- Political cartoons often have more of an immediate impact in reinforcing negative stereotypes about Jews than a lengthy essay. By far the largest output of antisemitic cartoons nowadays comes from the Arab and Muslim world. A yet uncharted field of hate cartoons against Jews is that in progressive blogs.
- Antisemitic cartoons found - and seemingly tolerated - on progressive blogs such as Daily Kos, MyDD, Mondoweiss, and Indymedia are mainly expressions of anti-Israelism, a more recent category of antisemitism than the religious and ethnic-nationalist versions.
- Traditionally the core motif of antisemitism is that Jews represent absolute evil. The cultural notion of what that means has changed over the centuries. Nowadays absolute evil is often expressed as Jews or Israelis being Nazis. Indeed, the cartoon motif most frequently appearing on the progressive blogs is imagery equating Israel with Nazi Germany. Others reflect Jewish conspiracies, Zionists controlling the world, the blood libel, or show Jews as animals.
- Most of the progressive blogs discussed, containing such antisemitic imagery cited in this essay, generally fail to remove such hateful cartoons, despite blog policies expressly prohibiting posts that contain "hateful" or "inflammatory" content.
Cartoons have to express ideas in an easy-to-understand way. Therefore they are often accessible even to people who cannot read. Cartoons are also an efficient way to transmit hate and prejudices, including antisemitism. Antisemitism in cartoons has been investigated, among others, by the Belgian political scientist Jöel Kotek in his book Cartoons and Extremism. Political cartoons often have a more immediate impact in reinforcing negative stereotypes about Jews than a lengthy essay.
The largest output of antisemitic cartoons nowadays comes from the Arab and Muslim world. Outside it one also finds a significant number of antisemitic cartoons in many countries. In Europe, for instance, over the past decade such imagery has been particularly strong in countries such as Norway and Greece.
A yet uncharted field of hate cartoons against Jews is that in progressive blogs. They are mainly expressions of anti-Israelism, a more recent category of antisemitism than the religious and ethnic-nationalist versions. Traditionally the core motif of antisemitism is that Jews represent absolute evil. The cultural notion of what that means has changed over the centuries. In current times absolute evil is often expressed as Jews or Israelis being Nazis. This charge is usually identified with the virulent antisemitic cartoons on right-wing extremist sites and in Arab media. This motif, however, is also the main one found in antisemitic cartoons on progressive blogs.
Also the three major submotifs of antisemitism are expressed in cartoons on progressive blogs. The first one is that Jews lust for power. In progressive blogs this is manifested mainly as caricatures on Jewish conspiracies and Zionists controlling the world. The second major antisemitic submotif is that Jews lust for blood, and progressive blogs include cartoons accusing Jews of infanticide. The third antisemitic submotif, namely, that Jews are inferior beings, is expressed on these blogs in cartoons showing Jews as animals.
The cartoonist most frequently appearing on the progressive blogs analyzed here is Carlos Latuff. He is an extreme left-wing political activist who won second place in the notorious Irani an Holocaust Cartoon Competition. Latuff is one of the more prolific antisemitic cartoonists on the web, with a staggering amount of work dedicated to advancing explicitly antismitic political imagery.
Israel as a Nazi State
The U.S. State Department's 2008 report on "Contemporary Global Antisemitism" asserts regarding the new antismitism:
Comparing contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis is increasingly commonplace. Antisemitism couched as criticism of Zionism or Israel often escapes condemnation since it can be more subtle than traditional forms of antisemitism...those criticizing Israel have a responsibility to consider the effect their actions may have in prompting hatred of Jews. At times hostility toward Israel has translated into physical violence directed at Jews in general.
The European Union Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia presents a similar definition.
The 2009 report on antisemitism by the Stephen Roth Institute noted that antisemitic attacks on Jews worldwide doubled from the previous year. The study also points out that extreme anti-Israel sentiments, such as equating Israel with Nazi Germany, are often the catalyst for such attacks. As the report observes, "The dramatic increase in antisemitic manifestations in West European countries was influenced considerably by the virulently anti-Israel discourse and propaganda that portrayed Israel as a Nazi state and consequently delegitimized its right to exist."
As analyzed in an interview with Kotek in 2004, as well as by Arieh Stav in his 1999 book on antisemitic cartoons in the Arab world, the charge that the behavior of the Jewish state is similar to that of Nazi Germany has been a staple in the Arab media for years, used as a tool for demonizing and delegitimizing Israel. As Kotek noted, "Long before [Ariel] Sharon came to power [as prime minister], the theme of the Israeli as a Nazi was well-represented in the Arab caricature. According to it, all Zionists from Peres and Barak to Sharon are inspired by Nazi methods." As Stav pointed out, "The idea of NaZionism...was a central theme of the Soviet Press [during the Cold War] and had considerable impact on Egypt and Syria...particularly during the Lebanon War and the Intifada, as well as in the Western Press. The Arabs...are in the vanguard of this trend. The Judeo-Nazi Motif is among the central themes of Arab propaganda."
The following cartoons illustrate how the hate motif of Israel as a Nazi state appears regularly on progressive blogs. As Kotek remarks, "Cartoons [that] convey the idea that Jews behave like Nazis [would] lead readers to conclude that Israel, alone among the nations, has no right to exist. Such cartoons represent a continuation and rebirth of the malicious Zionism=Racism charge codified in 1975 - later repealed - by UN member states (Arab and Soviet bloc) who at the time were openly dedicated to Israel's destruction."
The above cartoon, showing a bloodstained Israeli flag with the Magen David morphed into a swastika, is posted on the progressive blog Daily Kos. It accompanies a column by a Kos blogger entitled: "Eulogy before the Inevitability of Self-Destruction: The Decline and Death of Israel." While it is important to note that this post elicited an overwhelmingly negative response by Kos readers, it is also certainly worth noting that the graphic and accompanying story - which warns of "A Zionist movement multiplying like cancer cells" - was still posted on the site as of August 2010. The section on "posting privileges" at Daily Kos clearly stipulates that "hateful" or "inflammatory" posts will be deleted.
The cartoon above by Derkaoui Abdellah, presumably comparing Israel's security fence with Auschwitz, won first prize at the abovementioned 2006 Iranian Holocaust Cartoon Competition in Tehran. It was also posted on Daily Kos, and is still up at the site as of August 2010. The Kos blogger who posted the cartoon referred to it as "merely" depicting "a political statement that what the Israelis are doing in building the wall around the Palestinian territories echoes what was done to them in the past.'' While much of the commentary regarding the cartoon was negative, it needs to be asked why - again, given that Daily Kos reserves the right to delete material that is hateful - such a hideous cartoon would appear at this progressive site at all, let alone remain there to this day.