On April 25th, 2019 the New York Times published a cartoon, depicting U.S. President Trump as a Jewish man, hunched over, blind, with Israel's Prime Minister Netanyahu depicted as a dachshund dog on Trump's leash. It was overtly anti-Semitic.
In response, another cartoonist changed the original antisemitic NYT cartoon into an anti-Palestinian one, showing the dachshund with a "BDS" emblem on its collar, instead of a Star of David.
This tit for tat displays the proxy fight Jews all over the world are being forced into, as a defense for Israel. And, as well, the proxy fight Palestinians are forced into as a scapegoat for antisemitism, no matter where it pops up its ugly head.
Let's break down what is wrong with each cartoon, as too many have a hard time seeing the bigotry and danger in both.
The April 25th anti-Semitic cartoon in the NYTMany defended this cartoon as a true depiction of the relationship between Netanyahu and Trump. Defenders saw Netanyahu as a "guide dog" leading a blind U.S. President around.
How is this cartoon anti-Semitic?1. It labels Jews as dogs. This is a common antisemitic trope, i.e. Jews are "mongrels".
It should be clear that a dachshund is not a guide dog. Nor does the dachshund in the cartoon have clear marks of being a guide dog--for instance, a vest, as is customary for such a character. In fact, dachshunds are not at all a guide dog breed. So, the idea that the dachshund is simply meant as a 'guide dog' is disingenuous.
If the author meant to depict Israel as a guide dog leading Trump around, he should have used a guide dog breed, with a characteristic vest.
2. The cartoonist used the Star of David as a symbol for Israel.
While it is true that the the Israeli flag has the Star of David on it, the symbol is widely knows as a symbol of Jewish people the world over. If the cartoonist wanted to draw attention to Israel (vs. Jews), he could have just as easily depicted the Israeli flag.
3. Trump is depicted as a Jew, and is hunched over.
Jews characterized with hunched backs is an antisemitic trope, i.e. disfigured.
Why should Trump be wearing traditional Jewish dress, if the intent is simply to show Trump as blind, and being led around by the state of Israel? Trump, depicted as himself, with his own suit on, would have worked to relay the message.
4. Trump is wearing 'blind glasses'. As if the US President does not follow his own will, but is being manipulated by Netanyahu. The antisemitic trope being that Jews manipulate people to gain control of the world.
The U.S. is a powerful, democratic nation. Its decisions are not a function of being controlled by Israel, but of its own self-interests, as formulated by its democratically elected leaders.
5. The red background. The antisemitic trope being that Jews are bloodthirsty.
Why is the background red? In concert with the rest of the cartoon it is hard not to see the coloring as intentional, and representing as a wash of blood.
The cartoon could have sent a message against Israel without using traditional Jewish symbols--i.e. using the Israeli flag instead of the Jewish Star of David; eliminate the Jewish garb from Trump.
The overarching focus of the cartoon is on Jewishness, not the state of Israel, or any specific Israeli policy or action..
"Israel" and "Jewish" should not be used interchangeably--doing so puts Jewish people around the world at risk for violence, as a symbol of Israeli human rights/international law violations.
The Anti-Palestinian, Islamophobic ResponseUnfortunately, the response that highlighted BDS (the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement against Israel, for Palestinian rights) was just another bigoted cartoon.
How is the second cartoon Anti-Palestinian and Islamophobic?Anti-BDS proponents are often extreme pro-Israel supporters and/or Islamophobes, who apply the label "antisemite" in a blanket, bigoted fashion, against anyone who supports Palestinian rights, or who criticize the nation state of Israel.
Criticizing Israel is being called the 'new antisemitism'. Lawsuits aiming to condemn, criminalize, and punish people for criticizing Israel have been flourishing for over a decade, and often conflate calls for Palestinian human rights with terrorism. For example:
1. The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) (whose former director Abe Foxman is insidiously quoted saying, "Not all Muslims are terrorists, but all terrorists are Muslim") has included Jewish organizations on its list of 'antisemites', for supporting BDS, or anti-Israel speech.
Pro-Israel groups, AMCHA, and Canary Mission also keep lists of those who support Palestinian rights, or criticize Israel, and label their targets antisemites.
2. In 2015 a Philadelphia based group of lawyers, Palestine Legal, along with the NY based Center for Constitutional Rights, released a report, The Palestinian Exception to Free Speech: A Movement Under Attack. The report chronicles a barrage of law-fare that supporters of Palestinians have been exposed to, mostly on college campuses, and mostly as false accusations of antisemitism.
3. Pro-Israel groups have asked colleges to ban the organization Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), because SJP is seen as antisemitic for supporting BDS, and anti-Israel speech. The group has been banned on some campuses.
4. Hillel International, the largest campus Jewish organization in the US, dedicated to connecting students to the nation state of Israel, threatened to sue its own members to prevent pro-Palestinian voices from being connected with the organization. Some students opted to start a new organization, Open Hillel, in order to allow discussions on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, without being vulnerable to Hillel International's laws.
5. 27 U.S. states have passed legislation condemning or punishing Americans who engage with BDS, many go as far as to say that BDS is antisemitic at its core, and means to destroy Israel.
The legislation started with infamous Islamophobe Laurie Cardoza-Moore, who calls BDS genocidal.
Cardoza-Moore vowed to attack the BDS movement with state, national, and international legislation. She is currently a Special Envoy to the United Nations for Human Rights and Against Anti-Semitism, with the goal of educating Christians on their biblical responsibility to stand with Israel.
Her website, Proclaiming Justice to the Nations (PJTN) touts:
"PJTN has begun a world wide counter attack to confront the anti-Semitic boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement against the State of Israel and ultimately the Jewish people."
BDS Supporters' Common Denominator is a Concern for Human RightsBDS calls for the right of return for Palestinian refugees, a return of lands promised to a new Palestinian state in the UN partition of British Palestine (UN 181), and equal rights inside of the Israeli state.
Several United States Churches and Unions, along with Jewish activists and organizations support BDS.
Why are Calls for Palestinian Rights Considered Threats to Israel?
1. Although 'right of return' is an international human right for refugees, the return of Arabs to Israel is seen as "demographic death" of the state. The idea being that if Israel is not a majority Jewish state, it will be 'destroyed'. Recent Israeli law declared that only Jewish members of the state have rights to self-determination.
Israel believes it is must be a Jewish majority state to protect against another worldwide persecution of Jews.
2. Israel has built communities on occupied Palestinian land in Jerusalem, the West Bank, and the Golan Heights (which was technically Syrian), and would have to relinquish these developments if Palestinians asserted their rights as stated in BDS. This would be territorial death, especially to the far right Israelis who see the larger "Judea and Samaria" areas, which were partitioned as a Palestinian state by the UN, as part of Israel's biblically promised land.
3. The "new antisemitism" defines many criticisms of Israel as antisemitic.
A new definition for antisemitism has been lobbied for throughout the US, and the world, in an attempt to protect Israel from 'antisemitic' criticism. The 'new antisemitism' revolves around "the 3 D's":
Double Standard- criticizing Israel in a way that one does not criticize other western democracies.
Demonization- calling Israel an apartheid state, war criminals etc.
De-legitimization- saying that Israel doesn't have a right to exist; that it should not be a "Jewish Nation"; does not have a right to defend itself; does not have self-determination.
By the 3 D's definition (which has been adopted by some European political parties, and advocated for across the U.S.) BDS can easily be labeled antisemitic.
Many BDS supporters, critics of Israel, and civil rights organizations see the new definition as an affront to free speech that chills criticism of Israel and shuts down debate about Palestinian rights.
The Bottom LineAttacking Israel with antisemitic tropes betrays the intent of holding the state of Israel accountable to human rights and international law.
Attacking BDS as antisemitic betrays the fight against antisemitism based on Jewish religion or ethnic characteristics.
In both cases, Palestinian rights supporters, and Jewish people, worldwide, are being used in a proxy battle for the Israel/Palestinian conflict. In the words of the Jewish Voice for Peace, and more than 40 other Jewish organizations:
"This conflation undermines both the Palestinian struggle for freedom, justice and equality, and the global struggle against antisemitism."