Anti-Semitism 'Rears Its Ugly Head' In Arab Press Cartoons On Palestinian Statehood Bid

New York, NY, October 6, 2011 … The Palestinian effort to seek full membership in the United Nations was big news in the Arab media – and the focus of a number of editorial cartoons in Muslim and Arab newspapers across the Middle East. 

Many of those caricatures, which focused on the declared intention of the United States to veto the membership bid should it come to a vote in the Security Council, were rife with vicious anti-Semitic caricatures and stereotypes, according to the Anti-Defamation League, which today released a compilation of selected cartoons on this theme appearing in recent weeks in mainstream daily newspapers across the Middle East. The images illustrate how the Arab media continues to promote anti-Semitic imagery and conspiracy theories about Jewish and Israeli "control" of international forums and the U.S. government, depicting President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu using grotesque imagery and anti-Jewish themes.

"Anti-Semitism is once again the leitmotif for cartoon commentary Muslim and Arab newspapers since the Palestinians took their statehood bid at the United Nations," said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director. "Rearing its ugly head in the visual depiction of stereotypical hook-nosed or black-hatted images of Jews plotting to control the United States government and the world is a theme lifted right out of the 'Protocols of the Elders of Zion.' Arab newspaper cartoonists have been engaging in this type of anti-Semitic incitement for decades, and yet it is especially troubling in the current context, the very antithesis of encouraging peacemaking."

In the run-up to the Palestinian statehood bid, editorial cartoons on the subject appeared in newspapers in Jordan, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Syria, Jordan, the Palestinian territories and elsewhere in the region. Many called up traditional anti-Semitic stereotypes.

Some cartoonists demonized American and Israeli opposition to the Palestinian appeal by playing on themes of Jewish and Israeli domination and control of the United States, President Barack Obama or the U.N. A cartoon appearing on Sept. 30 in the Qatari daily newspaper Al-Watan typifies that sentiment: A caricature of a bearded Orthodox Jew with hook nose and black hat is shown in the driver's seat of an automobile, his hand resting on a stick-shift representing President Barack Obama's head, and the steering wheel in the shape of the U.N. symbol.

Other recent examples of this theme include:

  • A smiling President Obama and an American flag stick out of the suit-pocket pocket of a fat-cat Jew with a Star of David emblazoned on his tie (Ad-Dustur, Jordan, Sept. 23).
  • Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Obama as serpents entwined around the globe with a caption that reads, "American foreign policy in the Middle East" (As-Sabil, Jordan Sept. 25).
  • A Palestinian Arab man wearing a shirt that reads "The Palestinian State" is shown being crucified on the letter "T" in the word "VETO" (Tishrin, Syria, Sept. 22).

The Anti-Defamation League was founded in 1913 to stop the defamation of the Jewish people and to secure justice and fair treatment to all. Today it is the world’s leading organization combating anti-Semitism, exposing hate groups, training law enforcement on hate crimes, developing anti-bias education programs for students, countering cyber-hate and relentlessly pursuing equal rights for all.

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