Saturday, September 30, 2017

Long Before Hamas, Roosevelt Was Calling For Jihad Using Stones And Knives

Over the years, we've seen a number of different presidents, each with his own approach to the Middle East. For example:
  • Carter favored the Arabs, and even today shows a clear bias against Israel.
  • George W. Bush tried to be more even-handed, and during his 8-year term never invited Arafat to the White House -- unlike his predecessor, Bill Clinton.
  • Obama showed a clear bias towards the Arabs. His first trip was to address the Arab world from Cairo.
But nothing Obama said to the Arab world compares to this appeal, ostensibly by Franklin Delano Roosevelt to the Arabs of West Africa:
Praise be unto the only God. In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful. O ye Moslems. O ye beloved sons of the Maghreb. May the blessing of God be upon you.

This is a great day for you and us, for all the sons of Adam who love freedom. Our numbers are as the leaves on the forest tress and as the grains of sand in the sea.

Behold. We the American Holy Warriors have arrived. We have come here to fight the great Jihad of Freedom.

We have come to set you free. We have sailed across the great sea in many ships, on many beaches we are landing, and our fighters swarm across the sands and into the city streets, and into the wide country sides, and along the highways.

Light fires on the hilltops; shout from your housetops, and from the high places, and say the sound of the drum be heard in the land, and the ululation of the women, and the voices even of small children.

Assemble along the highways to welcome your brothers.

We have come to set you free.

Speak with our fighting men and you will find them pleasing to the eye and gladdening to the heart. We are not as some other Christians whom ye have known, and who trample you under foot. Our soldiers consider you as their brothers, for we have been reared in the way of free men. Our soldiers have been told about your country and about their Moslem brothers and they will treat you with respect and with a friendly spirit in the eyes of God.

Look in their eyes and smiling faces, for they are Holy Warriors happy in their holy work. Greet us therefore as brothers as we will greet you, and help us.

If we are thirsty, show us the way to water. If we lose our way, lead us back to our camping places. Show us the paths over the mountains if need be, and if you see our enemies, the Germans or Italians, making trouble for us, kill them with knives or with stones or with any other weapon that you may have set your hands upon.

Help us as we have come to help you, and rich will be the reward unto us all who love justice and righteousness and freedom.

Pray for our success in battle, and help us, and God will help us both.

Lo, the day of freedom hath come.

May God grant his blessing upon you and upon us.

--Roosevelt [emphasis added]

This is from October 1942, when the British were able to stop Hitler's Afrika Korps at El Alamein during WWII. The Allies were finally confident they could keep the Nazis out of the Middle East. Leaflets containing Arabic translations of the appeal were distributed as part of the effort to exploit the situation by winning over the Muslims to their side.

The text was actually written by 2 US agents with help from one of their Muslim spies. Still, one would imagine that Roosevelt would have had to give his approval since his name appeared at the end of the text.

The text goes pretty far in order to win over his audience:
  • The text uses the phrase "Holy Warriors," likely translated as Mujahideen, a term for those engaged in Jihad.
  • The term Jihad implies more than a war. It was a religious obligation, so calling it a Jihad of Freedom might have sounded a bit strange to the Arab ear. Apparently, unlike today, there was no doubt as to the meaning of the word.
  • Referring to the enemy as "other Christians" seems odd and unnecessary. Later, FDR identifies them as "Germans or Italians." But why identify them by religion? What is to be gained by establishing them as kuffar when the Allied forces themselves were Christian?
  • The phrase "kill them with knives or with stones or with any other weapon that you may have set your hands upon" is one that could easily have been written by Hamas, or ISIS, today. That was a simpler time, when it was acknowledged that a stone was a weapon. Basically, the US itself was encouraging terrorism -- even lone wolf terrorism -- against its enemies.
It's not clear that the leaflets had any effect.

Meanwhile, the Germans made their own attempt to win over the Arabs.

In the spring of 1943, in an attempt to win over the Arabs to the Nazi side, Himmler wanted to "find out which passages of the Qur'an provide Muslims with the basis for the opinion that the Fuhrer has already been forecast in the Qur'an and that he has been authorized to complete the work of the Prophet."

Himmler was disappointed - there were no verses to support that claim, so something a bit more modest was suggested. Hitler could be advertised as “the returned ‘Isa (Jesus), who is forecast in the Qur’an and who, similar to the figure of the Knight George, defeats the giant and Jew-King Dajjal at the end of the world."

That led to printing one million pamphlets in Arabic to convince the Arabs to side with Germany. A sample:
O Arabs, do you see that the time of the Dajjal has come? Do you recognize him, the fat, curly-haired Jew who deceives and rules the whole world and who steals the land of the Arabs?… O Arabs, do you know the servant of God? He [Hitler] has already appeared in the world and already turned his lance against the Dajjal and his allies…. He will kill the Dajjal, as it is written, destroy his places and cast his allies into hell.
The effort was a failure. The Arabs ended up preferring to fight on the side of the British in North Africa and the Middle East.

The efforts of the Nazis to enlist the help of the Arabs were based purely on pragmatic reasons, and not out of admiration for the Muslims themselves.

There are Nazi writing that refer to Islam as "the great retarder, which prevented all progress."

However, Hitler himself preferred Islam over Christianity, and felt that the actual problem was that Arabs didn't make the best Muslims:
...He reportedly described Islam as a more muscular belief system than Christianity and thus better suited for the Germany he wished to build.

According to Albert Speer, Hitler once offered a remarkable counterfactual history of Europe. He speculated about what might have been if the Muslim forces that invaded France during the eighth century had prevailed against their Frankish enemies at the Battle of Tours. “Hitler said that the conquering Arabs, because of their racial inferiority, would in the long run have been unable to contend with the harsher climate” of Northern Europe. Therefore, “ultimately not Arabs but Islamized Germans could have stood at the head of this Mohammedan Empire.
Whether adopting The Muslim terminology, like the US or adapting and remaking Islam as the Nazis attempted, a lot of effort was put into winning over the Muslims as part of the war effort.

In the end, the Nazis failed miserably and the US pursuit of a 'Jihad of Freedom' is as distant as ever, and even their own "Arab Spring" did not last.

And no president since Roosevelt appears to have any better grasp of the Middle East.

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