Sunday, January 27, 2013

Anti-Semitic Cartoon in The Times

HT: Jerry Coyne.

  Honest Reporting has posted an article on what I consider to be a shocking anti-Semitic cartoon that appeared in the Sunday Times. I wrote a letter to the Times demanding an apology and ask that my readers do so also. One may disagree with and object to Israel's policies regarding the West Bank and the Palestinians without stooping to printing such graphic distortions.

  UPDATE: My friend who disagrees with me and thinks the cartoon is not anti-Semitic, has sent me a link to an article in Haaretz, a daily Israeli newspaper, that supports his argument: Four Reasons Why UK Cartoon of Netanyahu Isn't Anti-Semitic in Any Way

FURTHER UPDATE: And this cartoon by the same artist would suggest that he dislikes both Hammas and Israel's leaders.

  My Response to the Essay: What I think is the defining issue is brought up in the second point of the essay:

  2. It does not use Holocaust imagery: It has become generally accepted - justifiably I think - that comparing Israel's leaders and policies to those of the Third Reich is borderline, if not full-on anti-Semitism. Not only because there is no comparable genocide in human history, but because choosing it to describe the actions of the Jewish state is a nasty slur identifying Israelis as the successors of the Holocaust's victims turned into perpetrators of a second Holocaust. But there is nothing in Scarfe's cartoon that can put the Holocaust in mind.

What? A political leader building a wall with the bodies, heads, and blood of innocent civilians doesn't remind one of anything to do with the Holocaust? And the implication that by killing these people the leader is continuing his policy of peace? His final solution? Is the author serious? The very notion of de-humanizing that is built into such an image can do no other but remind us of comparable crimes against humanity, such as the Holocaust. If the author cannot admit that to himself, shouldn't we just assume that he is in denial? Certainly the actions of the villain in the cartoon are a testament to all that the Holocaust stands for. Therefore, using the author's own admission that comparing Netanyahu's actions to the Third Reich is "borderline, if not full-on anti-Semitism," we should conclude that the cartoon is borderline, if not full-on anti-Semitic.

Further thoughts: If the cartoonist had tried to maintain some semblance of even handedness, as he did in the Hamas-Netanyahu cartoon, where the actions of both Israeli and Palestinian leadership resulted in a blood-soaked wall, then I think the cartoon would have avoided anti-Semitic overtones. But the cartoonist made no such attempt. The blood of the Paltestinians is the result of a purposeful, systematic endeavor by Israel's (or at least, Netanyahu's) policies.


Saskia Scott said...

I don't understand why the cartoon is anti-semitic. It doesn't actually make any representation of Jews as a people group.
What the cartoon is saying is that the Israeli government is oppressing the people of Palestine. Doesn't seem anti-semitic to me at all.


Bilbo said...

Hi Saskia,

I've been having a discussion with a friend of mine who shares your sentiments. My answer to him is that the cartoon depicts Netanyahu (the representative of the Jewish state of Israel), systematically building a wall with the bodies, heads and blood of the Palestians. In other words, the cartoon is depicting much more than just oppression. It's depicting a very bloody, systemic oppression. If The Times ran cartoons of Palestinians systematically butchering Israelis (instead of the occasional rocket into an Israeli village, or an occasional suicide bomber taking out a restaurant of Israelis), I think we would hear howls of protest from Arab Muslims about how anti-Palestinian, anti-Muslim, and anti-Arab the paper was. And this would be followed by days of Muslim riots throughout Europe. But The Times runs no such cartoons. Perhaps I'm mistaken, but I think there is an attempt to portray Israel as the new evil in the world that must be dealt with. And by implication, the Jews.

JDB said...

Don't forget his hanging of Thatcher, Assad drinking a bucket full of the blood of children, and much, much else!

Saskia Scott said...

Thanks for the response Bilbo. I guess my issue is that if the media aren't allowed to call out world leaders on their crimes, then what you get is, eventually, the holocaust all over again. I don't believe any world leader should be using past events to justify their oppression of someone other people group in the present, and so from that perspective, I support the cartoon.

However, in Australia, as far as I know (could be wrong) anti-Semitism is not a big issue. Perhaps in countries where it is more prominent the cartoon may be more inflammatory.

With the Islam comparison, I wouldn't think the criticism in the paper of, say, Ahmedinijad, would cause riots (again, could be wrong) - it seems to happen when people depict and directly criticise the Prophet, which is arguably closer to being ant-Islamicist than simply criticising a world leader.

Anyhow, I see that there have been apologies and what not and the author has been able to explain his intent, so that's a good thing.


Bilbo said...

I appreciate your thoughts, Saskia. I think that if the cartoon had portrayed Netanyahu cementing the wall with gray cement, instead of blood, then it would have been less inflammatory and perhaps more accurate.