CST Blog

Dyab Abou Jahjah's Holocaust cartoon prosecuted

3 September 2009

In  early 2006, when the Danish Mohammed cartoons row was at its height, the Arab European League decided to respond by publishing a series of cartoons of its own. Strangely, the AEL, which is mainly active in Belgium and the Netherlands, thought that the most appropriate cartoons to do the job would be ones denying the Holocaust:


After considering a complaint from the Amsterdam-based Centre for Documentation on Israel (CIDI), Dutch prosecutors have now decided to charge the AEL for the last of these cartoons under Dutch hate speech laws. The AEL, for its part, insists that it does not deny the reality of the Holocaust, but rather published the cartoons to highlight a double standard, whereby Holocaust Denial is illegal in many countries but the Danish Mohammed cartoons were not deemed suitable for prosecution.

What the AEL seemed to have failed to grasp is that Holocaust Denial is not prosecuted simply because it offends Jews. Laws against Holocaust Denial were introduced in several European countries because of a deliberate neo-Nazi campaign to promote Holocaust Denial, in order to rehabilitate Nazism and incite hatred against Jews. In other words, it is the impact that Holocaust Denial potentially has on non-Jews, not on Jews, that the laws against it are meant to address. You can argue that the Mohammed cartoons have the potential to incite hatred against Muslims, and should be treated the same way, but it cannot be right to fight one form of potential incitement with another. As Ronny Naftaniel of CIDI said: "Imagine if Dutch Jews insulted Muslims every time they heard an antisemitic remark. What kind of perverse world would we be living in?" The AEL's cartoons come across as a very clumsy attempt to make a political point by manipulating Jewish sensitivities, constructed through a prism that sees anything perceived as anti-Muslim as having some kind of 'Zionist' connection or influence. It is an inflammatory kind of politics that does not belong in the democratic mainstream.

Back in 2006, when the AEL published these cartoons, it was led by its founder, Djab Abou Jahjah. At the time, Abou Jahjah defended their publication in strident terms:

People in Europe are not allowed to do a free historical examination of the Second World War and the holocaust and freely express an opinion on it that is different than the dominating dogmatic line.  Any attempt to have deviant historical examination of the holocaust will earn you the title of revisionist, anti-Semite and a jail sentence.

You don’t even have to go that far, I would be curious to see the reactions of these champions of the freedom of speech  in case that same Danish paper would have published pictures of Jewish rabbi’s, or Moses for that matter, with a Jewish nose, the star of David and represented him as a greedy banker, or other form of economical parasite sucking the blood of the people referring to stereotypes on Jews. Or of King David with the same typical Jewish features and outfit conspiring together with other Jewish prophets to dominate the world inspired by the protocols of the Elders of Zion.

Yes Arabs and Muslims are uptight when you touch their religious and national symbols, but Europe had made of political correctness and the cult of the Holocaust and Jew-worshiping its alternative religion and is even more uptight when you touch that. Europeans might not respect their flags, and they might laugh with Jesus and Mary but if you touch their new religious symbols, they will bombard you with indignation and persecute you in the best European inquisition tradition.

I am for the absolute freedom of speech everywhere, and that’s why I call upon every free sole among Arabs to use the Danish flag as a substitute for toilet paper. To illustrate every wall with graffiti making fun of everything Europe holds as holy: dancing rabbis on the carcasses of Palestinian children, hoax gas-chambers built in Hollywood in 1946 with Steven Spielberg’s approval stamp, and Aids spreading fagots. Let us defend the absolute freedom of speech altogether, wouldn’t that be a noble cause?

Opinions will differ about the wisdom of prosecuting the AEL for this. But even without a prosecution, surely no leftists or anti-racists would want anything to do with people who play with Holocaust Denial to bait Jews for political advantage?

Abou Jahjah is no longer head of the AEL, although he remains close to the organisation he founded. He now promotes the Iranian government's political campaigns against Israel, as the International Director of its International Union of Parliamentarians for Palestine. Here he is, in London in March this year, speaking at a meeting of the Stop the War Coalition:

He was banned from entering the United Kingdom after that visit - a misfortune he blamed on the Jewish Chronicle - so when the StWC invited him to speak again in July, he had to deliver his speech by video, which he did with the help of Hizbollah's al-Manar TV:

It is worth remembering, that when a promoter of Holocaust Denial can't get a UK visa to spread his politics here, he can rely on the Stop the War Coalition and Hizbollah to help him out.

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