nature of the film, and the decision to show it in schools.

There is now a strong political consensus throughout Europe that climate change is a dangerous problem needing urgent solutions; but politicians consistently tremble when they tentatively advance any of those solutions towards a public confused by the noisy media debate about climate change. A recent poll by Ipsos Mori showed that 82% of people were personally concerned about climate change, but a majority (56%) believed that many leading experts still question if human activity is contributing to climate change. This latter conclusion is simply wrong - all the world's major scientific institutions believe the man-made climate change theory - but the Gore court judgment will confuse people even more.

So why did the vice-president, who reveals himself in the movie to be a master of factual recall and presentation skill, produce a film in which assumptions became assertions and worst-case scenarios became the norm? The answer lies in the conflicted politics of climate in the US.

Remember that Al Gore, an environmental science graduate, has been trying to alert the public to climate change for a quarter of a century. Along with that other failed Democratic candidate John Kerry, he launched Senate hearings on climate in the 1980s. Then he signed the Kyoto Protocol nine years ago on behalf of the US, only to see President Clinton refuse to back it. He then spent impotent frustrating years in the White House, and later outside it, watching climate sceptics - some well-meaning scientists, but many in the pay of the oil industry - discredit the global warming theory. The sceptics knew that they did not need to win the battle of climate facts, they just needed to keep doubt alive.

An Inconvenient Truth is a response to that often cynical campaign, attempting to put climate change beyond doubt and remove ambiguity from presentation of the scientific facts. The problem is that climate science is a massive and messy field; and although even the White House now accepts that the climate is changing and humankind is more than 90% likely to blame, there are still wrinkles in the science, signposts that point in the opposite direction to the one we expect.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) deals with these wrinkles by expressing its prognoses in bands of uncertainty: the climate is likely to warm by between 1.8C and 4.0C by the end of the century. But movies are not made of piffling equivocations like this, so Mr Gore dispenses with many of them.

Mr Justice Burton takes exception with nine such simplifications, or "errors". He notes that Mr Gore attributes to climate change the melting of the snows of Kilimanjaro, the demise of polar bears, the drying of Lake Chad and bleaching of coral reefs. Correctly identifying the scientific consensus, the judge says debate is still open on these issues, as it is over hurricane frequency, also instanced by Mr Gore. The judge says (again taking the IPCC as gospel) that there is little support for Mr Gore's implication that the Gulf Stream will shut down soon, and that the great ice sheets will cause catastrophic sea level rise soon.

Here the judge is on slightly more contentious ground, because the IPCC science is itself out of date on Arctic melting, which is advancing at a pace that many worst-case scenarios had failed to predict.

On the remaining point - Mr Gore's implication that ice core records prove that CO2 rises drove shifts in Ice Ages - the judge is spot on. The vice-president cleverly lures the viewer into making the calculation that CO2 drove historical climate change by presenting graphs and asking the audience if they fit. Well, the graphs do fit - but what Mr Gore fails to mention in the film is that mainstream scientists believe that historically the temperature shifted due to our changing relationship with the Sun, with warmer climes unlocking CO2 from the oceans, which amplified global temperature rise.

I challenged Mr Gore about this in an interview for the BBC's Newsnight programme in March. He responded, accurately, that scientists believe that CO2 is now driving climate change - but that was not what his misleading historical graph showed. And after the interview he and his assistant stood over me shouting that my questions had been scurrilous, and implying that I was some sort of climate-sceptic traitor.

It is miserable when such a vastly important debate is reduced to this. The film and the High Court row are, though, products of their time. If the conservative IPPC forecasts are accurate our children may rue the years we spent squabbling over climate change rather than tackling it.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Roger Harrabin, it turns out, has a degree in English.

So he is well-qualified (by BBC standards anyway) to comment on complex scientific matters.

No other member of the BBC's environmental reporting team seems to be scientifically qualified either.

Prove me wrong?