Arab organization prosecuted for anti-Semitic cartoon

No religion should be immune to public criticism.  Now that the Danish cartoon scandal has nearly blown over, the Dutch government is prosecuting the Arab European League for publishing a cartoon depicting Holocaust denial.

The cartoon shows two apparently Jewish men standing near a pile of skeletons with a sign that says “Auswitch,” presumably representing the largest Nazi concentration camp, Auschwitz.

One pokes a bone with a stick and says “I don’t think they’re Jews” and the other answers, “We have to get to the six million somehow.”

Ronny Naftaniel of the Center for Documentation on Israel, which filed a complaint against the cartoon, said Jews had nothing to do with the Muhammad cartoons, so it didn’t make sense for the league to retaliate in this way.

“Imagine if Dutch Jews insulted Muslims every time they heard an anti-Semitic remark. What kind of perverse world would we be living in?” he said.

Judging from its website, the AEL does seem like an invidious organization, and yes, “hate speech” is a crime in the Netherlands (indeed, Holocaust denial is a crime in Canada), but the proper response to hate speech is not censorship, but anti-hate speech.  My own view is that Holocaust denial should be protected free speech, and the way to deal with it, as Michael Shermer did in Why People Believe Weird Things, is to expose the lie and debunk it with the facts.

Here’s the cartoon at issue:

So far this cartoon hasn’t inspired the spate of riots and murders that followed publication of the anti-Islamic Danish cartoons. has the complete set of the Danish cartoons, as well as five other controversial cartoons published by the Arab European League (right-hand column, scroll down).


  1. Wes
    Posted September 3, 2009 at 6:23 am | Permalink

    Censoring stuff like this just feeds the persecution complex. I think public mockery is more effective than censorship.

    That cartoon really is disgusting, though, in addition to being completely unfunny. I can see why people are upset over it.

  2. Tom Jones
    Posted September 3, 2009 at 6:37 am | Permalink

    Well at least we can see the difference between how Jews and Muslims react to offensive cartoons.

    • Michael K Gray
      Posted September 3, 2009 at 5:12 pm | Permalink

      Give it time…

  3. Posted September 3, 2009 at 6:48 am | Permalink

    One of the best defenses I’ve heard of of free speech and against censorship is Christipher Hitchens in this debate here.
    That anti-jewish cartoon is rather pathetic. Exposing it to the light of day damages the cause of its creator more than any sort of censorship.
    As for the Danish Cartoons, I’d forgotten how completely unfunny they all were.
    The newspaper that printed them should have apologized to the rest of us and put in a few episodes of ‘Jesus and Mo’ instead!

  4. Posted September 3, 2009 at 6:59 am | Permalink

    Even scientists are not immune from overreaction to criticism!

  5. newenglandbob
    Posted September 3, 2009 at 7:10 am | Permalink

    I agree that the AEL should not be prosecuted for a cartoon. Free speech is treated differently over the world and that needs to be worked out.

    I do believe that the AEL does need to be carefully watched and exposed for their lies and deceit and should be prosecuted when they champion treason in various countries.

  6. SoreLoser
    Posted September 3, 2009 at 7:55 am | Permalink

    On a quick scan of the title of the entry I thought that I would be reading an article about the prosecution of some Arabs for a cartoon critizing other Arabs (Arabs being Semites as well:). Frankly, the real story was something of a letdown.

    I agree about the censorship…and especially about Jesus and Mo!

  7. Posted September 3, 2009 at 7:58 am | Permalink

    This is why others must *respect* the work of Jesus and Mo.

  8. Reginald Selkirk
    Posted September 3, 2009 at 8:13 am | Permalink

    The most offensive aspect is that it’s not very funny.

  9. Posted September 3, 2009 at 8:19 am | Permalink

    The Collingswood Library made this video to promote a 5k race fundraiser for their library. It features their director running around the city giving books to teenagers and assisting a man in returning his overdue library book, which if you take a close look at about 3:10, happens to be Why Evolution is True. 🙂

    • Posted September 3, 2009 at 8:45 am | Permalink

      “and assisting a man in returning his overdue library book, which if you take a close look at about 3:10, happens to be Why Evolution is True.”
      Evolution clearly leads to antisocial behaviour. It starts with overdue library loans but before you know it there’ll be murder, baby-eating and genocide.

  10. Albert Yome
    Posted September 3, 2009 at 8:38 am | Permalink

    The cartoons are not comparable. One is making fun of a historical character, who had a lot of blood on his hands during his lifetime (and much more is still being shed on his behalf), the other is making fun of the greatest crime in history. Furthermore, by denying that the holocaust ever happened, Muslims are preparing the world for a further holocaust, unless the civilised world meets the threat head on.

    • Sili
      Posted September 5, 2009 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

      And where did anyone suggest not meeting the threat? We simply deny that hushing it up and prosecuting artists and publishers is a baaaaaaaaaaad way of dealing with bigotry.

      Secondly, “the greatest crime in history”. Please do get over yourself. This is the sort of attitude that’s ripe for mockery.

      I don’t recall seeing the ‘revenge’ cartoons, but supposedly some them made fun of our queen. Not surprisingly noöne gave a damn. Our own cartoonists do worse on a daily basis.

      The Muhammed cartoons aren’t bad in my opinion, but I’m rather annoyed with manufactroversy that got them drawn in the first place. At least some of the artists had the good sense to mock that.

  11. Posted September 3, 2009 at 9:06 am | Permalink

    There is no reason why the same speech should be allowed in every country. Different jurisdictions make laws depending on historical and social circumstances in the jurisdiction. The criminal law doesn’t track some spooky body of “natural law”, but merely aims to keep the peace. What is required for that will vary between times and places.

    That said, I can think of no reason to have a law anywhere – with the POSSIBLE exception of Germany – that bans a cartoon like this, however despicable it may be.

    • Sili
      Posted September 5, 2009 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

      And Austria.

      David Marjanovic´ explained it quite well a while back.

      Awareness of the war is taught in school, so denial of Shoa is de facto lying. That’s not necessarily illegal of course, but it can be in some circumstances, so presumably sense can made of including Holocaust denial.

  12. bueller007
    Posted September 3, 2009 at 9:50 am | Permalink

    Holocaust denial is a crime in Canada?

    Say wha’? Canada struck down their “spreading false news” law almost 20 years ago now.

    Inciting hatred is illegal, denying the Holocaust is not.

  13. Posted September 3, 2009 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

    i have nothing to say, just netral position 🙂

  14. Posted September 3, 2009 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

    I really wish that there were more strict adherance to the concept of free speech.

    That said, as long as a country has laws against “hate speech,” they’d better prosecute Muslim “hate speech” as much as they do any other.

    Equal application of the laws that do exist is even more basic to justice than is free speech. Nevertheless, without a strong commitment to free speech, it becomes all too easy to define issues to be off-limits to discussion, thus silencing people who may be angry over legitimate grievances, and thus make rash and overwrought claims.

    Glen Davidson

  15. Reginald Selkirk
    Posted September 3, 2009 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

    Telological silliness from Jim Manzi at The Atlantic

    It amounts to: you can’t prove there isn’t hidden teleology behind evolution.

  16. Kyle
    Posted September 3, 2009 at 3:16 pm | Permalink

    Holocaust denial is a crime in Germany and some other European countries but certainly not Canada. Disgusting cartoon though.

    • whyevolutionistrue
      Posted September 3, 2009 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

      My mistake, then: I thought that some guy in Canada was convicted of Holocaust denial because someone else presented the facts in court. But it may have just been a hate crime.

      • Kyle
        Posted September 3, 2009 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

        You may be thinking of Ernst Zundel a Holocaust denier who was jailed a couple times in Canada for inciting “hatred against an identifiable group.” Also David Irving was recently banned from entering Canada on the same grounds Canada.

  17. doooo
    Posted May 22, 2010 at 11:33 pm | Permalink

    diversity works like a charm!

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