Like any good Guardian Left contributor, Cartoonist Steve Bell seems to share the philosophy of his colleague Martin Rowson, who believes his ‘progressive mission is to ‘afflict the powerful, and comfort the afflicted’. Within this facile moral paradigm, Jews represent the former and Palestinians the latter.
In addition to the fact that some of his cartoons have evoked antisemitic narratives (or mock the very idea of antisemitic tropes), as far as we can tell Bell has never used his skills as an artist to demonize Palestinian suicide bombers – as they, it seems, even as they are igniting their murderous device, represent the ‘afflicted’. Though in at least one cartoon he mocked – as hypocritical – Israeli condemnation of said bombers.
He revisited the topic of suicide bombers in a cartoon published at the Guardian on July 21st. The cartoon was inspired by comments of the Israeli Prime Minister about Hamas’s exploitation of Palestinian casualties, in which he made the painfully obvious observation that the group puts civilians in harm’s way because they know that images of dead Palestinians in Western papers helps their cause.
Here’s the full quote, from an interview Netanyahu gave to CNN:
“These people are the worst terrorists — genocidal terrorists,” he said. “They call for the destruction of Israel and they call for the killing of every Jew, wherever they can find them.”
“They want to pile up as many civilian dead as they can,” the prime minister continued. “They use telegenically dead Palestinians for their cause. They want the more dead, the better.”
It’s not entirely clear what Bell is trying to communicate, but the suicide belt (presumably made up coffins containing dead Palestinians) on Netanyahu strongly suggests that he – not, of course, Hamas – is the one responsible for killing innocent Palestinians in Gaza.
Such visual anti-Israel agitprop, which neatly serves the cause of Palestinian extremists, is par for the course at the Guardian.
The Hamas propaganda strategy is of course dependent on Western media groups playing along, not only by highlighting every tragic Palestinian civilian death, but by also pretending that such casualties are not in fact the result of Hamas’s cynical strategy of using human shields and other tactics meant to maximize the number of casualties.
It’s difficult to understand how the Guardian can continually demonize the democratic Jewish state, while parroting the narrative of reactionary extremists, and yet, evidently, still fancy themselves a liberal institution.
One of the more ignorant claims advanced by the anti-Israeli crowd commenting at the Guardian, both above and below the line, is that the smaller number of Israeli casualties compared to Palestinian casualties represents Israeli belief that Palestinian lives are worth less – much less – than Arab lives.
The specious argument is used to complain that there is a lack of morality on the Israeli side, rather than admitting that Israel takes enormous care to protect its citizens of all religions and groups from terrorist and other armed attacks.
It is usually accompanied by two additional themes. One is the complaint that “no-one ever mentions Palestinian casualties” when in fact there is no other group whose casualties are so carefully documented and republished over and over in media and by NGOs. The other is the accusation that despite the enormous increase in the Arab population since 1967, the lower number of Israeli casualties represents a policy of genocide directed at the Arabs on the West Bank and in Gaza.
To put it in a different context, would anyone argue that the lower losses of British lives in WW II compared to German lives (leaving aside the horrendous losses suffered by the Russians and the massacres of others across Europe and North Africa inflicted by the Germans) represented a loss of moral stature by the British? Should more British soldiers and civilians have died to even the balance and allowed us to feel that indeed the British respected human life as much as the Nazis?
We were treated to another of Steve Bell’s anti-Semitic cartoons this week, intended to illustrate this theme. The three murdered Israeli boys are shown, in the eyes of – well, who? The world? – to outweigh uncountable Palestinians killed in the conflict:
As bad as this cartoon is, for all the reasons above, especially appearing in the Guardian which makes it its mission to emphasize every Palestinian death, it led to a complaint by Martin Rowson. Rowson suggested that Bell had, in effect, plagiarized his “trope” from this even worse cartoon:
As appalling as both cartoons are, there is a certain enjoyment to be had from seeing this falling out among two leading purveyors of antisemitic tropes.
What is horrifying, of course, is the support these two vicious characters get from their dedicated followers. This includes the Guardian editorial staff, who allows them to post such agitprop, and their followers below the line – for example, here’s a comment below Steve Bell’s latest:
And there we have it – the imbalance between Israeli deaths and Palestinian deaths is due to Israel’s presumably genocidal policies which are gradually wiping out the occupants of Gaza and the West Bank – even though their numbers, mysteriously, continue to grow at one of the highest rates in the world.
Or even the slightly more “sophisticated” argument that this represents a way for Israel to prevent reaching a peace agreement:
By continuing to publish these kinds of cartoons, and permitting these kinds of comment to stand, it is, in fact, the Guardian that does a monumental disservice to any idea of reaching a peace agreement, or, if they really want to, helping the Palestinians achieve their statehood.
But in the meantime, if nothing else, let’s hope the anti-Semites at the Guardian will continue to complain about each other.
Guardian cartoonists Steve Bell and Martin Rowson had nothing artistically to say during the 18 days in which the fate of the three kidnapped Israeli teens was unknown, and nothing to say since their bullet-ridden bodies were found near Hebron, victims of a savage attack in which the terrorists sang and cheered after shooting the Jews to death.
However, a day after the funeral for Eyal, Naftali and Gilad, Steve Bell – who, in past cartoons has mocked those who complain that his cartoons advance antisemitic tropes, and has indeed demonstrated his ‘courage’ to speak truth to Jewish power – suddenly found his creative muse in what he evidently fears is the lack of symmetry between the value placed on Jewish and Palestinian lives:
Here’s the Bell cartoon published in the Guardian on July 2.
Of course, Bell’s cartoon – which curiously depicts ‘hilltop settlements’ in the background – is attempting to impute a moral equivalence between the cold-blooded murder by Hamas terrorists of three innocent boys and the deaths of Palestinian combatants in the West Bank during IDF operations to rescue the teens, and complaining on the unequal attention paid to both sets of victims. Jewish life, it seems, has become too valuable in the eyes of the international community.
Following Bell’s cartoon, we came across a Tweet by their other cartoonist, Martin Rowson, who previously has demonstrated that he won’t be silenced despite the ‘fact’ that Jews often attempt to silence their critics with false accusations of antisemitism. Rowson, like Bell, fancies himself a truth teller who refuses to bow down to the pressure of a small but powerful minority.
Here’s the Tweet by Rowson on July 2, commenting on his colleague’s artistic efforts and comparing it with his own cartoon published by the Guardian on January 7, 2009 – during the war in Gaza (Operation Cast Lead).
Here’s a side by side comparison:
The interesting thing about the consistency between the two cartoonists in depicting the loss of Jewish and Palestinian life is how their visual agitprop comports with the broader Guardian narrative of the conflict.
The Guardian sees its mission as, to quote Rowson, ‘afflicting the comfortable and comforting the afflicted'; The Palestinians, so says the Guardian, are the weaker (“afflicted”) party in the conflict, while Israeli Jews represent the comfortable; Therefore, when contextualizing the loss of life on both sides, it is the duty of ‘progressive’ political cartoonists to advocate for the weaker Palestinians.
Of course, it would have been news to Eyal Yifrach, Naftali Frankel and Gilad Shaar that they represented the ‘comfortable’ and their kidnappers were the ‘afflicted’ as multiple shots were fired at them at point-blank range, penetrating their bodies and ending their young lives.
In 2005, following several years which saw a disturbing rise in antisemitic violence across Europe, the European Union Monitoring Center on Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC) reached a Working Definition of Antisemitism.
Cartoon by Steve Bell in 2012 which was denounced by the Guardian Readers’ Editor as ‘echoing antisemitic imagery’ relating to ‘Jewish power’
Later in the year, the Working Definition of Antisemitism was prominently referenced at the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Cordoba Conference. And, since then, many other bodies have advocated its usage. The one-page Working Definition of Antisemitism (below) evolved as a result of the efforts of a large number of European institutions and human rights experts.
The stated goal of the Working Definition of Antisemitism was to provide a guide (to EU members states) for identifying incidents, collecting data and supporting the implementation and enforcement of legislation dealing with antisemitism.
Recently, a commentator who has expressed sympathy for antisemites, and routinely calls for the end of the Jewish state, used his platform at a site notable for endorsing terrorism and equating Zionism to Nazism, to falsely characterize the Working Definition of Antisemitism as “an abandoned draft text.”
Whilst it is narrowly true that the website of Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA), the successor to the EUMC, doesn’t include the text of the Working Definition of Antisemitism – due to the fact that its mandate differs from EUMC – here are the facts:
The State Department report on Global Antisemitism in 2008 included the following: The EUMC’s working definition provides a useful framework for identifying and understanding the problem and is adopted for the purposes of this report
The Working Definition of Antisemitism was cited by the US State Department’s Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism in testimony given to the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (in Helsinki) in 2011, and is currently endorsed on the State Department’s ‘Monitoring and Combating Antisemitism’ page.
An official document published by the OSCE’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) recommends the Working Definition of Antisemitism as a valuable hate crime data collection tool for law enforcement agencies, and for educators.
Though most manifestations of antisemitism included in the Working Definition of Antisemitism shouldn’t even need to be pointed out (such as ‘calling for, aiding, or justifying the killing or harming of Jews in the name of a radical ideology or an extremist view of religion’), many who oppose it do so for the following reasons:
1) It defines as antisemitic the equating of Zionism with Nazism.
2) It defines as antisemitic calls for the end of the Jewish state.
It is of course no coincidence that this recent attack on the Working Definition of Antisemitism was leveled by a commentator who continually promotes the second charge at a site which has endorsed the first.
Yet, despite the protests from a few marginal, extremist voices, the Working Definition continues to represent a widely respected, useful tool for understanding modern manifestations of antisemitism, and this blog will continue to use it in our continuing fight against such racism at the Guardian and ‘Comment is Free’.
Here’s a recent photo of former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.
Now, here’s how Kissinger was depicted on June 8th by Guardian cartoonist Martin Rowson, in a cartoon about the annual meeting of the Bilderberg Group in Watford. (The Bilderberg Group is a policy forum consisting of influential people in business, finance and politics which consistently provides fodderfor conspiracy theories due to the relative secrecy of the meetings.)
Here’s a closeup.
A few observations:
Though the Bilderberg meeting includes other former political leaders vilified by some due to their involvement in foreign wars, such as Tony Blair for instance, Rowson chose only Kissinger (A German-born Jew) to depict as having blood on his (oversized) hands – inspired, presumably, by his role under President Nixon during the wars in Vietnam and Cambodia.
Despite the antisemitic history of such caricatures – historically, the ‘big hooked nose’ (often in conjunction with a sneering expression) on a Jew is typically meant to suggest his depravity – Rowson chose to include such a stereotypically exaggerated nose among Kissinger’s other grotesque features.
Rowson’s historyat the Guardian includes cartoons which have employed similar motifs, including such facial features and the gratuitous use of bloodto illustrate putatively sadistic Jewish behavior. Here’s one, titled “Mindless in Gaza”, of Ariel Sharon from 2001:
Additionally, to provide further visual context, here’s a collection of Nazi and Arab antisemitic depictions – focusing on the hooked nose and oversized hands – which CAMERA published during the row over Gerald Scarfe’s ‘Sunday Times’cartoon. (Scarfe’s cartoon, which Rowson defended in an essay at the Guardian, is on the top right.)
Indeed, if you compare Rowson’s cartoon with the most extreme racist depictions of Jews in the 20th century it isn’t difficult to see theoverlapping facial features. Here’s a side-by-side comparison of Rowson’s Kissinger with the infamous Nazi antisemitic caricature published by Julius Streicher’s Der Sturmer, titled ‘The Poisonous Mushroom':
Whilst we’re not suggesting that Rowson was intentionally evoking such comparisons, the Guardian’s readers’ editor Chris Elliott, in a post responding to criticism over Steve Bell’s Nov. 15 cartoon depicting William Hague and Tony Blair as puppets being controlled by Bibi Netanyahu, wrote the following:
I don’t believe that Bell is an antisemite, nor do I think it was his intention to draw an antisemitic cartoon. However, using the image of a puppeteer when drawing a Jewish politician inevitably echoes past antisemitic usage of such imagery, no matter the intent.
The Holocaust and its causes are still within living memory. While journalists and cartoonists should be free to express an opinion that Netanyahu is opportunistic and manipulative, in my view they should not use the language – including the visual language – of antisemitic stereotypes.
Echoing Elliott, whether or not Martin Rowson had racist intent is not as relevant as the more fundamental point: that a cartoonist for a “liberal” broadsheet should possess the moral decency to strenuously avoid employing visual language which historically represented the major antisemitic motifs in the long and bloody persecution of Jews.
The story introduced the ‘new’ technology in the following manner:
“…this newspaper announces a groundbreaking development in the modern history of the media: a pair of web-connected “augmented reality” spectacles that will beam its journalism directly into the wearer’s visual field, enabling users to see the world through the Guardian’s eyes at all times.“
As the wink and the nod by the Guardian contributor who penned the piece was evident, the otherwise painful evocation of such a dystopian scenario can, at this point in the ‘story’, be forgiven.
The satire continues:
“The motion-sensitive spectacles, known as Guardian Goggles, incorporate translucent screens in the lenses, overlaying the wearer’s view of their surroundings with a real-time stream of specially curated opinions from the paper’s reporters, critics and commentators.“
Again, such a truly chilling prospect is at least clearly meant in jest.
However, in the subsequent passage their light-hearted parody becomes infused with the unmistakable reality of Guardian Left ideology.
“The spectacles also feature optional built-in anti-bigotry technology, which prevents exposure to non-Guardian opinions by blacking out columns by Melanie Phillips or Richard Littlejohn, among other writers, as soon as the user attempts to look at them.” [emphasis added]
It’s quite telling that, of all the examples of real racism they could have chosen to illustrate the ‘features’ of this faux technology, they chose Phillips – whose informed and serious commentary on the very real danger posed to the West by the violent and reactionary values of radical Islam clearly runs afoul of their political sensibilities.
However, instead of belaboring this particular point, we thought it would be edifying to include a short list of real bigots who they could have cited in that passage, and who also are either employed by the Guardian or have contributed to ‘Comment is Free’. (Please consider participating in the poll at the end)
Here’s a list of a few of the antisemitic contributors they’ve published in recent years, and is in no particular order:
Though Orr’s logical failures in analyzing the Gilad Shalit prisoner exchange in 2011 were breathtaking,the following passage from her Oct. 19, 2011, piece (later revised) is particularly worth noting, as it suggests that Jews are inherently racist:
there is something abject in [Hamas’s] eagerness to accept a transfer [of prisoners] that tacitly acknowledges what so many Zionists believe – that the lives of the chosenare of hugely greater consequence than those of their unfortunate neighbors.”
Steve Bell, Guardian cartoonist: Jewish conspiracy
Whilst you can readtheseposts to read about Bell’s mockery of the very notion of antisemitic tropes, the following cartoon which he published at the Guardian during the November war in Gaza is most illustrative of the place where Arab Judeophobia bleeds into Guardian “liberal” commentary.
Raed Salah, ‘Comment is Free’ contributor: Blood libel and Jewish supremacy
As we’ve noted, an extremist cleric named Raed Salah became a Guardian cause celeb during his 2011 legal battle with UK Immigration Authorities despite his record of promoting violence and racism – which included his recitation of a poem promoting the medieval antisemitic narrative that Jews use the blood of non-Jews to bake their “holy” bread.
Salah’sused his polemical victory lap, published on Israel’s Holocaust Memorial Day in 2012, to smear the UK Jewish community by suggesting that their support for Zionism was akin to endorsing an ideology of “supremacism”.
Here are the relevant passages in Salah’s commentary:
“Despite the Israeli policy of “transfer” – another term for ethnic cleansing – the Palestinians will not go away. The Israeli state can occupy our lands, demolish our homes, drill tunnels under the old city of Jerusalem – but we will not disappear. Instead, we now aspire to a directly elected leadership for Palestinians in Israel; one that would truly represent our interests. We seek only the legal rights guaranteed to us by international conventions and laws.
The Palestinian issue can only be resolved if Israel and its supporters in Britain abandon the dogmas of supremacy and truly adhere to the universal values of justice and fairness.” [emphasis added]
“I do not consider myself an anti-Semite, yet I can also understand why some are”. This after linking the rise of antisemitism with “the widespread bias and subservience to the Israeli cause in the Western media”. There are, in fact, a number of reasons. One is the state of Israel, its ideology of racial supremacy and its subsequent crimes committed against the Palestinians. [emphasis added]
Musa Abumarzuq, ‘Comment is Free’ contributor: Official in the terror group, Hamas, which openly calls for the murder of Jews
Abumarzuq was published twice at ‘Comment is Free’. His most recent piece offered insights into his “concerns” about Israeli violation of human rights – “liberal sensibilities” which CiF editors evidently were able to reconcile with his leadership role in a group which endorses the antisemitic conspiracy theories and openly calls for the mass murder of Jews.
Please cast your ballot for the most antisemitic Guardian or ‘Comment is Free’ contributor. When voting, feel free to choose another Guardian contributor which, for the sake of brevity, we didn’t include in the list.
As we revealedyesterday, Bell’s body of work includes several cartoons about Israel which employ the blood motif, and a few which depict Jews pejoratively as the ‘chosen people’.
His latest two cartoons evidently demonstrate that he finds the whole idea of antisemitic tropes (which he SO cleverly spells as “Aunty Semutic”) amusing, despite the fact that he was warned to avoid engaging indepictions which evoke classic Judeophobiaby Guardian readers’ editor, Chris Elliott.
I can’t wait to see his next schoolbook doodle about those overly sensitive, silly Jews.
(The second frame is a reference to a comment by Murdoch in November, complaining that the “Jewish owned media” is consistently anti-Israel. The final frame is a reference to Sooty, a popular glove bear and TV character from the 50s.)
Aswe noted in our post, the cartoon could arguably be interpreted as suggesting that Zionists have a significant degree of control over the media.
If, Bell is indeed perplexed – or, perhaps, amused – with the notion of “antisemitic tropes”, I know just the right person to help him understand its significance.
Guardian readers’ editor Chris Elliott – who criticized Bell’s cartoonin Nov. which depicted Netanyahu controlling Blair and Hague like puppets, and warned: “…using the image of a puppeteer when drawing a Jewish politician inevitably echoes past antisemitic usage of such imagery” – wrote the following in Nov. 2011, in a post titled ‘On averting accusations of antisemitism“:
[Comment is Free] moderators…are experienced in spotting the kind of language long associated with antisemitic tropes such as Jews having too much power and control, or being clannish and secretive, or the role of Jews in finance and the media.
However, regardless of whether Bell understands (or takes seriously) the lethal history of such racist tropes employed against Jews, a bit of research into his work may provide some insight into why (per his BBC Radio debate with Stephen Pollard) he was so dismissive of accusations that the Scarfe cartoon arguably evoked the antisemitic blood libel.
These cartoons are on Bell’s website: (Below each cartoon is the exact caption used by Bell to identify and date the image.)
Here’s another relevant passage from Chris Elliott’s post on antisemitism noted above:
“Two weeks ago a columnist [Deborah Orr] used the term “the chosen” in an item on the release of Gilad Shalit, which brought more than 40 complaints to the Guardian, and an apology from the columnist the following week. “Chosenness”, in Jewish theology, tends to refer to the sense in which Jews are “burdened” by religious responsibilities; it has never meant that the Jews are better than anyone else. Historically it has been antisemites, not Jews, who have read “chosen” as code for Jewish supremacism.”
It didn’t occur on the date the reader believed, but on Nov. 6, 2011, there was indeed a post by Guardian readers’ editor Chris Elliott which made a thinly veiled reference to CiF Watch, and argued that “reporters, editors and writers” must be more careful to avoid “lapses into language resonant of antisemitism”.
Whilst, I don’t know if anything we do, per the comment above, can exactly be characterized as “well-orchestrated” and, per SantaMoniker, the idea that we’re “powerful” is risible. Additionally, antisemitism at the Guardian clearly has not disappeared since Elliott’s warning (Bell’s cartoon on Nov. 15 depicting Bibi controlling Blair and Hague as puppets suggests the limits of Elliott’s control over such content), but if the result of our work is that the Guardian is even a little bit more careful to avoid having their voice “diminished” by evoking antisemitic canards, then we’re clearly doing something right.
As we noted in a post the day after the cartoon was published (a graphic depiction of the puppet-like control Bibi had over Blair and Hague in the context of the two British leaders’ expressions of support for Israel’s recent war in Gaza) the cartoon evoked the antisemitic canard of Jewish control over non-Jewish British politicians. Further, Bell’s cartoon was almost indistinguishable from what is routinely published in the Arab media (in cartoons and in prose) alleging unimaginable Jewish controlover world leaders.
(Note: the second frame is a reference to a comment by Murdoch in November, complaining that the Jewish owned press is consistently anti-Israel. The final frame is a reference to Sooty, a popular glove bear and TV character back in the 50s.)
Is Bell mocking Murdoch’s complaint that media companies with Jewish owners are anti-Israel by noting that indeed the opposite is the case – that powerful Zionist Jews in fact exercise too much control over the media?
Admittedly, such graphic depictions inevitably leave a lot open to interpretation.
However, after the row following Bell’s cartoon in November, Chris Elliott – the Guardian’s readers editor – responded to complaints, noting that the image of Jews having a disproportionate influence over the US and British governments has often been replicated by anti-Jewish cartoonists in the Middle East since the end of the second world war, and concluded thus:
“While journalists and cartoonists…should not use the language – including the visual language – of antisemitic stereotypes.”
Given Bell’s reaction to the row over the Scarfe cartoon – where he mocked the notion that the cartoon was antisemitic during a BBC debate with Stephen Pollard and refused to answer Pollard’s question as to whether he was even aware of the history of antisemitic cartoons in the Arab media – it seems clear that the Guardian cartoonist remains, at the very least, breezily unconcerned with the damage caused by “using visual language” which evokes “antisemitic stereotypes”.
On the ‘Today programme on BBC Radio 4, Tuesday 29th January, there was a debate between Stephen Pollard of the Jewish Chronicle and Steve Bell, political cartoonist for the Guardian,over the Gerald Scarfe cartoon in the Sunday Times published on Holocaust Memorial Day – depicting mangled, tortured bodies being buried over with bricks laid by the bloody trowel of a sinister Israeli leader.
Pollard advanced an argument similar to the one he made so eloquently inThe JC today, arguing that the cartoon slips into antisemitism because it invokes the blood libel, and while papers should always have the right to publish offensive material, possessing such freedom to offend doesn’t mean that it is always the correct decision to do so.
Bell disagreed, and argued as follows:
“Apologising for this cartoon – for once it wasn’t a bad cartoon – I think Stephen Pollard invokes terms like “the blood libel” and kind of ‘genocidal hate rage’…. he’s attributing this to a cartoon which is actually … it’s sort of like a mirror image of the cartoon Scarfe did the week before … President Assad clutching the head of a baby … not a squeak about that …
“The problem with the State of Israel and the Zionist Lobby is that they never acknowledge the crime of ethnic cleansing upon which the State was founded …”
Bell’s fictitious history of Israel’s founding is as characteristic as it is malicious, as it was the tiny Jewish state which was forced, a couple of years after the Holocaust, on the day of its founding, to defend against five invading Arab armies intent on extinguishing their presence from the river to the sea. Bell’s revisionism also excludes the shameful episode after Israel’s founding, in which hundreds of thousands of Jewish citizens of Arab countries were punished for the crime of Israel’s continued existence by being systematically expelled – that is, ethnically cleansed – from land where their ancestors had lived for hundreds of years.
Also during his debate with Pollard, Bell the historian also warned against using “the term ‘blood libel’ loosely and ridiculously”, and then added:
“Extraneous notions like ‘blood libel’ are dropped in and sensitivities are talked up .. the very word ‘antisemitic’ becomes devalued .. ‘they’ throw it around with such abandon, if there really is antisemitism it’s actually getting ignored.”
So, what does Steve Bell know about “real” antisemitism? My guess is that he doesn’t know too much.
While Bell was all too willing to publish a cartoon (during Israel’s military operation in Gaza) depicting weak, cowardly British leaders being controlled like puppets by a powerful Jewish leader, when has he ever employed such graphic agitprop to mock “real” antisemites who occupy the landscape of the Arab Middle East?
Did the “populist” liberal satirist ever fancy the idea of caricaturing Egypt’s President Morsi, for instance, who characterized Jews as descendants of apes and pigs, and who told his fellow citizensto nurse their children on Jew hatred?
Additionally, has he ever thought to ridicule Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas for engaging in Holocaust denial?
Finally, has it ever occurred to Bell to mock the ubiquitous commentators and clerics in the Arab and Muslim world who still peddle in the most bizarre Jewish conspiracy theories, such as the charge that Jews use the blood of non-Jewish children to bake their ‘Sabbath’ bread?
If he ever decided to do so, Bell could have used text from an actual poem by a radical and quite well-known Islamist preacher – demonstrated in a UK Immigration Tribunal ruling on Feb. 8, 2012, to be a clear reference to the antisemitic blood libel – which included the following:
“We have never allowed ourselves, and listen carefully; we have never allowed ourselves to knead the bread for the breaking [of] fasting during the blessed month of Ramadan with the blood of the children. And if someone wants a wider explanation, then he should ask what used to happen to some of the children of Europe, when their blood used to be mixed in the dough of the holy bread.”
Of course, if Bell did decide to direct his righteous ire at those who engage in such “real” antisemitism – and perhaps even at arrogant, hypocritical media groups which have actually championedthe cause of such crude and unrepentant racists – he’d be hitting just a wee bit too close to home.
A ‘Comment is Free’ essay by the extremist who evoked the “real” medieval blood libel cited above, Raed Salah, was published on April 19, 2012, Israel’s official Holocaust memorial day.
Do you notice slight differences in the header concerning Israel between the US version and the UK version below (see arrow)?
Yes – the US version suggests that Israel will build one thousand two hundred new settlements (on the West Bank).
A more rational editor in the UK, apparently realizing that even the Netanyahu’s government would be hard put to cram 1,200 new settlements into the West Bank, chose instead to use an almost equally misleading term of “settlement units” (aka – “apartments”).
In the body of the articles, the text is the same – initially referring to “settlement units” and then the more accurate term, “apartments”:
The error in the US header and the ambiguity in the text of the article indicate Guardian group-think about Israel’s so-called “settlement building” – a narrative which ignores the fact that there has not been a new settlement of any significance in the last four years, other than a couple of swiftly removed caravan or tent efforts.
The idea of 1,200 new settlements (that is, 1200 entirely new communities/towns across the green line) seems quite feasible to such writers and editors, indicating also that they don’t know too much about the size or geography of the West bank. Thus, their decision to characterize any home built for Israelis in the West Bank not as “apartments” but, rather, by using a new term in alignment with their broader view – a “settlement unit”.
It’s possible that Sherwood, who seems to be gradually gaining insight into what makes Israel tick – an understanding, it seems, that accelerated markedly after a couple of rockets landed near Jerusalem, where she is based – actually acknowledges that potential occupants of these “settlement units” are just people for whom homes are being built, not cartoon characters drawn by the Guardian’s Steve Bell who live in “settlement units”.
If Palestinian leaders refuse to sit down and work with the Israelis in good faith to reach an agreed set of borders between Israel and a putative Palestinian State, Israel is giving notice that it will not sit and wait for the phone to ring.
Calling apartments Israel builds (while the PA refuses to negotiate any borders) “settlement units” will not make the apartments any less home to more and more Israelis, as Sherwood, at least and possibly alone among Guardian staff, may now understand.
But when will the Palestinian Authority get the message?
Placing at number 5 was Steve Bell’s cartoon of hapless British statesmen being controlled by a seemingly omnipotent Jewish leader.
HonestReporting’s Alex Margolin wrote the following about the cartoon:
“When it comes to building a Hall of Shame in coverage of the media war against Israel, you can always count on The Guardian to compete for a high place on the list. And this year is no exception.
This cartoon of Benjamin Netanyahu published on the first days of the war offers so many different aspects of media bias, it’s hard to pick out the worst ones. Start with a classic anti-Semitic trope of Israel manipulating and controlling Western leaders. Then there is the strong implication that the real motive behind Israel’s operation is to manipulate the election.”
It takes a man of extraordinary bias to look at thousands of rockets flying into Israeli cities, and to conclude, despite all evidence, that it’s the Palestinians and not the Israelis who have the right to defend themselves. Seamus Milne is that kind of man.
“To portray Israel as some kind of victim with every right to “defend itself” from attack from “outside its borders” is a grotesque inversion of reality,” he writes, dismissing the 2005 withdrawal from Gaza as irrelevant.
“So Gazans are an occupied people and have the right to resist, including by armed force (though not to target civilians), while Israel is an occupying power that has an obligation to withdraw – not a right to defend territories it controls or is colonising by dint of military power,” he adds.
It’s unclear which war Milne is watching, but the Palestinian attacks consisted of nothing but attacks on civilians and Israel has already withdrawn entirely from Gaza. Talk about a grotesque inversion of reality, Seamus…you lead the way in showing how it’s done.
Western government support for Israel’s right to defend it’s citizens against Hamas really infuriates some people.
Those who routinely demonize the Jewish state and parrot the most ludicrous claims about Israeli villainy – and excuse or ignore the racism, incitement and violence of Islamist extremists in the region – simply can’t wrap their mind around the fact their anti-Zionist view is extremely marginal.
The mind of Guardian cartoonist Steve Bell was evidently ready to explode upon hearing the expressions of support for Israel by British foreign secretary William Hague and former PM Tony Blair. So, Bell expressed, in cartoon form, his belief that the only possible explanation for this maddening political dynamic is the puppeteer like control exercised over the subservient British leaders by Israel’s Prime Minister.
Another ‘anti-Zionist head-exploding’ moment occurred when the U.S. House and Senate overwhelmingly passed non-binding resolutions backing “Israel’s right to self-defense”.
Poor Glenn. The Congressional resolutions, which audaciously affirmed that “no nation”, including Israel, “can tolerate constant barrages of rockets against its civilian population”, actually passed unanimously.
In his essay on Nov. 2011, on ‘averting accusations of antisemitism‘, Guardian readers editor Chris Elliott warned Guardian journalists and commentators to avoid “antisemitic tropes such as Jews having too much power and control.”
Elliott also noted that “three times” he had “upheld complaints against language within articles [which] could be read as antisemitic”, such as his decision to delete the term “slavish” (to describe the US relationship with Israel) from a report by Chris McGreal.
Glenn Greenwald’s characterization of the democratically elected U.S. legislative body as “subservient” to Israel (and/or the Jewish lobby) similarly contains antisemitic undertones, but also represents, to quote Walter Russel Mead, a sign that the ‘Comment is Free’ contributor is among those who are “baffled, frustrated and the bewildered” and therefore “seek[s] a grand, simplifying hypothesis that can bring some kind of ordered explanation to a confusing world.”
“Anti-Semitism”, wrote Mead, “is one of the glittering frauds that attract the overwhelmed and the uncomprehending.”
The anti-Zionist left is increasingly defined as much by their intellectual laziness as they are by their blind subservience to the logic of historically right-wing Judeophobic narratives regarding the dangers of Jewish control.
The Saudi paper Al-Watan, on October 11, 2008, published this, depicting Jews were puppet masters, controlling both McCain and Obama.
The message the Guardian cartoon is trying to convey – similar to the Arab cartoons posted above – is unambiguous.
Bell is complaining that recent expressions of support for Israel’s operation in Gaza by UK foreign secretaryWilliam Hague (and Tony Blair) suggest they are being controlled by the Prime Minister of the Jewish state.
Walter Russel Mead summed it up best in response to a BBC journalist who stated recently that “The American Jews influence US foreign policy and that explains Washington’s unwavering support for Israel.”
“…weak minds…are easily seduced by attractive but empty generalizations. The comment attributed to August Bebel that anti-Semitism is the socialism of fools can be extended to many other kinds of cheap and superficial errors that people make. The baffled, frustrated and the bewildered seek a grand, simplifying hypothesis that can bring some kind of ordered explanation to a confusing world; anti-Semitism is one of the glittering frauds that attract the overwhelmed and the uncomprehending.”
Steve Bell simply couldn’t accept that British expression of support for Israel’s action in Gaza is based on their understanding of the threat posed by Hamas and other terrorists movements, or other strategic considerations.
He needed an easy explanation as to why his nation’s leaders don’t share his hostility towards Israel, and the temptation to attribute such a vexing dynamic to sinister Israeli control was too great for him to resist.
The Guardian cartoonist has succumb to historically antisemitic (and necessarily reactionary) narrative which imputes Jewish power and Jewish control to the decisions of non-Jewish world leaders.
(Bell, and the Guardian, needs to be held account, so please consider emailing the Guardian’s readers editor, Chris Elliott, firstname.lastname@example.org, to respectfully voice your complaint.)
UPDATE:Per The JC, Steve Bell responded to criticism that his cartoon is antisemitic, thus:
“I can’t be held responsible for whatever cultural precepts and misapprehensions people choose to bring to my cartoon. My intention, I think, is fairly clear.”
UPDATE II: The Guardian published a letter (21.00 GMT,Nov. 16) protesting Bell’s cartoon by the CST’s Dave Rich.