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News and views on Israel, Zionism and the war on terrorism.

February 24, 2003

Arab Nazism: Then and Now

This Front Page article reminds us that the past is but a prelude to the present and should not be forgotten.
Many contemporary Muslim rulers have troubling ties with National Socialism, an ideology known for its dangerous and fanatical extremes. While mainstream Muslims have tended to distance themselves from their extremist counterparts, fanaticism threatens to push the entire Muslim world into the arms of its Fascist fringe. This situation begs examination of both present day and historical intersections between Muslim ideologies and the virulent components of National Socialist extremism: racism, anti-Semitism, death, and destiny.

National Socialism and the Baath Party

Saddam Hussein embraces the Baath Party -- formally the Baath Arab Socialist Party -- a nationalist movement especially prominent in Syria and Iraq, borne of the Arab world's perceived need to "produce a means of reasserting the Arab spirit in the face of foreign domination," claims Al-Baath, the daily party newspaper. "Articulated as the principle of Arab nationalism, the Baath movement was one of several political groups that drew legitimacy from an essentially reactive ideology."

Similar reactionary principles guided Adolf Hitler's vision of a people united in the face of foreign (particularly Western) dominance after Germany's crushing defeat during World War I. The motives of both parties seem frighteningly interchangeable, as this passage from Al-Baath, with editorial insertions, illustrates:

"Moral and cultural deterioration, it was felt, had so weakened the Arabs [Germans] that Western supremacy had spread throughout the Middle East [Germany]. Arabs [Germans] needed a regeneration of the common heritage of people in the region to drive off debilitating external influences." Similarities between German and Arab nationalist extremes are not lost on political analysts.

"The Baathists," writes National Review editor Jonah Goldberg "see the destiny of Arabs in very similar terms as the Nazis understood the destiny of Aryans."

The Nazi party and the Baath party express concepts of destiny with a common theme: the superiority of their respective racial demographic over others, particularly Jews, a circumstance that invites comparisons between Saddam Hussein, a notorious Baathist, and Adolf Hitler, a notorious Nazi.