The Times goes antisemitic on Holocaust Memorial Day

January 27, 2013 • 12:24 pm

This vile cartoon appeared in (London’s) Sunday Times today—Holocaust Memorial Day:


As HonestReporting notes:

This cartoon published in The Sunday Times (subscription-only) would be offensive at the best of times. That it has appeared on Holocaust Memorial Day is doubly so.

Penned by Gerald Scarfe (the cartoonist behind Pink Floyd’s The Wall), the caption reads: “Israeli Elections… Will Cementing Peace Continue?”

A hideous looking PM Benjamin Netanyahu caricature builds a wall cemented with blood, crushing Palestinians including women and children.

Israel’s security barrier (of which the vast majority is a fence and not a wall) is meant to protect Israeli civilians against Palestinian terrorism. In any case, the imagery of this cartoon amounts to a blood libel on a day when the millions of victims of the Holocaust are remembered.

This cartoon could easily have appeared in the notorioiusly antisemitic Arab media. That it’s in London’s Times is unbelievable. Netanyahu is the stock big-nosed Semite, killing all those Palestinians. But the wall was built not to kill them, but to prevent them from killing noncombatant Israelis. Even if you object to the wall (and I have my reservations), the depiction is completely unwarranted.

This cartoon could also have appeared in Der Stürmer, if that Nazi rag were around. But this drawing, and its appearance on this particular day, supports a contention I’ve long made: it’s open season on Jews for the European press and intellectuals. Shame, shame on the Times!

And just to remind you where the Times gets its cues, here’s part of a video broadcast this month by the Palestinian Authority. Palestinian Media Watch explains:

On International Holocaust Day, Palestinian Media Watch documents that messages of Antisemitism and hatred of Jews continue to be transmitted by official Palestinian Authority TV.

Earlier this month, on Fatah’s 48th anniversary, PA TV broadcast a new film about the history of the Fatah movement: “Fatah: Revolution until Victory.” The filmmakers chose to open the film by expressing classic Antisemitic demonization of Jews, stating that Europe “suffered a tragedy by providing refuge for the Jews.” Having Jews living among them placed a great burden on Europeans: “Faced with the Jews’ schemes, Europe could not bear their character traits, monopolies, corruption, and their control and climbing up positions in government.
The film explains that this eventually led to the expulsion of the Jews from England, France, Germany, Austria, Holland, Czechoslovakia, Spain and Italy, because of European suffering from the Jews’ presence. Finally, when the Balfour Declaration facilitated the establishment of “a national homeland” for the Jews, Europe supported it because it “saw it as an ideal solution to get rid of them.”

Can you watch this and say that it is in any sense excusable? It is nothing but a justification for genocide.

214 thoughts on “The Times goes antisemitic on Holocaust Memorial Day

  1. I have to say this attitude is common among left wingers and “liberals” in the UK. As a conservative libertarian, I think this is one of those times for saying: “I hate what you are saying, but I would defend to the death your right to say it.” Freedom of speech doesn’t come cheap.

    1. If by “this attitude” you mean an abhorrence of the Netanyahu Government’s policies with regard to the Palestinians, illegal settlements and the Two State solution I hold my hand up as sharing that attitude. However, I am a Conservative voter in the UK and would probably be seen as fiscally conservative in the US. I resent being called “liberal” (even in quotes) The problem is that use of such words in a pejorative sense do not travel well across the Pond.

      1. “Scarfe describes himself as a journalistic artist’, whose politics are ‘left liberal’.”
        I think your logic muscle isn’t connected if you think that I meant “this view is leftie copyright”. But the attitude I decried was not criticism of Netenyahu’s attitude to “illegal settlements and the Two State solution”, neither of which seemed to be alluded to in the cartoon (what made you think that?), but the implication that Neyenyahu and by implication his government (he is not a dictator) really want bloodshed rather than peace. They want peace. Which Palestinian faction can claim the same? Scarfe is scoring cheap points here.

  2. Though I agree that the picture is horrible, Scarfe tends to draw everyone with huge noses – it’s kind of his signature. However, this still doesn’t excuse a rather ham fisted piece of commentary from someone who should know better.

  3. The caricature is the least of it. This is really repulsive. It’s the kind of thing that might be in some unhinged rag with a circulation of 12, but The Sunday Times…!!

  4. Could somebody explain to me what is Anti-Semitic about it other than the fact that the subject is Jewish?

    Seems like a pretty standard political cartoon to me, but maybe I’m missing something.

    The timing is suspect, but I don’t see anything anti-Jewish in the cartoon, just anti-Netanyahu and anti Israeli foreign policy.

    The high emotion of this makes me a bit anxious about questioning it but I honestly feel like either I’m missing something or that calling this Anti-Semitic is a mistake.

      1. The problem here is partly to do with all the baggage that goes with this kind of caricature. It’s not about big noses or flapping ears. It’s about the echo of Nazi cartoons in the 30s and the centuries-old superstition of “blood libel”, i.e. that Jews use Gentile blood for cooking (but in this adaptation, mortar). This is a particularly vicious cartoon with over-the-top criticism of a wall that, whatever the pros and cons, has not killed anyone but has prevented many deaths. It is possible to criticise a government’s policy without being so rabid about it.

        1. Ah context…got you….that is why, say, a cartoon that compared President Bush to a chimp didn’t register the way that one comparing President Obama to one did.


            1. Interesting point. Scarfe, of course, can draw whichever cartoons he wishes. BUT – should the Times publish them? Yes (that’s freedom of speech), this institution is entitled to. But I note that they never published the infamous “Mohammed Cartoons”. I wonder why.

        2. I have to agree. Surely we’re free to critcise Israel’s foreign policy without immediately being called anti-Semitic? Isn’t that just silencing open and honest debate? Perhaps the timing is insensitive, but that doesn’t immediately make it anti-Semitic.

          That’s my two pence worth anyway…

          1. Agreed.

            Both sides have their faults, and this is simply a very bad cartoon by an artist who really should know better, but Israel should not be exempt from criticism of its foreign policy.

            1. This isn’t so bad. It hink it’s a pretty good cartoon. Netanyahu comes across as a blood sucking gangster on the world stage anyway. I can’t really separate jewish religion from jewish state or jewish culture. Any criticism becomes “anti-semetic” and brings up all this rotten history that the world just needs to rid itself of.
              Both sides hate each other to roughly the same degree. Both sides train their children to hate the other side. Both sides seek domination over the other. No one here should care about the religious implications on either side. For an atheist, the whole conflict has gotten very old.

              1. School buses, Olympic athletes… Get real. Atheists here tend to claim the moral highgound. Everyone here should care. Being religious is not a capital offence – for most religious people, it’s not even a choice.

          2. Very strange that this “honest debate” reminds so many people of the caricatures from Der Sturmer. Since when is repeating blood libel “honest debate”? Since when is waking the bloody monster of European antisemitism an “honest debate”? I just read a report from a tiny town in Ireland where schoolchildren were collecting money for Palestinians. Asked why they did it they answered that they want to help liberate Palestine from Jews, who are evil. They didn’t even know in which part of the world Palestinians live, they knew nothing about Israel’s foreign policy, they just knew that the Jews are evil. And such cartoons reinforce this notion.

            1. Well perhaps it reminds you of the caricatures from Der Sturmer. It reminds me of all the other such political cartoons I see. Whether the cartoon was appropriate or not, my point was simply that we should be free to criticise Israel just like we criticise anyone else.

              1. Well, and maybe there is a reason why it reminds me of Der Sturmer. I live in a country where before WW II there were 3 million Jews. After the war there was just a handful. I live in a little town in which before the WWII 30% of the population was Jewish. Now there are no Jews (and nobody emigrated). And it all started with an “honest debate” about Jewish wealth, Jewish power, Jewish communism, Jewish whatever–and caricatures in Der Sturmer.

              2. I would argue that the horror that took place during WW2 didn’t start with an “honest debate”. It started with poisonous hatred. Nobody (worth listening to) wants a return to that. But that doesn’t mean Israel gets a free ride when it comes to criticism. If criticism is appropriate, then we should be free to do so without immediately being labelled anti-Semitic (unless of course it genuinely is).

              3. The Nazis were in the beginning portayed as reasonable people, or at least people who would become reasonable – “moderate” in today’s jargon – once they got power. Check contemporary articles even in NYT.
                Poisonous hatred is pouring from the Arab and Islamic world (and from the Palestinian Authority) and incessant criticism of Israel in the West for everything, including things no other country doing the same thing is criticized for, is definitely not helping.

              4. Perhaps the Nazis did portray themselves as reasonable in the beginning, I admit that I’m no expert. But even back in the trenches of WWI Hitler was whining about the Jews (BTW Amusing story, in case you didn’t know it, Hitler was awarded a bravery medal during WWI but his seniors decided against promoting him because they felt he lacked leadership skills). Hitler also spelt out his intentions in Mein Kampf, so even if the Nazis pretended to be benign, there was very good reason to suspect otherwise. As for your second point, I completely agree. I wouldn’t dare suggest Antisemitism doesn’t exist. I’m just not sure where this particular cartoon goes beyond simple criticism of foreign policy and into something more sinister (although I’m open to being convinced otherwise).

              5. The Nazis portrayed themselves as the saviours of Germany. People could certainly read Mein Kampf (it is still a bestseller in the Arab world, btw), but a lot of people couldn’t take it seriously. Many sympathetic visitors to Germany found Hitler a charming, affable fellow. They didn’t think he could really mean all that antisemitic rhetoric–it must just be a sop to certain elements in society. When dictators announce their intentions, it is foolish not to pay attention.

    1. Netinyahu has a slightly ski-jump nose (not as much as Nixon), and Scarfe, who is merciless, has exaggerated that – quite the reverse of the stereotypical Jewish nose.

      You may say what the wall is “meant to” do, but like the one in Germany, those on opposite sides have opposing views of its purpose and its effects. The Israeli wall has been devastating on Palestinians.

      1. I cannot comment about the Sunday Times which I rarely read but I have taken the Times for many years and have had little cause to disbelieve Murdoch’s assurances given at time of purchase to maintain editorial independence. Both the editorials and opinion columns were pretty scathing about the antics of Murdoch’s other British papers, the tabloids, the Sun and The News of the World in the phone hacking scandal as investigated by the Leveson Enquiry.

        1. The Times editors under Murdoch’s ownership have always been his puppets. One called Rees-Mogg got caught out silencing criticism of Chinese Human rights on Murdoch’s orders.
          One of the ways he did this was by stopping the serialisation of a book by Chris Patten that was critical of the Chinese.

  5. Scarfe is becoming past his best before date. He now draws cartoons to basically shock rather than make a political point. (Must admit he is not the only one: Steve Bell in the Grauniad can be pretty obnoxious as well)

  6. Okay, several problems here. As theealex implied, Scarfe’s signature style is grotesque caricature. For instance, Netanyahu’s ears are bigger than his nose. So the nose thing is nonsense.

    HonestReporting is a pro-Israeli website and so hardly unbiased in its own characterisation.

    The wall (fence, whatever) is more than a defence. Much of it is illegally built on Palestinian land. Who says? Amnesty International. Hard not to conclude it’s a means of cementing the land grab.

    Whilst many Palestinians are terrorists, the majority are not and are victims here of Israeli action as well as the actions of Hamas. Israel is perfectly capable of defending itself within its legal borders.

    So in summary one can disagree with the cartoon but I maintain it is a valid comment and the anti-Semitism slur is rubbish.

    1. The problem is not the nose but the blood, connecting to the centuries old “blood libel” against the Jews. Before the wall was built over 1000 Israeli civilians died in buses, restaurants, and schools. After the wall was built the suicide murderers have a much more difficult job (which they complained about on videos and in writing). The wall didn’t kill anybody but saved lives. Of course it is more difficult even for those Palestinians who are not terrorists but normal people. However, it is also more difficult for passengers in the airports and still, for the sake of security, there are checks. Almost every week there are Palestinians stopped at the check points with bombs, explosives and other weapons, trying to get through the wall. So on the one side you have inconvenience, on the other lives saved.

      1. I really only have the vaguest sense of what “blood libel” means. The only other mention of it was one of Sarah Palin or Ann Coulter or Michelle Bachmann saying something about Democrats’ ideas on Israel. The concept of “blood libel”, like the concept of a monkey being a racist depiction of African Americans, may not well-known and the first thing people think of anymore, let alone being the artist’s intention.

        Btw, a wall isn’t just an ‘inconvenience’, however, and I think you would do well not to minimize it as such.

        Israel is using its power of the state to oppress people living in the occupied territories, and those living in those territories are trying to fight back. This is a no-win situation and as much as Israel’s citizens are in danger, the policies of Israel are in large part responsible for them continuing to be in danger.

      2. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

        Sometimes blood is just blood, the product of violence and killing.

        Blood libel requires the suggesting that blood is being consumed, and that it comes from Christian babies.

        I don’t like the cartoon, but suggesting blood libel might be going overboard.

        It is the blood of Muslims, and Israel has killed a lot of them. Far more than the Israelis killed by Muslims. Both sides have blood on their hands, and I hope to see it stop someday.

    2. As for Honest Reporting–does correcting a bias make you biased? Honest Reporting is a much-needed corrective to slanted news about Israel.

    3. Absolutely agree with Stephen on all points.

      And, linking the cartoon with some Palestinian video is surely guilt-by-association. Is there any evidence that Scarfe has ever seen that video?

      (Re the video, I can’t help feeling that anyone can ‘prove’ the opposing side is a monster by cherry-picking the most extreme propaganda from that side, whether it’s Muslim, Christian, Israeli, Palestinian, whatever).

  7. The Times goes antisemitic …

    I’m not defending the cartoon, but just a nitpick: The Times and The Sunday Times are separate newspapers with different editors and different journalists (and different cartoonists), the Sunday Times is not just the Sunday edition of The Times — though both newspapers are owned by the same Murdoch company, News International.

    1. i agree, all of this furore over a cartoon when the former leader of the fifth largest economy in Europe praises a dictator,criminal and antisemite. Scarfe is an artist, i can’t say that i particularly like his cartoon, but there are individuals, in authority, who are far more easily proven to have antisemetic tendancies and inclinations than he.

  8. I confess I don’t really see the justification for outrage and singling out one side in this battle of religious hatreds.

    While it would be factual to observe that one side claims the barrier “is meant to protect Israeli civilians against Palestinian terrorism” it is not factual to simply treat that assertion as true when the other side offers explanations that hold at least as much water.

  9. Criticize Israel = antisemitic. Sorry, no sale here.

    Vile cartoon? What about the vile leader and nation who deserve the mocking?

  10. I hate the wall. I also think Netanyahu’s policies are at best short sighted, and at worst based on an intentional strategy of permanently annexing the West Bank, which is a policy that deserves to be denounced in the most emphatic of terms. There is such a thing as Israeli cruelty being leveled at West Bank residents in the service of a biblically or cynically inspired attempt to finalize the military conquest of Judea and Samaria.

    But this cartoon is way over the top. It’s repulsive, hyperbolic, and by generating backlash sympathy for Israel can only serve as propaganda to assist Israel accomplish its dishonorable denial of rights to West Bank residents. Those who oppose Israel’s policies on pragmatic and moral grounds must be extra careful to avoid the ubiquitous and hair trigger accusations of antisemitism. This is a ridiculous failure. An all around stupid cartoon.

    1. Nobody seems to have watched the video, or, if they did, they’re not commenting on it.
      Once again, the Palestinians get a pass on their behavior.

      1. Well. I did watch the video Jerry and pointed out that regardless of what happened in 1290 and indeed many later pogroms, the British during the first half of the 20th. century were not exactly falling over themselves to dispatch Jews to Palestine.

      2. Jerry, first I hope that nothing I’ve written has given the impression that I’m insensitive to antisemitism or indifferent to egregious abuses by Palestinians.

        I watched the video. It’s vile and idiotic. But it doesn’t represent all Palestinians, or all Arabs, or all Muslims.

        I honestly don’t know how many Palestinians would fall for such rabid antisemitism. I’ve met Palestinians and read things written by Palestinians and other Arabs and they certainly aren’t all this stupid. Is it 15% or 80% or something in between? I consider this video to be someone pandering to the Palestinian equivalent of whacko right-wing populist nutjobs we have here in America. A substantial number of people, but a less influential fringe element nonetheless. This is aimed at Palestinian Archie Bunkers so they can blow off steam. I wish it did not exist at all, but I don’t think that is even possible until everyone involved can get past the endless blame game and endless hostility and start looking for ways to view the opposition as human beings. Certainly this video is an obstacle to that goal, but so is an emotional reaction to it and a consequent reflexive association of such trash with all Palestinians.

        How reliable an organization is the Palestinian Media Watch? How are they funded? Are they just cherry picking to create the most negative picture possible?

        I don’t know what it means to say this video was shown on official PA television. Obviously the PA did not censor it, and that is a strike against them. But how many channels do they have? What other materials do they show as alternatives to this kind of rubbish? What percentage of the programming is like this video? What are the policies of the station or stations? Do they allow groups to purchase time and have a certain amount of press freedom, or is it a tighly ideologically engineered program schedule? Who exactly is to blame, and what exactly does the appearance of this mean? I would like to know the answers to these questions before I rush to judgement about the extent of this video’s significance.

        Consider for example the hotheaded overreaction to the “Innocence of Muslims” video. Many people tried to use that to make the case that it represented official US government policy and typical American attitudes.

        So the meaning of this video isn’t so straightforward.

        I support Zionism and the existence of an Israeli state, but I also fully realize that the partitioning of Palestine by the UN, while a joyous victory for the Jewish people, was a tragedy directly impacting hundreds of thousands of Arabs. I view the history of Arab Muslims in Palestine as not entirely dissimilar to the tragic displacement and subjugation of Native Americans in the US. There is a lot of reason for outrage on the side of Arabs that has nothing to do with the holocaust or the history of the Jewish people, and everything to do with events on the ground in Palestine since the end of WWI.

        I try to keep a balanced and realistic perspective, to not be easily swayed by information designed to make me hate either Israelis or Palestinians, but I certainly don’t want to just adopt a mindless false equivalence or balance at all costs. The issues are complex. I’ve traveled in several Middle Eastern countries, so I know the reality is not as simple as saying all Muslims or Arabs are raging antisemites. There is much more complexity to this situation. The best path to reaching a day when such hatred of the Jews is a thing of the past is to reach a peaceful two-state solution, in my opinion. A Palestinian living under the full dignity of political self-determination and economic freedom is far less likely to be swayed by such ugly propaganda.

        1. Spot on the money. Couldn’t have said it better myself (which is not surprising!).

          I am Australian, and I have a few Palestinian friends here, as well as a number of Jewish friends & colleagues. If there is one thing I’ve learned from talking with all of them, it is that the situation is terribly complex and the history and misgivings run deep. As far as the ‘debate’ over the situation, it reminds me of a Kaufmann quote that Jerry put up the other day:

          “…politicians have no monopoly on dividing districts in an unnatural and unfair way to give one party an advantage over its opponent. Many theologians are masters of this art. Out of the New Testament they pick appropriate verses and connect them to fashion an intellectual and moral self-portrait which they solemnly call “the message of the New Testament” or “the Christian view”; and out of other Scriptures they care all kinds of inferior straw men.”

          Many of the arguments that I’ve heard in favor of one side or the other fall along these lines – they selectively play down issues that are of terrible importance to the other side, while dredging up various straw-men to win some point of contention.

          All I can say is that I’ve heard some harrowing stories from my Palestinian friends and their parents about the formation of Israel and subsequent actions that have impacted dreadfully on them. The injustices were grave and still keenly felt. While I cannot help but feel for them, at the same time I fully support Israel’s right to exist, to take reasonable actions to prevent foreign aggression, and I deplore racism of all kinds.

          One thing is for sure: Both sides preach hatred when they should be seeking understanding. The only thing that gives me hope is that my friends have managed to find a way to get along (most of the time), even if they hold deep disagreements about the past, present and future of those lands.

          1. “Both sides preach hatred,” you say, but Israel does not preach hatred of Muslims or Palestinians. You may well find some isolated examples, but it is not anything like the sheer stupifying hatred coming out of Arab countries or the public celebrations when Israelis are murdered.

            1. But that doesn’t address the point of Craig’s post, which as I read it, is that both sides have suffered great wrongs,and that in a different environment (in his case Australia) people of goodwill can get past that and live in harmony.
              So rather than do what the Israeli Right continues to do, which is to guarantee continued conflict by supporting more illegal settlements and making life miserable for Palestinians in a number of ways, while Hamas benefits from continued resentments to bolster its campaign of hate, what is needed is a Nelson Mandela/F W de Klerk – people with the vision to seek and find a peaceful long term solution. There seems to be no such figure currently on the Palestinian side. But de Klerk and Mandela needed each other. It’s quite clear from numerous actions and statements that the Israeli Right simply does not care about the well-being of their Palestinian neighbours.

              While people like Netanyahu rule the roost, and the settlers have so much influence, there’s no room for visionary peacemakers to emerge on either side. And we all suffer from that.

  11. Sure it could reference the blood libel… or it could reference any of the other million symbolic uses of blood. Blood is highly symbolic, and there is nothing inherently racist about saying the Isrealis are violent.

    Now, I know nothing about this wall. This is literally the first I’ve heard of it. And judging by the reactions of Jerry, it does sound like there are some legitimate complaints against it.

    But like calling Obama ‘lazy’, it takes more than criticizing a person or nation in a way that racists might to identify a racist. Saying the Isrealis have blood on their hands is nothing anyone is going to dispute. If you disagree with the cartoon (I’m willing to bet I would if I knew more, but that’s just a guess) then fine. But don’t flag the people you disagree with as racist just because a common criticism is leveled against someone for whom racists apply that criticism to the whole group.

    Calling racism in situations like these make it look like we’re playing the race card as a distraction from the issues.

    1. I’m reminded of how Sharia Law manages to hold on in England. Here’s a shorter version of what I said above, in regards to muslims supporting sharia law.

      If I call someone who is okay with killing their daughter for being raped a ‘primitive savage’ that doesn’t make me racist just because some racists say all muslims are primitive savages.

      Just because the Isreali / Palenstinian situation isn’t as clear black and white doesn’t change the point from above. It just means you’re more likely to disagree with my evaluation. But calling critics racist is exactly what the british muslims supporting sharia law do. Just like you say this cartoonist should have thought the imagery of this through before making it, think before playing the race card.

  12. Here Gilad Sharon, the son of Ariel Sharon, provides the Israeli flip side of absurd dehumanizing of Palestinians, and an open betrayal of the cruel and despicable intentions many extreme Israelis hold toward Palestinians and their land.

    He advocates flattening Gaza like Hiroshima and Nagasaki were flattened. Perhaps this means we need an international embargo on Israel until they give up their nukes?

    1. What nukes? They don’t admit to having any. ; )

      Interesting that all sorts of pressure is being put on North Korea to dissuade them from acquiring nukes, even though they haven’t invaded anyone for ages. But then, they publicise their nukes, which is maybe their big mistake…

  13. Here are two Israeli documentaries, both nominated for Oscars for Best Documentary of 2012, that anyone interested in Israel and the Middle East might be eager to see. One is “The Gatekeepers”, based on interviews with six former chiefs of the Shin Bet aka Shabak (Israeli internal security, analogous perhaps to MI5 or FBI). The other is “Five Broken Cameras”, made by a Palestinian film maker who spent two years attending weekly protests against the encroachments of the separation barrier, the wall in question in the highly questionable cartoon posted above.

  14. The video is unquestionably anti-Semitic, and should be condemned as such. I don’t see what link it has to the Sunday Times cartoon, which targets Israeli territorial expansionism, given that much of “the wall” is built on Palestinian territory. I can see why many might find the cartoon, and its timing, offensive. But offensive is not the same as racist.

    1. But what is “Palestinian territory”? A border has never been decided on. It’s all been hanging fire for decades now because the PLO and the PA have frequently said that Israel doesn’t, or shouldn’t, exist. A border would make Israel a stark reality. The Green Line so often invoked is not a border and never has been. It is an old armistice line and was specifically stated (back in 1949) NOT to be a border of any description.

  15. Political cartoons are often meant to shock people enough to get them to talk about an issue. In this case, I see the cartoon as an attempt to shock westerners into questioning their unfettered allegiance to Israel. And it’s about time we do. However, it doesn’t get done because the “anti semite” accusations fly so fast your head doesn’t even get in a half spin every time you question Israel as a good faith partner. Look at what happened to Jimmy Carter when he applied the term apartheid to this situation.

    Israel spies on us, and spits on us when we ask them to stop the illegal settlements. They thumb their nose at the world at every turn. They have the absolute arrogance of making life impossible for the Palestinians and then pointing the finger and whining when these desparate people attack them. Yes, the Palestinians have their faults, but they also have memories. And what they remember is the world allowing Israel to be created in good part on the lands and farms of their ancestors.

    Sorry, but I do not find fault with this cartoon. I find fault with countries like the US and Britain who turn their backs on Palestine based on an allegiance to Israel that is nothing short of immoral.

    1. And not just Carter, George Bush sen. ran into some difficulty when he tried to tie in the release of $10 billion of guarantees to Israel in return for the cessation of settlement building. He compromised in 1992. It goes too far to say that it had a major effect on the election, but Bush did see the Jewish vote go down from 35% in 1988 to 12% in 1992.

    2. You need only look at the job the neocons tried to do on Chuck Hagel.

      The tactic of smearing as antisemitic anyone who questions the policies of the current Israeli government is a staple of American politics. It should be resisted.

  16. Have the walls saved lives?
    All of you who think Israel’s defensive policies are wrong (even evil), please describe for us an alternative approach that will not cost Israeli lives.
    All of you who claim Israeli policy is permeated by hatred of Palestinian Arabs, please explain the Arab members of the Knesset?
    I don’t know of any good answers to the Palestinian problem, but I do know that Israel is a democracy with both secular and Arab citizens as well as Jews of all shades of orthodoxy, and I believe the majority will vote for whoever offers the best chance of relative peace. Compare the surrounding states and enclaves in that respect…

    1. This might be a more convincing argument if the wall had been built on the Israeli side of the “green line”. Instead, the wall annexes about 10 per cent of the West Bank, in violation of international law.

      1. I didn’t make an argument – my two requests were not rhetorical questions. You choose not to address them.

    2. It’s not clear what has saved more lives: the wall or the cooperation of PA security forces with the IDF.

      An issue separate from the wall is the settlements. There is no justification for building the settlements, and one could argue that they have cost lots of lives because of the obvious incitement of anger and hostility they provoke. Israel could have saved lives by not presuming to own and control real estate rights on the illegally and temporarily occupied West Bank.

      One also has to wonder whether the Wall doesn’t help provoke hostility from Hamas (it almost certainly is a factor), along with the onerous checkpoints and general police-state restrictions Palestinians suffer from.

      Of course there is a chicken and egg problem here: what original sin caused what retaliation? This is a difficult question to answer, though too many people uncritically assume Israel is blameless and justified in all cases.

      But to answer your question on what is the alternative, I seriously question why Israel pulled out of Gaza, yet continued to tighten the screws on the West Bank. Gaza is the stronghold of the militant Hamas, while the West Bank is territory controlled by Fatah and the Palestinian Authority. Under Abbas a very aggressively cooperative program of helping IDF forces track and disrupt terrorist cells in the West Bank was initiated around 2002 or 2003 I believe, and has grown in strength. You could say there is an IDF/PA alliance involved in fighting against Hamas.

      Yet there has not been a relaxation of check points, there has not been a cancellation of new settlement building, or any real visible gesture of peace toward West Bank Palestinians. Instead there was a 2006 “withdrawal” from Gaza (though a tight program of embargos and restrictions is maintained that stifles the Gazan economy). This gives Hamas free reign to launch missiles into Israel. I suspect that the Israel government cynically recognizes this as a propaganda opportunity to justify keeping the screws on more moderate and cooperative Palestinians in the West Bank. Why? Because the Israeli right-wing never ever wants to let go of Judea and Samaria, Greater Israel, a conception that leaves none of the original Palestine for Arabs.

      An alternative approach might have been to really crack down strongly on Hamas in Gaza, maintaining a full occupation while starting a phased program of relaxation in the West Bank. This would have been a more rational program of rewarding good behavior and punishing bad behavior. This could have greatly strengthened Abbas and the PA, raising their status and prestige with Palestinians who are on the fence between peaceful resistance and cooperation vs. all-out warfare.

      I sincerely believe that if Israel wanted to work hard toward a two-state solution with a peaceful Palestinian government in the West Bank, they should have and probably would have followed this kind of approach, and the situation would look different today. As far as I can see, a realistic analysis of actual Israeli behavior signals that they do not intend to ever allow Palestinians to establish an independent state in the West Bank, a strategy I consider to be deplorable.

      1. “Of course there is a chicken and egg problem here: what original sin caused what retaliation? This is a difficult question to answer, though too many people uncritically assume Israel is blameless and justified in all cases.”

        Hamas has the stated goal is the establishment of an Islamic state on the territory of Israel and the ethnic cleansing of Jews from Israel. They explicitly reject the legitimacy of any state or organization that stands in their way, including any moderate Muslim or Arab organization or government that promotes peace with Israel.

        I don’t think you have to consider Israel “blameless and justified in all cases” to sometimes simply take people at their word. I don’t see any evidence that Hamas is lying about their intentions and, indeed, their actions are calculated to make life as terrifying as possible for Israeli civilians through random suicide bombing and rocket attacks on civilian targets.

        1. I agree, Hamas is totally wrongheaded and deserves no sympathy. But Hamas is not all Palestinians, and there existence doesn’t erase the rights of the Palestinians who aren’t part of Hamas.

          Considering your assessment of Hamas, why did Israel pull out of Gaza instead of redoubling attacks on Hamas and starting a phased relaxation of their grip on the West Bank? Too many people don’t think any further than Hamas, as if that is the whole story.

      2. My heart sinks every time I hear the word “illegal” in a moral argument. Legal opinions come cheap. Do the walls save lives? Yes. Who has sovereignty over the land they stand on? Who knows! One should at least be fully aware of the Israeli view of the twentieth century history of the land and its legal status:
        Well – who does have legal sovereignty? I don’t know, but whatever the answer, I restrict myself to the easier moral-political question: what, right now, can an Israeli government do to protect its citizens from the avowed and demonstrated intention of its neighbours of “annihilation”?
        Settlements? Legalistically, this is the sovereignty issue again. Politically, Israel’s government is always in hock to minority parties, including the ultra-Orthodox; they believe (and Israli government statements have to pay lip service) that they will take permanent possession of land which – according to the literally interpreted Torah – was given to them millennia ago. But morally and practically it will always come down to land-for-peace, and the settlements will be bargaining chips; I think that is their ultimate purpose.

    3. “please explain the Arab members of the Knesset?”

      Well, would it be cynical to observe that some politicians and elections can be bought? How likely is it that the existence of a few Arabs in the Knesset is worth some money as PR to one party or another?

      Are they in Knesset in numbers proportional to Arab citizenship? – that would be far too much to expect, of course. How much power can they wield, then?

      Maybe there’s nothing there to explain.

      1. There are now 17 Arab Knesset members which is a bit over 14%. The Arab population in Israel constitutes a bit under 20%. So it is not exactly proportional but it’s not that far off. 58% of the Arab-Israeli citizens voted in the last election and they obviously were not all voting for Arab parties, otherwise their representation would be higher. However the most militant Arab parties (some of which propose destruction of the country they represent) are not too popular because they do not care about things Arab-Israelis care about, like jobs, education etc.
        Arab-Israeli citizens were ministers in Israel, High Court judges, you name it. Compare this to the announcement by Mahmoud Abbas, “president” of Palestinian Authority in his 9th year of a 4 years term, that no Jews will be allowed to live in a Palestinian State.

        1. Wrong. You’ve distorted what Abbas said. He did not say no Jews. He said no Israelis. This was not an antisemitic remark, it was an anti-settler remark.

          Basically he was saying that settlers will either become Palestinian citizens, or they will move back to Israel. They would be free to be Jews living in Palestine as Palestinian citizens.

          What would the proportion of Arabs in the Knesset be if Israel were to annex Judea and Samaria? That’s a question that needs to be deeply considered in all of its implications.

          Its interesting that Avigdor Lieberman, the Israeli Foreign Minister, was involved in an attempt to ban all Arab political parties.

          Also there is a soccer team in Israel that takes pride in refusing to allow a Muslim player.

          It is quite true that many Jews and Arabs coexist in Israel, especially in cosmopolitan Tel Aviv. But Arabs and even African Jews face terrible racism from right-wing Israelis.

          If Israel didn’t have a decent court system Israeli Arabs would be disenfranchised by now.

          But even the courts discriminate against Arabgs sometimes. For example a very famous case in 2011 involved a Jewish woman who met a guy named Avi at a bar. She decided to take him home and have consensual sex with him. Only later did she learn that he was an Arab. She was fooled by the name Avi and thought he was Jewish. She claimed it was “rape by deception” and the courts agreed. The Arab guy was sentenced to three years. I doubt an Arab girl would be allowed to make a similar accusation against a Jewish man calling himself Abdul. In my book, a woman who is that indiscriminate about jumping into bed with a guy needs to be bold and daring enough to accept the consequences.

          1. “In my book, a woman who is that indiscriminate about jumping into bed with a guy needs to be bold and daring enough to accept the consequences.”

            Agreed. Not that there are any real consequences in this case, of course.

          2. You should go on “Mastermind” with your knowledge of Arab propaganda. The rape case you mention actually dates from 2008 and was widely and erroneously reported. The woman was living in a hostel for abused women and was raped in a stairwell by a man who said he wanted to show her where he worked. There was nothing consensual about it, and she ended up in a hospital. The rapist was given a lesser sentence for “rape by deception” so that the woman would not have to give any further traumatic court testimony.
            As for Jews in a Palestinian state–you say it is only the Israelis who would be refused residence and so it is nothing to do with Jews per se, but do you think Israeli Arabs wouldn’t be welcomed with open arms?
            You have sometimes said that Israel has an option, in annexing the West Bank, to commit genocide and kill 3 million Palestinians or else expel them. But you are speculating about something extremely unlikely [understatement] which no Israeli leader has ever suggested, while many Arab leaders do urge a genocide of Jews. Why not address the obscenity of that threat rather than inventing a non-existent one?

            1. Well, I did get the date wrong. Apparently you’ve been had by Israeli propaganda.

              The girl was sexually abused by her father, and he forced her to become a sex worker. Those details had not come out in the original reports, which are the ones I read and reported here from memory. These were not Arab propaganda. These reports appeared in reputable newspapers, including the New York Times.

              The judge said she had consensual sex with the guy. She didn’t report it until after she learned he was Arab. She did not go to a hospital with physical injuries, she went to a psychiatric hospital with a section for female victims of sexual crimes.

              Apparently the plea bargain happened because the man’s lawyers were going to question her about 14 previous complaints she had made against other men, many of which were dismissed because she had been suspected of making inaccurate reports, aka lying.


              Evidently you don’t contest the other cases I mentioned of discrimination against Arabs.

              1. You have still missed most of the details of the case. It was not by consent and there are fuller reports of it elsewhere. Some of the details of the case were classified for a time. This was not Arab propaganda in the beginning when there was just a misunderstanding, but it becomes propaganda when it is reported as fact long after it has been debunked. It belongs on
                I think you are conflating official policy with individual examples of unfairness. We would be surprised if there was no discrimination in such a pluralistic society as Israel’s, so of course there is discrimination at some levels. The important point, however, is that IN LAW everyone is equal. Citizens have a right to legal remedies if they are treated badly. Nothing like this obtains in the surrounding Arab countries.

            2. I don’t expect Israel to engage in genocide. But they are already engaging in Apartheid.

              I mentioned genocide only for dramatic effect, because it is one of the logical possibilities, and all of the logical possibilities are bad in the case of total annexation of the West Bank.

              Yet Israel is heading headlong down this path that has nothing but terrible options at the end of it. Settlement leaders, religious leaders, and political leaders have all explicitly or implicitly using political dog whistles implied that their goal is to make Judea and Samaria a permanent part of Israel. If this was not the case, why in the world would Israel be building settlements in the West Bank?

              Again, Israel is clearly on this path, and at the end they can either:’

              1. Deport all Muslims or all Arabs
              2. Make them second class non-voting citizens in an Apartheid system.
              3. Kill them all.
              4. Make them full voting citizens, which would end the Jewish majority in Israel.

              So either the democratic character of Israel is destroyed, or the Jewish character of Israel is destroyed, or Israel commits immoral acts.

              There is no happy ending here, yet Israel seems hell bent on continuing down that path toward its own destruction or corruption.

          3. I have to say there’s more evidence for an anti-Semitic mindset among some of the posters here than in the original exhibit. Israeli democracy is converted into cynical exploitation, defensive partition (cf Ireland, India, Cyprus, etc) is converted into some kind of attempted genocide, etc… all with total tunnel vision.

            1. You’re simply not reading carefully. I haven’t seen anyone suggest there is an attempted genocide either in progress or anticipated in the future.

              You are perhaps mistaking an enumeration of available possibilities, including the horrible and unthinkable ones. The point was to caution Israel from it’s current ugly trajectory in the West Bank, that will leave it with some severely limited options with respect to the large Palestinian population there.

              That is simply analyzing, and anyone who tries to construe it as anything more is flying off the handle with an unfounded accusation. Of course it’s really hard to expect people to discuss Israel reasonably and intelligently.

              1. Israel does not practice apartheid; there is no similarity with the old regime in South Africa. The settlements are built in areas which for the most part are earmarked for Israel if and when the PA can agree to a border. They are not an obstacle to peace, as so often claimed, because the PA was also recalcitrant before there were any settlements and also during the moratorium of 2009-10. Settlements have been dismantled before when land has been traded for peace (or disastrously traded for rockets in the case of Gaza), so they are obstacles only for people who are stalling and looking for excuses.

              2. I read you very carefully. You “analyzed” Israeli policy and opined that whatever their specific intention, it inevitably amounted to “the erasure of a people”. That description amounts to “some kind of genocide”: if your choice of words, evocative of the Holocaust, was hyperbolic, it was insensitively so. I have to assume it was deliberate, since you choose to defend rather than rephrase.

              3. Logicophilosophicus,
                There were two different cases, one in which I mentioned genocide as one of four unpleasant options the Israelis would have in the West Bank if they were not to grant Palestinians the right of self-determination. I explicitly said I did not expect such an option to be taken. This is what I assumed you were referring to, since you used the word genocide.

                The “erasure of a people” does not refer to killing, it refers to cultural deletion, to a denial that they are a part of history. This is exactly what is being done when people try to claim that the Palestinians are not a real people, or that they only have rights to live in Jordan rather than on land that has been their family home for generations. I’m just describing exactly what us being done, and what is being done is despicable.

                There is far more anti-Arab, anti-Muslim, and anti-Palestinian rhetoric in this thread than antisemitism. In fact I haven’t noticed any real antisemitism, just opposition to Israeli government policies, or some insensitivity regarding antisemitism, none of which are the same thing as hatred of Jews.

                If you think I have even a trace of antisemitism in me, you are mistaken. I simply care about truth and justice. It is not antisemitic to criticism what Israel is doing. I want Israel to endure. I think Israel is a great country but it has gone of on the wrong track, a right-wing theocratic track, a departure from the liberl values under which it was founded. I think David BennZgurion would weep o see what Netanyahu abd the Israeli right are doung.

                My criticisms are based on reports and writings authored by Jews, observers who know a lot about what is going on, people who have similar criticisms as the ones I have aired here. These are neither antisemitic nor anti-Zionist. They simply feel that different policies toward the Palestinians would have better results for Israel than the course Israel is currently taking. Certainly this is a valid topic of conversation. Uncritical acceptance, on the other hand, can be far more harmful than criticism.

                People who wish to stifle criticism or honest discussion about Israel always are quick to level the term antisemitism. It’s one of the most powerful weapons they have, and it doesn’t require a bit of thought or effort to use it. It’s harder to use against Jews, so then they come out with a different term, which is “self-hating Jew”. It would be far more constructive to actually engage with the issues and discuss them openly than to shut down democratic dialog using historically charged linguistic battering rams to escape dealing honestly with the difficult issues.

              4. [Been away for a couple of days]

                What you say is not so. You deliberately identified this supposely inevitable “deletion from history” of an rntire culture as comparable to the Holocaust:
                “It is offensive that a Jew would express this kind of rhetoric in the context of holocaust day, because it basically implies the erasure of a people.”
                The reality is that Gaza will never be part of Israel. The West Bank will not become part of Israel in its entirety. It is currently occupied by Palestinians (mainly Arab) and Jews (possibly other Israelis) in the Settlements. The Israely religious Right no doubt hope (and, more scarily, believe) that the eventual borders will include in Israel all the Biblical Tribal territories, just as the Muslim extremists even more scarily believe that Israel can be annihilated (erased, deleted). It is axiomatic that the eventual compromise will be negotiated by moderates and guaranteed by the international community. Meanwhile, Israeli Muslims have full voting rights, freedom of speech, and a culture which has not been erased/deleted – the model for the future. Certainly many Palestian Arabs emigrated, but under lesser pressure than the Jewish communities in Arab states who were driven out contemporaneously and mostly ended up in Israel. Those communities could well claim they have been deleted from history.

              5. logicophilosophicus,
                I was trying to emphasize a point about the Palestinians living in the West Bank, not about Arabs in Israel.

                The point is that Israel’s policy of building settlements telegraphs an intention to permanently establish de facto Israeli dominion in that land. Otherwise, why build a single one? In answer to this question in the past, people have said, “well, there are Arabs living in Israel, why not Jews living in Palestine.” This entirely misses the point of what sovereignty means, and control of land usage and land rights. Israel is building those settlements while there is no Arab control, while Palestine is effectively pinned to the ground and unable to move or exert any control. That is what makes this policy of building settlements so enraging. And by moving to Palestinian territory, Jews should become Palestinian citizens and live under the terms of a Palestinian government, and no longer be citizens of Israel. This is how it is when people move permanently from one country to another. So if there are Arab Israelis, there could also be Jewish Palestinians. But not Israeli Jews living in Palestine, except under work visas or such, temporary conditions under approval of Palestinian law. Present settlement policy is a violation of the concept of Arab sovereignty in the West Bank, which is an implication of the very land partitioning UN Resolution that gave Israel its birth.

                If Israeli Arabs are a model of the future, it sounds like you are suggesting a one state solution. What that means, given the current demographics, is that Israel would become an Arab majority nation. Most Jews very much do not like that, so I don’t see this as a viable model for the future.

                Given that state of affairs, if Israel were to continue to put itself in a position of having responsibility for the Arab populations of Gaza and the West Bank, as they do today and will continue to do up until the point the Arabs are granted full autonomy and sovereignty, then Israel needs to make choices: 1. allow Arabs to become a majority in Israel, 2. make Arabs second class non-voting Israelis under an Apartheid regime, or 3. forcibly expel Palestinians from their land.

                This unpleasant set of options, one of which is an inevitable consequence of the current path of holding onto the West Bank and continuing to develop settlements, will lead Israel to accomplish an effective erasure of the Palestinian people as an independent people with national ambitions.

                That is all I was saying, and it seems to me totally non-controversial on a factual level. It’s a reality that Jews and Israelis should come to terms with, and I thought that Jews, having suffered the holocaust, ought to be particularly sensitive above all other people to the implications of the program they are presently carrying out in the West Bank.

              6. logico etc.,
                By the way, I agree with your point that one could say Iraqi or Egyptian Jews have been erased as a culture. It’s totally vile. This is one of the great things about the existence of Israel. I don’t forgive that or apologize for that at all. But I do realize it can’t easily be changed, and I think none of that is an argument for continuing to deny Palestinians their rights.

              7. I think ultimately we agree, but only mostly. I think you are right that Israelis in the West Bank may have to live under an Arab majority, perhaps in a three-state solution (Israel is unlikely to accept Gaza + WB as a single state, I think, and in any case the two Palestinian populations are growing apart politically).
                But equally likely is the other Three State Solution, with Gaza under Egyptian control or mandate, and the West Bank Jordanian. Or maybe not so likely now, with the world racing to recognise Palestine as “a” nation: highly unhelpful politically, since it pushes all concerned to a two state solution. (Remember E and W Pakistan…)
                But the real dsagreement I have with you is your choice of language. The status of Arabs in Israel should indicate to you that while the Jewish majority are frightened of being outnumbered they are not engaged in the wholesale ethnic cleansing or “erasure/deletion” you seem to think inevitable/demonstrable.

            2. logico,
              It is obvious that Israel is not involved in wholesale ethnic cleansing, and anyone reading what I wrote as meaning that is perversely misinterpreting my obvious intentions.

              What Israel is engaged in is a worldwide propaganda effort, or at least one targeting the US, to create the impression that Palestinians are not a real people and that they have no rights to national ambition or to sovereignty over the West Bank territory. That is what I was referring to, admittedly with some justifiable bitterness, as an erasure of a people. The erasure is a propaganda campaign of historical revision, not a military campaign.

              In addition, the existence of this propaganda campaign indicates there is an intention on the part of many Israelis, and in particular the right wing including Likud and religious fundamentalists, to permanently settle and hold the West Bank.

              Both this nasty propaganda, a symptom of which appeared in a comment here on the first “Times antisemitism” thread with the incorrect statement that the British Mandate intended to give all the land west of the Jordan to the Jews, and the undisguised intention of the Israeli right to permanently annex Judea and Samaria, are extremely offensive and ugly developments in this conflict.

              1. “Israel is engaged in… worldwide propaganda… to create the impression that Palestinians… have no rights to national ambition or to sovereignty over the West Bank territory…. [i.e.] there is an intention on the part of many Israelis, and in particular the right wing including Likud and religious fundamentalists, to permanently settle and hold the West Bank.”
                What You previously wrote was:
                “… political leaders have all explicitly or implicitly… implied that their goal is to make Judea and Samaria a permanent part of Israel… [this being the only explanation for] settlements in the West Bank…” You concluded that, since Israel can never risk a Muslim majority, they must inevitably disenfranchise, deport or kill all Muslims West of the Jordan, “erasing” their culture.

                That supposedly logical argument is factually disproved by the dismantling of Jewish settlements in Gaza. Jerusalem is a different problem, but that aside, all but the religious far right know it will come down to Land for Peace.
                But let’s look at the “propaganda”. This is from Netanyahu:

                “…within this homeland lives a large Palestinian community. We do not want to rule over them, we do not want to govern their lives, we do not want to impose either our flag or our culture on them. In my vision of peace, in this small land of ours, two peoples live freely, side-by-side, in amity and mutual respect.  Each will have its own flag, its own national anthem, its own government.  Neither will threaten the security or survival of the other… If we receive this guarantee regarding demilitirization and Israel’s security needs, and if the Palestinians recognize Israel as the State of the Jewish people, then we will be ready in a future peace agreement to reach a solution where a demilitarized Palestinian state exists alongside the Jewish state. Regarding the remaining important issues that will be discussed as part of the final settlement, my positions are known: Israel needs defensible borders, and Jerusalem must remain the united capital of Israel with continued religious freedom for all faiths. The territorial question will be discussed as part of the final peace agreement.”
                I don’t see any “erasure” in there, any denial of Palestinian status or right to self-determination. I see a total contrast to the language and psition you expressed.

              2. As I can see from Mr. Johnson posts he is an expert on international law as well as an expert on the working of the devious Jewish mind (especially Sharon’s). However, he seems not to know:
                1. Israeli settlments are on less than 2% of the area of the West Bank and most of them are in places which – according to negotiations with Arafat and Abbas (when he was still willing to negotiate)– were supposed to remain Israel’s, while Israel was suppose to give some land from Israel proper in return.

                2. “’67 borders” are neither from 1967 nor are they borders. They are armistice lines from 1949 which both signing sides stressed were not political borders.

                3. When Sharon decided to withdraw from Gaza, he left Gaza in the hands of the Palestinian Authority. Israel was very much against allowing the terrorist organization Hamas to run in the election in Gaza. Under very strong pressure from the U.S. Israel relented. Unfortunately, just as Israel thought and contrary to the expectations of the U.S. experts, Hamas won.

                Two professors in international law explain the legal situation for Israel in lectures from which videos are available on YouTube:
                The legal case for Israel

                Sui generis

                Most probably this is the type of “propaganda” which makes Mr. Johnson so unhappy with Israel.

              3. That supposedly logical argument is factually disproved by the dismantling of Jewish settlements in Gaza.

                No, because in order to understand this action one has to wonder why they didn’t dismantle settlements in the West Bank, where the PA security forces were actively involved in cooperating with the IDF in anti-terror operations. Instead they dismantled settlements where Hamas rules. Why on earth would Israel reward bad behavior and punish good behavior? I don’t think you get to take credit for Israel’s benificence on the Gaza withdrawal. This was done during the government of that famous dove, Ariel Sharon. So one has to ask “did Sharon suddenly see the light?”

                Israel did not completely withdraw from Gaza. They dismantled settlements. This allowed Israel to pat itself on the back by pushing this big popular item in the press. This is land Israel is not so interested in though. But they have maintained tight controls on resources and people entering and leaving Gaza. This is because they know Hamas is still a danger. So why did Israel engineer this partial withdrawal from the home of their true bitter enemy, Hamas?

                On the con side, thousands of Israeli settlers were terribly inconvenienced.

                On the pro side, it is easier for Israel to fight Hamas with no Israelis on the ground as potential hostages or collateral damage. Also, it provides a huge propaganda victory in the press. Israel can hold onto the land it really wants, Judea and Samaria, and it can excuse this objectionable behavior by pointing to Gaza and saying “We pulled out and see what happened?” They get the dual benefit of saying that dismantling the settlements was a peace gesture, and they get to use Hamas belligerence as an excuse not to change policies in the West Bank. This is a classic diversionary tactic. It could have been predicted in advance what would happen if Hamas had more free reign inside of Gaza. So obviously Israel acted with that consequence in mind.

                The real test of Israel’s resolve for peace would be for them to have not engaged in clever tactics and public propaganda in Gaza, but for them to have made honest gestures toward the PA in return for their good behavior. And if Israel honestly has the intention of letting the West Bank become a Palestinian nation, there is absolutely no reason for them to build settlements there. A full freeze, and a phased plan for dismantling settlements deep in Palestinian territory, on hold until an agreement is in place, would be honest gestures toward peace.

                But let’s look at the “propaganda”. This is from Netanyahu:

                I did not say that everything Israel says and does is propaganda, so any particular remark from anyone does not constitute a logical disproof of my contentions.
                The fact is that there is a propaganda campaign in place. Propaganda in the media is par for the course for any nation, depending on what they can afford and get away with.

                As long as Israel under Netanyahu continues to build settlements in the West Bank, speeches like this one are at best empty words, and possibly deliberate deception to cover for Israel’s long term ambitions.

                If what Netanyahu says is true, there isn’t any good rationale for building more settlements, or for ever having built any in the first place.

                The particular propaganda I was referring to is the story that Palestinians are an invented people, which is part of the program to deligitimize their claims for land and national ambition. I don’t think Netanyahu has ever gone so far as to say this himself, but you can bet he’s well familiar with the ideas involved. This has been spread by people funded by Israel, and has been mentioned in Israeli government publications. It is becoming so widespread that even Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum thought repeating this nonsense was both safe and even necessary to burnish their pro-Israel cred. It is a lie, it is propaganda, and it being spread in the interest of convincing people that Israel never needs to release Judea and Samaria.

              4. The founding creed of the Likud party is Revisionist Zionism. This goes back to Manachem Begin and the Irgun, who broke from Chaim Weizman and David Ben-Gurion in rejecting the UN partition in Resolution 181 because it split the territory of Palestine. They wanted all of it. And they still do. Begin, Sharon, and Netanyahu are all adherents to this idea that Israel should have been founded on 100% of Mandatory Palestine. And there is no shortage of revisionist advocates on the Internet claiming that the original Mandate for Palestine, approved at the San Remo conference in 1920, intended to give Palestine to the Jews and TransJordan was for the Arabs. This is an incorrect and creatively optimistic interpretation.

                It only takes a little bit of reading to realize this claim is false.



                This is what Likud style revisionist propaganda looks like. I don’t know if this site has any funding from Israel, but there are Israeli publications expressing these same ideas, and no shortage of claims along these lines in Israeli press.

              5. Jeff Johnson,

                You seem to be saying that Likud and the orthodox right wing are a majority in Israel. They received 5o% support in the last election – that’s 50% and falling – and many of the Likud voters are floating voters, who choose a mainstream party because of economic or security considerations.

                You use the words “they” and “Israel” as if there were a single policy common to all. That is not so. You assume that “Zionist” in the rubric of Israeli political parties ilies an absolute commitment to an “Eretz Israel” which leaves no room for a Palestinian state. When Israeli political leaders say exactly the opposite, for example the policy speech by Netenyahu which I quoted, you assume it is a lie; but these are not dictators, and their statements remain out there as hostages to fortune. (This is Prime Minister Olmert in 2008:”Greater Israel is over. There is no such thing. Anyone who talks that way is deluding themselves.”) You can’t take a holiday from propaganda: either you promote a doctrine or you undermine it.

                Similarly, the dismantling of settlements in Gaza is interpreted by you as devious and dishonest. The only honest route to peace and a two state solution is the order of events decided by… you? The real reason for withdrawal initially from Gaza but not the West Bank is easy to understand: look at the IDF map:


                The current reality is that something approaching half of Israel/Palestine will have to become Palestinian administered, and will somehow have to satisfy Israel’s concerns about security against missiles and bombs. I can’t see that happening without international guarantors – especially relevant to the Jerusalem issue. Meanwhile, everyone who publicly spreads the line – this includes you – that there is no point negotiating with Israel is being dangerously unhelpful.

              6. Logico,
                I think you have drastically misread what I’ve written. I know there is a difference between Likud and Israel. Many Americans seem not to though. In the US, suggesting there should be any “daylight”, as the saying goes, between current Israeli government policies and US policy is enough to get one labeled antisemite, which is absurd and an abuse of the term.

                I’ve never said there is no point in negotiating with Israel, an obviously ridiculous and counter productive attitude. I hate the attitudes of Hamas, and I support the progress toward peace that has been made by the PA. Sadly I think the current Israeli government is either intentionally or stupidly undermining that progress.

                Israel is a democracy (except for the West Bank/Gaza restricted Apartheid system), and the US should not be uncritically adopting Likud policy as our own policy on Israel. We should work democratically, whuch includes international dialog, to sway the Israeli democracy back from its rightward shift. Uncritically cheerleading for either side is not helpful in this.

                You seem to have read some of what I’ve written here, but obviously not all of it, and you seem to have projected preconceptions onto my words to make them mean what you expect me to think. I support a two state negotiated solution, and I support moves toward that from both sides. I oppose the idiots of Hamas and Arab antisemitism, but I also oppose Israeli right wing policies that I see as intent on permanent annexation of Judea and Samaria. I also oppose those uncritical cheerleaders for Isreal who argue that Hamas and Arab antisemitism represents all Arabs and Muslims. There is extremist nonsense on both sides that seems geared toward creating the impression that the other side is hopeless and untrustworthy and that there is no point in negotiating. In the US most of that kind of nonsense is pro-Israel and anti-Palestinian. Since I’m in the US, I focus more effort on arguing against the pro-Israel uncritical nonsense, of which plenty is on display here. I’ve mentioned that I’m against antisemitism and against Hamas and their anti-Israel nonsense. It’s kind of implicit in all of my arguments in favor of a two state solution. I want to see the moderates on both sides negotiate and make peace. It seems apparent in this conflict that too many people have lost the ability to look for some kind of middle ground. People look for certain signals and then leap into tribal mode, assuming people are either totally for Israel or else they are totally for the Arabs and totally against Israel. It’s a polarization that makes constructive dialog difficult.

                I don’t get your point on Gaza at all. I still think a better policy would have been to concretely reward good behavior from the PA by permanently canceling all settlement construction in the West Bank. This would have done nothing to compromise Israel’s security, and in all likelihood would have enhanced it by winning a tremendous amount of good will. Instead Israel has convinced many people that a temporary freeze was some kind of highly commendable concession. The reason settlement building continues is because of the domination of the right in Israeli politics.

                Some prominent voices that I like, who I think are saying the right kinds of things, are Bernard Avishai, Gorem Gorshenberg, Peter Beinart, and Hussein Ibish. I think anyone interested in this topic would do well to pay attention to Peter Beinart’s Open Zion site, located at the Daily Beast.

              7. JJ,

                I think it’s hard to misread, for example, this:

                “”…check points… new settlement building… a 2006 “withdrawal” from Gaza (…a tight program of embargos and restrictions is maintained that stifles the Gazan economy). This gives Hamas free reign to launch missiles into Israel. I suspect that the Israel government cynically recognizes this as a propaganda opportunity to justify keeping the screws on more moderate and cooperative Palestinians in the West Bank. Why? Because the Israeli right-wing never ever wants to let go of Judea and Samaria, Greater Israel, a conception that leaves none of the original Palestine for Arabs.”

                You believe “the” Israeli government (a succession of fragmented, squabbling, temporary alliances of minorities) has an ongoing secret agenda of provoking the murder of its citizens to inflame the region. I don’t. You believe “they”, again secretly and cynically, intend “never ever” to allow any of the “original Palestine for Arabs.” I don’t. And I think that such statements are incendiary and irresponsible – and could have been lifted from a Jihadist website, for example.

  17. Love you dearly Jerry, but I’m not following on the anti-Semitism here, unless there’s some context I’m missing. Anti-Israel, anti-wall, anti-Netenyahu, yes. Anti-Jewish people? I don’t see it, but again, feel free to correct me if I’m missing something.

    Can’t watch the video because I don’t have headphones right now and I suspect it’s not the kind of thing you want to blare in mixed company. I think I get the gist, though, and I don’t doubt many, if not most, Palestinians are hostile to the Jewish people. I think it goes without saying that we condemn this type of thinking in our own society. You’ve posted a few things about Israel / Palestine this month, though, and I guess I’m trying to figure out where you stand on this or what message you ultimately want to impart. Does this relate more to concerns about religion in that part of the world and the need for a secular influence, or more the concern regarding anti-Semitism? Sorry to pry, just trying to clarify so I know more where you’re coming from.

    1. Roo,
      I assume you are not Jewish. It’s very natural and understandable that Jewish people are more finely attuned to antisemitism, and far more sensitive to the possibility of it, than a goy like me or presumably you. I think some latitude is called for because of the extremely horrifically painful history involved.

      Antisemitism is real and ugly and can’t be denied, but there are also Jews who acknowledge that sometimes the term antisemitism is used a bit frivolously by equating it with criticism of Israel, in particular the policies of the present government, not the right of Israel to exist. It’s quite possible to criticize the Israeli government while supporting Israel’s right to exist, and probably a few million Israelis and several million American Jews themselves fall into that category.

      Perhaps an interesting thought experiment is to replace Netanyahu with Uncle Sam or Obama or Bush and imagine the Iraqi’s to be the victims in the wall. Would that be fair or not? Probably many Americans would say yes, but more would most likely say no, even if they didn’t support the invasion of Iraq. I think the different emphasis of interpretations have a lot to do with perceived intent rather than absolute morality.

      There are also Palestinians who are not hostile toward Jews; instead they are smart enough to make the distinction between Jews and the right-wing Israeli government. This is a very important distinction to make.

      Anybody who isn’t clear on the distinction between Jews, Israel, and the Israeli government is in danger of falling into fallacies and being silly. Too often these distinctions are blurred.

  18. 1. Criticism of the leader of the main right-wing party in the Israeli elections is not anti-semitism. As an humanist whose father was Jewish, I resent the attempt to misuse the term anti-semite, and links to the holocaust, to refer to legitimate criticism of the (often cruel, unfair and short-sighted) policies of the Israeli government towards fellow human beings who happen to be Palestinian. That doesn’t detract from the need for innocent people within Israel’s legitimate borders to be protected.

    2. Gerald Scarfe is one of the UK’s most famous and hard-hitting political cartoonists. His cartoon reflects the despair many people – from across the UK political spectrum, and including parts of the Jewish community – feel about Netanyahu’s continuing hold on power, and its implications for the people of the region (and maybe for the world).

    3. The magazine section of the same edition of the Sunday Times (which, as others have pointed out, is not the Sunday edition of The Times but run entirely separately) carries an article about the Holocaust-denier David Irving leading a trip to the extermination camps. It’s by Will Storr, based on his book “The Heretics: Adventures with the Enemies of Science”. Perhaps that would have been the better topic of focus?

    1. Oh dear – An article highlighting David Irving, and a vile cartoon with a one-sided graphic exaggeration of bloodthirsty Israel all on Holocaust Memorial Day… do people really want to continue to argue that this is not antisemitism??

      Shame on the Sunday Times!

      1. As suggested by the title of Will Storr’s book that I quoted, the article about David Irving was highly critical about his attempts to distort the facts – i.e. was underlining the need to continue to tell the truth about the horrors of the holocaust, and querying the motivations of Irving and his ilk.

        The point I was making is that the same edition of the Sunday Times carried the Scarfe cartoon criticising Netanyahu, with the title “Israel elections” and the Storr article criticising David Irving (both rightly in my view). How on earth can that be considered “anti-sementism”?

        1. An article exposing the lies of David Irving is a very different kettle of fish than my initial incorrect impressions based on your previous post. Thanks for correcting me. 🙂

  19. The whole situation in the Middle East is a mess, and has long been a mess. However, one name I rarely hear mentioned is Irgun.

  20. To run this cartoon during Holocaust Memorial Day is to obviously invite some sort of a comparison between Israel and the Nazis (or, as no doubt many anti-semites will interpret this, to suggest that the Nazis were right about the Jews). Frankly, most comparisons to Nazis are inappropriate, but even looking at Israel at its worst, this is seriously askew. Israel has no policy of extermination (unlike Hamas) and regardless of how one views Netanyahu, he is not intent on genocide. Of course, as the great Mike Royko once wrote, “no self-respecting fish would want to be wrapped in a Murdoch paper.”

  21. “Holocaust memorial day” argument is as idiotic as the “too close to ground zero” the right wingers were making. The fact is that Palestian
    land is being stolen, they are being fenced in like animals and most politicians – at least in America – give Israel a free pass.

        1. You don’t recognize the code. I’ve encountered this way too frequently on the Internet. It is an epidemic among right wing Americans and Israelis. This is the phrasing of someone who believes the Israeli propaganda that 100% of Palestine as created under the British Mandate is supposed to be the Jewish Homeland, and that all Arabs living in Palestine were supposed to move to Transjordan.

          This is basically the program of the current Israeli government in my opinion: the one-state solution of Greater Israel, which leaves no place for Palestinians.

          This is a blatant distortion of history that is convenient for Israeli right wing fanatics and their supporters, because it allows them to believe the permanent annexation of Judea and Samaria is justified.

          Anyone pushing this theory has to deal with the fact that it requires that 3 million Palestinians (a term they don’t even acknowledge has any reality to it) need to be subjected to at least one of: Apartheid, deportation, or genocide.

          Which of these three solutions to your Arab problem do you prefer Roger? It is offensive that a Jew would express this kind of rhetoric in the context of holocaust day, because it basically implies the erasure of a people.

            1. Both, really. Your question about whether settlements is stealing land would be denied by Roger I assume, since I interpret his remark to mean that the only land that is Palestinian land is in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, formerly known as TransJordan.

              So that is code for the offensive right wing fantasy position I then outlined. I was filling you in on the propaganda code you didn’t recognize.

              The rest is addressed to Roger.

              1. Roger may not be Jewish, I realize. But his view is right-wing pro-Israel propaganda. He may be an apocalyptic Christian who believes that hastening the completion of Greater Israel might trigger the return of Jesus.

                At any rate, a position that requires the erasure of an entire population is offensive when stated by anyone at any time.

                Whatever the case may be, I think this 100% of Palestine for Israel position is one primarily based on religious justifications together with a little dishonestly creative revision of what the British Mandate for Palestine said and was intended to mean.

          1. “This is the phrasing of someone who believes the Israeli propaganda that 100% of Palestine as created under the British Mandate is supposed to be the Jewish Homeland, and that all Arabs living in Palestine were supposed to move to Transjordan.”

            That is not what I said. But, perhaps you should take up your assertions with the United Nations and Britain, who most certainly designated 80% of the British mandate of Palestine as Trans-Jordan – a new state specifically and exclusively as a home for Arab Palestinians. Jews were not allowed to emigrate there.

            Perhaps you should remind the descendents of King Abdullah, who, in 1948 said “Palestine and Jordan are one…” that Jordan has nothing to do with a home for Palestinian Arabs.

            And while you are doing that, you might remind the descendents of King Hussein of Jordan, who in 1981 said “The truth is that Jordan is Palestine and Palestine is Jordan,”, that he was merely falling for some of that right-wing Israeli propaganda.

            As well, you might want to point out to Prince Hassan of the Jordanian National Assembly that (since no modern day Palestinian would ever feel kinship with modern Jordanians, because they are such different peoples) he was a useful dupe of Christian propagandists when he said in 1970 that ” Palestine is Jordan and Jordan is Palestine; there is only one land, with one history and one and the same fate…” .

            I daresay Abdul Hamid Sharif, Prime Minister of Jordan who declared, in 1980, that “The Palestinians and Jordanians do not belong to different nationalities. They hold the same Jordanian passports, are Arabs and have the same Jordanian culture” will be edified by your analysis.

            As will the PLO, whose spokesman in 1977, Farouk Kaddoumi said “There should be a kind of linkage because Jordanians and Palestinians are considered by the PLO as one people,” Perhaps he didn’t recognize “the code” when he heard it either?

  22. The “Middle-East (or Israeli-Palestinian) Problem” is indeed complex (with NO morally pure participants, none zero zip zilch nada squat); nonetheless, I (for one, and I am gratified to evidently not be the only one) am in complete agreement with Jerry’s expressed sentiments respecting the publishing of that “Wall” cartoon in the [London] Sunday Times Holocaust Memorial Day issue. And I am simply AGHAST by how many deign to try to defend or justify such!

    1. On the hand, Holocaust Memorial Day may well be the best time to highlight the irony of the Jewish State acting immorally to steal the land and livelihood of other people by building a wall on Palestinian land in support of illegal settlements that aim to bring to fruition some crazy biblical vision of “Greater Israel”.

      1. Eh what? The “wall” is there only to stop suicide bombers. We can argue about the settlements.. but hey, when Israel withdrew from Gaza and flattened the settlements, that worked really well, didn’t it?

      2. This comment by cozijn is about as insensitive a remark as I can imagine on this site. Yes, certainly, Holocaust Memorial Day is a TERRIFIC day to call attention to Israel’s problems and completely ignore the Palestinian antisemitism and targeted killing of Israeli civilians. And by all means, on Holocaust Memorial Day, let’s go after Israel for their crazy religious vision and completely ignore Hamas’s charter that declares the aim of driving all Jews out of the region entirely, and highlights the fictitious and viciously antisemitic “Protocols of the Elders of Zion.”

        Yes, on Holocaust Memorial Day we should by all means support those whose charter is openly antisemitic and are sworn to exterminate every Jew in the Middle East. What better day can we have for that?

        And see the post directly for other things “highlighted” because it’s Holocaust Memorial Day.

        1. For Holocaust Memorial Day, I re-watched “Return to Auschwitz”. It really gives some perspective. Even more so after having walked on the very ground it was filmed at.

          Full movie here:

        2. The Holocaust remains the absolute defining example of crimes against humanity and it is therefore important that we should always be sensitive in how we refer to it and deal with it in relation to modern politics. The Sunday Times may therefore be regarded as being deeply insensitive given the timing of publication of this cartoon although I am not convinced that it genuinely is anti-Jewish as opposed to anti Natanyahu/Israeli govt policy.

          I don’t agree though that the cartoon can be accused of giving support to..”those whose charter is openly antisemitic and are sworn to exterminate every Jew in the Middle East.” It is I believe possible to be critical of Israel whilst at the same time abhorring Hamas and its desire to destroy Israel.

          It is true that Israel has a right to defend itself but the manner in which it chooses to do so punishes all Palestinian citizens (both by restricting the movement of goods and workers into Gaza and during Israel’s periodic incursions into Gaza to seek and destroy Hamas leadership)and has the result of inflaming Palisitinian extremism. Equally, the Palestinians have a right to assert their own independence and the right to live, trade and move freely in a Palestinian state but the manner in which HAmas seeks to fight for this by attempting to kill Israeli citizens and swearing the destruction of Israel (whilst hiding its rocket launchers in the midst of its own civilian population)only serves to harden Israeli commitment to hardline military response.

          In short, the intransigent hard-line taken by each side serves only to deepen and prolong the conflict and a solution can only come when both sides agree to compromise. This will no dout be very hard to achieve but it is not unprecedented as Rabin and Arafat and Begin and Sadat demonstrated.

        3. On the other hand, the Sunday immediately after the Israeli elections is the most appropriate time for a Sunday newspaper to run a cartoon about the Israeli elections.

  23. Ok, I’ve had enough. Today is supposed to be Holocaust Remembrance Day. I was subjected to the most vile anrisemistism/pro Palestinian stuff in my local pub tonight.(I don’t know where thes people came from_ and btw I’m not Jewish, either by heritage or by faith. I just know that my grandfather fought the Moelyites at Cable Street, and althouh I am quite an old lady, I like to think that I would do the same.As a British citizen, I hang my head in shame. I apologise.

  24. no small irony here that palestinians are semites, too. according to the wikipedia, “A study of high-resolution haplotypes demonstrated that a substantial portion of Y chromosomes of Israeli Jews (70%) and of Palestinian Muslim Arabs (82%) belonged to the same chromosome pool.”

  25. I don’t have words for this horror.
    And no, I’m not a fan of Israel.
    Alas I am not surprised – I have seen too many similar vile caricatures of Arabs as well on internet (not in newspapers though), stemming from the extreme right. So I predict a sick spectacle – western pro Israeli’s and pro Arabs trying to outdo each other in terms of stereotyping.
    Inner emigration a la Thomas Mann has become much more attractive today.

    1. While Thomas Mann did use, and probably coin, the term “inner emigration” for the first time in a journal entry in November 1933, he did emigrate. In due course, he became the beacon of the “other” Germany, the one tried to salvage the honour of German culture by leaving the soil of the Reich while Nazi boots stomped on it.

      For this he never ceased to be criticised from some quarters, notably among the proponents of “inner emigration”. A vociferous critic of “emigrants” was Frank Thiess, who specifically castigated Mann after the war for not returning to Germany at once, and implicitly for leaving in the first place.

      I have read many of the authors who styled themselves “inner emigrants”. I’m sorry to state that I found most of them complacent if not complicit. No one was forced to take a stand. But one always could shut up. I respect those who did.

      As always, one must be careful with historic references and similes. The very least one can say about Scarfe is that he did not give due care; in the context, and on a topic where one cannot, under any circumstances, ignore the context, that was unconscionable.

  26. Although my slow connection does not allow me to watch the video, I’d like to ask about the cartoon:

    Is it anti-semitic? Or is it anti-apartheid?

    Is it a pictorial attack on Israel, or an attack on a very cruel right-wing Israeli policy that would not be considered acceptable in other countries?

    I’m sorry, Professor Coyne, but I don’t anti-semitism in this cartoon. I see justified anger and outrage. I see a need for change.

  27. Why get so pent up over a goddamn cartoon? The cartoonist is merely expressing his political view using the free association of themes from the present and from history. It’s sort of clever in an ugly sort of way, and would resonate if you shared his views (which I don’t).

    But, you know, free speech and all that. We’ve had the Danish cartoons depicting Mohammad which was just as ugly. Lets just stop overreacting. If you don’t like it turn the page and move on. Talking about it just gives free publicity to ideas with which you disagree. And it impairs free speech.

    1. I had this same kind of discussion with an acquaintance about effigies of Obama being hung with nooses in the South during the election. He saw no problem with it, saying that a lot of unpopular presidents get similar treatment. I think he didn’t have any relatives that were lynched because of their skin color. I could see why black people might be a bit miffed though.

      1. Free speech applies to ideas and opinions. In other words, attack the idea or opinion, not the person holding those ideas or opinions.

        It the effigy of Obama was meant as a metaphor for Democrat policies, then no problem. The free association of the present theme with a theme from an ugly past make this an ugly cartoon. That might upset some people, but if it’s a choice between free speech and the right not to be upset, I go for free speech every time.

        If they were actually suggesting Obama be lynched and hanged, that’s an attack on the person and doesn’t come under the heading of free speech.

        1. Oh, they certainly have a right to give their opinion. In the US, Nazis, the Klan, etc. have rights to express themselves, so does WBC, but it is still odious to most of us when they do. Having the right to speak your opinion doesn’t mean that you’re not scum for having that opinion.

    2. I see you’re above the fray. Well, if it expresses sentiments that you disagree with, or smacks of stereotyping, then why NOT discuss it. The answer to hate speech is more speech, not no speech.

      Where in the world do you get the crazy idea that talking about something offensive “impairs free speech”? That is an idea so irrational that I’ve never seen it before.

      1. I’m saying that a cartoon deserves much less attention than an article. For a start its much easier to misconstrue a cartoon and read into it what is not there, and the cartoonist is not likely to offer any feedback. It’s just a damn cartoon!

        More importantly you seemed to be suggesting that the cartoon should have been censored by the Sunday Times.

  28. This cartoon could easily have appeared in the notorioiusly antisemitic Arab media. That it’s in London’s Times is unbelievable.

    No, it isn’t.

    1. Perhaps it is not “unbelievable” that THAT Scarfe cartoon would appear in the [London] Sunday Times HOLOCAUST MEMORIAL DAY issue, but its appearance in that issue was certainly unexpectedly insensitive and inappropriate for the occasion and thus (for me for one, and it seems so for many others too) tremendously disappointing!

      1. Maybe the whole issue here is that Holocaust Memorial Day is a much bigger event in the US than here in the UK. People here are fully aware of the horrors of the holocaust, it’s taught in schools and often features in the news and other contexts. On Sunday the BBC aired a powerful 40 minute interview with a holocaust survivor, with horrific newsreel footage. But the “day” does not feature much in the media, so there was no sense in which this issue of the Sunday Times was a “Holocaust Memorial Day issue” – the elections were much bigger news. The audience was the UK, not the US.

        1. The lament being made is not about the “bigness” or “smallness” of HOLOCAUST MEMORIAL DAY (or the need for a reminder to not forget the Holocaust) in America vs. Great Britain, JeremyR, but rather is solely about the lack of appropriateness and sensitivity of the Scarfe cartoon that was featured by a London paper in a HOLOCAUST MEMORIAL DAY issue (regardless of how great or small is the need for a reminder about the Holocaust there or anywhere).

          1. Was this a special ‘Holocaust Memorial Day’ (I won’t use all caps) issue of the Sunday Times, or was it just the regular issue of a (British) paper that happened to appear on the same day as the (American) Holocaust Memorial Day…?

            Not every American special ‘Day’ is celebrated internationally, you know.

          2. Hopefully no-one in this debate would question that the holocaust was probably the greatest crime in history and we should never forget it, or the lessons it carries for humanity – lessons all too easily forgotten as we’ve seen in Rwanda, Cambodia and elsewhere. Holocaust Memorial Day – no need for capitals – may (or may not) make a useful contribution to that.

            The fact that Gerald Scarfe (and maybe even the editor of The Sunday Times) weren’t aware that HMD was last Sunday underlines my point – it was cock-up rather than conspiracy reflecting the lower profile HMD (but not the holocaust) has in the UK.

            But a lot of the criticism here is not about the publication date, it’s about the cartoon itself. Gerald Scarf has made it clear that the target was political, not anti-semitic, a view apparently shared by the Israeli Haaretz newspaper:

            Having said that, it’s clearly a fact that, rightly or wrongly, some people have found the cartoon offensive (and in particular the timing). And I can see that the job of a newspaper editor is to think carefully before giving offence. The “anti-semitic” accusations are baseless, but it was unnecessarily offensive and therefore a mistake.

      2. I simply wanted to note that I was not surprised. A strong anti-Israel sentiment has always been present in the British political establishment and in the British media. This has a long history, which is of course complicated, but traditional antisemitism certainly contributed to it.

  29. I am currently reading The Invention of the Land of Israel: From Holy Land to Homeland, by Shlomo Sand. He’s a Jewish scholar at the University of Tel Aviv, and a former soldier in the Israeli army during the Six-Day War in 1967. I think some selections from the book apply here. Although I’m not prepared to offer the book my full recommendation yet, it does contain some interesting insights. The selections below show that the attitudes expressed in the post above (by the Times, and the Palestinian Authority) are not limited to anti-Semites, but are coming to be shared by Jews themselves. It seems to me, therefore, that International Holocaust Day is the most appropriate time for such a controversial cartoon to be on display.

    The author has just described two formative events in his attitude about Zionist aspirations, one of them being a senseless act of torture perpetrated upon an elderly Palestinian man, who subsequently was unceremoniously dumped in a river following the ordeal. From The Invention of the Land of Israel:

    As I have already noted, I felt a powerful sense of connection with the small land where I grew up and first fell in love, and with the urban landscape that had shaped my character. Although never truly a Zionist, I was taught to see the country as a refuge in time of need for displaced and persecuted Jews who had nowhere else to go… At the time, however I was unable to foresee the monumental changes that would come to reshape Israel as a result of its military victory and territorial expansion – changes that were wholly unrelated to Jewish suffering from persecution and that past suffering could certainly not justify. The long-term outcome of this victory reinforced the pessimistic view of history as an arena for continual role reversal between victim and executioner, as the persecuted and displaced often emerge subsequently as rulers and persecutors. (p7-8)

    …The mythos of the ancestral homeland declined significantly after the establishment of the state of Israel and did not return forcefully to the public arena until the Six-Day War almost two decades later. For many Judeo-Israelis, it seemed that any criticism of Israel’s conquest of the Old City of Jerusalem and the cities of Hebron and Bethlehem would undermine the legitimacy of its previous conquest of Jaffa, Haifa, Acre, and other places of comparatively less importance to the Zionist mosaic of connection with the mythological past. Indeed, if we accept the Jews’ “historical right of return to their homeland,” it is difficult to deny its applicability to the very heartland of the “ancient homeland” itself… Wasn’t this why we had studied the Bible as a distinct pedagogical historical subject in our secular high school? Back then, I never imagined that the green armistice line – the so-called Green Line – would disappear so quickly from the maps produced by the Israeli Ministry of Education, and that future generations of Israelis would hold conceptions of the homeland’s borders that would differ so greatly from my own. I simply was unaware that, following its establishment, my country had no borders except the fluid, modular frontier regions that perpetually promised the option of expansion.
    … I never dreamed Israel would dare legally annex East Jerusalem, characterize the measure by invoking “a city that is bound firmly together” (Psalms 122:3), and at the same time refrain from granting equal civil rights to one-third of the residents of its “united” capital city, as is still the case today.
    … At the time, I had no way of knowing that Israel would succeed in controlling such a large Palestinian population for decades, bereft of sovereignty. I also could not foresee that, for the most part, the country’s intellectual elite would accept the process and that its senior historians – my future colleagues – would continue to refer to this population quite readily as “Arabs of the Land of Israel.” It never dawned on me that Israel’s control of the local “other” would not be exercised through mechanisms of discriminatory citizenship such as military government and the Zionist-socialist appropriation and Judaization of land, as had been the case within the borders of “good old” pre-1967 Israel, but rather through the sweeping negation of their freedoms and the exploitation of natural resources for the sake of the pioneering settlers of the “Jewish people.” Furthermore, I never even considered the possibility that Israel would succeed in settling more than a half million people in the newly occupied territories and keeping them fenced off in complex ways from the local population, who would in turn be denied basic human rights, highlighting the colonizing, ethnocentric, and segregationist character of the entire national enterprise from the outset. In short, I was wholly unaware I would spend most of my life living next door to a sophisticated and unique regime of military apartheid with which the “enlightened” would, due in part to its guilty conscience, would be forced to compromise and, in the absence of any other option, to support (p 9-10).

    … In 1917, when the Protestant colonialist and British foreign secretary Arthur James Balfour promised Lionel Walter Rothschild a national home for Jews, he did not – despite his great generosity – propose its establishment in Scotland, his birthplace. In fact, this modern-day Cyrus remained consistent in his attitude toward the Jews. In 1905, as prime minister of Britain, he worked tirelessly for the enactment of stringent anti-immigration legislation meant primarily to prevent Jewish immigrants fleeing the pogroms of Eastern Europe from entering Britain. Nonetheless, second only to the Bible, the Balfour Declaration is regarded as the most decisive source of moral and political legitimacy of the Jews’ right to the “Land of Israel.” In any case, it always seemed to me that a sincere attempt to organize the world as it was organized hundreds or thousands of years ago would mean the injection of violent, deceptive insanity into the overall system of international relations… we can easily imagine a march of folly initiated by the assertion and recognition of countless “ancient rights,” sending us back into the depths of history and sowing general chaos… By virtue of its underlying national logic, such an initiative would necessarily prove detrimental to a weak indigenous population. After all, Zionists did not land in Jaffa port with the same intention harbored by persecuted Jews who landed in London or New York, that is, to live together in symbiosis with their new neighbors, the older inhabitants of their new surroundings. From the outset, the Zionist aspired to establish a sovereign Jewish state in the territory of Palestine, where the vast majority of the population was Arab. Under no circumstances could such a program of national settlement be completed without ultimately pushing a substantial portion of the local population out of the appropriated territory. (p 14-16)

    When Jewish groups were expelled from their places of residence during acts of religious persecution, they did not seek refuge in their sacred land but made every effort to relocate to other, more hospitable location … only a tiny, marginal group, imbued with a modern nationalist ideology, imagined an “old/new” homeland and set their course for Palestine.
    This was also true both before and after the appalling Nazi genocide. In fact, it was the United States’ refusal, between the anti-immigration legislation of 1924 and the year 1948, to accept the victims of European Judeophobic persecution that enabled decision makers to channel somewhat more significant numbers of Jews toward the Middle East. Absent this stern anti-immigration policy it is doubtful whether the State of Israel could have been established… In the early 1980s, US President Ronald Reagan decided to allow refugees of the Soviet regime to immigrate to the United States, an offer greeted with overwhelming demand. In response, the Israeli government exerted pressure to have the gates of immigration to the United States blocked by all possible means. Because the immigrants continued to insist on the United States, and not the Middle East, as their preferred destination, Israel collaborated with Romanian ruler Nicolae Ceausescu to limit their ability to choose. In return for payoffs to Ceausescu’s Securitate and the corrupt Communist regime in Hungary, more than one million Soviet immigrants were routed to the “national state,” a destination they had not chosen and in which they did not want to live.
    In sum, the Jews were not forcibly exiled from the land of Judea in the first century CE, and they did not “return” to twentieth-century Palestine, and subsequently to Israel, of their own free will.
    (p 20-21)

    1. How is this überlong excerpt from Sand relevant, or even pertinent, to the discussion of the Scarfe cartoon?

      And a cautionary note regarding Sand’s reading of contemporary history. As someone with direct experience of both the Ceaușescu régime in Romania and the Kádár régime in Hungary in respect to emigration to Israel, I regard with considerable mirth the notion that they could inflect Soviet emigration policy towards Israel to the extent imputed by Sand.

      For a succint overview of the dull, ugly complexity of the facts of emigration, see:

  30. I am loth to enter this fray. If there was ever a no win topic, this is it.

    I would point out that, not withstanding the fact that Netanyahu and his followers are not paragons of peace, Israel is a vibrant democracy and the majority of its people very decent. Now that the voters in Israel have indicated a preference for a more moderate path, I hope that the rst of the world, rather than portraying Israel as evil, which it most certainly is not, will encourage it, postively, to seek peace with its moderate palestinian neighbors, who do exist. De-escalation of rhetoric, not inflammatory cartoons, is needed for peace.

    The anti-semitic rants of the extremists will continue, but they cannot be allowed to derail the peace process from going forward, or be used as an excuse not to pursue it. I will continue to hope, if not with great expectation.

    1. I am loth[sic] to enter this fray. If there was ever a no win topic, this is it”.

      I understand that position entirely, but for a different reason. I have some old, dear friends among what people would label the “European Intelligentsia” from 30-40 years ago. I also have some new friends I have met more recently on websites such as this one, who I would place in that category (Intelligentsia). I never like to upset my friends, but I would be amiss if I didn’t point out that there is an antisemitic movement occurring in that group which masks itself as “anti-Israel”, not anti-Jew. This is occurring in the PC Left crowd in the US also. There has been a lot written about this over the years and people can research it on their own, but it exists and these people tend to get upset if you point it out to them. Many of these good folks will overlook the atrocities of the Arabs/Palestinians because the Left always loves an underdog (or so it’s said).

      Full disclosure: I am not Jewish and have no relatives who are. I am a proud member of the Left and consider myself moderately educated, so not a member of the “Intelligentsia”.

      1. I call myself radical left as well. That’s why I think this cartoon so disgusting – it betrays the left ideal of protecting the vulnerable. Jews in Europe are a vulnerable group.

      1. Well, there seems to be an unstated opinion by some here (including Jerry) that the cartoon should have been censored by the Sunday Times.

        1. No newspaper has the duty to publish everything anybody wishes to get published. It should have been REJECTED by the editor. An article praising Hitler would be rejected and nobody would dream to use the word “censored”.

          1. I would use the word censored. I may hate the content of such an article, but censorship would still apply if no paper would print it.

            1. But you surely know that there are plenty of papers that would print it with relish. And today there is the Internet. I lived for many years under Communist censorship rules and I do know what “censorship” is. You seem to think that publishers and editors have a duty to print whatever is coming to them. In every editorial office there is a waste paper basket and since print was invented it has always been used and so it should continue.

          2. I don’t know the Sunday Times or the cartoonist, but I assume the cartoonist provides a cartoon every Sunday. So it wouldn’t be the odd article from the odd contributor being not printed. Do you think the Sunday Times should have censored this Sunday’s cartoon?

              1. Exactly! I sent my novel to 10 publishers and they all rejected it! Does that mean I’m a victim of censorship? [Hint: No.]

    1. Perhaps printing it on another day would be in better taste. Murdoch, who’s motives some people have questioned in this, has received awards from Jewish groups for his defense of Israel, so I don’t think this has anything to do with him being antisemetic.

    2. A huge amount of the stuff that is published on this blog is a reaction to what others have written and very often (but not always) disagreeing with it. The fact of reacting strongly to something someone else has published is a part of free speech and certainly cannot be construed as an argument for censorship.
      There is a world of difference between saying “I am offended by what you say (or draw), wish you had not said it and hope you will not say something similar again” and either burning down newspaper offices or enacting and enforcing repressive legal restrictions on what newspapers can publish. The former enters into discourse with the offending publisher and seeks to persuade him/her by argument and is not to be confused with the trampling on free-speech which is the latter.

    3. “Is anyone suggesting the the Sunday Times should have censored this cartoon?”

      A newspaper’s electing to not publish a particular cartoon (on grounds of utterly inappropriate poor taste) is not “censorship,” it is exercising appropriately responsible editorial judgment.

  31. I can understand someone who is not familiar with anti-Semitic racial slurs not seeing the racism that permeates this cartoon, since racism is often about context. Here’s an analogy that should make it clearer:

    Imagine a cartoon criticizing President Obama’s economic policies that depict him with physical features akin to a chimpanzee where he is eating a big slice of watermelon while a band of the Black Panther party robs a bunch of white folks and hand out welfare checks. Oh, and this cartoon is published on MLK Jr. day. What racism?

    1. Is Netanyahu wearing rabbi or traditional Jewish garb? Is he hording vast sums of money? Fit in any number of other disgusting Jewish stereotypes that could have been depicted. If that happened, then your example would be more appropriate.

      Your example is not the same. I liken it more to the cartoon that came out after that chimpanzee had attacked a woman in Florida, where two police officers had just shot it and it was labeled “Obama’s economic policy” or something like that. Many people immediately jumped on it as racist when in all likelihood it was just a convenient subject to tie to a political point.

      1. I’m not sure it’s possible you could have made my point more effectively for me. I belive you are referring to the cartoon of two police officers having just shot a chimpanzee which reads “They’ll have to find someone else to write the next stimulus bill.”

        If you don’t see the overwhelming, disgusting racism there, you may seriously be one of the stupidest people I’ve ever encountered. If you choose not to see it, then you’re one of the most disgusting.

        And yes, this cartoon is rather like the one you reference.

        1. Similarity does not imply a relationship. Obama’s slogan was “Forward”. Do you believe that means he is a Communist, because the same term is often found in Communist propaganda?

          And surely we can agree that because Darwin is cited by social Darwinists and eugenics proponents, that must clearly imply that evolution is the devil’s spawn? Please.

          This guilt by similarity game you are playing is intellectually bankrupt.

        2. you may seriously be one of the stupidest people I’ve ever encountered.

          Or perhaps a Republican. For the most part they seem completely oblivious to the rampant racism that has been directed at Obama, and spend lots of time and energy denying it or pretending obvious racism has nothing to do with race. Kind of like Stephen Colbert, who doesn’t see race. In fact, this obvious denaial of racist stereotypes in GOP media was exactly why Colbert added that bit to his shtick.

          I guess to a large extent we all see what we want to see, or what we expect to see, or what we are able to see, and there are times we don’t see what others see.

          Before anyone thinks I’m saying Republicans are stupid, which I am not, what I’m saying is that because of partisan loyalty a smart person can seem obtuse. It’s a form of tribalism.

          As with antisemitism and the cartoon presented here, a lot of smart people are seeing it differently.

          Its hard to understand how others outside of your tribe see things. Its hard for atheists to see how religious people see things, and vice versa. It takes imagination and thought to see how others see something, even if you don’t see it that way yourself.

          There are lots of people in whose view Israel can do no wrong. They believe Israel is precious and vulnerable, and could perhaps be destroyed at any time, so they must defend it with a compensating vigor.

          Others love Israel, but they recognize its strength and don’t so much fear its vulnerability. They might criticize its leaders for exactly the reason that they love Israel and do not want to let bad leaders corrupt it. I feel this way about America, and terribly resented the implications of Republicans in 2002 and 2003 that opposing the invasion of Iraq was somehow a betrayal of America and unpatriotic. That attitude itself is a betrayal of the Constitution, that one who voices opposition must therefore be disloyal.

          So some may see this attack on Netanyahu and disagree with the content of the attack. They may feel the wall is a reasonable policy, and they may think the locaction of the wall and its layout and the ways it impacts Palestinians is a reasonable trade off. So in objecting to the anti-Netanyahu message, its natural to look for any possible reason to discredit the cartoon. For some any criticism of Israel could only come from a person who hates Jews, even though many Jews and Israelis themselves criticize Israel. That means, they criticize policies of Israel, not the existence of Israel. For others, they may not think any criticism of Israel is antisemitic, but they are very sensitive to the possible signs of antisemitism. Two typical signs are the big nose and blood libel. Others have to do with extreme thrift, obsession with money, international banking conspiracies, etc. These things probably originate in jealousy because in the Middle Ages Christians stupidly could not lend money at interest. Jews were also excluded from many trades. They were smart and took advantage of an economic niche, and developed skills in banking and finance. This acumen and enterprise is to be commended, not criticized. It’s remarkeable how a little bit of historical truth gets exaggerated into international bankind conspiracies. That’s hatred at work.

          So obviously the big nose in the cartoon is one that can be seen as an intentional stereotype of Jews as “other”. On the other hand, every political charicature everywhere ever involves exaggerating the nose. I can’t recall ever seeing a politician in a cartoon whose facial characteristics were not exaggerated.

          The blood in the cartoon, even if Netanyahu is not drinking it, and even if it isn’t from a Christian baby, a lie which is the original form that blood libel took many centuries ago, it is at least an association of blood and Jews, so it can easily bring the idea of blood libel to the mind. That is how the human linguistic mind works, it symbolicly abstracts and it perceives all kinds of resonances of allusion and suggestion and connnotation that may or may not be intended by the author. Sometimes cartoonists or authors take advantage of this to make allusions and maintain plausible deniability. So there is plenty of room to fear that the cartoonist meant something he or she did not mean.

          Someone whose tribal mission it is to defend Netanyahu and Israel at all costs, will want to use that association to discredit the cartoon and strengthen their case, which they feel is just and obvious. On the other hand, its not necessarily true that the use of blood was intended by the cartoonist that way, even if it can have that association. There are lots of political cartoons that use blood for various reasons, none of which have to do with blood libel, and all of which have to do with criticizing the leader of killing too much or being indifferent to the lives of others.

          This whole debate ends up putting the cartoonist in the position of possible self-censorship because of sensitivity to how some people might interpret the cartoon differently. The inclusion of blood, for example dramatizes the large numbers of Palestinians killed in the West Bank by IDF forces, often for grounds that are questionable, like they were teenagers throwing rocks or walking in the wrong place. They may have been behaving badly in the view of the IDF, but shooting them was an extreme overreaction. IDF forces have gunned down more Palestinians in the West Bank in 2011 alone than all Israelis who have ever been killed by a Hamas rocket attack. These numerical imbalances get lost in the discussion because of the impassioned defenses of Israel close their eyes to Israel’s wrongs, just as Americans passionately defending their country close their eyes to or otherwise rationalize their own killing. The cartoonist could have left out the blood knowing that it was inevitable that defenders of right-wing Israeli policies would leap at the chance to cry “blood libel”. Or he could ignore how others would react and just print the message he wants to communicate, which is not one of antisemitism but a message that is anti-Netanyahu, anti-Wall of Separation, anti-occupation, and anti-Apartheid in the West Bank. Those publishing the Mohammad cartoons were in the same position. Should the sensitivity of others cause them to self-censor?

          1. I’m sorry for all the typos. The Ipad touch keyboard is a bit difficult to use at times.

            Among the many typos and grammatical slips, this was the worst: “For others, they may not think any criticism of Israel is antisemitic, but they are very sensitive to the possible signs of antisemitism.”

            I really meant “they may not think ALL criticism of Israel is antisemitic”. In other words, certainly some is based on antisemitism, but a lot of other criticism is based on honest and realistic disagreement with policies, and often this is disagreement that is founded upon good will toward Israel. Sometimes your best friends need to tell you the mistakes you are making.

          2. I am not a Republican, nor teabagger, nor stupid. I agree 100% with everything that you’ve said.

            I did not state that I saw no racism anywhere, just that the particular cartoon I mentioned was very likely NOT an example of that racism despite what a group of people saw in it.

  32. It would be fantastic if people were commenting seahorses as fervently as they are commenting Jews, but if dominating comments would be in the same style it would be very bad science. Science should be based on passion not on obsession and on knowledge, not on myths. Yesterday a reader of my article in Polish decided in his comment that Zionism was nationalism. An idea to create home for people escaping from European murderous nationalism was called what? Nationalism. I love seahorses, they are less irrational.

    1. People, being what they are, happen to be much more interested in people than in seahorses on the whole. Of course exceptions exist.

      I imagine seahorses are much more interested in seahorses than they are in people.

  33. You mention cherry-picking extreme propaganda, but this video seems interesting because it is concise and delivered by a major cleric and gives a whole new slant on European history as seen by somebody who hates Jews. Otherwise it is not remarkable because every day in the Arab media there are calls to exterminate all Jews, reclaim all of Israel and make it Jew-free, join the jihad movement and become a martyr, and so forth. You can’t “cherry-pick” something so ubiquitous.

  34. First, I think we need a step-by-step comparison with the Mohammed caricatures.

    Second, am I really the first to notice the elephant in the room? Gerald Scarfe is probably best known for his drawings for Pink Floyd’s The Wall. This cartoon is by Scarfe and features a wall. What is The Wall about? It is essentially about a victim, unconsciously and not on purpose, taking on the behaviour of his torturers. Roger Waters is touring The Wall now and has updated it to be less about himself and more general in theme. I doubt that Scarfe was unaware of the connection. Am I reading too much into it? Maybe. On the other hand, I think “sometimes a cigar is just a cigar” applies to some of the points discussed above. For example, there is always blood in war, and just because it is Jewish blood doesn’t mean it is a reference to blood libel.

    There is no clear answer to the question “Who started it?” in this conflict, but even if there were, it wouldn’t solve anything. The only sensible answer is a two-state solution, with each state being contiguous in area, and this being set up and monitored by the UN. There is no other solution. Those who don’t go along should be ostracized, just like happened with those who supported apartheid in South Africa. The problem is that many states and organizations have such a policy, but if Israel doesn’t go along, there are few if any consequences, whereas the consequences are more dire if the Palestinians don’t go along.

    1. A two-state solution monitored by the UN. Good idea. What could possibly go wrong? They tried exactly that in 1948 and five Arab armies attacked Israel, confident that they could “drive the Jews into the sea”. The UN stood by while Israel (just) managed to fight them off. A two-state solution is still a good idea, but what happens next?

    2. Good point about the Wall, it’s obviously impossible for Scarfe to draw one without referencing that one.

      The caricatures he drew for the opening credits of Yes, Minister have enormously long noses, which is one of the most typical elements of his style; I didn’t recognise the cartoon as by Scarfe at first, so I suspect he tried extra hard to keep the noses in check.

  35. Gerald Scarfe’s cartoon does exactly what a good political cartoon is supposed to do: invite debate and reflection in a provocative way.
    Contributors from both sides seem to have missed the rather obvious point that Scarfe’s cartoon was intended to remind readers of the Nazi propaganda posters and thus it poses the question: “Is there an analogy?”.
    You may not like the provocation, but banding about accusations of anti-Semitism shows a lack of intellectual sophistication one would not have expected in this forum.
    By the same token is the famous “Hang Thatcher” cartoon ( incitement to murder, misogynistic, anti-Semitic (on account of the large nose), etc.?

    1. Thank you for your note of concern that I am intellectually unsophisticated. I have explained before why I think that some anti-Israeli sentiment is based on antisemitism, and I still believe that. It’s not intellectually unsophisticated at all to draw this connection, and many others have as well.

      You will apologize for your characterization of the host and those who make this argument.

      And you’re not the one who defines what is “characteristic of this forum.”

      1. You’re no doubt right that “SOME anti-Israeli sentiment is based on anti-semitism”. But there’s no evidence that that applies to the Scarfe cartoon, which is the subject here.

        Saying to a contributor who has made a reasonable point “You will apologize ….” comes over as rather bullying. Wouldn’t it be better to consider the specific points that have been raised here instead?
        a) The cartoon was nothing to do with holocaust memorial day, but was about the Israeli elections – which happened to take place in the same week – and the suffering of innocent people which many believe result from the policies espoused by Netanyahu and others on the Israeli Right. That’s a reasonable target for a political cartoonist.
        b) The Sunday Times is a weekly paper, with separate editorial control to The Times. The same edition also carried (in its magazine) an article highly critical of holocaust deniers, by the author of “The Heretic: Adventures with the Enemies of Science”, which would seem to be fully in line with your own thinking. In other words, that edition of the Sunday Times was reasonably balanced in this respect.

        It seems impossible to make any critical remarks about Israeli actions towards Palestinians – even while acknowledging the failures and aggression of those on the other side – without being labelled “anti-semitic”.

        Wouldn’t it be better to seek solutions that would treat everyone as human beings, while denying anyone’s right to claim territory because of Biblical promises, and accepting that – rightly or wrongly – the State of Israel exists and its citizens have the right to live in peace and freedom, just as the Palestinians – who are stateless through no fault of their own – also have the right to live in peace and freedom?

      2. I am lost for words.
        I will merely make some factual remarks:
        1. on re-reading my comment, I can see how a literal reading could support Prof. Coyne’s interpretation of my comment as a personal attack. This certainly was not my intention and I have no hesitation in apologizing for give a false impression. However, seen in the context of the previous sentence (referring to “contributors from both sides”), I would have thought obvious that the “you” in the next line was a universal, not a particular reference. Why would I want to offend Prof. Coyne with the patently false accusation of being intellectually unsophisticated?
        2. Apart from the tone of the request (“you will apologize …”) which perhaps is considered acceptable in the US but sounds distinctly unpleasant on this side of the Atlantic, I do not understand what I am supposed to apologize for. For considering the general nature of this forum “intellectually sophisticated”? I cannot apologize for basing anti-Israeli arguments on anti-Semitism, because the antecedent is false: I was not making any argument either pro or against Israel.
        3. I note that Prof. Coyne did not address the aesthetic point I was making, i.e., the explicit and intentional reference by Scarfe to Nazi propaganda posters. He (and others on this forum) may agree or disagree with my interpretation, but perhaps he (or others) may be so kind to explain to me in what way my aesthetic judgement constitutes an anti-Israeli (or a fortiori an anti-Semitic) statement.
        4. I did not define what is “characteristic of this forum” (how could I?). Again I was expressing what I thought to be not a wholly disparaging value judgement in expressing my personal opinion on the generally high level of intellectual sophistication of the forum (not of any specific individual, least of all the host).

      3. “I have explained before why I think that some anti-Israeli sentiment is based on antisemitism”
        I used to doubt that, but this cartoon proves I was wrong. What bugs me more is that it seems to come from the political circle I belong to: radical left. As I wrote above I feel that the ideal of protecting the vulnerable has been betrayed. Yes, the Palestinian people deserve protection from Israeli oppression; but at least as much do those few jews who have chosen to live in Europe after everything. Dehumanizing the latter group thus means moral bankruptcy for radical left.
        This asshole of a cartoonist knows there is antisemitism left in Western Europe: synagogues vandalized (also mosques btw), graveyards destroyd; it all has been in the news last few years. I thought this was reserved for some fringe neonazi groups. It makes me sick to see that this is no longer the case.
        One thing that strikes me is how similar the arguments of Scarfe’s defenders are to those of christian apologetics of all the atrocities on the NT.

        1. I like the way this conversation is being conducted – its a hot topic, and views are being aired. Yes, for me anti-antisemitism is a frequent occurrence which offends me. In this particular example, once I understood the context, and that it was aimed at politics rather than race, I could let it go. All his characters have prominent noses and he was much more aware of the elections than the sacred nature of the day.

  36. A similar commentary concerning the Palestinian/Israeli debate features frequently in our local press (Cape Town)with both sides going at it hammer and tong.
    What I find amazing however is the almost complete silence from the many Palestinian supporters regarding the civil war in Syria with 60,000 dead and thousands more unaccounted for. And then we have car bombs in Iraq, the Taliban doing their best to derail the democratic process in Afghanistan with indiscriminate killings.
    Aren’t most these countries predominantly Muslim with the conflict essentially between different sects of the same “faith”?

    1. Northern Ireland is predominantly Christian with the conflict essentially between different sects of the same “faith”. However, you will find that it is not really a big issue in most other Christian countries. Same same but different?

  37. It must be easy to hate 15 million people when there are 1.5 billion savages breathing down your neck. I’m not into easy, however.

    May this cartoonist live the rest of his vapid life without the benefit of Jewish science, medicine, engineering, music, literature and art.

  38. Actually, although the nose is big–it’s a caricature after all–it looks nothing like the typical Jewish nose, which is usually bent. And everyone who knows what’s going on in Gaza will agree that the metaphor depicted in this cartoon describes quite correctly the whole Jewish-Palestinian situation.

    But I guess when Jews come up with the stereotype of, say, the Easter Europeans (“Borat”) it’s called a comedy. When the subject is the Jews, it’s anti-semitism. Give me a break.

    1. Interesting that you say “Jews.” I’m not aware that Sasha Baron Cohen is a conjoined twin, so I assume you’re referring to the Jewish cabal that controls the entertainment industry?

      And thanks for enlightening us on what “the typical Jewish nose, which is usually bent” looks like. Did you look that up in Nott and Gliddon’s The Types of Mankind, or is that just based on your own personal racial typology?

    2. “Actually, although the nose is big–it’s a caricature after all–it looks nothing like the typical Jewish nose, which is usually bent”.

      A few posters here have described Jewish noses, I’d like to point out that this is a stereotype and not a fact. Jewish noses come in many shapes and sizes like other cultures. If you put a hundred Israelis in a room with a hundred, say Lebanese or Palestinians, you’d be hard pressed to pick out who was who (all other factors being equal). Is this person Jewish:

      or not Jewish?

      BTW, Borat is from Kazakhstan, which is in Central Asia.

      1. Of course, not all Jews have a bent nose, just like all Portuguese are not construction workers, or all Muslims are not Koran literalists. I don’t think you understand how stereotypes work.

        Netanyahu’s nose in the cartoon is not the stereotypical Jewish nose.

        And we all know Borat was basically two-hours long Polish joke. I guess placing it in Kazakhstan was the right strategy: it had worked for your defence.

        1. You didn’t use the word “stereotypical”, you said, “…typical Jewish nose…”.

          Borat, according to Cohen, was based on a Russian he once met. He first changed the character to Moldavian, then Albanian and then to someone from Kazakhstan, but not Polish. But fine, I’ll cede your point about Eastern European.

  39. I realize that this thread may have run it’s course, but I’m fairly shocked by the number of commenters who have prefaced their defenses of the cartoon with statements like “I don’t know much about the Blood Libel…”


    Because if you DID know, you would see that the imagery in the cartoon could hardly be considered innocent. Just do a google image search for “Blood Libel” and browse the first several dozen images that come up. Make note of the faces of the Jews, which are twisted and evil, animalistic, etc. Disabuse yourself of the idea that the only Jewish facial stereotypes involve “big noses.” Notice the number of images where Christian bodies are piled up, blood draining from them, holding knives (which, by the way, bear more than a passing resemblance to Netanyahu’s trowel in the cartoon). Recall that one of the elements of the Blood Libel is the allegation that Jews mix the blood of Christian innocents to make haroset, the symbolic “mortar” in the Passover seder, or to mix with flour when baking matzoh.

    Here’s a nice example for comparison from Der Sturmer:

    I’d say this cartoonist knew exactly what he was doing, and if not, he should be censured for gross ignorance and insensitivity. A lot of the same ignorance I’m seeing in these comments. There is a time and a place for debating Israeli policies towards Palestine. As Jerry pointed out multiple times, perhaps that time is not Holocaust Memorial Day.

    There is also an acceptable, civil way to conduct this discussion, and that does not involve images that are blatantly, overtly anti-Semitic, as this cartoon most undeniably is.

    Remember, just because you don’t interpret or regard something as offensive doesn’t mean it isn’t. Perhaps you simply aren’t sensitized enough to the context. Or perhaps, like several commenters here openly admit, you simply don’t know your history.

    1. “Blood libel” typically refers to the claim that Jews use Christian blood, specifically the blood of Christian children, in their rituals. The cartoon does not refer to Christians — it is Palestinians who are bleeding in this piece.

      1. Oh, I see. So in order for something to invoke something else, it has to literally and completely reproduce all elements of that other thing. So, by that logic, if one were to draw a cartoon where President Obama is wearing a Hitler moustache, one couldn’t accuse the cartoonist of comparing Obama to Hitler, because, after all, Hitler was German

      2. Sorry, you are wrong. Blood libel encompasses Muslim children as well. Check with any Arabic website and with programmes beamed from Egyptian TV to the whole Arabic world. Moreover, in the Arab world it is not only children who are victims of those “Talmudic practices”, as they call them.

    2. And just because you interpret something as offensive doesn’t mean that was the intended message.

      In some ways you sound like the conservatives who were all suspicious because Obama’s “Forward” slogan is a term also used by Communist parties.

      Similarity does not automatically imply relationships. Don’t treat it as such.

      And you know, at some point, reacting so vigorously to perceived offenses that aren’t intended as such do more to perpetuate the subject matter than to leave it in the dustbin of history where it should belong.

      Until and unless someone demonstrates to me that this cartoon means more than just a commentary on Israel’s policies, I won’t join you in your offense.

      1. I guess you probably don’t feel compelled to, and I can’t influence that.

        There’s an enormous difference between using arguments about civility and offense to close down rational debate, and to characterize images or speech that encourage prejudice and hate. Many of the commentators here are decrying the former, when this cartoon is really a case of the latter. Claims that objections to the anti-Semitism in the cartoon are somehow analogous to shouting anti-Semitism when Israeli policy is question are off-base. Jerry’s point–and mine–is that this cartoon knowingly invokes ugly visual stereotypes that are intensely offensive and hurtful for Jews. I don’t recall Jerry saying that one can’t criticize Israeli policy in another context.

        Here’s a basic rule of thumb I try to follow: if one is not a member of a group of people that has historically been marginalized/dehumanized/exterminated, then one does not get a fucking vote in deciding what images or speech members of that group are allowed to find offensive. That is not the same thing as granting members of those groups carte blanche to shut down any discussion by crying prejudice. But it does encourage one to try to have a little perspective. You don’t have to be offended by the cartoon. But please be aware of what your high-minded lecturing sounds like.

        Now I don’t know anything about you. But given that you think anti-Semitism is something that only exists in the “dustbin of history,” I’m guessing that you’re not someone for whom this kind of issue has personal relevance.

        And if you’re going to make pronouncements like this, have some balls and post under your real name.

        1. “this cartoon knowingly invokes ugly visual stereotypes that are intensely offensive and hurtful for Jews”

          Have you demonstrated that it *knowingly* did these things? I don’t believe you or Jerry did. If you did, please point it out and I will change my mind.

          “But given that you think anti-Semitism is something that only exists in the “dustbin of history,””

          That’s not at all what I said. Please stop reading in more than I said.

          I was not referring to the facts of history but to the baggage that gets carried along with it. People need to know about the holocaust and anti-Semitism, but do they really need to know the details of, for example, “blood libel” and to forever be careful of associating a Jewish person and blood? Or as another example do they need to always be intimately familiar with every way that black people have been historically described and always avoid repeating that? Is there a real benefit to carrying that forward?

          “And if you’re going to make pronouncements like this, have some balls and post under your real name.”

          It has nothing to do with balls. I use this ID all over the web. I’m sure you could find my real name relatively easily if you wanted to. It’s Nick Bauer.

          1. Nick:

            “People need to know about the holocaust and anti-Semitism, but do they really need to know the details of, for example, “blood libel” and to forever be careful of associating a Jewish person and blood? Or as another example do they need to always be intimately familiar with every way that black people have been historically described and always avoid repeating that? Is there a real benefit to carrying that forward?”

            You sound like one of those people who feels put out that you have to keep watching out for the feelings of those oversensitive minorities. After all, slavery ended 150 years ago! The Holocaust was in the 1940s! Women have had the vote since 1920! Being gay isn’t against the law (most places) anymore! I mean, c’mon, can’t we just move on, people?

            Your comments show astonishing ignorance of the way prejudice and racism work. Yes, we do need to know the details of the Blood Libel precisely because that is still an icon of hatred towards Jews in the anti-Semitic discourse in Eastern Europe, the middle east, and elsewhere. You want to bury your head in the sand, which is precisely what allows images of hatred to be disseminated unchallenged. It is only by being educated and aware of the symbols of hatred and oppression that we can be vigilant now in stamping them out.

            I really don’t feel like arguing with you anymore about something that you should have picked up from a freshman history class. If you don’t get why people are still sensitive about historical prejudice, that’s your problem, not theirs. But maybe you should talk less and listen more, or read a couple of books or something.

            1. Sensitive about prejudice is not the same thing as seeing prejudice in things that may well not actually be prejudice.

              “You sound like one of those people who feels put out that you have to keep watching out for the feelings of those oversensitive minorities.”

              Reading into people’s motivations is a passion of yours, isn’t it? There is real prejudice and racism out there, and there are also those who react to what may well be largely innocuous as if it were real prejudice and racism. Can you not see the distinction I’m making?

              And you have still not demonstrated that this cartoon “knowingly” did anything. I’m awaiting your evidence.

      2. “And you know, at some point, reacting so vigorously to perceived offenses that aren’t intended as such do more to perpetuate the subject matter than to leave it in the dustbin of history where it should belong”.

        Wow! That’s quite a statement. So when black people are offended by the word “nigger” they are actually perpetuating the racism that should be tossed in the dustbin of history? If only they weren’t so touchy about a mere word. Yes, I’ve heard that argument before and I don’t agree.

        Before WWII, there were about 16 million Jews, after about 10 million. About 40% of them were exterminated. If I were Jewish, I would be hyper-vigilant about “perceived offenses”, especially since there are millions of people who openly state that they want to wipe them from the face of the Earth. Every single day. Now. Not perceived. Actual.

        1. You’ll note that I specified “that aren’t intended as such”.

          There are absolutely disgusting things that people say and do about groups of people. As far as the n-word, there won’t ever be another meaning of that, and it is a very specific combination of sounds and letters. But make sure that you are getting offended when someone actually says that word, not when they actually said “niggardly”, or that they aren’t reading from Huck Finn.

  40. From The Times this morning:

    “The acting Editor of The Sunday Times will today meet representatives of the Jewish community to apologise after the newspaper printed a controversial cartoon by Gerald Scarfe featuring the Israeli Prime Minister, Binyamin Netanyahu.

    “Martin Ivens said that insulting the memory of Holocaust victims was “the last thing I or anyone connect with The Sunday Times would countenance” after the Board of Deputies of British Jews said it had lodged a complaint with the Press Complaints Commission. “The paper was long written strongly in defence of Israel and its security concerns, as have I as a columnist”, he said.

    “Rupert Murdoch, the Chairman of News Corporation, the parent company of the The Times and Sunday Times, wrote on Twitter from New York last night: “Gerald Scarfe has never reflected the opinions of the The Sunday Times. Nevertheless, we owe major apology for grotesque, offensive cartoon.” ”

  41. Readers of this website may like to know of this statement that was issued today. The Sunday Times and the cartoonist, Gerald Scarfe, have apologised for their mistake.

    BICOM, the Board of Deputies of British Jews, the Community Security Trust, and the Jewish Leadership Council have issued the following statement

    There was a meeting at 4pm today (Tuesday 29 January) between representatives of the Jewish Community and the Sunday Times Senior Editorial Team and News International Corporate Affairs:

    In the meeting the Jewish Community organisations present made the following points:

    Jews (and others) throughout the country reacted to this cartoon with a visceral disgust that is unprecedented in recent years. This was due to the gratuitous and offensive nature of the image, made worse by its use of blood and its being published by Britain’s leading Sunday newspaper on Holocaust Memorial Day.
    Blood has a long and ugly tradition within the history of anti-Semitism, premised upon the notorious medieval Blood Libel, with Jews being alleged to steal the blood of others for religious purposes. The use of blood, including on occasion the actual Blood Libel, persists in extreme Arab and Iranian anti-Israel propaganda. It is a profoundly disturbing example of the adaptation of anti-Semitism for modern day usage.
    These historical and contemporary contexts have racist impacts upon victims and proponents alike. This is why so many Jews were wounded by the cartoon, regardless of the initial motivations of Gerald Scarfe and the Sunday Times.
    In response Sunday Times Acting Editor Martin Ivens said:

    “I’m grateful so many community leaders could come together at such short notice. You will know that the Sunday Times abhors anti-Semitism and would never set out to cause offence to the Jewish people – or any other ethnic or religious group. That was not the intention last Sunday. Everyone knows that Gerald Scarfe is consistently brutal and bloody in his depictions, but last weekend – by his own admission – he crossed a line. The timing – on Holocaust Memorial Day – was inexcusable. The associations on this occasion were grotesque and on behalf of the paper I’d like to apologise unreservedly for the offence we clearly caused. This was a terrible mistake.”

    1. It is fine to apologize to people who find themselves offended. Rupert Murdoch has a business to think about as well.

      The author of the cartoon has stated in unqualified terms that no antisemitism was intended, and that he has no antisemitic feelings at all.

      The apology in no way means the original intended message should be ignored or discounted.

      Now that those whose feelings were hurt are placated, perhaps the original message can be addressed and discussed absent the unnecessary emotion.

      Here is, by the way, a Jewish writer in an Israeli publication arguing against the idea that this cartoon is antisemitic in the least.

    2. As all atheists well know, there are plenty of religious figures whose profession, or at least part of their job description, might be described as getting offended and exaggerating the horrible and unique persecutions they suffer in the name of their religion, and making sure to publicly air their indignation in the most emphatic terms possible.

      This tactic is used as a distraction from the reasons why their religion or politics might legitimately be criticized. If we all cowered in fear any time a religious person told us how offended they are, then we would need to passively accept that any religious figure is shielded by an impenetrable immunity.

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