December 26, 2018
ADL has been monitoring anti-Semitic editorial cartoons in newspapers across the Middle East for decades. One regular source of such cartoons, which blatantly demonize Jews, is the Qatari media, notably by cartoonist Umayya Juha.
The prevalence of these highly problematic depictions led ADL to contact Qatar’s Ambassador to the United States, His Excellency Meshal bin Hamad Al Thani calling for action.
Backed by ADL’s long time and systematic monitoring of Qatari and other regional media, ADL was able to provide a sample of cartoons spanning a number of years, which cross the line from legitimate criticism of Israel or its policies into overt anti-Semitism. These cartoons draw on the worst kind of anti-Semitic themes and give them new life, including conspiracy theories of Jewish world domination; blood libels; the association of Zionism with Nazism; the demonization and dehumanization of Israel and Jews; the invocation of William Shakespeare’s Shylock; and the use of stereotypical medieval Jewish imagery.
For examples, the cartoons depict both President Trump and his predecessor, President Obama as puppets in the hand of Israel and the U.S. flag’s stars replaced by Stars of David. They also include medieval Jewish figures relishing in drinking goblets of Palestinian blood and devouring the flesh of al-Aqsa Mosque, depicted as a steak. Demonization and dehumanization of Israel and Jews are similarly common in such cartoons and are manifest in the formers’ depiction as an octopus, a snake, a pig and a wolf. One cartoon includes a giant swastika marked with a Star of David and it is shown crushing Arab figures.
The Qatari government has a moral responsibility to act against the propagation of such manifestations of anti-Semitism, but it doesn’t end there. In fact, its failure to intervene is only heightened by the fact that such cartoons are in violation of the emirate’s own press law, as ADL’s letter points to.
Indeed, Qatar’s foundational 1979 press law prohibits – under penalty of closure, fines, or jail time – the publication of “any ridicule of or contempt toward any of the religions or their doctrines, including any motivation of sectarian, racial, or religious trends” or any content that harms goodwill toward a person through “defamation.”
ADL’s letter emphasizes the real consequences such defamation could have and urges the Qatari government to stand up to hatred and enforce its own laws, instead of turning a blind eye to them. We await the Ambassador’s reply, and the Emirate’s action.
Following are examples of such cartoons: