Mussolini's War of Words: Italian Propaganda and Subversion in Egypt and Palestine, 1934-1939


This article examines Italy’s attempts to export the Fascist revolution to areas formally and informally controlled by Britain. The challenge mounted by the Italian government to the British imperial structure rested upon the development of preferential relations with nationalist movements throughout the empire; such relationship would be forged by propaganda in a region, the southern and eastern shores of the Mediterranean, which was central to Mussolini’s foreign policy. The promotion of Fascist ideology among the Middle Eastern populations, and in particular in Egypt and Palestine, was driven by political priorities rather than ideological imperatives insofar as propaganda was carefully employed to expand the economic and military capacity of Fascist Italy. Thus propaganda became as early as the 1920s an instrument of foreign policy. This article also questions the effectiveness of Britain’s response to the Fascist challenge: here structural problems within the British propaganda machine and intelligence community seriously undermined Britain’s defence against Axis subversion in the Middle East.

DOI Code: 10.1285/i22808949a1n2p49

Keywords: Fascism; Arab nationalism; propaganda; Middle East; Egypt; Palestine

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