Friday, February 09, 2007

Continuing normalization of anti-semitic imagery - A cartoon roundup from Iran

As David Hirsh of Engage pointed out in a previous cartoon roundup in September 2006, an ongoing resurgence in the pervasiveness and respectability of anti-semitic imagery is not a tendency confined to Islamic societies but a phenomenon of world-wide scope--including western countries--though obviously it takes different forms and reaches different levels of virulence in different areas. I noted in my own introductory remarks:
In some cases, of course, what's involved is simply an upsurge in hysterical anti-Zionism (i.e., systematic bias against Israel, shading off into obsessive hatred and demonization). That's bad enough, in my humble opinion. But in an increasing range of cases even the pretense of drawing a sharp line between anti-Zionist bigotry and expressions of outright anti-semitism is wearing thin.

And even where anti-Zionism really is distinct from anti-semitism (I have long argued that the two need to be analytically distinguished, and in fact they often have genuinely distinct roots in practice), that's not enough to exonerate those who peddle or accept anti-Zionist bias and bigotry. At the very least, the constant demonization of Israel and "Zionism" helps to make demonization of Jews in general increasingly respectable (or at least, as apologists see it, "understandable"), and it is often pretty tempting for the first to spill over into the second in practice ... in ways that these images help to make clear.
Even people who would like to downplay this phenomenon, excuse it, or explain it away usually find it hard to deny that routine use of unmistakably anti-semitic (not just anti-Zionist) imagery is widespread in mass media throughout the Arab world.

The same is true in much of the Iranian mass media--and this is not just a matter of a few 'extremist' publications linked, for example, to President Ahmadinejad and his immediate circle (whose hold on power may or may not be transitory), but above all of major official and semi-official outlets that express the mainstream outlook of the established ruling elites at the heart of the regime. The important mass-circulation daily newspaper Kayhan is one example:
Kayhan (کيهان in Persian, meaning Universe in English) is one of the most influential newspapers in Iran, published by the Kayhan Institute. It is currently managed by Hossein Shariatmadari, who is also the representative of the Supreme Leader [Ali Khamenei] at the Institute. [Wikipedia]
Below is a selection of some recent cartoons from Kayhan (from the German website Honestly Concerned).

It is worth adding that the world-view expressed in Kayhan and other newspapers like it is that of regime hard-liners, and it probably doesn't fully reflect the outlook of many ordinary Iranians, who most observers agree tend to be less intensely anti-semitic and hostile to Israel (not to mention less anti-American) than most other populations in the region. But the former group are the ones running the country, after all. And being exposed to a daily stream of 1930s-style anti-Zionist and anti-semitic propaganda is bound to have an effect on wider public attitudes.

--Jeff Weintraub

P.S. Incidentally, another interesting theme that runs through many of these cartoons is the persistent accusation that (Sunni) Arab governments, and even al-Qaeda, are actually allies or stooges of the "Zionists" (unlike the Shiite Islamist regime in Iran and Shiite Islamist groups like Hezbollah). I have included a few examples of this genre at the end (below).


  • The new UN-resolution has totally condemned holocaust denial.
    Kayhan; 5.2.2007

  • البرادعي: صبر بين المللي در مقابل برنامه هسته اي ايران سرآمده است.
    Al-Baradei: The patience of the world in regards to the Iranian nuclear program has come to an end.
    Kayhan, 15.1.2007

  • Kayhan, 16.12.2007

  • Occupied Territories
    Kayhan, 16.11.2006

  • ارتباط بين رژيم صهيونيستي و سران سازشكار عرب!

    Relations of Arab leaders with the Zionist regime.
    Kayhan, 28.10.2006

    A French researcher was indicted for holocaust denial.
    Swing: Free speech

    Kayhan, 9.10.2006

  • سينماي هاليوود و صهيونيسم!

    Hollywood-Cinema and Zionism
    Kayhan, 5.10.2006

  • تعدادي از بازيگران و فيلمسازان هاليوود، با محكوميت حزب الله لبنان از رژيم صهيونيستي حمايت كردند.

  • پروفسور و استاد دانشگاه «بن گوريون» اسرائيل: بسياري از صهيونيست ها در جنگ دوم جهاني از افسران ارشد نازي بوده اند.

    A professor of the Israeli Ben Gurion University said: During the second world war many Zionists were high ranking Nazi officers.
    Kayhan, 26.8.2006

  • به مناسبت افتتاح نمايشگاه بين المللي كاريكاتور هولوكاست درتهران!

  • Arab Oil
    Kayhan, 18.7.2006

    [Who really hates "Zionists" the most?: (Sunni) Arab governments and (Sunni Islamist) al-Qaeda as Zionist stooges. --JW]

    Kayhan, 31.7.2006

    1. Arab Oil
      Kayhan, 27.7.2006

    2. The Saudis are hatching an egg: Intifadah and dialogue with Israel.
      Kayhan, 26.7.2006

    3. دبيركل حزب الله: جنگ برعليه لبنان با حمايت برخي سران عرب انجام مي گيرد.

      The head of Hisbollah says: Some Arab leaders are part of the war against Lebanon.
      Kayhan, 25.7.2006

    4. «القاعده» حزب الله لبنان را به شدت مورد حمله قرار داد و محكوم كرد.

      Al-Kaida has strongly criticized Hisbollah.
      Kayhan 24.7.2006