Palestinian Suffering as the “Real” Holocaust
Cartoonists contest what are regarded in the Islamic Republic as “hegemonic” narratives regarding the Holocaust by constructing the Holocaust as (i) a Jewish “myth” concocted by Jews and Zionists; (ii) a facilitator of brutality against Palestinians; (iii) an event that may have taken place but that caused more harm to the Palestinians than it did to the Jews.
Several images represent the Holocaust as a Jewish invention and Jews as malevolently deceiving the world with this “myth” for strategic gain (Litvak and Webman, 2009). For instance, Homayoun Abdolrahimi from Iran26 depicts a Jew (wearing the Star of David on his arm) making a public announcement concerning the Holocaust. The Jew is depicted as undergoing the “Pinocchio Effect” (his nose has grown exceptionally long), which suggests that he is deceiving his audience about the Holocaust. Indeed, the length of his nose is intended to reflect the magnitude of the “lie”. Indeed, Holocaust deniers typically refer to the Holocaust as one of the “greatest” lies ever perpetrated (Lipstadt, 1993). Similarly, a cartoon by Amir Baghestani from Iran27 depicts three Jews – one of them creating an Israeli flag by hand; another controlling the world, indicated by the position of the globe at his feet; and the third Jew with a Pinocchio-like nose holding a placard depicting the word “Holocaust”. Crucially, the Jew who controls the world “assists” his collaborator who “lies” about the Holocaust by attempting to cut off his long nose with an axe. This cartoon constructs the Jews as deceiving the world but also as possessing a willingness to assist one another in perpetuating the “lie”. This echoes social representations of Jewish world domination embodied in antisemitic conspiracy theories (Lindemann and Levy, 2010b). More generally,
24 irancartoon.ir/gallery/album48/khaldoon_gharaibehjordan 25 irancartoon.ir/gallery/album48/Nedal_Ali_Deep_syria_1 26 irancartoon.ir/gallery/album48/Homayoun_Abdolrahimi 27 irancartoon.ir/gallery/album48/Amin_Baghestani_Iran there is an anchoring of Judaism and Zionism to dishonesty and fraudulent behavior, providing a negative lens for regarding these ideologies.
There is a constructed interplay between Jews and Zionists in concocting the “Holocaust myth”. A cartoon by Rahim Taghipour Sedgh Razmi from Iran28 attributes the “Holocaust myth” to the State of Israel by displaying the word “Holocaust” followed by “Made in Israel”. The cartoon constructs this as a Zionist fabrication (Litvak and Webman, 2009). Conversely, in a cartoon by Tallil Abdellatif from Morocco,29 a smiling Jew (wearing a black hat with the Star of David and sidelocks) draws onto his white shirt the vertical blue lines of the Auschwitz concentration camp prisoner uniform, while the world stands behind and observes him gagged. Thus, the Holocaust is represented as a Jewish scam and the world as a helpless bystander (Lipstadt, 1993). Similarly, a cartoon by Hossein Taheri from Iran30 represents the “Evil Jew” (depicted as an ugly and hairy beastlike figure wearing a Jewish skullcap) as concocting a toxic potion labelled as “Holocaust” by mixing caustic (a chemical which is able to burn organic tissue) and another chemical labelled as “hollow” (referring to the alleged hollowness of the “Holocaust myth”). On the one hand, this constructs the Holocaust as a make-believe Jewish creation and, on the other, as a highly toxic one which poses a hazard. The metaphorical objectification of the Holocaust in terms of a toxic substance serves to delegitimise well-established knowledge concerning the Holocaust and to re-construct it as a damaging hoax.
It is implied in many cartoons that the toxicity of the “Holocaust myth” consists primarily of its facilitation of brutality against the Palestinian people in particular. Maziyar Bizhani from Iran31 depicts a Jew flying in a hot air balloon with the word “Holocaust” printed across it. From the sky, the Jew aims his rifle at a young Palestinian boy holding a slingshot, which constructs disparity between the alleged power of the Jews (who disseminate the “Holocaust myth”) versus that of the Palestinians. Similarly, in another cartoon by Jihad Awrtani from Jordan,32 a terrified-looking Palestinian man is being beheaded by a large sword with Holocaust written across it, which represents the Holocaust as a (Jewish-Zionist) weapon used against innocent Palestinians. In another contribution,33 the same cartoonist represents the “t” in “Holocaust” as the crucifix of a Palestinian man wearing a keffiyeh. Each nail used to crucify the Palestinian displays the word “Holocaust”. In a cartoon by Sadik Pala from India,34 a grinning Israeli soldier stands on two book volumes entitled “Holocaust 1” and “Holocaust 2” in order to reach over a wall and fire his rifle at Palestinian civilians. The Israeli soldier is
29 irancartoon.ir/gallery/album48/tALLIL_aBDELLATIF_1 30 irancartoon.ir/gallery/album48/Hossein_Taheri_Iran 31 irancartoon.ir/gallery/album48/Maziyar_Bizhani_3_001 32 irancartoon.ir/gallery/album48/Jihad_AwrtaniJordan_1 33 irancartoon.ir/gallery/album48/Jihad_AwrtaniJordan 34 irancartoon.ir/gallery/album48/Sadic_Pala_India_1 depicted as sadistically deriving enjoyment from killing his Palestinian civilian victims. Similarly, in various cartoons by Jaber Asadi from Iran, Israeli soldiers use the Holocaust to defend themselves physically while perpetrating acts of brutality against others. One cartoon35 depicts a giant Israeli soldier holding a tank in one hand and a Holocaust gravestone as a shield in the other. This suggests that the giant soldier who is indeed potent enough to hold a tank in one hand callously makes use of the “Holocaust myth” for self-defence. In the other cartoon,36 an Israeli soldier clutches onto a Holocaust gravestone in order to avoid falling from a cliff, which constructs the Holocaust as a lifeline for Israel (and its army). These cartoons, collectively, suggest that the Holocaust is maliciously utilised by the Jew-Zionist in order to terrorise the Palestinians and others. The Holocaust is anchored to functionality, rather than to factual history, which depicts it as a “useful”, rather than a truthful, narrative.
A number of cartoons construct the Nazi Holocaust as a myth and the “Palestinian Holocaust” as the true one. For instance, Tommy Thomdean37 from Indonesia depicts the Grim Reaper as reading a book entitled “Holocaust History” which displays the Palestinian flag, rather than a Jewish symbol, suggesting that the “true” Holocaust is the Palestinian one. Crucially, the Palestinian “Holocaust” is implied to be so chilling and devastating that even the Grim Reaper shudders in fear. In a cartoon by Gatto Alessandro from Italy,38 an empty Auschwitz prisoner uniform is depicted as the wall and window of a prisoner cell in which a sombrelooking Palestinian is imprisoned. Like Taheri's aforementioned cartoon, the empty uniform symbolises the “hollowness” of the Holocaust narrative. Similarly, a cartoon by Carlos Latuff from Brazil39 depicts a Palestinian man wearing a keffiyeh and an Auschwitz prisoner uniform with a red crescent (symbolising Islam) rather than the Star of David. The prisoner is located within a concentration camp. Crucially, the Palestinian Holocaust is represented as being so severe that it surpasses any act that the Nazis “may” have committed against the Jews. For instance, Abdellah Derkaoui from Morocco40 represents an Israeli bulldozer as constructing a wall in front of the Al Aqsa Mosque. The wall displays the Auschwitz concentration camp which obscures the Al Aqsa Mosque, suggesting that Israel has itself rendered Palestine a concentration camp much like Auschwitz. Some cartoonists appear to acknowledge the veracity of Holocaust knowledge but nonetheless construct the Palestinians as suffering the “ongoing” consequences, which allegedly surpass Jewish suffering in the Nazi Holocaust. For instance, in a cartoon by Shiva Sahamifard from Iran,41 a Jew has been stabbed with a blade
41 irancartoon.ir/gallery/album48/shiva_sahamifard_iran displaying the Nazi swastika but the blade has passed through the Jew's body and threatens to harm a Palestinian family at the other end. This represents the Palestinians as the innocent victims of the Nazi Holocaust. Similarly, Sidnei Marques from Brazil42 depicts Hitler as inserting his pistol into the ear of a Jew
– the pistol passes through the Jew's skull and poses a danger to an innocent Palestinian man. Galym Boranbayev from Kazakhstan43 depicts a deceased Jew who has been hanged with a noose displaying the word “Holocaust”. However, two Palestinians have in turn been hanged with the sidelocks of the deceased Jew. Similarly, a cartoon by Soheil Setayesh from Iran44 depicts two books about the Holocaust, one of which has been authored by Hitler (referring to the Nazi Holocaust) and the other by Ariel Sharon, the former prime minister of Israel. This suggests that, despite the Holocaust perpetrated against the Jews, Israel is guilty of perpetrating a “Holocaust” of its own against the Palestinian people. Collectively, these cartoons do acknowledge the Nazi Holocaust but they are intended to attenuate its significance vis-à-vis Palestinian suffering and to construct the Palestinians as innocent ongoing victims of the Holocaust, for which Israel is held responsible (Litvak and Webman, 2009). Incidentally, these cartoons anchor Palestinian suffering to the Nazi Holocaust, in order to provide a lens for considering the extent of Palestinian suffering.