“The publication of cartoons that incite religious or ethnic hatreds is unacceptable.”—U.S. Department of State
The decision of several European newspapers to publish cartoons portraying the Islamic Prophet Mohamed has led to death threats and rioting around the world. While many in Europe are standing firm, the cartoons’ publication has also produced strong apologies by international leaders and some of the media. The managing director of France Soir (one of the papers that published the cartoons) was even fired “as a powerful sign of respect for the intimate beliefs and convictions of every individual for allowing them to be published.”
Jyllands-Posten, the original Danish paper that published the cartoons, had this to say: “They (The cartoons) were not intended to be offensive, nor were they at variance with Danish law, but they have indisputably offended many Muslims for which we apologize.”
We wonder why no similar outcry and apologies have come after viciously anti-Semitic and anti-Israel cartoons are published on an almost daily basis throughout the Arab world. The following cartoon (as reported by Palestinian Media Watch) was published in Al-Hayat, the official newspaper of the Palestinian Authority, last month. Perhaps the reason that it did not provoke an outrage is that by the standards of the Arab press, it is hardly exceptional.
“Offensive” Cartoons in the Arab World
As documented by Palestinian Media Watch, the Arab Press exercises almost no self-censorship in the publications of cartoons which involve gross stereotypes of Jews.
Not a week goes by in the Arab world without a “political” cartoon portraying Jews as either blood-suckers, Nazis, or the indiscriminate killers of Palestinian children.
The Anti-Defamation League points out that: The U.N. designation of January 27 as a Holocaust memorial day was an occasion for many newspapers to run cartoons and columns that denied or downplayed the horrors of the Holocaust. Additionally, many newspaper articles accused Jews of using the Holocaust to justify the persecution of others
The Nazi Swastika superimposed on the Star of David. From Al-Yawm (Saudi Arabia).
In an interview with the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, analyst Joe Kotek, writes that “The main recurrent motif in Arab cartoons concerning Israel is ‘the devilish Jew.’ This image conveys the idea that Jews behave like Nazis, kill children and love blood.”
“A major theme in Arab cartoons is the blood-loving or blood-thirsty Jew. This originates in Christian anti-Semitism. The Christian anti-Semitic libel alleged the Jews needed Christian blood for their Passover service. Its claim is that the Jew is evil, as his religion forces him to drink blood. In today’s Arab world this image of unbridled hatred has mutated into the alleged quest for Palestinian blood.
Blood-drinking Jews are frequently shown by Al Ahram, one of Egypt’s leading dailies. On 21 April 2001, it printed a cartoon showing an Arab being put into a flatting mill by two soldiers wearing helmets with Stars of David. The Arab’s blood pours out and two Jews with kippot and Stars of David on their shirts drink the blood laughingly.”
Yet, we find very little condemnation and apologies from the international community when these cartoons are published. In response to the offending cartoons of Muhammad, many like The Vatican said that “the drawings amounted to an “unacceptable provocation” and the right to freedom of expression “cannot entail the right to offend the sentiment of believers.” One wonders why the same standards have not been used in reacting to the above cartoons.
On the other hand, Die Welt, one of the German papers to print the cartoons, got it right when they noted (as quoted in CNSNews.com):
“The protests from Muslims would be taken more seriously if they came across as less hypocritical,” the Hamburg-based daily said, noting that no protests greeted the depiction by Syrian television of rabbis as cannibals.”
Not Just in the Arab World
Unfortunately it is not just the Arab world that seems comfortable publishing blatantly anti-Semitic slurs in the guise of “political” cartoons. As previously documented by Honest Reporting, media in Europe and the United States have published cartoons that go beyond offensive.
A political cartoon published in The Independent in 2003 depicted Ariel Sharon biting into the flesh of a Palestinian baby. The background shows Apache attack helicopters firing missiles, and blaring the message “Vote Likud.” Sharon is saying, ‘What’s wrong, you never seen a politician kissing babies before?”
The government of Israel lodged an official protest to the cartoon by Dave Brown. Yet no apology similar to the many we are hearing from around the world today was forthcoming.
Not only were no apologies forthcoming, but the UK’s Political Cartoon Society awarded it first prize in its 2003 “Cartoon of the Year” competition, choosing it over 34 other entries. When Honest Reporting wrote to protest the award, the reply we received was:
“You have all taken this award completely out of perspective and context. Shame on you! We do so much good.”
For an eye-opening selection of more cartoons of this nature, go to Tom Gross Media.com. With the lack of remorse that we hear from publications of these cartoons one has to conclude that the threat of violence is the only reason that most of the media are so concerned with offending Muslim sensibilities.
Be on watch to see if your local media runs anti-Israel political cartoons.
Thank you for your ongoing involvement in the battle against media bias.