Professor Robert S. Wistrich is a recognized expert on antisemitism.
He holds the Neuberger chair for Modern European History at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and heads the Vidal Sassoon International Center for the Study of Antisemitism. He was recently given a Lifetime Achievement award by The Journal for the Study of Antisemitism (The JSA).
He is the author and editor of 29 books, several of which have won international awards. Our interview with Dr. Wistrich can be found in our collection, The West Speaks.
Dr. Wistrich was interviewed by Hansjorg Muller, editor of the Baseler Zeitung, a German newspaper in Basel, Switzerland. This was originally published in German in the September 12, 2012 edition of the Baseler Zeitung. Dr. Wistrich translated the article into English. We have permission from the Baseler Zeitung to republish.
Hansjorg Muller: In your encyclopedic work, A Lethal Obsession. Anti-Semitism from Antiquity to the Global Jihad (Random House, 2010), you present Islamist antisemitism as an existential danger to modern civilization. Could you explain?
Dr. Robert Wistrich: In my view, Islamic antisemitism is by far the most dynamic and threatening form of antisemitism existing at present in the contemporary world. It combines the scourge of Islamist terrorism, the spread of jihad, hatred of the West, Holocaust denial, and the genocidal “anti-Zionism” which is state-sanctioned in Iran. The dramatic triumph of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and the alarming growth of militant Salafist movements across the Arab Middle East have greatly increased the level of threat worldwide.
Muller: Is there a historic connection between European fascism and Islamism?
Wistrich: The Muslim Brotherhood, founded in Egypt in 1928 by Hassan al-Banna, had a radical totalitarian vision of societal transformation, a leadership cult, and visceral hatred of Jews not so different from that of fascism and National Socialism. Moreover, the charismatic founder of the Palestinian Arab national movement, Haj Amin el-Husseini, was a fanatical genocidal anti-Semite who actively collaborated with Adolf Hitler during World War II. This “annihilationist” tradition of Jew-hatred has continued in the Palestinian Hamas movement (an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood) to this very day. Its Sacred Covenant is one of the most nakedly anti-Jewish texts of the entire post-Holocaust era.
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