Really, Fuss Over Cartoon And Ersatz Holocaust Day A Bit Much
01/31/2013 - 12:09
Helen Chernikoff
This cartoonist's creator got a ton of flak for publishing it on a Holocaust memorial day. Via JTA
This cartoonist's creator got a ton of flak for publishing it on a Holocaust memorial day. Via JTA

Poor Gerald Scarfe.

The Sunday Times cartoonist says he didn’t know Jan. 27 was International Holocaust Memorial Day and for that reason chose that day to publish a cartoon depicting Bibi building a wall on the body of Palestinians.

He got in a lot of trouble for it, including scoldings from the U.K.’s chief rabbi and moral exemplar Rupert Murdoch.

Confession: I didn’t know it either, Gerald, and I’m a writer at a Jewish newspaper.

So I cut you slack for being what you in your apology call “stupidly completely unaware” of your timing.

Turns out this particular commemorative day is a much bigger deal in the U.K. than it is here. So maybe Gerald should have had a clue. (American Jews remember the Holocaust on the Israeli Yom Hashoah.)

But even if IHMD, as the Brits call it – sounds like a government agency – is truly significant somewhere, I’d argue that it probably shouldn’t be. Here’s why: the United Nations made it up. Less than ten years ago. According to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, the General Assembly picked Jan. 27, the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.

Maybe the whiff of bureaucracy surrounding the thing is no coincidence.

So not only is IMHD a bit ersatz, but it owes its existence to the U.N., the very institution that serves as a communal whipping boy for the very folks who are getting all worked up about the timing of Scarfe’s cartoon.

Even richer, they got all worked up on the very day Israel itself delivered a (quite possibly deserved) public slap to the U.N. by becoming the first member country ever, with the exception of Haiti after the storm, to boycott its human rights review.

This means the Scarfe outcry is just not internally consistent. And such noisy, illogical distress weakens our stance when we have more significant grievances.

I’m no self-hating Jew. I love myself. (Thanks for that to Simon Kelner and Howard Jacobson, two British Yids.) But for our own sake, we need to consider picking our battles more carefully.

helenatjewishweek@gmail.com; @thesimplechild

Comments

The fact Sarfe was caught publishing the cartoon on IHMD was just icing on the cake, and in fact is not really a critique of clueless Scarfe, but rather of his far more stupidly clueless editors, whose job it is to be aware of such side issues.

But no, the real outrage was not because of that detail, the cartoon is simply extremely insensitive and, far worse, outright hateful. It is also wrong.

Scarfe reproduced motifs from the blood libels and from other antisemitic propaganda, and that is hateful and wrong. In addition, until Scarfe can demonstrate that he depicted Assad, Ahmadinejad, Nasralla, Mursi and other bloody strongmen (especially Assad, in recent months) proportionally, in far more horrible cartoons corresponding to those wicked leaders' crimes, until such demonstration by Scarfe, his depiction of Netanyahu is simply hateful (obviously extremely biased), dishonest incitement.

You see, at least there is one reasonable jew who-is not blinded by his loyalty to Israel, right or wrong-agrees somewhat with me. You can't force down on every ones throat to like Israel, or Bibi Nathanyahu. It's just not right nor it is good. If it does not become counter productive. Israel and Bibi, have done some stupid things, and we need to be able to say them and speak out about them, so do others. Not every thing is Anti semite, or self hating Jew !

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