On 27 January the Sunday Times marked Holocaust Memorial Day with an apt cartoon depicting Binyamin Netanyahu building a brick wall with blood red cement and crushed Palestinian bodies. While the Zionists would love us to, and indeed need us to, focus all our attention on the horrors that were suffered by the Jews under the Nazis, the cartoon in the Sunday Times draws our attention back to the reality of the horrors that Israel continues to inflict on the Palestinians today as it has done for the past 65 years.
Following the publication of the cartoon, the Israeli PR machine went into overdrive with demands of an apology from the newspaper, with accusations of anti-Semitism and blood libel. Sure enough, and much more in character than the publication of the cartoon in the first place, the Sunday Times apologised for printing the cartoon stating that: “ the image we published of Binyamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, which appeared to show him revelling in the blood of Palestinians, crossed the line. The image would have been a mistake on any day but the fact that last Sunday was Holocaust Memorial Day compounded the error .”
While Lord Sacks, the chief rabbi, did not explicitly join accusations of anti-Semitism he did draw attention to the ‘danger’ of publishing this type of cartoon, regardless of the intention, that such images “ reinforce a great slander of our time: that Jews, victims of the Holocaust, are now perpetrators of a similar crime.” (Statement on the Gerald Scarfe cartoon in the Sunday Times, chiefrabbi.org, 29 January 2013)
He obviously continues by stating that “not only is this manifestly untrue, it is also inflammatory and deeply dangerous”. However, to claim that it is manifestly untrue flies in the face of fact when, to mention but a few of said facts, 750,000 Palestinians were forcibly removed off their land to create the state of Israel in 1948; hundreds of thousands Palestinians have been imprisoned in Israeli jails; hundreds of illegal Israeli settlements continue to be built and expanded within the West Bank controlling water, land and creating Palestinian Bantustans carved up by Israeli ‘settler’ roads; Gaza is being held under a brutal siege and thousands of Palestinians have been murdered by the Israeli ‘Defence’ Force.
The truth is that the cartoon reflects the reality of what the Israeli state is doing to the Palestinian people. Gerald Scarfe drew the cartoon under the heading ‘Israeli elections, Will cementing peace continue?’ in response to the recent Israeli elections in which Binyamin Netanyahu was re-elected for a third term as prime minister. Under Netanyahu’s two previous terms we witnessed the killing of over 300 Palestinians by the IDF, the continued construction of the 8m high apartheid wall which encroaches even further into West Bank and another, albeit less successful, attack on Gaza. If the question is whether Netanyahu has blood on his hands then surely the answer is a resounding yes. The image that Scarfe produced is a fitting caricature of the representative of the Israeli state in its continued occupation and oppression of the Palestinian people.
Accusations ‘Anti-semitism’ a deflection
Scarfe is a satirical cartoonists with a technique of sharp and sketchy line drawings emphasised with wash of water colour, a tendency to exaggerate the features of his subjects and a penchant for the grotesque and bloody. Scarfe’s treatment of Netanyahu is not out of keeping with the style of all his previous work and does not suggest any particular exaggeration of features to emphasis him as a Jew specifically.
The cries of blood libel that have been thrown in are equally nothing more than a red herring. Blood libel relates to the accusation that Jews take the blood of others, specifically children, for religious rituals. The fact that there is blood in this cartoon however, in no way infers blood libel. The blood seems clearly to be that of the Palestinians of all ages, who are being crushed within the wall that is likely to refer to the massive apartheid wall or ‘separation barrier’ as Israel like to mis-call it.
Middle East Monitor correctly drew attention to the correctness of Scarfe’s cartoon with the following facts. On Monday, the day after the cartoon was published, the Guardian‘s Harriet Sherwood reported that ” At least five unarmed young Palestinians, including a 21-year-old woman, have been shot dead by Israeli soldiers in 13 days since the start of the year . Of those killed, some were shot because they got too close to the so-called Separation Wall and others were protesting against the land grab that the Wall instigates. The young woman was simply entering her college. In occupied Jerusalem, the historic Ma’man Allah Cemetery is being destroyed by Israelis in order to build a “Museum of Tolerance” on it. Palestinian blood is very cheap in the eyes of Israeli soldiers and politicians and not even their final resting places are safe from desecration .” (Celebrated cartoonist Gerald Scarfe draws the ire of the Lobby, middleeastmonitor.com, January 2013)
The claims that Scarfe’s cartoon is anti-Semitic are nothing more than an attempt to deflect our attention away from the subject matter the cartoon is depicting.
Anti-Zionism is not anti-Semitism
The definition of anti-Semitism is a prejudice against and loathing of Semitic peoples, which includes not only Jews but also Arabs. However, the definition more often is reduced to imply the prejudice against and loathing of Jews specifically. This has been used by Zionism as part of the justification for the state of Israel. The implication is that Jews are specifically targeted by anti-Semites and therefore that a separate Jewish state is essential for the protection of the Jews.
Since the creation of the state of Israel the definition of anti-Semitism by the Zionist lobby has been further twisted into being anything written or said that challenges and contradicts Zionism’s version of events. In short, if what you say does not conform to the ‘truth’ set out by Israel then you are anti-Semitic. If you think that thousands of people being injured in Gaza as a consequence of the attack by Israel in November 2012 was a massacre and not ‘justified’ response to rocket fire then the accusations of anti-Semite from the Zionist camp could be hurled your way.
What we need to be clear about is that these accusations are nothing more than an attempt to intimidate, scare and undermine the reasonable and necessary criticism of the state of Israel. Gerald Scarfe’s cartoon rightly depicted the Israeli prime minster with Palestinian blood on his hands. This is not an attack on ‘the Jews’ but a comment on the brutality of the Israeli state.
Being anti-Zionist and opposing the aggression of the Israeli state in all its forms is by no means being anti-Semitic.