Inquiring minds


By Jenni Frazer
January 29, 2013
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Let us unpick the events of the week so far. On Sunday, it was Holocaust Memorial Day: a yearly event initiated by the British government to mark, in line with many other countries, the attempted complete annihilation of a people. It is right and proper that HMD is used as an educational tool to mark other genocides. It is not right and proper to make a moral equivalence between what happened to the Jews between 1933 and 1945, and what is happening today in Israel, Gaza and the West Bank.

On Holocaust Memorial Day the editors at the Sunday Times chose to publish two curiosities: a peculiar magazine story about David Irving, the Holocaust denier, and the tours he is running in concentration camps; and the by-now bizarre cartoon from Gerald Scarfe, featuring a bloodthirsty Benjamin Netanyahu building a wall and using murdered Palestinians for its cement.

Scarfe himself has said he very much regretted the timing of the publication, claiming he did not know that it was HMD. But even if it had not been the anniversary, the cartoon was not just offensive - but missed the point in its comment on the Israeli elections. Netanyahu did not win an overwhelming victory and nor did the anti-peace camp forces in Israel.

Leaving aside the question of whether or not the cartoon was antisemitic, I wonder at the initial response of the Sunday Times editors who chose to defend Scarfe by pointing to the Irving story. This is as if to say, oh, we were critical of Israel but here's another piece where we were nice about Jews. So that's all right, then.

Meanwhile, in another part of the forest, the LibDem MP David Ward is either too stupid or too malicious to understand the impact of his remarks about "the Jews" who had failed to learn the lessons of history. Buying in completely to this moral equivalence argument which has now become the belief of choice for the chatterati, Ward drew a comparison with what had happened in Europe to what he believed was currently being perpetrated by Israel against the Palestinians. Not only did he not appear to understand the implications of what he had said, only hours after signing the HMD Book of Remembrance, he continued to maintain his argument.

On Sunday night the BBC screened a quietly powerful documentary to mark Holocaust Memorial Day, a film made by Lisa Bryer, producer of The Last King of Scotland, about her aunt, Henia. Henia was the perfect illustration of a Holocaust survivor. If there was a ghetto or a concentration camp or a death march, Henia had been there, survivng in ways even she did not know how. And yet, despite all the truly terrible experiences Henia had undergone, even she was shocked and horrified at what she saw at the gates of Bergen Belsen: the rotting piles of decomposing bodies, the mountain of corpses.

If David Ward or Gerald Scarfe could point to a parallel horror in Israel, their criticism might - just might - have a kernel of legitimacy. But of course they cannot; and to try to compare such experiences, or tot up death numbers as Jonathan Dimbleby did at the weekend, is futile.

What is most distressing about this week's events is the growing acceptance of questions such as "Does Israel deserve a future?" as was voiced on the BBC's Any Questions, and nobody even blinks. The essence of HMD is being distorted and manipulated and we must genuinely wonder about our place in this country.

COMMENTS

joemillis1959

Tue, 01/29/2013 - 14:33

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-2 points

But great pronunciation of Murdochchchch on the radio this morning


Rich Armbach

Tue, 01/29/2013 - 18:38

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-1 points

This is a disturbing post by Jenni. I am horrified that she feels unsure of her place in this country.Being of mixed Jewish/ Irish catholic parentage even I don't ever feel that. There has never been a better time to be a Jew in this country.

The big problem is the over egging of cases. But even that only affects the chattering classes of which, I guess, we are all members.

If your case is weak or non existent over egging it is silly and pointless. If your case is strong over egging it is criminally stupid.

Scarfe had a strong case.His job is to entertain as well as make points. I don't understand what he was getting at with the figures and all the red. Without any of that it would have been a good cartoon. His case is a good one. Netanyahu remains PM. The govt and Knesset remains such as to dissuade anyone with ears to hear and eyes to see to forget any lingering thoughts of an agreement. The incoming government will retain the policy of as much land as possible, as few Arabs as possible. The portrait of Netanyahu as a bricklayer with the caption " continuing to cement the peace " was both funny and pointed.But then the over egging. What he was getting at with the rest I don't know, but it destroyed his good case.

So there was a case against Scarfe, a fairly good one. The case was extreme unfairness and misrepresentation of Netanyahu. This case was destroyed by hysterical over egging.

This morning's radio thing was a classic illustration. There were five people in my house listening to it. Three ( including me ) are dyed in the wool despisers of Bibi. One of the others was a friend of my daughter who was all geared up to listen intently. Then Stephen Pollard kicked off ranting about blood libels and stuff. This girl exclaimed " What !!!!!!!! " and immediately stopped listening to him and started rooting for Steve Bell. I am sure this was a widespread reaction.

The net result was that if this had been an American Presidential election TV head to head Bell would have been declared the winner by miles.

Don't over egg a good case !!!!!

Oh and happygoldfish's curious and unique concept of disembodied racism is a big turn off too.


happygoldfish

Tue, 01/29/2013 - 19:03

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2 points

the scarfe cartoon itself (which scarfe has refused the jc permission to publish and which is behind the sunday times paywall) is viewable at eg http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4338264,00.html

Rich Armbach: I don't understand what he was getting at with the figures and all the red.

yes, you do

you know perfectly well that scarfe is trying to give the impression of palestinians being killed, and of (jewish) israelis voting, in large numbers, for such killing

but you're pretending not not to see it so you can claim that stephen pollard was "ranting" about "blood libel and stuff"

Rich Armbach: There were five people in my house listening to it. Three ( including me ) are dyed in the wool despisers of Bibi.

yes, and on the grounds of "my enemy's enemy is my friend", you automatically defend scarfe against the charge of antisemitism, even to the extent of proudly claiming not to understand the cartoon (except its "funny and pointed" aspects), and of pretending not to see any "blood" aspect of it!

Rich Armbach

Wed, 01/30/2013 - 11:16

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-2 points

See what I mean ?

There is nothing in that cartoon that suggests that " Israelis voted in large numbers for killing Palestinians ".

Scarfe isn't stupid.Nobody knows exactly why Israeli voting patterns turned out as they did, although Lapid's success gives the strong hint a great many voted with thoughts of "how can I get/maintain a roof over my head, feed,clothe,educate my kids" etc etc, upper most in their minds.Just like everywhere else I guess.They can't be blamed for that.

It seems that the brutal, illegal occupation was not uppermost in a majority of minds. If the ending of it had been the prime concern there would be a Meretz government.

Scarfe is saying that Bibi is still there,laying his bricks, and the occupation and dispossession of Palestinians in the territories will continue apace. In other words nothing has changed. It's the same old same old policy of as much land as possible,as few Arabs as possible. He also seems to be saying ( the clue is in the figures and the blood ) that Palestinians are going to continue to get killed by agencies of Bibi's government.

I think he has a right to make such statements. Say he is wrong, misguided etc if you will.

What is most interesting about the past week is this. David Ward gets castigated mainly on his employing the words " The Jews ",in a context that quite clearly equates The State of Israel with " The Jews ". There is no escaping this. Whatever he may or may not have meant that is what he said.

Then Scarfe produces a cartoon that makes a statement clearly not directed at " The Jews ", not even at The State of Israel, but one Israeli or one political faction. HE gets chewed up on the grounds that it is a slur on all Jews. That is the self same people chew David Ward up because he equates The State of Israel with Jews and then chew up Scarfe on the grounds that in libeling one Israeli faction he is libeling all Jews.

Well I would say to these people, they know who they are, "It's make your minds up time folks ".

So how do we get from this attack/libel, call it what you will, on one Israeli political faction to a libel on all Jews ?

It seems to be the blood.Not only is Scarfe a rampaging anti-Semite but the very worst kind of one, an invoker of the medieval blood libel.A conscious invoker of the medieval libel that Jews murdered children, usually Christian ones, to obtain their blood for use in Jewish rituals. This goes beyond paranoia into the realm of delirium.

It seems that to say that Israelis kill people is within the pale just so long as the killing is bloodless. Unfortunately when people get killed there very often is some blood spilled.

The problem, your problem not mine,is this. To Jack and Jill on the Clapham omnibus the idea that Scarfe is an anti-Semitic racist is ludicrous, and the idea that he is a latter day spreader of the medieval blood libel is off the scale ludicrous.

This gets you where ? Exactly ?

I'll tell you. Just like my daughters friend did when Stephen Pollard leapt straight into the blood libel routine, Jack and Jill will switch off, stop listening to you. Start to think that maybe your " opponents " have a better case than they had previously thought, and start listening more intently to THEM.

You may not care what Jack and Jill think.

But you should.


happygoldfish

Wed, 01/30/2013 - 12:07

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2 points

Rich Armbach: I don't understand what he was getting at with the figures and all the red.

happygoldfish: yes, you do

you know perfectly well that scarfe is trying to give the impression of palestinians being killed, and of (jewish) israelis voting, in large numbers, for such killing

but you're pretending not not to see it so you can claim that stephen pollard was "ranting" about "blood libel and stuff"

Rich Armbach: He also seems to be saying ( the clue is in the figures and the blood ) that Palestinians are going to continue to get killed by agencies of Bibi's government..

exactly

you lied about not understanding "what he was getting at with the figures and all the red" so that you could get away with claiming that stephen pollard was ranting about "blood libel and stuff"

and now you admit that you knew perfectly well that it was about killing palestinians!

Rich Armbach: There is nothing in that cartoon that suggests that " Israelis voted in large numbers for killing Palestinians ".

scarfe himself claimed that he timed it to comment on the election (and "israeli elections" is in the caption)

how can a cartoon specifically about the election not be about the voters in the election?

and don't pretend you don't understand how cartoons work …

cartoons don't usually spell things out for the reader

they normally work by impression

as i said above, scarfe was intending to give the impression of palestinians being killed, and of (jewish) israelis voting, in large numbers, for such killing

this election cartoon (and caption) does little but suggest that " Israelis voted in large numbers for killing Palestinians ".

stop pretending otherwise!

finally, your claim to understand what stephen pollard meant is highly suspect when you can't get your story straight on understanding what scarfe meant!


Rich Armbach

Wed, 01/30/2013 - 13:22

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-2 points

"you lied about not understanding what he was getting at with the figures and all the red"

Pay attention to your tenses. A lack of understanding can change over time. I still wouldn't bet too much on my impression of what he meant with the figures and the red but that he meant Israelis were going to continue to kill Palestinians in the territories fits. That is fits with the obvious theme that nothing changes it will be the same old same old.

"how can a cartoon specifically about the election not be about the voters in the election?"

When its about how the outcome changes nothing vis a vis the occupation. This is a billion light years from saying that Israelis voted en masse FOR the continued killing of Palestinians. Are you saying that if I voted in an election, ( ignoring for the moment that I would never be naive enough to do that), I voted FOR everything that the voted in government does ? If I voted conservative because I felt that it was in my economic interest, while knowing that they would take us out of Europe I voted to leave Europe ? You don't vote FOR everything you get, not even everything you know you are going to get.

But if you want to go around claiming that Scarfe said that Israelis voted en masse for the killing of Palestinians feel free. It's your time and petrol money. Just don't expect anyone but the Hasbarafia to buy it.

"finally, your claim to understand what stephen pollard meant....."

I claimed to know what Stephen Pollard meant ? When ? Where ? I said that Stephen Pollard leapt straight in with a rant about " blood libel." Thats an empirical fact. I went on to say that this made it easy for Bell to deal with him.

BTW when are you going to apologise for your lie that Hoffman never used the word " is " ?


happygoldfish

Wed, 01/30/2013 - 13:32

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2 points

Rich Armbach: … when are you going to apologise for your lie that Hoffman never used the word " is " ?

(in the passage in question, which of course you haven't linked to) he didn't!

stop repeating this lie about me!


Rich Armbach

Wed, 01/30/2013 - 13:39

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-2 points

he said it's

Is that not an abbreviation of it is ?


Rich Armbach

Wed, 01/30/2013 - 13:52

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-1 points

.


Rich Armbach

Wed, 01/30/2013 - 14:35

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-1 points

I lied about Jonathan Hoffman ? When ? OK It's isn't an abbreviation of it is. I see that now. As for lying about the understanding.......when I said I didn't understand I was still thinking about it. I eventually decided he probably meant xyz but I am still not sure.

And I guess I think it is , oops I mean it's, better than drawing attention to myself with a schoolfish like barrage of smileys, and playing silly buggers by reposting comments.


zaheerayin

Wed, 01/30/2013 - 18:04

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0 points

Well, if Rich is lying, I hope he will apoligise like Jonathan does.


joemillis1959

Thu, 01/31/2013 - 17:10

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0 points

For those who really want to know the difference between Antisemitic, anti-israel and anti-Netanyahu cartoons,, Eli Valley provides an excellent guide on thedailybeast.com

But beware: if you are easily offended on behalf of Israel, please have a stiff drink before reading.


Advis3r

Thu, 01/31/2013 - 17:57

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0 points

"...if you are easily offended"? This is more than offensive it worse than the cartoon itself. What I see is an imbecile who believes that the security barrier which is a wall in only a few places and was erected to prevent loss of life through terrorism and which has succeeded in that endeavour is a cause of anti-Semitism but that caricaturing Jews and showing the democratically elected Prime Minister of Israel in a manner which would have found a place in Der Sturmer had it still been around bricking up bloodied Palestinians is fair comment. On reflection even Gerald Scarfe accepts that he erred. Millis if you think that that is an excellent guide you are even more of an idiot than I originally took you for.
The fact of the matter is that it might be fair comment if it was true but not only is the claim inherent in cartoon that Netanyahu is indiscriminately building a wall on the blood of Palestinians both untrue and a blood libel but the manner in which he has been portrayed is clearly in the style used by anti-Semites in previous generations and that is why it is anti-Semitic.


joemillis1959

Thu, 01/31/2013 - 18:17

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1 point

Norman, do try to keep it civil and endeavour to avoid ad homs. You only do your case harm.

I did warn people that those easily offended, either individually or on behalf of Netanyahu, should take a stiff drink beforehand.

The cartoon of Netanyahu was offensive, misconstrued and mistaken. I have written that before. But there are those who take offence and immediately shout "antisemitism" and "blood libel" when it was nothing of the sort. This reaction serves to cheapen the reaction and diminish its power.

In case you haven't seen any of Scarfe's other caricatures, he has also portrayed Blair and Dubya with bloody hands. Was that a blood libel?

Scarfe was just using the cartoonist's usual stock-in-trade, which is to exaggerate and cause offence. The best answer to that, if you are offended, as an individual or on behalf of something, is to turn the page.


Harvey

Fri, 02/01/2013 - 13:12

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-1 points

The cartoon would have worked if it had Abbas sitting astride a wall cementing the bodies of Israeli citizens murdered by his minions before since and during the Intifadas . That was the reason for the wall / security fence in the first place . Unfortunately we live in a world where moral inversion is common place and where the true enemies of peace and justice are held to be heroes . I seem to remember the arch terrorist Arafat , relative of the Nazi sympathiser , Husseini Mufti of Jerusalem , taking his place on the UN podium holding a gun .
The world applauded him just as they applaud his protege Abbas , who demands Palestinian independence while seeking the dismantlement of Israel through RoR .

Of course Scarfe , for all his edginess , knows only too well to draw a line ( or not to ) when it comes to cartoons caricaturing Muslim sensitivities .


Rich Armbach

Fri, 02/01/2013 - 13:32

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0 points

I am sure he would draw a line at a cartoon caricaturing Muslim sensitivities, Jewish sensitivities, Christian sensitivities or Hindu sensitivities.

He is a political cartoonist and I am sure he wouldn't balk at caricaturing a politician of a Muslim country etc because that country is predominantly Muslim or whatever.

The cartoon was about a particular politician or particular political faction and how the Israeli elections changed nothing vis a vis the occupied territories.

You can say that it is unfair, outrageous, OTT etc but it is in no way anti-Semitic. Unless Harv you want to change your mind and tell us that The State of Israel and " The Jews " are one and the same. I guess they are when it suits the Hasborafia and not when it doesn't.

The more I reflect on the shameless disingenuity with which Scarfe is being slandered the more angry I get.


happygoldfish

Fri, 02/01/2013 - 15:29

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-1 points

joemillis1959: For those who really want to know the difference between Antisemitic, anti-israel and anti-Netanyahu cartoons,, Eli Valley provides an excellent guide on thedailybeast.com

eli valley is "artist in residence" at the forward

his "17 points" aren't points at all, simply a list of things he considers are and aren't anti-semitic, without any attempt at explanation or justification

(you like that, don't you? )

here's one person's summary of eli valley, from fresnozionim.org

Eli Valley is not a suburb of San Francisco. No, Eli Valley is a vicious Israel- and Jew-hating cartoonist who draws things like the panel above, in which Bibi Netanyahu rapes Barack Obama in outer space, after first eating his arms and legs. Really. … it appeared on the extreme anti-Zionist +972 website.

Eli Valley’s message is simple: Israel is an apartheid state, ruled by neo-fascists and fanatical religious fundamentalists. American Jews that support Israel are either dupes, or are cynically exploiting the fear and ignorance of other Jews to rake in the dough. The Jewish establishment in the US pushes the party line of Israel’s “right-wing” government, and viciously clamps down on dissent. Meanwhile, the Likud regime continues to victimize Palestinian Arabs and shun peace while manipulating — with the help of fundamentalist Christian fanatics — the US government, in best Elders of Zion fashion.

Valley’s style is imitative of R. Crumb and of 1950′s horror comics, although he doesn’t have the artistic talent of Crumb or Jack Davis, Will Elder, etc. His politics aren’t original either, being straight out of the Peter Beinart / J Street book. Much of the humor in his work comes from deliberate shock or vulgarity, as in the Bibi and Obama strip. What distinguishes him, and titillates his Forward audience, is his effective projection of a visceral dislike of Jews, particularly observant Jews.

joe, if you want to debate what makes an antisemitic cartoon, by all means start, and i'll answer

but it's pointless merely drawing attention to yet another cartoonist whose work you personally don't consider antisemitic when most people would

rather like you personally giving a clean bill of health to a cartoon which the owner and editor of its publisher accept was grotesque and offensive to the jewish people!

(btw, i'm the lea valley goldfish! )


Rich Armbach

Fri, 02/01/2013 - 17:48

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0 points

"simply a list of things he considers are and aren't anti-semitic,"

Well it what is or isn't anti-semitic would now seem to be just a matter of opinion. Inevitable once you move away from THE meaning of anti-semitic and start speaking a private language.

"which the owner and editor of its publisher accept was grotesque and offensive to the Jewish people!"

The owner of its publisher is the amoral phone hacking RUPERT MURDOCH, who cares what he thinks. The ACTING editor will do as he is told.


joemillis1959

Fri, 02/01/2013 - 17:56

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0 points

Mr/Ms Goldfish, Eli Valley's 17-points are both points and self-explanatory.

The Fresco Zionist, whoever he or she may be, views Eli Valley's cartoons as antisemitic. That's his/her problem.

The editor of the Sunday Times does the bidding of his paper's publisher who is... Rupert Murdoch. The less said about the latter the better. And the acting editor is only there by grace of Rupe, since even the NI board don't really want him.


Rich Armbach

Thu, 06/20/2013 - 10:17

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0 points

yyyyaaaaawwwwwnnnnnn


Harvey

Thu, 06/20/2013 - 13:02

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0 points

Harvey

Thu, 06/20/2013 - 13:06

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0 points

happygoldfish

Fri, 06/21/2013 - 18:23

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2 points
rich, what i originally said was true

what you originally said (about me lying) was not true

why do you keep advertising that you're not bothered about the difference?

you're one of those people who consider that lies and half-truths don't matter, so long as you're criticising israel, or criticising people who defend israel

you lied about jonathan hoffman, you lied about me, you even lied about yourself (claiming not to understand the cartoon), and you lied about stephen pollard ("ranting")

and when caught out in a lie, you tend to defend it with another lie

why do you keep drawing attention to yourself in this way?

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