Sunday 27 January 2013

Gerald Scarfe cements hate on Holocaust Memorial Day

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. 

Today is Holocaust Memorial Day. Traditionally, and in line with common decency, it is a day to remember the atrocities of the Second World War, particularly the six million Jewish people slaughtered at the hands of Hitler.
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.


  1. It's a bit sad when you confuse legitimate criticism of the Israeli government with anti-semitism. Should we condemn critics of American government policy as anti-American? I would hope there are enough intelligent people around for this not to be the case.

    1. Hi Michael. Consider this. On the same day the cartoon appeared, the mayor of Bethlehem issued an order barring direct contact with Israel.

      Mayor Abdel Fattah Hamayel is actually angered that Israeli organisations are attempting to open dialogue and foster cooperation with their counterparts on the Palestinian side. In response to those overtures from Israel, Hamayel has strictly forbidden all municipal councils, trade institutions and NGOs in the Bethlehem area to talk to the Israelis.

      In his statement, Hamayel declared: 'In wake of repeated Israeli calls to deal directly with Palestinian municipalities and institutions and hold meetings and conferences with the Israeli side, it is forbidden to have direct contact or coordination with Israel.'

      Hamayel and other Palestinian Authority officials want all contact between Palestinians and Israelis to only go through the PA's District Coordinating Office, and has condemned any external contact as 'promoting normalization.'

      How about some criticism of this development, which would appear to further contradict the assertion that Israel is to blame for the lack of coexistence in the area?

  2. Please, Michael, no-one has confused "legitimate criticism of the Israeli government" with anti-Semitism. Both Ward and Scarfe go way beyond "legitimate criticism of the Israeli government." For analysis of why that's the case, you may find these links helpful:

  3. You're right Michael. It's very sad when legitimate criticism of the Israel government is confused with anti-Semitism. Scarfe's 'criticism', however, is not 'legitimate'. Not to put too fine a point on it, the cartoon feeds of a scurrilous lie. Netanyahu is not killing Palestinians. He has said he will be the first to recognise a Palestinian state when the Palestinians recognise Israel as a Jewish state. This is something the Abbas government, the Egyptian government, Hezbollah and Hamas refuse to do.

  4. I thought this article was pertinent:

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