Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Iranian expert unmasks "Tom and Jerry" as a Jewish plot

Chad Goldberg has alerted me to an unusually illuminating cultural-studies analysis from Iran translated by MEMRI (the Middle East Media Research Institute). It's worth reading the whole item, but most of it is below.

Incidentally, for those who are not familiar with MEMRI, it performs the very useful service of translating articles, interviews, political statements, and other items from the Middle East into English, thus making them available to those of us who don't speak Arabic, Farsi, or other relevant languages. Some otherwise intelligent and knowledgeable people criticize MEMRI for doing this, essentially because these items often make the sources look bad. The response to that is so obvious that I won't bother to spell it out.

There are also occasional insinuations that MEMRI's translations are inaccurate, misleading, or tendentious. But as far as I can tell, these insinuations are entirely bogus. It's possible to argue with some of MEMRI's interpretations or analyses, and some people might want to select other items for translation (in which case they should go ahead and do it). But as far as I know, the general accuracy of MEMRI's translations has not been seriously challenged.

It would be nice to think that this particular item is a parody, but the ingenious analysis reported here was apparently offered in all seriousness. Most of the material posted by MEMRI is not as transparently idiotic as this, but anti-semitic conspiracy theorizing is fairly pervasive even in more "serious" discussions. This item offers a bit of comic relief, as long as we bear in mind that the larger reality it expresses is not, in fact, very funny.

--Jeff Weintraub

Cultural Advisor to Iranian Education Ministry and Member of Interfaith Organization Lectures on Iranian TV: Tom and Jerry - A Jewish Conspiracy to Improve the Image of Mice, Because Jews Were Termed "Dirty Mice" in Europe

On February 19, 2006, Iran's Channel 4 covered a film seminar that included a lecture by Professor Hasan Bolkhari. [1] In addition to being a member of the Film Council of Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB), Bolkhari is a cultural advisor to the Iranian Education Ministry, [2] and active on behalf of interfaith issues. [3]
The following are excerpts from Bokhari's lecture.

Hasan Bolkhari: "There is a cartoon that children like. They like it very much, and so do adults - Tom and Jerry." [...]
"Some say that this creation by Walt Disney [sic] will be remembered forever. The Jewish Walt Disney Company gained international fame with this cartoon. It is still shown throughout the world. This cartoon maintains its status because of the cute antics of the cat and mouse - especially the mouse.

[JW: Actually, "Tom and Jerry" was not a Disney cartoon. But that just shows how deviously the Jewish conspiracy works. And it so happens that Disney wasn't Jewish. But why quibble?]

"Some say that the main reason for making this very appealing cartoon was to erase a certain derogatory term that was prevalent in Europe." [...]
"If you study European history, you will see who was the main power in hoarding money and wealth, in the 19th century. In most cases, it is the Jews. Perhaps that was one of the reasons which caused Hitler to begin the antisemitic trend, and then the extensive propaganda about the crematoria began... Some of this is true. We do not deny all of it.
"Watch Schindler's List. Every Jew was forced to wear yellow star on his clothing. The Jews were degraded and termed 'dirty mice.' Tom and Jerry was made in order to change the Europeans' perception of mice. One of terms used was 'dirty mice.'
"I'd like to tell you that... It should be noted that mice are very cunning...and dirty." [...]
"No ethnic group or people operates in such a clandestine manner as the Jews." [...]
"Read the history of the Jews in Europe. This ultimately led to Hitler's hatred and resentment. As it turns out, Hitler had behind-the-scenes connections with the Protocols [of the Elders of Zion ].
"Tom and Jerry was made in order to display the exact opposite image. If you happen to watch this cartoon tomorrow, bear in mind the points I have just raised, and watch it from this perspective. The mouse is very clever and smart. Everything he does is so cute. He kicks the poor cat's ass. Yet this cruelty does not make you despise the mouse. He looks so nice, and he is so clever... This is exactly why some say it was meant to erase this image of mice from the minds of European children, and to show that the mouse is not dirty and has these traits. Unfortunately, we have many such cases in Hollywood shows."

Update - February 23, 2007 (Andrew Sullivan):


Of course, the Iranian fruitcake was unaware that Disney had nothing to do with Tom and Jerry. He was also unaware that Joseph Barbera, who did create them, was of Lebanese descent.