Will the real Arab ideology please stand up?

Chris McClure writes about the Arabic translation of Hitler’s Mein Kampf, on sale in Cairo:

Originally published in Lebanon in 1963 according to the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), and reprinted in 1995, Mein Kampf, which is transliterated as Kifahi (and not jihadi as Victor Davis Hanson claims in the National Review Online), is reportedly also widely available in Jordan and the Palestinian Authority. The introduction claims that, “This national socialism did not die with the death of the man who proclaimed it: indeed its seeds grew under every star, and the promoters of radical nationalism (qawmiyya) take it up as a weapon with which to combat Third Internationalism and the principles of Karl Marx.”

Marx? Yes, McClure suggests that the writer was a Syrian or Iraqi Ba’athist; the Ba’athism of Saddam and the Assads draws its inspiration from Nazism.

But perhaps many will remember the days in which Arab rejectionism of Israel clothed itself in a Marxist costume. Nasser, Arafat, the Syrians, were all happy to talk about socialism when it meant arms and money from the Soviet Union.

Now everybody’s suddenly become an Islamist, thanks to petrodollars from Iran and Saudi Arabia. The formerly atheistic Arafat got religion (or pretended to) before his death, and even Bashar Assad, whose Ba’athism and Alawite faith should put him far from Islamism, champions the Islamist causes of Hamas (Sunni version) and Hezbollah (Shiite). Of course Assad has a different attitude to Syrian Islamists who would like to replace his regime, but that’s another story.

Can I be excused for thinking that these Arab leaders have only ever had one real ideology, that of maintaining their power, manipulating their subjects and the West, and hating Jews and Israel?

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One Response to “Will the real Arab ideology please stand up?”

  1. Shalom Freedman says:

    As I understand it one reason for the retreat from old- time Arab nationalism is its failure in regard to Israel. ‘Islamism’ is regarded as providing hope of success. The Israeli withdrawals from Lebanon and Gaza have been portrayed by ‘Hizbollah’ and ‘Hamas’ as Islamic triumphs. Moreover the Islamist message is one which rejects compromise of any kind and therefore well suits the purpose of the Arab leaders who use the conflict to help divert anger from their own failed regimes.
    In any case it seems clear that this is a very negative development from Israel’s point – of- view. And it would seem there is no hope of peace unless the Islamic world becomes convinced that the Islamist way will lead them nowhere.