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).

ADL is the world’s leading anti-hate organization. Founded in 1913 in response to an escalating climate of anti-Semitism and bigotry, its timeless mission is to protect the Jewish people and to secure justice and fair treatment for all. Today, ADL continues to fight all forms of hate with the same vigor and passion. A global leader in exposing extremism, delivering anti-bias education, and fighting hate online, ADL is the first call when acts of anti-Semitism occur. ADL’s ultimate goal is a world in which no group or individual suffers from bias, discrimination or hate.