Respectful Insolence

The difference between freedom and theocracy

Here’s something very telling:

A Danish newspaper has printed cartoons about the Holocaust commissioned by Iran after cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad triggered violent protests.

The newspaper – Information – published six of the cartoons, which are on display in the Iranian capital, Tehran.

Several of the cartoons contrast the plight of the Palestinians with that of the victims of the Holocaust.

Editor-in-chief Palle Weis said he had thought carefully about publishing the cartoons and said it was not a stunt.

He told the BBC the cartoons accompanied a news story about the exhibition. He said they were “tasteless but predictable”.

‘Pretty harmless’

Another Danish newspaper, Jyllands-Posten, sparked the international row last year after it published cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad, including one of him wearing a bomb on his head.

There were angry protests in Europe, the Middle East, and other parts of the world, in which at least 50 people died.

In response, a competition was organised in Iran inviting people to draw cartoons about the Holocaust. Organisers said they were testing the West’s commitment to freedom of speech.

Information said it had decided to print the cartoons after consulting the main rabbi in Copenhagen.

“He said he had seen worse examples,” editor-in-chief Mr Weis told the BBC.

“They are tasteless but predictable… they’re pretty harmless. I don’t think they would be called great art.”


Exactly.

They’re very much like the the rather lame cartoons published last year by a different Danish newspaper (Jyllands-Posten) poking fun at Mohammed and Islam, the ones that caused rioting throughout the Middle East, calls for censorship, and demands that the Danish government apologize or force the editors of the newspaper that published the cartoons to apologize. Then, we saw riots and boycotts. Now, we see a collective shrug of the shoulders from Jews and other non-Muslims. If the Iranians, who disingenuously conflated this “contest” (announced by the Iranian government, hosted by a dubious “nongovernmental” organization in a nation where the government controls the press and the media, and held in a nation where the original Danish cartoons would never be published, unless it served the purpose of the government to use them to foment hatred against Jews) with the Danish cartoons (published in a free nation by an independent paper with no government interference), expected more of a reaction, they have to be disappointed by the collective yawn coming from the rest of the world.

Which is as it should be. From the few of these cartoons that I’ve been able to see, I conclude that they’re nothing more than the usual anti-Semitic and anti-Israel tripe that conflates the state of the Palestinians with the Holocaust and/or equates Israel with the Nazi regime. There’s minimal, if any, creativity, and these cartoons seem to be of the kind popularized during the reign of the Third Reich by arch anti-Semitic propagandist Julius Streicher in his magazine Der Stürmer.

However, I am a little disturbed by how difficult it is to find these cartoons, because I think that they should be seen, if only to show the blatant anti-Semitism inherent in them. For instance, neither of the two stories I found on this provided any links to them. I tried to find them on the Dagbladet Information website and failed. (Of course, it probably doesn’t help that I don’t speak or read Danish and that, as far as I can tell, the website requires a login to see the full articles; my best guess as to where I could find them is this link and a few of them can be seen in a slideshow in this story.) It is possible to find a few of the cartoons at this website on the front page, but the link to the actual gallery doesn’t appear to work for me, although the list of participants can be found here.

Personally, I’d be interested in seeing the rest, if only to satisfy my curiosity over what the anti-Semites and Holocaust deniers running Iran consider to be political “humor.” Given what I’ve seen thus far, though, my guess is that my reaction will be similar to the Danish rabbi quoted above: A big yawn.

ADDENDUM 9/10/2006: More here, with a working link to the actual cartoons.

Comments

  1. #1 Black Cap
    September 9, 2006

    Which is as it should be. From the few of these cartoons that I’ve been able to see, I conclude that they’re nothing more than the usual anti-Semitic and anti-Israel tripe that conflates the state of the Palestinians with the Holocaust and/or equates Israel with the Nazi regime.

    And I conclude that this part of your post is nothing but the typical Israel Lobby diatribe that attempts to conflate any criticism of Israel and/or it’s treatment of the Palestinians with Holocaust Denial and Naziism. Grow up.

  2. #2 Pascal Leduc
    September 9, 2006

    And I conclude that this part of your post is nothing but the typical Israel Lobby diatribe that attempts to conflate any criticism of Israel and/or it’s treatment of the Palestinians with Holocaust Denial and Naziism. Grow up.

    And I conclude that your post is nothing more then typical anti-israeli sentiment that conflates dis-taste of anti-semitisme with full and absolut support of Israel.

    Weeee this is fun.

  3. #4 Orac
    September 9, 2006

    And I conclude that this part of your post is nothing but the typical Israel Lobby diatribe that attempts to conflate any criticism of Israel and/or it’s treatment of the Palestinians with Holocaust Denial and Naziism. Grow up.

    So pathetically predictable.

    Too bad Pascal beat me to the punch in responding to your rather sad attempt at defending Iran’s “contest.”

    Of course, what “Black Cap” forgets to mention is that the President of Iran is a Holocaust denier and that he specifically authorized this “contest” to make fun of the Holocaust. Moreover, now that Colst found a link that works (I don’t know how I missed it) and I’ve had a chance to look at a few more of the cartoons, I see that they are even lamer than I had expected. Take, for instance, this one.

  4. #5 Joshua
    September 10, 2006

    Yup. Spot on, Orac. This whole anti-Semitic comic business is stupid, petulant, and childish, just like the previous reactions to the original Danish Mohammed comics. I’m glad to see that nobody is overreacting here in the west, which is as I expected. No point in dignifying this silliness by getting upset over it.

  5. #6 Black Cap
    September 10, 2006

    And I conclude that your post is nothing more then typical anti-israeli sentiment that conflates dis-taste of anti-semitisme with full and absolut support of Israel.

    Weeee this is fun.

    Sorry, but if your reading comprehension skills were up to snuff you would see that I was only critiquing a certain part of the post. You know, the part where he said that this contest was the “typical anti-Semitic and anti-Israel tripe”. Yeah, you see, the word “typical” usually means that something is the norm, and it’s a common tactic of neocon-right and the Israel lobby to paint anyone who criticizes Israel as an anti-Semite and a Holocaust denier a la Ahmedinejad. Hell, you can find plenty of that bullshit right on the ADL’s website. Look for yourself.

    Of course, what “Black Cap” forgets to mention is that the President of Iran is a Holocaust denier and that he specifically authorized this “contest” to make fun of the Holocaust.

    Yeah, and you forget to mention that the sun rises in the east. It’s a fact I took for granted, as I’m not defending Ahmedinejad or his silly, atrocious contest. What I am doing is critiquing your characterization of this as “typical”. It isn’t, and pretending that it is is pure political claptrap.

  6. #7 Anna in Portland (was Cairo)
    September 10, 2006

    I just randomly looked at about 10 of the cartoonists listed at that site that was posted above, and they were all Middle East political-oriented referencing Israeli aggression towards Arab countries/Occupied Territories and/or American aggression in Iraq. None of the ones I saw referenced the Holocaust in any way, shape or form; they were not “contrasting” anything with it, they were just regular modern political cartoons.

    Frankly, none of the ones I looked at were anti-semitic either, but of course I only looked at less than a dozen and I am sure those are there as well.

    I was a bit surprised they had so many cartoons from various countries in the West and particularly Latin America.

  7. #8 Thomas Palm
    September 10, 2006

    You shouldn’t forget another difference here: Danish troops participated in invading Iraq, not the other way round, and Denmark has become more and more racist over the years. While the actual start, those Muhammed pictures, might have been a silly trigger, there are real reasons muslims aren’t too happy with many Western countries.

    Ahmadinejad’s purpose with the contest doesn’t seem to make fun of the Holocaust but to make fun of Western double standards. The Holocaust was just a convenient target since he is right that it is about the “holiest” subject over here. Not that it’ll work, The West has too much of a sense of superiority so the contest will just be used as further “proof” of how superior and more tolerant we are. It’s only when a strong group start making fun of weaker minorities it really hurts, and that’s why any comparison to Der Stürmer is misleading. (Incidentally there were riots in Iran earier this year when an Iranian paper made an insulting comic of one of their minorities, it’s not just pictures from the West that upset people).

  8. #10 Porlock Junior
    September 10, 2006

    I knew it! (As I suppose everyone else did) They are generally stupid and unfunny — and the Jewish counter-contest for cartoons on the same subject came up with much better ones. (Note for those who complain about others’ reading comprehension skills: not cartoons on the other side of the same subject.)

    However, how about that Austrian’s work
    http://www.irancartoon.com/120/occupation/Hule%20Hanusic/index.htm
    Seems to me it’s pretty subversive of the whole concept: not having batshit connection with the Holocause or antisemitism so far as I can see, it looks like quite a decent anti-war cartoon that would run well in the USA or anywhere else.

  9. #11 Orac
    September 10, 2006

    Actually, the link that Colst provided above was not the link to the Holocaust cartoon contest but rather to the occupation cartoon contest, which I should have realized. Indeed, I was rather puzzled because none of the couple of cartoons that I had seen before were anywhere that I could find. It turns out that the original link that I mentioned in the post was indeed the correct link. For some reason, it just wasn’t working yesterday.

    This is the correct link, and it appears to be working now. (It wasn’t before.)

    Try taking a look at these cartoons and tell me they aren’t anti-Semitic:

    http://www.irancartoon.ir/gallery/album48/Behnam_Bahrami_Iran_1
    http://www.irancartoon.ir/gallery/album48/wissam_Asaadsyria
    http://www.irancartoon.ir/gallery/album48/Sam_Keshmiri_Iran
    http://www.irancartoon.ir/gallery/album48/Galym_BoranbayevKAZAKHSTAN5
    http://www.irancartoon.ir/gallery/album48/Sriramoju_GaneshIndia
    http://www.irancartoon.ir/gallery/album48/Yasin_Alkhalil4
    http://www.irancartoon.ir/gallery/album48/abolfazlMohtarami
    http://www.irancartoon.ir/gallery/album48/Amir_Vahedi_Iran
    http://www.irancartoon.ir/gallery/album48/Raed_KhalilSyriaa

    And here are a few conflating Israel with Nazis:

    http://www.irancartoon.ir/gallery/album48/Naser_Al_JafariJordan_2
    http://www.irancartoon.ir/gallery/album48/Gatto_Alessandro_Italy1
    http://www.irancartoon.ir/gallery/album48/Yasin_Alkhalil
    http://www.irancartoon.ir/gallery/album48/soheil_setayesh_1
    http://www.irancartoon.ir/gallery/album48/Galym
    http://www.irancartoon.ir/gallery/album48/feras_nouf_syria
    http://www.irancartoon.ir/gallery/album48/Naser_Al_Jaferi_Jordan
    http://www.irancartoon.ir/gallery/album48/Mohammed_Amano_Bahrain
    http://www.irancartoon.ir/gallery/album48/Mohammad_Aman_Bahrain
    http://www.irancartoon.ir/gallery/album48/Leo_Garesia_USA
    http://www.irancartoon.ir/gallery/album48/Choukri_BellahadiAlgeria_1
    http://www.irancartoon.ir/gallery/album48/Jitet_Koestana_Indonesia_3

  10. #12 Orac
    September 10, 2006

    It’s only when a strong group start making fun of weaker minorities it really hurts, and that’s why any comparison to Der Stürmer is misleading.

    Wrong.

    Take a look at the cartoons above and tell me that they wouldn’t fit in Der Stürmer if it existed today. All the stereotypes are there, the evil-looking Jews with the hooked noses, the Jew as vampire sucking the blood of gentiles (in this case, of the Palestinians), etc.

  11. #13 Amy Alkon
    September 10, 2006

    Wow…I’m sure Jewish orthodontists all over Long Island will be rioting in the streets!

  12. #14 Colst
    September 10, 2006

    Sorry. I found those through a news article. I saw that the root site was the same as the one Orac posted and assumed the article got it right – I should have actually looked through the cartoons before posting.

  13. #15 Orac
    September 10, 2006

    No biggie. I didn’t realize it myself at first.

    More here.

  14. #16 Thomas Palm
    September 10, 2006

    Orac, you can’t ignore the context. Yes, I’m sure some of those pictures are anti-semitic, (even if I can’t actually get any of your links to work) but it’s still not the same as Der Stürmer. Here you had a contents that was deliberately intended to be insulting in retaliation for the contest of insulting pictures of Muhammed. Childish perhaps, but unlike Der Stürmer not intended to incite people to attack a weak minority. How do you label the Jewish countercontest? Is it also as bad as Der Stürmer? The pictures sure look the same.

  15. #17 Orac
    September 10, 2006

    You forget that Der Stürmer did not start out as the propaganda organ of the Nazi government in a position of strength. It began in 1923, back when the Nazis were viewed (rightly so) as just a bunch of street thugs, one far right wing paramilitary party among many that existed at that time.

    And I would argue that you’re being hopelessly naive if don’t see that one of the main purposes of this Iranian exhibit is to foment hatred against Jews. Either way, the intent and the images are similar enough to Der Stürmer to me.

    As for the Jewish response, I find it amusing for its sarcasm and cheekiness, although some of the images are just as disturbing as any in the Iranian contest. Some of them are even kind of funny, if you can temporarily swallow your distaste.

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