Nazi-Zionism as an International Conspiracy
There is a consistent depiction of Jews and Israelis as Nazis, and of Zionism as overlapping with Nazi ideology (Litvak and Webman, 2009). Cartoonists represent the world as being subservient to the “Nazi-Zionist” ideology due partly to an alleged international conspiracy (involving the US and UK, primarily) and to the constructed power of the “Holocaust myth”.
Several cartoonists depict Zionism and Nazism as two sides of the same coin. Choukri Bellahadi from Algeria45 depicts the flag of Israel, which has been partially peeled off to reveal an underlying Nazi flag (the swastika). This constructs an underlying Nazi ideology as being superficially “camouflaged” by an Israeli flag, thereby representing synergy between the two ideologies. Similarly, a more abstract image by Mohammad Aman from Bahrain46 represents a falling Star of David which gradually becomes a swastika symbol, suggesting a natural metamorphosis of Zionism into Nazism. Some cartoonists construct the unifying thread between Zionism and Nazism as brutality by depicting lethal instruments.
46 irancartoon.ir/gallery/album48/Mohammad_Aman_Bahrain For instance, Alireza Nosrati from Iran47 depicts a blood-stained axe which displays the symbols of both Nazism (the swastika) and of Zionism (the Star of David). Crucially, the axe is double bevelled – the swastika is displayed on the smaller blade which has less blood on it than the larger blade displaying the Star of David. This suggests that, despite synergy between the ideologies, it is the Zionists who have more blood on their hands than the Nazis.
Cartoonists depict symbolic figures of Nazism and Zionism, particularly Hitler and Sharon, respectively, in order to conflate the two ideological movements. For instance, Maziyar Bizhani from Iran48 depicts Hitler typically dressed in his Nazi uniform, but his toothbrush moustache is represented as the Star of David, suggesting a form of synergy between Hitler and Zionism. Conversely, in cartoons by Mohammad Aman from Bahrain49 and Leo Garesia from the USA,50 former Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon is represented as a Nazi officer. In Garesi's cartoon, he is depicted as wearing the Star of David on one arm and the Nazi swastika on the other, while displaying the “SS” symbol of the Nazi Schutzstaffel on his collars. Similarly, Aman's cartoon represents Sharon as a ghost-like figure wearing a Jewish skullcap and a Nazi uniform. His uniform displays the SS Totenkopf (“death's head”), which was used by the SS between 1934–45, as well as the Nazi party eagle symbol which, instead of the swastika, displays the Star of David. Wearing a Nazi uniform which also incorporates Zionist symbols, Sharon stands before the flag of Israel. In both cartoons, there is a constructed synergy and hybridity between Nazism and Zionism (Smith, 2012), which is represented as being embodied by Ariel Sharon, himself a personification of Israel. Yet, there is also a more general conflation of Jews and Nazis, as exemplified by a cartoon by Yasin Alkhalil from Syria.51 He depicts a Jew (stereotypically represented as having a hooked nose and evil grin) holding a large knife and surrounded by a long trail of human skulls leading from the Al Aqsa Mosque. The Jew's reflection in the mirror is Hitler, wearing his military uniform with Nazi swastikas. The wellknown atrocities of Hitler and the constructed atrocities of the grinning, knifewielding Jew in the cartoon are intended to represent Zionism as another form of Nazism. These cartoons anchor Zionism to the Nazi ideology, providing a lens for regarding and evaluating the ideology underlying the State of Israel.
In addition to conflating Nazism and Zionism, some cartoons construct a collaboration between the hybrid Nazi-Zionist alliance, the US and other Western powers (Litvak and Webman, 2009). For example, Jitet Koestana from Indonesia52 represents a figure with a toothbrush moustache (Hitler), a long beard and sidelocks (the Jew-Zionist) and an Uncle Sam hat (the US). Similarly, a cartoon by Gavimo
48 irancartoon.ir/gallery/album48/Maziyar_Bizhani_11_001 49 irancartoon.ir/gallery/album48/Mohammad_Aman_Bahrain 50 irancartoon.ir/gallery/album48/Leo_Garesia_USA
52 irancartoon.ir/gallery/album48/Jitet_Koestana_Indonesia_3 from Brazil53 depicts the US flag with 50 stars in the form of the Star of David, which conflates Israel and the US. Reiterating the close relationship between Israel and the US, a cartoon by Esmail Babai54 depicts an Orthodox Jewish infant (wearing a black hat with sidelocks) asleep in a cot that displays the sign “Made in the US”. Moreover, the Jew is covered with a blanket in the form of the UK Union Flag. Crucially, the cot has been placed at the doorstep of Palestine, which implies that the UK and US have played a fundamental role in creating and supporting Zionism/the State of Israel. Cartoonists represent the collaboration between the US, UK and Israel as being a malevolent one, which has resulted in Palestinian suffering. Naji Benji55 depicts two smiling British and American men restraining a tearful Palestinian as a grinning Jew with sidelocks brands the man with a red hot iron in the form of the Star of David. Thus, the nature of this international collaboration is constructed as sadistic in that the US and UK allegedly facilitate Jewish-Israeli domination and oppression.
The “direction” of influence between Jews/Israel and Western powers is ambiguous with cartoons suggesting different patterns of control and subservience. Gavimo's aforementioned cartoon depiction of the US flag suggests that there is a close relationship between the US and Israel. Conversely, like Babai's cartoon of the Jewish infant delivered to Palestine by the US and the UK, Marcio Leite from Brazil56 constructs the US as a puppetmaster that controls the strings of an Orthodox Jew with a beard and sidelocks who in turn controls the strings of an Israeli soldier. The Israeli soldier, consistent with the social representation of Israeli brutality, uses his strings to hang a Palestinian. Conversely, Khaldoon Gharaibeh from Jordan57 represents Jews as controlling the world – Gharaibeh depicts a grinning Jew wearing a black hat with the Star of David playing with a yo-yo in the form of the planet, suggesting Jewish world domination, a social representation that has existed since at least the 1800s (Herf, 2006). This image is similarly presented in the aforementioned cartoon by Gharaibeh which depicts the “l” of “Israel” as a boot crushing the earth. Taken together, the cartoons construct a representation of Jewish-Zionist world domination. Crucially, the “Holocaust myth” is represented as an important means of deceiving the world into subservience to the JewishZionist conspiracy (Lipstadt, 1993). This is depicted in a cartoon by Mohammad Aladwani from Iraq,58 which represents the world as tearfully sympathising with a Jew crying because of an apparently trivial wound on his finger but as willingly turning its back on a Palestinian with a severed hand. Similarly, in a cartoon by Mostafa Hosseini from Iran59 the world is indifferent to its severed
53 irancartoon.ir/gallery/album48/Gavimo_Brazil 54 irancartoon.ir/gallery/album48/Esmail_Babai_Iran 55 irancartoon.ir/gallery/album48/Naji_Benji_Morocco 56 irancartoon.ir/gallery/album48/Marcio_Leite_Brazil
57 irancartoon.ir/gallery/album48/khaldoon_gharaibehjordan_1 58 irancartoon.ir/gallery/album48/mohammed_aladwani_iraq 59 irancartoon.ir/gallery/album48/Mosatafa_Hosseini_Iran arm (Palestine) and instead fixates tearfully on its plastered finger spelling the word “Holocaust”. In short, there are different ways of objectifying Jewish and Palestinian suffering, which highlights the differential extent of gravity – the Jewish suffering is objectified in terms of a trivial finger wound, while Palestinian suffering is represented in terms of a severed arm.
This chapter highlights that, by endorsing the cartoon contest, the Islamic Republic of Iran sought to reiterate its long-standing commitment to antiZionism and to export and “internationalise” this ideology. This intention was undoubtedly facilitated by the fact that cartoonists from many non-Muslim countries participated (see Figure 6.1 above), the international publicity that the contest received, and the widespread dissemination of the cartoons on the Internet. Despite the allegedly anti-Zionist intentions of the organisers, the cartoons overtly draw upon long-standing antisemitic themes and motifs, such as (i) ritual murder; (ii) the blood libel; and (iii) Jewish world domination and social representations of Jews as “demonic” and “bloodthirsty”, which have been observed in previous research into cartoon depictions of Jews and Israel (see Chapter 2). These themes and descriptions refl “anti-semyths” originally associated with European antisemitism but which have gradually come to form part of Arab/Muslim discourses on Jews and Israel (Kotek, 2009).
As a response to the Danish cartoon controversy, the International Holocaust Cartoon Contest served several important functions for the Islamic Republic of Iran – maintaining continuity of their politico-ideological agenda and bolstering self-efficacy and distinctiveness in the Muslim world, in particular. Although the organisers of the contest claimed that their aims were anti-Zionist and not antisemitic, this chapter elucidates the overtly antisemitic character of the contest and its cartoons. The cartoons themselves actively draw upon antisemitic imagery
– some more overtly than others – in delegitimising Israel and Zionism. They feature a synthesis of “theological, moral, racial, social and political negation”, which conflates Jews and Zionists (Stav, 1999, p. 18). Holocaust denial is a core theme in the cartoons, and serves the function of delegitimising the State of Israel and demonising Jews. Although anti-Zionism may well be the “goal” of some cartoonists, the imagery evoked in order to delegitimise Israel and Zionism is quite unambiguously antisemitic.
These satirical cartoons provide their viewers with a distorted, one-sided version of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and of Jewish history, and may therefore shape viewers' beliefs concerning Jews and Israel in fundamentally negative ways. They are intended to appeal to the Islamic Ummah through the construction of Jewish-Zionist threats to Islam and Muslims. This could contribute to anti-Jewish feeling among Muslims in particular (Jikeli, 2013), while systematic Holocaust denial risks diminishing public understanding of the potential horrors of group
prejudice and dehumanisation more generally (Haslam, 2006). By endorsing this contest, the Islamic Republic of Iran sought to “normalise” Holocaust denial (that is, antisemitism) as a legitimate means of criticising Israel and Zionism, creating ideal conditions for negative intergroup relations and social disharmony. The next two chapters examine the ways in which some of the representations identified in Part III of this book may surface in thought and everyday talk.