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Monday, Feb. 18, 2002 at 2:51 AM
According public statement published on Internet by Swiss non-governmental organization Aktion Kinder des Holocaust, Warsaw Ghetto cartoon from Latuff's "We are all Palestinians" series "stands for the extermination of the Jewish people and the state of Israel".
Is this cartoon by Latuff, published at indymedia-switzerland, anti-Semitic? An analysis.
The cartoon evokes a clear association of a WWII ghetto in Poland. The figure shown is obviously based on the image from the infamous photograph of the little boy who is threatened by an SS-man armed with a gun. Hardly any other picture from any ghetto has the same symbolic and emotional impact.
Further associations are stirred up. A Jewish community, living in Poland for centuries, is brutally violenced and detained to a Ghetto for one single reason: Because they are Jews. There is no political or strategic military goal behind this "ghettoization", only the thorough extermination of the Jewish population. The ghettos in Eastern Europe are part of the holocaust; they are the waiting room for the extermination camps.
The caption in the bubble "I am Palestinian" picks up the figure of the devastated Jewish child and transforms it into a different one. Now the Palestinians are the ghetto-child whose fate is in the hands of oppressors who clearly intend his extinction. But the oppressors, too, are in the picture. Through the sentence "I am Palestinian" it is made clear that the ghetto wardens of today are not the Nazis anymore, but the Israelis. The picture conveys the clear association that the Jews themselves do nowexactly the same what the Nazis did to them in the Thirties and Forties of the last century. From a psychological point of view this means that the Jews suffer from an obsessive-compulsive urge to re-stage the ghetto trauma again and again to be able to face it at all and thus may have the trace of a chance to free themselves from it. For this purpose all means seem justifiable to the Jews = Israelis. The "Jews" are the "Germans" of the Middle East, the murderous invaders who attack as well - and foremost - children. Their only goal is the total extermination of the Palestinian people.
Enough said about the heavy symbolism of the picture's antagonism between the "people", symbolized by a child, and the "black wall" (execution wall at Auschwitz?). It is part of the above explanation.
Jews are reduced to a symbol here and the holocaust thus intrumentalized as a clever catchphrase to insinuate that the holocaust a) was not a singular experience and b) that the Israelis do exactly the same, i.e. follow a comprehensive genocidal agenda. Jews are "allotted" just victim-status, which they have to live by. If they don't, they are automatically labelled with the "global conspiracy" stereotype, which portrays them as aspiring tyrant rulers of the world.
The emblematic set-up of the Israelis = Nazis symbol has become a much-used topos within the Arab world since the foundation of Israel 1948. It is published regularly in Arab newspapers, although in a much more direct way (Moshe Dayan meets Hitler and gets a compliment as his (Hitler's) "best disciple"). In the picture we are discussing here this is done much more subtly, but not any less anti-Semitic.
The icon of the "global Jewish plotter" who poses as a victim, yet is a perpetrator, is a figure frequently used in the 19th and early 20th century. Depending on the point of view of the critic, Jews were either revolutionaries threatening law and order or cannibal exploitative abusers. Both of those images imply that "the Jews" are following an agenda of taking over global power.
The relativation of the holocaust and the denial of its singularity is a further anti-Semitic symbol, which allows to intrumentalize the extremely emotional topic of the holocaust in a populist and polemic fashion for other purposes and which implies invariably elements of excuse for German society as well.
The cartoon abuses, polemically, sensationally and luridly, the suffering of the Jewish people in the holocaust to cast the Jews as the evil incarnated in the Middle East. This is no cartoonist, legitimate larger-than-life illustration to make a point, this puts an end to any dialogue between Palestinians and Israelis. No communication is possible between the mutely murderous black wall and the helpless child. The only solution is a demolition of the wall and as the wall stands for Israel = Jewry, when all is said and done, the cartoon stands for the extermination of the Jewish people and the state of Israel.
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