Antisemitism in Arab newspapers

3 Nov 2009 by CST

Tim Marshall of Sky News has an excellent blog today on the subject of antisemitic cartoons in Arab newspapers. It is prompted by this cartoon, which appeared in yesterday's al Hayat al Jadida, a Palestinian newspaper controlled by President Mahmoud Abbas:

Marshall cartoon

Marshall writes:

The articles in yesterday's Al Hayat prepare the ground for the cartoon. One takes issue with Hillary Clinton's astonishing U turn on Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank in which she pretty much picked up a trowel, slapped some cement on it and got to work building a new house in East Jerusalem. Al Hayat uses robust language to criticise her; 'Words that treat truth with cruelty and wallow in the swamp of lies, especially coming from a person of senior position, are improper...'

So far so robust. Then comes another article. "Why, Mrs. Hillary? How much did the Zionists pay you as a bribe?".

Aha, now the Americans are in the pay of the dastardly Zionists. This shift through the gears of paranoia and prejudice then accelerates backwards to the 1930's and a cartoon which could have come straight from the poisoned pages of the 1930's Nazi publication, Der Sturmer (The Attacker).

Uncle Sam looks into the mirror to see himself reflected as hook nosed religious Jew wearing a hat with the star of David. What a noxious collection of images, all rolling into the big lie that Jews control the world.

If such cartoons were to appear daily in a national French, British, or German newspaper there would be uproar, but sadly this is what passes for a normal depiction of Jews throughout much of the Arab world. It goes hand in hand with the sales of Mein Kampf and the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, the latter is sold not as a forgery, but as a factual book.

When Israeli soldiers commit criminal acts in times of war, or scrawl 'Death To Arabs' on walls in Gaza, they are rightly taken to task, but this casual, day in day out, demonization of a people passes as normality in the Arab world, and without mainstream comment elsewhere. Why?

Last year CST supported the translation and publication of Cartoons and Extremism by Joel Kotek, which examines the problem of antisemitic imagery in the Arab and European media (you can view some of the cartoons from the book here; and contact CST directly for a copy of the book). Tim Marshall is right to highlight the ubiquity of antisemitic imagery in mainstream Arab media, and to ask why so many people appear to accept it as the norm. Even if the bigotry they reflect is stimulated by the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, modern communications sends these images around the world, inciting hatred well beyond the limited confines of that particular conflict.

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