Disclaimer: There is a distinct line between opposition to the Gaza conflict, opposition to the concept Zionism however it may be defined, opposition to either the general policies of Israel or the state of Israel itself, and opposition to Judaism. All very different ideas, even if they are interrelated. This entry focuses on the latter of the four, and the blurring of the line between it and the other three on deviantART. I do not accuse any person or persons mentioned below of anti-Semitism, and ultimately leave the judgment up to the reader. You are permitted and encouraged to copy, modify, and redistribute this journal. Updates made without notice. Due to the activity of the deviantART administration, some links to images may be broken.
Now, despite being generally supportive of Israel's existence as a state, I'm at a point where I can understand the intentions behind recent pro-Palestinian protests. I've spoken with protestors on either side and have come to the conclusion that either side wants a quick resolution. Since most of these protestors live in the same city, they can reasonably interact outside the context of activism.
Then there's deviantART.
This image made the front page on deviantART on January 25th 2009, under "most popular." It does not belong to the account holder, but to Turkish cartoonist Ibrahim Mozdabak. There's a number of different artists featured on Ademmm's page, including Carlos Latuff. I'll cover him later. Did Ademmm attain permission from these several artists to redistribute their work in such a manner? I'll give the benefit of the doubt, if only to appease the conspiracy-driven persecution complex arising from copyright violations within deviantART policy (page removed.) Of course, anyone who argues with him is "in on it," nay, a liar. But as suggested by this journal's title, this digresses from my focus. I'll touch on the "lies" claim later.
I find fascinating that in the deviation's description, there's a link to the website of a Holocaust denier, but again, that's beside the point and I wont use that exclusively to accuse ademmm of directing his aggression against Jews, not just Israelis.
Before going any further, let me be clear about the definition of anti-Semitism. It's a term that's often thrown around, has multiple definitions based on opinion, and can be picked to pieces with little agreement. Assuming they believe it exists, I'd normally adopt the definition used by the cartoonists I'm addressing here, but as said before, there's no agreement. For neutrality and simplicity, I'll stick with the definition provided by the Merriam-Webster Dictionary:
an·tiSem·i·tism noun hostility toward or discrimination against Jews as a religious, ethnic, or racial group.
Jews can be depicted in the above case by religion, race/ethnicity (erroneously,) nationality (very erroneously,) and culture.
Does anti-Semitism refer to Semites, namely the Arab population?
The term itself was coined in 1880 by Wilhelm Marr, who later founded the Antisemiten-Liga, or League of Anti-Semites. The publication the word first appeared in and the League accused Jews of secretly controlling Germany and advocated for their forced removal. At no point were Arabs or any other Semites addressed.
That means anti-Zionists, anti-Israel activists, anti-globalists, and anti-Americans will not fit into the category of anti-Semitism, unless in some fashion they cross into that territory.
Anyway, back to the pirate flag with the Magen David: not really out of the ordinary in the world of mainstream activism, and thus not necessarily anti-Semitic...until you dig into the poster's gallery. Then it gets scary.
This image, uploaded shortly before the popular pirate flag one, was the first to hit me: a four-panel cartoon by Mozdabak, featuring a Magen David-shaped tick embedded in a mass of skin entitled "Ortadoğu." A pair of forceps attempts to remove the organism.
In context, Mozdabak printed this in 2006. Ortadoğu refers to the Turkish newspaper Ortadoğu Gazetesi, which leads me to believe that the artist was advocating the censorship of Jewish viewpoints from the publication (When a color other than blue, a Magen David is as much a symbol of Judaism as it is of Israel.)
Mozdabak repeats this in this cartoon, in which Jews are compared to vultures.
Comparing Jews to ticks, vultures, insects, or other parasites is nothing new. Nazi propaganda routinely applied animal attributes to the Jews, as did Mein Kampf:
"the [Jewish] qualities of egoism come into their own, and in the twinkling of an eye the united people turns into a horde of rats, fighting bloodily among themselves."
"...he was never a nomad, but only and always a parasite in the body of other peoples."
"His spreading is a typical phenomenon for all parasites; he always seeks a new feeding ground for his race."
"Their [Jewish] apparently great sense of solidarity is based on the very primitive herd instinct that is seen in many other living creatures... The same pack of wolves which has fallen on its prey together disintegrates when hunger abates ... The same is true of horses which try to defend themselves ... in a body, but scatter again ..."
-Mein Kampf, 1962 translation
German World War II propaganda, artist unknown
This is all within a range of seven pages. Apart from ticks, vultures, wolves, rats, and intestinal parasites, I've seen admitted anti-Semites draw similarities between the Jews and worms, locusts, mosquitoes, bats, apes, pigs, octopuses, serpents, dogs, and hyenas. The goal here is dehumanization.
But wait! These cartoons aren't about the Jewish PEOPLE, they're about the Israeli GOVERNMENT! Served! Nnnnnnnnnnnot quite; that distinction is surprisingly seldom made. Sure, if it's a polemic about Sharon or Olmert, it's fair game, but does it necessarily stay within these bounds? In other words, will the most visible anti-Israel cartoonists on deviantART resist generalizing about the typical Israeli citizen?
In a word, no.
For balance, I do not assume that a Palestinian citizen is going to support Hamas, even though Hamas came to power in Gaza through due democratic process. Even if international protestors support Hamas, a fundamentally anti-Semitic organization, I do not assume they're anti-Semitic themselves, even if they are aware of the wording of the Hamas charter.
At least the founding members of Hamas can be accused of an anti-Semitism not dissimilar to that adopted by Nazism, as the preamble to the Hamas Charter states that the primary goal is to eliminate "[Israel] as it had eliminated its predecessors." Article 7 of the same charter quotes a hadith oft-repeated in more anti-Semitic circles in the Muslim world, "The Day of Judgment will not come about until Muslims fight the Jews. When the Jew will hide behind stones and trees, the stones and trees will say O Muslims, O Abdulla, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him." In Article 22, Hamas accuses the Jews of creating the French Revolution, the Russian Revolution, both World Wars, the Freemasons, and Rotary Clubs. In order for World War II to have been an advantage to the Jews, as the charter claims, Hamas would have to adopt Holocaust denial, which they do. Finally, Article 32 of the charter argues support for The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, a Russian hoax sporadically found in school books distributed by the Palestinian National Authority.
Even after all this, I can say with the utmost confidence that the majority of protestors against the Gaza conflict or Palestinian occupation are not anti-Semitic by most definitions. Even the minority of those protestors that have actually read the charter of the organization they support.
Shame I can't say the same for the cartoonists.
Remember Mr. Mozdabak, the guy who made the front page on deviantART? Well, here's a comic of his from 2006:
Not an Israeli official, not an IDF member, but a common Israeli citizen gloating over violence in Gaza, represented as a Haredi Jew with an aquiline nose. Again, the Nazis used this archetype extensively in anti-Semitic propaganda.
Again, this comes from the same year (page) as the Jew-tick cartoon from earlier. The poster would have been well aware of this blatantly racist image.
While the Mozdabak cartoon does not appear on deviantART, this does, courtesy of Carlos Latuff. Again, mockery of the common Israeli citizen. Note that all the Israelis in the cartoon display the same characteristics: black or formerly black hair, pale skin, kippahs for the men, and traditionally-kept payot, sidelocks, for the man in the foreground. Remember that only 75% of Israeli citizens are ethnically Jewish, and less than half of those consider themselves "traditional" (In context, 98.7% of Gaza citizens are Muslim, mostly Sunni, and 99.4% are Arab.)
Odd that all Jews in the Latuffverse are obliged to wear kippahs, but with the exception of one woman in the picture with a hijab, none of the men in the Palestinian half of the picture can be seen with a kufi. That would be stereotyping. Remember, these are not major figures, but common citizens being targeted by Latuff for mockery.
Okay, I'm not going to blanket anyone as an anti-Semite without a full investigation of his work. That would be like calling Robert Crumb an anti-Semite and a racist against blacks because he released two (admittedly not-serious) comics featuring the classic stereotypes. Latuff is quick to deny anti-Semitic leanings in his body of work, stating that A: Not all of his cartoons focus on Israel, B: that his focus is not on Judaism, but on Israeli policy, and C: that he uses Jewish symbolism in his cartoons because Israel uses Jewish symbolism on their flag and seal.
A is a clearly flawed argument because probably no anti-Semitic individual or organization exists that focuses exclusively on Jew-bashing. Even the Nazis devoted the majority of their time to economic, environmental, and artistic reform, not to mention dividing their hate between not only Jews, but also Roma, blacks, homosexuals, communists, and Americans among myriad others.
B as seen in the interview also rings highly questionable. Should he deny that his work is in one way or another showing an inverse of religious favoritism, then he should also condemn the religious aspects of Hamas, Hezbollah, and the Supreme Leadership of Iran, something I have yet to see. In fact, in 2006, Latuff entered and won second place in the Iran Holocaust Cartoon Contest, funded by the Iranian government, which lo and behold, featured and endorsed Holocaust denial and anti-Semitic caricature. Bear in mind that Persian Jews have a long history of persecution by the powers that be; again, quite flatly ignored.
C: If that is the case, then any and every picture I see from Latuff with Jewish symbolism should bear resemblance to Israeli government icons, and nothing else. The above-listed cartoon, which features thinly-veiled caricature of civilians, fails to meet that criteria.
More disturbing cartoons that Latuff had done:
Keep in mind that this does not represent the majority of his gallery. While most cartoons of the admitted anti-American are intended to be against, say, the government in Jerusalem, Zionism, America's government, and any vague form of authority in Brazil and Sweden, he will take offense if you dare state the obvious.
Read carefully the excerpt from the Norman Finkelstein interview Latuff posted in the description of that last link: Finkelstein's criticisms are not against the Israelis, which represent roughly 40% of the world Jewish population, but the Jews as a whole.
Is the word "anti-Semitism" thrown around a lot? Yes. But based on the images shown, does that immunize Latuff against the accusation of anti-Semitism? That's highly questionable.
A bigger question: is it really an issue of misuse of the accusation, or is he just digging for excuses to be a racist?
Animal attribution again. Note the SS helmet on the Jew-bit, and the animal attribution applied to the Arab League, which Latuff criticized in earlier cartoons for not being extreme enough.
But FENRIS! Furries are common in cartooning!
Look through Latuff's gallery and you'll notice a pattern: the good guys are human, the bad guys are either human or animal.
This cuts close to idolatry, and with the rifle, no attempt is made to give this militant the appearance of rationale. We've already established that Hamas is anti-Semitic.
A man who commits acts of juvenile violence is "the hero of the Iraqi people." Two years ago, the hero was a mass murderer that may not have existed.
I'm not sure the direction here: is he praising the high suicide rate among the US military, or criticizing the system that makes them prone? I'm hedging my bets on this one.
The squinted expression suggests this militant is celebrating the death of American soldiers.
It's not the militance motif that scares me so much as the facelessness of the militant. The obscured face was a recurring element in Waffen-Schutzstaffel recruitment posters. Not to mention it recalls that image of frozen-faced Farfour miming a machine gun for the children on Tomorrow's Pioneers.
Another image advocating violence against Israel. Look at the date, and you'll realize this is not a glib reference to the shoe-thrower journalist.
Violence against Americans, this time with deadly weapons.
And again. Animal attribution.
Another classic canard: Comparisons to vampirism have been documented within such canards as blood libel and the Franklin prophecy hoax.
The "You can't trust the media" meme is even more popular among conspiracy theorists. So often the goal here, little to Latuff's alarm, is to pigeonhole the viewer into a set of "approved" media. Very cultlike.
At this point, this does undoubtedly deviate from the original thesis: anti-Semitism on deviantART. Or does it? Let's look at these again: animal attribution? Violence against the citizenry? Conspiracy theories? Faceless fighters? Remember that the disclaimer at the top of the page said that the lines are blurred.
Latuff's response to the May 2010 raid of the "Freedom Flotilla." Note the resemblance to a 1938 cartoon by Josef Plank, featuring an octopus with a Magen David on its head.
This seems straightforward enough...until you discover that this has been circulating on 4chan for years.
Remember Point C from a few paragraphs above? This could easily be a defense of the claim about using Jewish symbolism because it's used by the Israeli government. One small problem:
Notice anything odd between those two highly recognizable symbols? Latuff's rendition of the Israeli flag features a black Magen David as opposed to the traditional blue. There are three possible reasons: Latuff simply didn't have the extra thirty seconds to make the star blue, he is consciously trying to remove the delineation between Israel and Judaism, or he is paying homage the the "Nile to Euphrates" conspiracy theory, which holds that the blue stripes on the flag represent the proposed expanse of Israel's territory (promoted by Hamas, which Latuff has abundantly demonstrated he supports, in their Covenant.)
This cartoon is especially fascinating: Latuff's villain here bears resemblance to the poster released by Leest Storm in 1944, (Similarities include the Klan hood, the black Magen David between the knees, and the automatic weapon in the right hand.) However, there's a special element it uses that made Martin Luther famous.
In a way, Martin Luther, author of On the Jews and Their Lies, is the grandfather of the modern polemic. He was one of the first to use a special wording: no matter what may have been his opponents' understanding of Luther's views, he defaulted to calling whomever he hated a "liar." It's a recurring element today: your opponent is a liar by virtue of simply disagreeing with you, independent of factual accuracy or the right to opinion. Before that time, the "liar" accusation was reserved for either verified bouts of dishonesty and as a metaphor for immorality (for example, Satan is described as the "father of lies.") That change in debate strategy, of course, gives artist-activists liberty to demonize whichever regular Joe dares disagree with them.
Speaking of, BenHeine, the man depicted in the above picture, also has an interesting history of Jew-hate. Like Latuff, Heine partipated in the Iran-funded Holocaust cartoon competition. as the below images show:
Again, common Jewish citizen. Note the stereotypical Haredi costume and aquiline nose.
Playing up the idea that Israel and the United States have religious fundamentalism in common. Therefore, Heine's face for Israel is a stereotypical Haredi. At least he toned down the hook-nose on this one.
No textual context is given to the Magen David man behind Finkelstein, so I have no choice but to assume that simply represents Jews. Oh, and the fact that Norman Finkelstein's got a website, regular press coverage, and an overbooked schedule for public speeches suggests to me that he's not quite as persecuted as his followers make him out to be.
Yes, Ben, the Zionists are out to get you, and your little Wikipedia page, too. Take away the title and description, and you don't even have a reference to Zionism anymore, negating the possibility that this cartoon is somehow "anti-Zionist." You'll find a lot of images on deviantART like this.
Deputy Prime Minister Avigdor Leiberman as a pig. Again, pigs were a common animal attribution to Jews, not only in Nazi propaganda, but as Judensau, "Jew's pig" or "Jewish pig," prints in On the Jews and Their Lies. This is especially offensive to Jews as pigs are not considered kosher, Zionist or otherwise. Why does Heine not make that distinction between Zionist and anti-Zionist Jews?
Another image that bears resemblance to the 1944 Leest Storm poster mentioned above.
Bear in mind, I'm not COMPLETELY critical of Ben Heine. While a handful of his cartoons are inflammatory, they represent a minority of his total body of political cartoons, which in turn represents a minority of his total work, unlike Latuff. In response to the controversy generated by his Leiberman Judensau caricature (correct me if I'm wrong there,) he made a cartoon that acknowledges that Israel has to deal with a fair share of violence, and names the Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigade and Yasser Arafat (heroes to some leftist protestors) as contributors.
Update 2011: Heine has since published an open letter to the Jewish community apologizing for his cartoons and appears to have deleted them on deviantART.
Not Ben Heine's work, but equally inflammatory. The treatment of the Jews as a single race, something that most Jews tend to distance themselves from, is a concept dating back to the 15th century. Towards the end of the 15th century, race was used as a rationale in accusing Catholic converts within the Sephardi ethnic group of reverting to their old ways. Things went downhill from there. What this image implies is that violence is a genetic aspect among the Israeli citizenry.
In a similar vein, the Nation of Islam believes that all white people carry an "evil" gene, and hence are incapable of negotiating a compromise. In short, racism.
This next series is by Nizam, redistributed by ademmm. Haredi outfit, aquiline nose, lips. There are no markings here to delineate between a Jew and an Israeli. I'd call it the rough equivalent of using a blackface caricature to represent Zimbabwean dictator Robert Mugabe.
Payot, Haredi outfit, sharpened teeth, world domination conspiracy theory, complete absence of references to Israel. Still consistent with 1930s German propaganda. The image has since been removed by the administrators, it appears.
Facial features, namely aquiline nose, furrowed brow, and raised cheekbones on the depiction of Satan here bear resemblance to this photo from Der Stürmer, also captioned "der Satan." An unadorned Magen David on his shoulder, and stylized menorah. Note that while the Emblem of Israel depicts a menorah with seven branches, the one Nizam drew has six. If this cartoon were intended to criticize Israel, why make that distinction?
From cafcafdergisi.net. Aquiline nose, eyebrows, sharpened teeth, imagery reminiscent of blood libel, or consumption of Gentile children.
In the 1940s, the Jews were called parasites. In the 21st century, they're called a cancer.
Response from the Artists:
A quick search on "anti semitism" using deviantART's search reveals an odd trend: the most popular images follow the theme of evil Zionists using the claim of anti-Semitism to silence legitimate critics. Noam Chomsky and Norman Finkelstein are known for these same claims.
I assume that the authors of such cartoons have a definition for legitimate claims of anti-Semitism, but I'm rather having trouble finding it, beyond "the thing they accuse you of." Remember that I'm sticking with a combination of the Merriam-Webster definition and the Wilhelm Marr definition of anti-Semitism.
In the above images, we did, indeed, see the "villains" characterized as practitioners of Haredi Judaism (religious stereotyping,) and members of the Ashkenazi ethnic group (racial stereotyping.) In all cases, they were depicted in a hostile manner, and at times the authors advocated violence against such. Often, the targets were not officials, military, or other groups that would be within appropriate bounds of syndicated cartooning, but represented as typical Jewish citizens (not necessarily even Israelis.)
Furthermore, references were made here to propaganda common in the 1940s, which such modern-day cartoonists would acknowledge are undoubtedly anti-Semitic. These references were repeated, whether the cartoonist was aware or not (inductive reasoning suggests the latter.) A major risk is, as these cartoons become progressively more virulent, they need only point toward the "abuse of anti-Semitism" meme, and the story ends. We are already at a point where racial stereotypes apparently have an exemption within deviantART policy, and the meme is still parroted to silence their critics. That is, if they don't disable their comments and click the "hide" button where they can't disable.
Yes, there are cases in which the claim of anti-Semitism is abused, but in light of such research, and based on the most commonly accepted definition, I have no reason to believe that this journal falls into that category.
It bears repeating, this is not intended to discount the validity of anti-Zionist cartoonists, or pro-Palestinian activists. However, through the pictures shown, and through cross-references with history, one cannot deny that there are anti-Semitic cartoonists on deviantART, in violation of deviantART policy, and by the sheer volume of work on this page, that they stand largely unopposed. Many of these works have well over a thousand hits. The fact that the work of an anti-Semite made the front page on the 25th of January does not anger me, but disappoints me. I expected a little discretion and more thorough research from the pro-Palestinian members of deviantART.
Am I planning on reporting these people?
No, and I strongly encourage you not to do so, either. It is more important that this evidence is out there, to keep people aware of whom they befriend. Some of the above mentioned cartoons have since been removed, and I am more annoyed by their removal than existence to say the least. I am still quite opposed to their censorship, with the understanding that they are opposed to mine.
Yes, I'm aware that Carlos Latuff hides dissenting comments on all his artwork.