Since the early-2000s there has been an increasing amount of research on connections between the Nazi regime and the Arab world largely spurred by scholars of Germany. One of the key contributions of this scholarship has been the argument that historic links between National Socialism and Islam, in particular the connection between National Socialist racial ideology and contemporary anti-Semitism in the Middle East, persisted into the post-war period and crucially shaped Middle Eastern politics and policies. This approach is represented in this review in the studies by Matthias Küntzel, Jeffrey Herf, Klaus-Michael Mallmann and Martin Cüppers and Barry Rubin and Wolfgang Schwanitz, who all – in various ways – suggest that there is a direct line of continuity between National Socialism, the Muslim Brotherhood and the rise of al-Qaeda. By calling attention to the role of National Socialism, these studies challenge what has hitherto been the dominant historiography of the modern Middle East, which contextualises the rise of anti-Semitism in the region within a broader analysis of Arab nationalism, anti-imperialism and anti-Zionism. The debate on the importance of National Socialism in the Arab world continues to develop. Recent books by historians David Motadel and Stefan Ihrig return the focus from the Middle East to Nazi policy in the region allowing them to place the Nazi regime within a longer history of Western misapprehensions of the ‘Muslim’ world. Placing these two approaches side by side allows us to evaluate the historical evidence of collaboration between Nazism and radical Islam and thereby assess the extent to which Nazi racial ideology penetrated the Arab world.
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