Let me say first of all that I have always admired Gerald Scarfe's cartoons. When I was a teenager I wanted to draw like him. He is the Hogarth of the 20th and 21st centuries. Of course, his drawings are often crude and scatalogical but, then, he feels passionately about his themes. And he obviously feels passionately about the plight of the Palestinians. But Scarfe's misplaced rage in the cartoon above bears the clear hallmark of 'zeal without knowledge'.
I know the point he is making: A people who have suffered so much are causing suffering to others. And who could object - if Scarfe was right. But he is wrong. Dead wrong.The following was put out today by Honest Reporting and it is worth reading Rashim Kassam's response to the drawing.
For some, however, Holocaust Memorial Day is transfiguring into a day that ‘the Jews’ or ‘Israel’ (for they will use these terms interchangeably), are to be attacked or set up, completely leaving behind the idea that the country came into existence in the wake of the greatest single crime in history.
Last week, it was Member of Parliament David Ward MP, the case of whom highlights an ever growing contingent of anti-Israel sentiment within the British government. These are the fools who would have you believe that Israel’s security barrier is 100 percent concrete, 100 feet tall, and built from the blood of Palestinians.
And who could possibly blame them for having this ill-informed idea, when their fellow MPs invite them to one-sided trips to the West Bank while at the same time referring to Hamas and Hezbollah as ‘friends’ (more on this tomorrow).
But more to the point, who can blame them when some of the country’s smartest media outlets present Israel and its leaders in this particular light: the large-nosed Jew, hunched over a wall, building with the blood of Palestinians as they writhe in pain within it.
For this is exactly what the Sunday Times has today done; not simply treading the fine line between criticism and blood libel, but indeed spitting all over it, leaving it for dust, and careering head first into anti-Semitismsville.
“Will cementing peace continue?” reads the caption beneath the image of a Quasimodo-like Netanyahu. As if this half-hearted attempt at a pun would help masquerade the overt racism within the image. No.
In conversation with a friend of mine recently, I was asked, “Do you think in 200 years time, people will have forgotten the Holocaust, or believe that it was a myth?” I naively responded, “No. I believe there are enough good people in the world to ensure that doesn’t happen.” At the time, I would never have thought the editors of the Sunday Times were in amongst those who would seek, in true Der Sturmer fashion, to use Holocaust Memorial Day to publish a blood libel, and knowingly undermine the memory of one of the worst genocides ever.
I guess I was wrong on that count. I sure hope I’m not wrong on the other.