Wanneer is iets antisemitisch en wanneer slechts smakeloos?
Natuurlijk, cartoons overdrijven, willen shockeren, de aandacht trekken. Mag je daarom een democratisch gekozen leider van een rechtsstaat met een onafhankelijke rechtsspraak en vrije pers, als een schurk en kindermoordenaar afbeelden? Ja, dat mag, maar de vraag is of een respectabele krant dit moet doen.
Wat voegt het toe? Het laat weer eens zien dat de haat tegen Israel die tegen alle andere landen, inclusief Noord-Korea en andere schurkenstaten, lijkt te overtreffen. Maar is het dan niet een klein beetje waar, als je de overdrijving aftrekt? Nee. Er kwamen bij de laatste Gaza gevechten enkele tientallen kinderen om. Triest, maar dit valt in het niet bij hoeveel kinderen er in andere conflictgebieden omkomen. De NAVO doet het vaak slechter wat betreft aantallen onschuldige burgers die bij bombardementen omkomen. Daarom David Cameron maar afbeelden als beul zoals Netanyahu op de cartoon? Van mij mogen ze, maar ook dat voegt weinig toe en is onsmakelijk. Het grote verschil is natuurlijk dat de Joden al eeuwenlang als kindermoordenaars zijn afgebeeld en om deze en andere absurde aantijgingen werden vervolgd met als absoluut dieptepunt de holocaust. En dat die toevallig vandaag, de dag dat de cartoon in de krant stond, werd herdacht.
Another two fingers go up to British Jews.
Today’s Sunday Times cartoon doesn’t work on any level, but you can see how it came about.
Over the last month certain British commentators have been writhing around in pure ecstasy at the prospect of the Israeli electorate moving to the right. Some of the commentary has made me wince with even Jewish commentators hinting that Israel has shifted to the far right; the connotation being that Israel has finally become a fully fledged fascist state, the antithesis of what would have been expected after the horrors of Nazi Germany.
But, sadly for them, Israel actually shifted to the left in the recent general election. All those columns that certain journalists wanted to write about “the fascist State of Israel” will never see the light of day now. The time they spent concocting the most vile aspersions to cast on Israel has been wasted. Guardian and Independent newspaper columnists have had to, on the whole, hold their fire since the election. Labour politicians like Richard Burden MP have been forced to hold off tweeting the most nastiest denunciations of Israel.
But for some reason The Sunday Times, of all papers, couldn’t hold off publishing Gerald Scarfe’s vile slur of a blood libel with its depiction of Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as a callous murderer of innocents, including Palestinian children.
And then there’s the context. Not only is it Holocaust Memorial Day today but it is also just two days after The Commentator broke the news that Liberal Democrat MP David Ward had specifically attacked “the Jews” on his website by writing:
“Having visited Auschwitz twice – once with my family and once with local schools – I am saddened that the Jews, who suffered unbelievable levels of persecution during the Holocaust, could within a few years of liberation from the death camps be inflicting atrocities on Palestinians in the new State of Israel and continue to do so on a daily basis in the West Bank and Gaza.”
And by juxtaposing the Holocaust with the West Bank and Gaza Ward is actually mocking what happened to the Jews in the death camps, whatever sympathy for them he tries to evince in his statement. The West Bank and Gaza are no Auschwitz, Mr Ward, even though many a Jew hater has tried to equate them.
Ward is not fit to be an MP, but what is more disturbing is the groundswell of support he seems to have had and his comments have flushed out just how nasty his supporters are. For example, under the clip of Ward’s appearance on Skyyou can read:
“Israel is worse than Hitler” and “Is Hitler the new Moses?” These are your supporters, Mr Ward.
I also got tweeted this from Mash’al Hanif in response to one of my tweets about the Sunday Times cartoon:
Well, yes, Mash’al, it does hurt, but it hurts mainly because I always thought the UK was a comfortable place for Jewish people to live. I still do, but that nonsensical Sunday Times cartoon has rocked that certainty ever so slightly.
But I am also grateful that although I deeply feel Jewish I, however, feel no religious obligation to dress as a more religious Jew and, therefore, exposing myself to the horrors of what the Sunday Times cartoon might compel a person with a violent bent towards Israel and/or Jewish people to carry out. Another Toulouse comes to mind.
And, I’m sorry, Mash’al, but it wasn’t me who targeted the Prophet Muhammad. And nor would I. And for that matter it wasn’t Jewish people either, although Mash’al’s comment goes to show how the initial rumour that the maker of that horrendous film depicting Muhammad in such an unseemly manner was Jewish has now achieved permanence.
After the last week one can see why the Jewish people have traditionally moved around so much, forever trying to evade the animus that certain parts of society have always held for us.
(Thanks to The Commentator which also broke the news of the cartoon and thanks to Chas Newkey-Burden who has written so meaningfully about David Ward MP and those like him who think that its the Jews who should be held up to higher scrutiny after having lost six million people in the Holocaust.)