”Jews are garbage,” Alois Brunner said last month when he was interviewed by reporters who found him living in Damascus. Brunner is an expert on Jews. As a senior aide to Adolf Eichmann, he sent more than 80,000 of them to the gas chambers during World War II. Following the war, there was a relatively small demand for his sort of expertise–except in the Arab world. Since 1961, Brunner has been a ”security adviser” to the Syrian government. The Brunner case calls attention to the persistent affinity of Arab leaders for Nazi doctrines, rhetoric and tactics. Haj Amin el Husseini, one-time leader of Palestinian nationalism and Yasser Arafat`s mentor, spent World War II in Berlin promoting Hitler`s Jewish policy. During the 1950s, Egypt`s Gamal Abdul Nasser, whom U.S. Secretary of State John Foster Dulles described as ”a Hitlerite personality,” employed former Nazi scientists to build missiles for use against Israel.
More recently, the Palestine Liberation Organization has trained German neo-Nazis in its Middle East camps, a fact disclosed by one of the trainees, Karl Heinz Hoffman. Indeed, a self-proclaimed British neo-Nazi was one of the PLO gunmen who killed three Israeli tourists in Cyprus in September.
The Arab world is also a repository of Nazi-style propaganda. The Saudis, for example, proclaim the existence of an international Jewish conspiracy aimed at controlling the world; until recently, official visitors to Saudi Arabia were routinely presented with a copy of ”The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.” State-controlled Arab newspapers, including, alarmingly, Egypt`s, often depict Jews in Sturmer-like caricatures. And lately, there have been reports that Louis Farrakhan, who considers Hitler ”a very great man,” has been receiving millions of dollars from Libya`s Moammar Khadafy, another avowed admirer of the Nazi leader.
Even more disturbing has been the adoption of Nazi tactics by various Arab terror groups. Most dramatic was the murder of Leon Klinghoffer, a 69-year-old cripple singled out by PLO hit men aboard the Achille Lauro because he was a Jew. This ”selection” is common practice in Arab hijackings. In 1976, Palestinian and German terrorists separated Jews and Israelis from the other passenger aboard the Air France plane commandeered to Entebbe. Again, last summer, Lebanese Shi`ites isolated Jews from the rest of the passengers of the hijacked TWA flight. And, most recently, Arab gunmen picked out two young Israeli women from among the passengers aboard a hijacked Egyptian airliner and shot each one in the head.
All these incidents have one thing in common: The victims were chosen because they were Jews. For years, Arab spokesmen have maintained that they are not anti-Semitic, merely anti-Zionist. But it is doubtful if Leon Klinghoffer`s killers asked about his political sympathies before they shot and dumped him overboard, or if the Shi`ites in Lebanon inquired about the Zionism of the American Jews they dragged away from the other TWA passengers. Not surprisingly, these ”selections” of Jews (reminiscent of the Nazi selection of Jews in World War II), along with the recent slaughter of Jewish worshipers outside a Tunisian synagogue, the kidnaping of elderly Jewish leaders in Beirut and the harassment of Yemenite Jews by PLO gunmen stationed there, have evoked awful memories in Israel. The memories, in turn, have a profound effect on Israel`s attitude toward the current diplomatic initiative of Jordan`s King Hussein.
To a large extent, the political argument between Israeli hawks and doves is a temperamental one. It pits those who view the Arab-Israeli conflict as a simple clash of national interests (and thus soluble through compromise, reason and conventional diplomatic means) against those who see Arab hostility as a form of anti-Semitism–incurable precisely because it is irrational.
Israelis who tend to the dovish approach dismiss Arab rejectionism as a tactic, or a rhetorical position, not to be taken seriously. Thus, for example, they see the genocidal elements of the Palestine National Covenant as mere words, not necessarily expressive of the goals of Palestinian nationalism. Hawks, on the other hand, take such declarations literally and believe the Arab world remains unreconciled to any Jewish state.
Given the modern history of the Jewish people, Israel`s usual disposition tends to accept the notion that such immutable hostility is both possible and potentially fatal. Former Egyptian President Anwar Sadat (who himself was imprisoned for pro-German activities during World War II) understood that, in his words, the barrier to peace in the Middle East is ”99 percent psychological.”
Jordan`s King Hussein is neither an anti-Semite nor a neo-Nazi, but he is closely associated with the PLO, the Saudis and, increasingly, the Syrians. If he hopes to make progress toward a diplomatic solution of the conflict, he will have to convince Israeli public opinion that he is prepared to repudiate those in the Arab world who, like Syrian adviser Herr Brunner, regard the Jewish state and its people as garbage.