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Latuff on allegued anti-Semitic cartoons

by Latuff Saturday, Jan. 12, 2002 at 2:08 AM

Reproduction authorized.


Repeated allegations of anti-Semitism from readers of Independent Media Centers in Germany, Austria and Switzerland were the reason for the release of this public statement.

On January 06, 2002, I sent a message to IMC Germany:

"Dear sirs from Indymedia Germany,

I am really impressed with such an immediate response from your readers everytime I post some Israel related cartoon. I see your decision to repost my "PRO-Semitic cartoon" article as a gesture of goodwill, for the benefit of healthy discussion on sensitive Israel/Palestine affairs. Thank you! Probably many readers from IMC Germany, and even from other IMCs, have questions regarding my creative process and political views. I suggest an on-line IRC chat with me, editorial staff of IMC Germany and readers, and together to clarify some points. Content of this conversation could be available on IMC Germany web site.

If you think it would be suitable, please, reply me.

Very best regards,


Latuff - Image Maker

Rio de Janeiro Brazil"

Unfortunately, until today, January 10, I was not contacted regarding my proposal.

Since 1990, I've been a political cartoonist for many leftist trade-union publications in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. My cartoons dealt with local and national affairs such as police brutality and human rights violations. When I first gained Internet access in 1996, my art began to reach international audiences. My first "artistic support" was for the Zapatista movement and their struggle for the rights of natives of Chiapas, Southern Mexico.

However, the Zapatistas were not the only resistance movement I was aware of. Soon, I was producing non-profit cartoons for organizations related to Tibetans, Kurds, Mohajir (Pakistan) and Palestinians. One of them, the Palestinian Centre for Peace and Democracy, invited me to see with my own eyes the situation of Palestinians in the Occupied Territories. In 1999, for about 10 days, I visited Palestinian areas controlled by Israel in the West Bank with both Palestinian and Israeli peace activists. I listened to Palestinian civilians and Israeli settlers. What I saw and heard there was enough to reinforce my support for an independent Palestinian State.

Back in Brazil, I started to produce and publish copyright-free cartoons for Palestinian/Israeli NGOs like Gush-Shalom and Peace Now. At that point I was introduced to a very sensitive dilemma: how to draw cartoons criticizing Israel policy without crossing over into anti-Semitism?

I remember receiving advice from a friend in Gush-Shalom about drawing characters with big noses. It sounded weird to me, since caricatures are usually grotesque, and big-nosed characters are very common in caricatures. However, due to Nazi-era cartoons where Jews were shown with big noses, what could be seen as an ordinary detail in other circumstances would be taken as intentionally racist in Israel. In November 2000, I drew a cartoon published by Gush-Shalom on their website depicting Ehud Barak, Israeli Prime Minister at that time, as a trigger-happy fat boy. This illustration was responsible for a lot of trouble. See below a press release from the Anti-Defamation League, described in their own words as "the world's leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry" :

"Press Release Israel Regional Office

ADL Outraged at "Peace" Group
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