London Sunday Times cartoonist Gerald Scarfe was quick to deny anti-Semitic undertones in his recent depiction of a monstrous Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu cementing the security barrier with the blood of victimized Palestinians, whose arms flail in agony and whose tortured faces are seen screaming among the red-streaked bricks. This cartoon was published on International Holocaust Remembrance Day – of all days.
Here it must be interjected that most anti-Semites nowadays are remarkably practiced in accompanying their invective with such instant disclaimers – by now an expected part of the pattern.
It is politically incorrect to even hint at their thinly disguised anti-Semitism. That immediately turns them into the muzzled good guys and the protesters into loathsome Jews seeking to silence yet more righteous critics of Israel with their doomsday weapon – charges of anti-Semitism.
Moreover, any remote reference to the Holocaust is sure to elicit howls of derision. This diabolical yet prevalent deformation of perceptions confers on all anti-Semites the freedom to slander, while denying Jews the right to speak the truth.
It is a foolproof arrangement. Jew-revulsion now masquerades behind inflammatory anti-Israel and pro-Arab propaganda, whose disseminators inevitably deny anti- Semitism. Their favorite ploy is to present Israel-bashing as just deserts for the Jewish state’s policies.
Post-Holocaust circumspection has bred cleverly camouflaged anti-Semitism – not less dangerous or less in-your-face but more cunning and deceptive.
Scarfe is only one of many. The British establishment, which defends him on the grounds of “freedom of expression,” would have been scandalized had anything similar smeared Muslims or indeed anyone of Asian or African ancestry. In their case it would have been incitement to hate.
There is an eerily comparable British precedent for Scarfe’s vulgar defamation, published exactly 10 years ago.
It targeted then-prime minister Ariel Sharon, no less gruesomely. A naked Sharon is shown devouring a Palestinian baby, with a “Vote Likud” ribbon functioning as his fig leaf. Not only was Dave Brown’s obscenity in The Independent not denounced, but it gallingly went on to win the Cartoon of the Year prize at the British Political Cartoon Society’s annual competition.
At the time of its publication, Israel’s embassy in London issued the following statement: “As Britain commemorates Holocaust Day, it is shocking that The Independent has chosen to evoke an ancient Jewish stereotype which would not have looked out of place in Der Stürmer, and which can unfortunately still be found in many Arabic newspapers.
“The blood-thirsty imagery not only misrepresents the real reason for the IDF’s operations in Gaza, but also feeds the hostility toward Israel and the Jewish people which lies at the very core of the Arab-Israeli conflict… One must be extremely careful to draw the line between legitimate criticism and the anti-Semitism that often parades as such.”
This same statement could have been made today, and was indeed closely echoed this week. The only difference is the pretext for what can only be seen as a latter-day revival of the medieval blood-libel (which incidentally originated circa 1144 in Norwich, England).
The IDF’s anti-terror offensive of 2002 was replaced by the anti-terror barrier that has drastically reduced Arab terror outrages on Israeli civilians in the heart of Israel. The cold-blooded slaughter of innocent Israelis, which necessitated the fence (that only in few segments looms as a wall), has somehow never elicited the indignation of British opinion-molders. Neither has the cynical use of Arab children as explosives-smugglers or as human shields.
Scarfe’s distasteful cartoon is not a justifiable response to Israeli policy because it miserably fails Jewish Agency chairman Natan Sharansky’s “3-D test.” Judeophobia must be suspected when purported criticism slips into demonization,delegitimization and double-standards. Scarfe resorted to crude demonization, had delegitimized the Jewish state’s right to even passive self-defense (the fence) and evinces gross double-standards in ignoring the genocidal atrocities perpetrated by Israel’s enemies.
Rupert Murdoch, CEO of News Corp which owns The Sunday Times, has apologized for the cartoon he described as “grotesque,” “offensive” and unrepresentative of the newspaper’s opinions. Regretfully, though, the paper itself stood by Scarfe’s spurious spin-off of a malicious calumny that for centuries cost untold numbers of Jewish lives.