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A Discussion on the TV Channel Al-Jazeera

Dr. Faysal Al-Qasem's weekly talk show of May 15,2001, on the Qatar TV channel Al-Jazeera, discussed the question, "Is Zionism worse than Nazism?" Against the background of this program were on the one hand, the anti-Semitic remarks made by Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad, and on the other, the manifest signed by 14 Arab intellectuals, denouncing the planned international conference of Holocaust deniers in Beirut.

The program hosted Dr. Hayat Al-Hwayek "Atiya, "researcher of Zionism" and follower of Holocaust denier Roger Garaudi and translator of his book into Arabic. Liberal Tunisian intellectual "Afif Al-Akhdhar represented the opposition to Holocaust denial in the Arab world.

At the opening of the program Al-Qasem posed the following question to Dr. "Atiya: "Is there a difference between Zionism and Nazism?" "Atiya responded that the question should be looked at from two perspectives, the logical and the textual. Logically, she claimed, "the question must be asked: "what is it exactly that we denounce in Nazism?" According to her, there are two elements in Nazism that should be denounced: "The first is the racism, that is, the belief in the superiority of the Aryan race over the rest of the races, and the second is the military expansion at the expense of others, stemming from this belief."

After establishing these two points. Dr. "Atiya stated that these two principles " precisely existed in the Zionist mentality and ideology... ever since the days of the Jewish Torah... the belief in being the "Chosen People" is one of the foundations of the Zionist project. As for the expansion, there is nothing left to say, because we are living through it."

As for the textual perspective, "Atiya cited "some of the words of both Jewish and Nazi intellectuals. Nahum Goldman says that there is a common trait to both German Nazis and Jews, and that is the selectivity and the belief in a common destiny as a divine mission. Writer Michel Rashlan compares sections of Mein Kampf to the Jewish Torah, and comes to the conclusion that... the ideological roots of the Nazis can be found in the Book of Joshua... In 1935 a French newspaper published an interview with the Nazi theoretician, Alfred Rosenberg, in which he said he supports Zionism and is enchanted by it because of its similarity to Nazism..."

"Afif Al-Akhdhar was asked to respond to the comparison between Nazism and Zionism, but he began by addressing the manifest by 14 Arab intellectuals, denouncing the planned conference of Holocaust deniers in Beirut.

The conference was subsequently cancelled by the Lebanese government following protests from Arab intellectuals and Jewish groups: "The only reason for which I did not sign the manifest was that I was not asked to. Furthermore, if they had not been in a rush, hundreds of Arab intellectuals would have signed it," explained "Afif Al-Akhdhar.

The main reasons given by Al-Akhdhar regarding his stance against the conference of historical revisionists in Beirut are as follows: He explained that from a political point of view, following the collapse of the Soviet Bloc, no policy can succeed if it is not favorable to international diplomacy and public opinion. "If we adopt the Nazis" garbage," he explained, "we will lose on our issue, namely the liberation of the Arab lands occupied in 1967... Politically, if we support revisionism and Holocaust deniers... we will lose international diplomacy."

A1-Akhdhar began by emphasizing that he does not denounce revisionist historians only for political reasons, but also on moral grounds. Before he could finish his explanation "Atiya interrupted him and would not allow him to continue. "Madame," A1-Akhdhar said to her, "do not be a Nazi and do not be fascist."

Once Dr. "Atiya was given the stage, she complained: "He did not answer the question. He avoided the subject. I was talking about the 1930s, when there was no revisionism and no Holocaust. I was talking about the cooperation between Zionism and Nazism... he evaded history in order to attack the Beirut conference... He should not be telling us about appeasing diplomacy and the media. [The Arab intellectuals] living in the West only want to appease. Those of us who live here are not interested in appeasing anyone; we are interested in the truth... The Jews supported the Nuremberg Laws because they made the Transfer easier..."

Dr. "Atiya's comments angered Al-Akhdhar, who accused her of "talking like the Taliban, saying that "the media doesn"t interest her"." According to him, "whoever wants to recover the land and establish a homeland for the Palestinians must take the international media into consideration."

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