The books that are the subject of this review essay comprise three new contributions and one revised edition about a topic that has become paradigmatic in defining scholarly and political approaches to key areas of Middle Eastern history. It has shaped studies of the historical and ideological roots of Arab nationalism, the Arab–Israeli conflict, and the emergence and perseverance of authoritarian regimes in the modern Middle East. The ways that politicians, intellectuals, political movements, and the Arab public related to Nazism and Nazi anti-Semitism have been used to contest the legitimacy of 20th-century Arab political movements across the ideological spectrum. Historians have theorized about the involvement of individuals such as Grand Mufti Amin al-Husseini in the crimes of Adolf Hitler, Heinrich Himmler, and Adolf Eichmann; the roots of Arab nationalist doctrine in German Volk ideas; the mimicry of Nazism in organizations such as the Iraqi al-Futuwwa and Antun Saadeh's Syrian Social Nationalist Party; and Arab public sympathies for Nazi anti-Semitism dating from the 1930s or even earlier. Until recently, European and Anglo-American research on these topics—often based on a history of ideas approach—tended to take a natural affinity of Arabs toward Nazism for granted. More recent works have contextualized authoritarian and totalitarian trends in the Arab world within a broad political spectrum, choosing subaltern perspectives and privileging the analysis of local voices in the press over colonial archives and the voices of grand theoreticians. The works of Israel Gershoni have taken the lead in this emerging scholarship of Arab nationalism. This approach was also the common denominator of a research project on “Arab Encounters with National Socialism,” which the Berlin Center for Modern Oriental Studies (Zentrum Moderner Orient) hosted from 2000 to 2003. Its members included the author of this review and the authors of two of the books under review (Nordbruch and Wildangel). The project used indigenous Arabic sources, especially local newspapers, for a close scrutiny of Arab reactions to the challenge of Nazism in a period when Arabs, especially nationalists, perceived that quasicolonial regimes undermined the ostensibly democratic and liberal ethos of the British and French Mandate powers.
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