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Mein Kampf in Gaza—and Beyond

President Yitzhak Herzog on Novermber 12 reveals the copy of Hitler’s book ‘Mein Kampf’ that IDF forces located in Gaza. Photo:
Photo: Israeli Presidency Spokesperson

JNS.orgWhat’s “Mein Kampf” doing in Gaza?

Israeli President Isaac Herzog has revealed that an Arabic-language copy of Adolf Hitler’s notorious manifesto of antisemitism and militarism was found in a Gaza apartment that Hamas was using as a base of operations. The terrorist who was studying it wrote notes in the margins.

Sixty-seven years ago, another Israeli leader announced the discovery of copies of “Mein Kampf” in the possession of a different enemy. On Dec. 5, 1956, Golda Meir, then foreign minister of Israel, spoke before the General Assembly of the United Nations to explain why her country had been compelled to launch a pre-emptive strike against Egypt a week earlier. Her remarks included a surprising reference to Hitler’s book.

Ever since Israel’s War of Independence concluded in 1948, Egypt had been preparing its next attempt to destroy the Jewish State, Meir explained. There had been constant attacks by terrorists based in Egyptian-occupied Gaza, relentless economic warfare (an early version of the BDS movement) and a massive arms deal between Egypt and the Soviet Union. “For eight years,” she said, “Israel has had no respite from hostile acts and loudly proclaimed threats of destruction.” The Egyptians left Israel no choice but to strike first, or face annihilation.

Foreign Minister Meir saw a connection between the Holocaust and Egypt’s aggression. “The concept of annihilating Israel is a legacy of Hitler’s war against the Jewish people,” Meir said. “It is no mere coincidence that the soldiers of [Egyptian dictator Gamal Abdel] Nasser had an Arabic translation of ‘Mein Kampf’ in their knapsacks.”

Hitler wrote “Mein Kampf” (My Struggle) while in prison after his failed coup, the Beer Hall Putsch of 1923. With its numerous references to internal German controversies and domestic policy matters, the book might not seem to have any natural appeal to non-Germans. But after Hitler’s rise to power in 1933, Mein Kampf attracted widespread international attention, both from those who feared him and those who admired him.

The book’s extreme antisemitism and advocacy of German territorial expansion attracted sympathetic interest in the Arab world. Extracts appeared in the Arabic press in Iraq and Lebanon in 1934. Unauthorized translations were published in Egypt in 1937 and Palestine in 1938. According to a Jewish Telegraphic Agency report at the time, the editor of the Palestinian edition “carefully purged the passage in which the Arabs are graded fourteenth on the racial scale.”

As part of the deNazification process implemented in Germany by the Allies after World War II, the Nazi Party was banned, public display of the swastika was prohibited and the printing of Nazi literature, including “Mein Kampf,” was outlawed. It was only due to a legal technicality—the expiration of the book’s copyright—that as of 2016, selling or purchasing “Mein Kampf” is no longer a crime in Germany.

The question of the copyright to “Mein Kampf” set off a curious legal battle in the United States in 1939 involving Alan Cranston, the future U.S. senator. Cranston, who was fluent in German and had visited Germany in 1936 as a journalist, noticed that the American edition, published by Houghton Mifflin, omitted the most extreme and violent passages from the original edition.

Determined to expose the real Hitler to the American public, Cranston set to work preparing a condensed tabloid edition that highlighted the omitted sections. One of Cranston’s secretaries misunderstood the nature of the project and reported to the Anti-Defamation League that Cranston was preparing Nazi propaganda. After realizing what Cranston was actually doing, ADL staffer Benjamin Epstein assisted him with the research.

Cranston called it a “Reader’s Digest-like version” of “Mein Kampf.” Priced at just 10 cents, the tabloid sold 500,000 copies in 10 days, according to Cranston. While Houghton Mifflin was paying Hitler royalties from sales of its sanitized version of “Mein Kampf,” the Cranston edition carried a blurb which read “Not 1 cent of royalty to Hitler,” and pledged to send the profits to refugees fleeing the Nazis. “Fritz Kuhn’s American Nazis threw stink bombs at newsstands selling it in Yorkville and St. Louis,” Cranston biographer Eleanor Fowle wrote.

Houghton Mifflin sued Cranston for copyright infringement. Cranston’s novel legal defense (recounted in my forthcoming book, “Whistleblowers: Four Who Fought to Expose the Holocaust to America”) was unsuccessful; he was ordered to halt publication and destroy all existing copies of his edition of Mein Kampf.

In more recent years, Hitler’s manifesto has continued to enjoy considerable popularity in the Arab world. In 1982, Israeli troops found numerous Arabic-language copies of Mein Kampf in PLO strongholds that they overran in Lebanon. In 1999, the French news agency AFP reported that it was a bestseller in the Palestinian Authority-controlled territories, according to sales figures compiled by the most popular bookstore in Ramallah, the P.A. capital.

Although it is now nearly a century old, the fiery message of “Mein Kampf” evidently still appeals to those who share at least some of its author’s sentiments.

Originally published by The Jewish Journal.

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Top Swiss Diplomat Appointed to Mediate Tensions Between Jewish Tourists, Businesses in Davos Ski Resort

A Hebrew sign at the Pischa Restaurant in the Swiss resort of Davos informing Jewish guests that they are banned from renting ski equipment. Photo: Screenshot

The tourism authority in the exclusive Swiss mountain resort of Davos has appointed a top diplomat to mediate the growing tensions between local businesses and Orthodox Jewish visitors as complaints of antisemitism increase.

Michael Ambühl — the former State Secretary of Switzerland previously in charge of the country’s relationship with the European Union (EU)  — will head a task force to tackle the problem, Swiss media outlets reported on Friday.

The announcement of Ambühl’s appointment comes just days after the resort was roiled by the refusal of a restaurant that operates a ski equipment rental store to provide services to Jewish guests.

A sign in Hebrew at the Pischa Restaurant in Davos stated that “due to various very annoying incidents, including the theft of a sledge, we no longer rent sports equipment to our Jewish brothers. This affects all sports equipment such as sledges, airboards, skis and snowshoes. Thank you for your understanding.”

Swiss police are currently investigating the incident as a possible case of discrimination. One Israeli tourist reported that he had visited the Pischa Restaurant where he “pretended not to understand Hebrew and asked if we could rent the equipment. After the woman consulted with the manager, she rejected our request.”

The tourism authority’s decision has irritated the country’s main Jewish representative body, the Swiss Israelite Association (SIG), which had been engaged in a separate dialog with the authority about accommodating Jewish guests that was abruptly closed down last year.

“The latest case shows that something is obviously wrong in Davos,” SIG General Secretary Jonathan Kreutner said in remarks quoted by the Blick news outlet.

Kreutner said that “comparable problems are not known from other holiday destinations, especially in those where our dialogue program is still active.” Kreutner acknowledged that the tourism authority “wants to take a new path, but we don’t yet know what it looks like and where it will lead.”

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‘Israel Outright Rejects International Dictates’: Biden Creating Plan For Palestinian State, Netanyahu Pushes Back: Report

US President Joe Biden holds a bilateral meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the sidelines of the 78th UN General Assembly in New York City, US, Sept. 20, 2023. Photo: REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

US President Joe Biden, along with a number of Arab states, are quickly working to form a plan to end the Israel-Hamas war and create a Palestinian state, the Washington Post reported on Wednesday, sparking pushback from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The first step of such a plan would be for Israel and Hamas to agree to a six-week ceasefire in exchange for the Israeli hostages. Then, during that pause in fighting, the U.S. and its Arab partners would announce the plan and start to form an interim Palestinian government.

The US, Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Pakistan, and the United Arab Emirates are all reportedly are part of the talks, which have an ultimate goal of creating a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital. The Washington Post also suggests that Israel may be expected to expel many of its own citizens from West Bank settlements and help rebuild Gaza.

The development of these plans is part of the reason Biden has cautioned Israel against moving on to fighting Hamas in Rafah — the terrorist group’s last stronghold. He believes such a ground offensive could jeopardize the prospect of peace. 

In a statement on Thursday, the White House said Biden “raised the situation in Rafah [during a call with Netanyahu], and reiterated his view that a military operation should not proceed without a credible and executable plan for ensuring the safety of and support for the civilians in Rafah.”

In response to these reports and the conversation he had with Biden, Netanyahu wrote that “Israel outright rejects international dictates regarding a permanent settlement with the Palestinians. Such an arrangement will be reached only through direct negotiations between the parties, without preconditions.”

He added, “Israel will continue to oppose the unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state. Such recognition in the wake of the October 7 massacre would give a huge reward to unprecedented terrorism and prevent any future peace settlement.”

The tension represents the latest hiccup in Biden and Netanyahu’s relationship, which has grown increasingly sour since October 7 as Biden put pressure on Israel to wind down its fight against Hamas.

Netanyahu, jpwever, was not the only one to question the prudence of the proposed American-led plan. Left-leaning group Democratic Majority for Israel said in a post on Twitter/X: “We have always favored a two state solution. But right now, how do we ensure the lesson does not become ‘sheer evil,’ pays? That must be a central part of any plan.”

Richard Goldberg, a Senior Advisor at The Foundation for Defense of Democracies contended that the plan “is doomed to fail for several reasons. Two big ones: It’s premised on Hamas surviving and involves Qatar.” 

“Israel will be in a much stronger position after it takes Rafah,” he argued.

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Harvard University Issued Subpoenaed for Antisemitism Documents

Pro-Hamas students rallying at Harvard University. Photo: Reuters/Brian Snyder

Following weeks of warnings and ultimatums, the US House Committee on Education and the Workforce subpoenaed Harvard University on Friday to hand over documents related to its handling of allegations of antisemitic intimidation and harassment.

The order represents an escalation of tactics by the House Committee, which began investigating Harvard University last semester to determine whether it ignores complaints of discrimination when the victims who lodge them are Jewish. Since then, Harvard has been asked twice to submit a trove of materials requested by the committee.

Last week, Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (R-NC) wrote Harvard a censorious letter accusing school officials of obstructing the committee’s investigation with “grossly insufficient” responses to its inquires and submitting content of a “limited and dilatory nature.”

In a statement to Reuters, Harvard maintained that it has cooperated with the committee in “good faith,” providing “10 submissions totaling more than 3,500 pages that directly address key areas of inquiry put forward by the committee.” Chairwoman Foxx told the outlet, however that the problem is one of “quality, not quantity,” suggesting that Harvard is frenetically pantomiming compliance without providing anything of substance.

Foxx has requested “all reports of antisemitic acts or incidents and “related communications” going back to 2021 that were sent to Harvard’s offices of the president, general counsel, dean of students, police department, human resources, and diversity, equity, and inclusion, among others. She also requested documentation on Harvard Kennedy School professor Marshall Ganz, who, the school determined, had “denigrated” several students for being “Israeli Jews.” Originally, Foxx gave Harvard a deadline of Jan. 23 by which to comply.

“While a subpoena was unwarranted, Harvard remains committed to cooperating with the committee and will continue to provide additional materials, while protecting the legitimate privacy, safety, and security concerns of our community,” Harvard told Reuters.

“We will use our full congressional authority to hold these schools accountable for their failure on the global stage,” said committee member and Harvard Alumnus Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY) in a statement announcing the action.

The past four months have been described by critics of Harvard as a low-point in the history of the school, America’s oldest and, arguably, most prestigious institution of higher education. Since the October 7 massacre by Hamas, Harvard has been accused of fostering a culture of racial grievance and antisemitism, while important donors have suspended funding for programs, and its first Black president, Claudine Gay, resigned in disgrace last month after being outed as a serial plagiarizer. Her tenure was the shortest in the school’s history.

As scenes of Hamas terrorists abducting children and desecrating dead bodies circulated worldwide, 31 student groups at Harvard, led by the Palestine Solidarity Committee (PSC) issued a statement blaming Israel for the attack and accusing the Jewish state of operating an “open air prison” in Gaza, despite that the Israeli military withdrew from the territory in 2005. In the weeks that followed, anti-Zionists stormed the campus screaming “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” and “globalize the intifada,” terrorizing Jewish students and preventing some from attending class.

In Novevmber, a mob of anti-Zionists — including Ibrahim Bharmal, editor of the prestigious Harvard Law Review — followed, surrounded, and intimidated a Jewish student. “Shame! Shame! Shame! Shame!” the crush of people screamed in a call-and-response chant into the ears of the student who —as seen in the footage — was forced to duck and dash the crowd to free himself from the cluster of bodies that encircled him.

By Dec., Claudine Gay —  along with Elizabeth Magill of University of Pennsylvania (Penn) and Sally Kornbluth of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) — was hauled before the House Committee on Education and the Workforce to account for her administration’s handling of the problem. For weeks, Gay was reluctant to punish students who chanted genocidal slogans and unequivocally condemn antisemitism. During questioning, she told the committee that determining whether calling for a genocide of Jews constitutes a violation of school rules depends “on the context.”

Two days later, the committee launched investigations of Harvard, Penn, and MIT.

Follow Dion J. Pierre @DionJPierre.

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