The Holocaust through Israel-hating Eyes
Holocaust‡ Remembrance Day (Yom HaShoah) 2015 began in the evening of Wednesday, April 15 and ended in the evening of Thursday, April 16. About a week before the Iranians announced that 839 artworks have, so far, been received by the secretariat for the Second International Holocaust Cartoon Contest, from over 40 countries. Don’t expect sympathy.
The first contest held in 2006 was often described as the Holocaust Denial contest but that is an over simplification. The attitude of Israel’s Muslim neighbours to the fate of European Jewry is far from monolithic and there are some newish twists.
Theme of the 2015 Iranian Holocaust Cartoon and Caricature Contest
We Don’t deny Holocaust,We are not Antisemite
But we have 3 important questions about Holocaust:
- If west doesn’t know any limit for freedom of expression, why they don’t permit the researchers and historians to consider Holocaust?
- Why should Palestinian oppressed people compensate Holocaust. The people that didn’t have any role in world war II?
- We are worried about another Holocausts such as Atomic Holocaust( Holocaust in Iraq,Syria and Gaza)
Variations on the theme
Don’t expect consistency from people who leverage the events of the Second World War to promote an anti-Israel agenda. I realised this years ago after I read three of these logically incompatible reactions to the Holocaust together in one Israel Hating article. One day I expect to find a full house of them expressed in one conference with no objections from anyone there.
Classic denial: It didn’t happen
Classic Holocaust denial by Arabs and Iranians needs to ignore mountains of documented evidence by the Germans, the victorious Allies and Jewish victims. To do this they borrow much from the Western deniers. Significantly the 2015 contest specifically doesn’t deny the Holocaust happened. Still that didn’t stop the 2006 contest awarding a prize for this denial cartoon (click on thumbnails for larger image). I suspect the latest contest will have no problem, either.
The French roughly translates as who brought the myth of the gas chambers to the ground? The answer, Faurisson. Robert Faurisson denies various aspects of the Holocaust, including the existence of gas chambers in Nazi death camps, the systematic killing of European Jews using gas during World War II, the authenticity of The Diary of Anne Frank, and the veracity of Elie Wiesel’s accounts of his wartime suffering (Wikipedia).
The contest also seems to have no problem with the stereotype depiction of Jews as ultra-orthodox, either. It would be a fascinating exercise to hear what the organisers define as antisemitism.
Classical denial is based on the widely held belief in the Arab world that Israel was created because of the West’s guilt about the Holocaust. For the record, modern Zionism originated in the 19th century and formal Western acknowledgement of the Jewish right to Israel came following the First World War. The documents of the discussion in the United Nations leading to the 1948 Partition Plan also show no expression of guilt.
As Israel arguably gained a benefit from the events the simplest approach is to deny they happened. The belief that the Jews are clever manipulators, powerful enough to persuade the world and particularly the Germans to compensate it for something that didn’t happen has its roots in Arab Jew Hatred going back to Mohammed.
Off on a slight tangent. the label denier is only applied to two groups Holocaust deniers and Man-made Global Warming deniers. I suspect the choice for MMGW is deliberate and an acknowledgement of how much Holocaust Denial is based on nonsense.
Modified denial: Less than stated
Plenty of examples of this. Palestine Authority President, Mahmud Abbas wrote his doctoral thesis on this. He has hinted that he did this for propaganda purposes but has never disclaimed his thesis.
Only a couple of weeks ago an official P.A. publication claimed between one and two million Jewish victims rather than six million. Nothing goes out in the Palestinian media without the minimum of tacit permission from the president.
One can almost hear the implied ONLY two million. Does that entitle us to only Haifa and Tel Aviv. Perhaps not </SARC>.
A variation of this is the suggestion that Palestinian/Arab/Muslim suffering is far worse than anything that happened to the Jews or apparently anyone else. Any Israel advocate or for that matter anyone interested in putting the Palestine/Israel conflict should (re)read Gunnar Heinsohn and Daniel Pipes now classic, Arab-Israeli Fatalities Rank 49th.
Not us Guv: Palestinians had nothing to do with the Holocaust
The problem with this claim is it ignores Arab and specifically Arabs from the British Mandate’s quite real connection. The image of the Mufti of Jerusalem’s much publicised meeting with Hitler is now widespread. The Mufti is often considered the father of Palestinian nationalism and still regarded as a hero. Yasser Arafat, is often claimed as blood relative. The matter is still argued but he certainly never disclaimed him.
During World War II al Husseini collaborated with both Italy and Germany by making propagandistic radio broadcasts. He established two Arab armies to fight for the Nazis. One, the Handschar Waffen SS, consisted of Bosnian Muslims. The other, Free Arabian Legion was formed from Arab volunteers from the Middle East and North Africa, mainly Palestinians, Iraqis and Tunisians.
Of course this doesn’t mean every Arab was a Nazi any more than every German*. However it does destroy the innocent as babies image that the Iranian contest espouses.
I have heard it argued that the Arabs were enthusiastic Nazi supporters because of German anti -British stance and genocidal intentions for Jews, up to the Battle of El Alamein when it became clear they had no chance of winning in the Middle East. They then lost interest.
Here’s a gruesome what-if? Had the Nazis conquered in the Middle East there is no doubt the Arabs would have enthusiastically murdered the Jews but would the Nazis have granted them independence?
Even ignoring the Mufti’s role, how many hundreds of thousands of Jews might have escaped the Final Solution if the Arabs of Palestine had not lobbied so hard to limit their entrance.
Holocaust reversal: The Arabs as Righteous Gentiles
This is new to me, too. I only discovered Bilal Cleland while researching this article. His thesis seems to be that the undisputed existence of a limited number of righteous Muslim gentiles proves Palestinian good intentions and that the Arab armies fighting for the Nazis actually hindered the Holocaust because they weren’t interested in killing Jews.
However these units were recruited on the understanding that they would be fighting Serbs.
Only the Serbs! That excuses everything.
Somehow I doubt a cartoon illustrating this claim will win in Teheran. I doubt one will be submitted.
Using the Holocaust as a weapon against the Palestinians
This is a close relative to the mantra that the Jews accuse others of antisemitism to divert attention from their crimes against the Palestinians. Once you say it the way is open to be as antisemitic as one likes.
More than any other Holocaust theme this warrants an entire article. There is no doubt that the horrors of the Final Solution are now part of Jewish DNA, including that of those who were too young to experience it personally or who because of the safety of location were not in immediate danger. The overwhelming majority Jews, even those who were for various reasons neutral to Zionism or even anti Zionist before the war took one lasting lesson from it. There has to be even one place where persecuted Jews could find sanctuary.
Misusing an enormous tragedy is an argument that to my knowledge is not used against any other ethnic group in a similar situation. Would anyone be politically incorrect and reckless enough to address American Indians, Australian Aborigines or Black South African and tell them that they are immorally using their own tragedies?
It certainly would be political correctness suicide to suggest that Palestinians talk too much about the Nakba. No matter how disputed the facts it is indisputable that it is part of Palestinian DNA.
Holocaust Inversion #1: Palestinians are the new Jews
This certainly was the winning approach at the 2006 contest and is highly popular around the Internet. If the Holocaust is the definition of ultimate evil then it is clear the Palestinians are victims of ultimate evil. They are the new Jews and the iconic images has been enthusiastically appropriated.
- Anne Frank as a keffiya wearing Palestinian girl can be acquired as a stencil and appears on walls around the world.
- Gaza is frequently referred to as the world’s largest open-air prison – a title North Korea surely holds and the new Auschwitz and Warsaw Ghetto.
If this was simply an example of competing narratives it would be simple to point out the dissimilarities. Expanding population, vastly different casualty rates, Gaza obesity rates, swimming pools, five-star hotels and restaurants, passage through Israel for medical treatment and the Arab (Egyptian) border. The list goes on.
The problem is that the manufacturers of Holocaust imagery are not interested in such a discussion nor do they expect those who enthusiastically seize on it to check.
Holocaust Inversion #2: Israel are the new Nazis
If the Palestinians are the new Jews the Israelis (Jews) are portrayed as the new Nazis.
In case the message is not clear enough the theme in the Caricature section is Benjamin Netanyahu and Adolf Hitler.
I can’t come close to topping British novelist Howard Jacobson’s destruction of this Holocaust Inversion.
Berating Jews with their own history, disinheriting them of pity, as though pity is negotiable or has a sell-by date, is the latest species of Holocaust denial. . . . Instead of saying the Holocaust didn’t happen, the modern sophisticated denier accepts the event in all its terrible enormity, only to accuse the Jews of trying to profit from it, either in the form of moral blackmail or downright territorial theft. According to this thinking, the Jews have betrayed the Holocaust and become unworthy of it, the true heirs to their suffering being the Palestinians.
Who needs the Holocaust?
If west doesn’t know any limit for freedom of expression, why they don’t permit the researchers and historians to consider Holocaust?
The 2006 contest was created as a response to disrespectful cartoons of Mohammed in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten while the 2015 is a response to disrespectful cartoons of Mohammed in the French Magazine Charlie Hebdo.
Not that I wish anything bad to happen to anyone who offends Sharia Law I can’t help wondering why the Iranians didn’t hold an abuse-the-Danes contest or an abuse-the-French contest. Surely there is more than enough to criticise to provide ammunition for offended cartoonists in an-abuse-the-West contest?
There are plenty of restrictions on freedom of speech in the West – from not shouting “Fire” in a crowded cinema to libel. The Holocaust is probably the most researched subject in 20th century history. Could it be that the Iranians are nowhere near convinced of their ability to convince even their own people?
Will someone explain these winning entries to me? I’m sure i would be offended if I understood the ‘joke’.
- Arabs have a complex relationship with the Holocaust, Gilbert Achcar, theguardian, 12 May 2010
- The Holocaust and Muslims, Aladdin Project, 2009
- Muslim and Arab Response to the Holocaust and World War II, Bilal Cleland, iviews.com, 14 December 2012
- Exposing the myth of the Arab bystander to the Holocaust, Shimon Ohayon, Jerusalem Post, 26 January 2014
- Holocaust Denial in the Middle East: The Latest anti-Israel, Anti-Semitic Propaganda Theme, Anti Defamation League, 2001
- Iran To Hold 2nd Int’l Cartoon Contest, Exhibit On Holocaust, Irancartoon, 2015
- “There were between one and two million Jewish victims” of the Holocaust, says official PA daily, Itamar Marcus & Nan Jacques Zilberdik, Palestinian Media Watch, 19 April 2015
- “Gaza = Auschwitz”, Martin Kramer, Mosaic, 26 August 2014
- Let’s see the ‘criticism’ of Israel for what it really is, Howard Jacobson, The Independent, 18 February 2009
‡ Five Minutes for Israel has departed from its usual practice of referring to the holocaust of the Jews in World War II as the Shoah (Hebrew: השואה, HaShoah, “the catastrophe”) to distinguish it from other potential candidates for that title such as the Armenian, American Indian, Ukrainian Famine, Chinese ‘Great Leap Forward’, etc. Too many articles and cartoons use the term Holocaust (with a capital ‘H’) that referring to the Shoah in the context of the article would be too confusing.
† Copied from the Irancartoon English site with no corrections. I suspect Google Translate has much to answer for.
* The Nazi Party, at its peak, gained 37.4% of the vote in the July 1932 Reichstag election. One could argue 62.6% of the Germans were, by definition, not supporters of the Nazis.
†† Carlos Latuff (2nd Prize in 2006) has probably borrowed every iconic antisemitic and Holocaust image ever created.