another cartoon controversy

pat oliphant
pat oliphant
enough has already been said about this new cartoon from pat oliphant. personally, i like it, though i think that the star should be devouring all of palestine not just gaza. gaza is just the most recent stage. but this is not the whole story. and for anyone who lives here long enough and who is forced to live here seeing their flag used as a weapon to steal land, to kidnap palestinians, to massacre and murder palestinians you will start to understand why this symbol from their flag on stolen land, a star that represents the rights of jews over and instead of the indigenous people you may start to understand why this image is not anti-semitic, but against the jewish state. if they don’t like people using the star of david in this way they should have thought about that before making it into their nationalist colonialist symbol. anyway, as’ad abukhalil and matthew cassel summed up my thoughts on this best so i’ll just quote them and leave you to ponder for yourselves.


“The Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Center, a Jewish rights group with more than 400,000 members in the United States, said the cartoon is meant to denigrate and demonize Israel.” What kind of weird logic is this? And tell this ostensible human rights group (human rights my…shoes, and shoes are very offensive in Arab culture) that it is not anti-Semitic if you even demonize and denigrate Israel, just as it is not anti-Islamic to demonize and denigrate Saudi Arabia. Personally, I demonize both states and call on everybody to join me, the sound bites of Zionist hoodlums notwithstanding. And notice that the Israeli murder of some 900 Palestinian civilians in Gaza is less offensive than a cartoon–a cartoon, for potato’s sake. And notice that the same people who called on Muslims to lighten up over a Danish cartoon will now express outrage over a cartoon that offends Israel and is not necessarily anti-Jewish as it is using the symbol of the flag of the usurper entity. Now, I will grant you this: if the cartoonist intended to use the star of david as a symbol of Judaism, then yes the cartoon can be seen as anti-Jewish.


My guess is that Oliphant wasn’t making a Holocaust comparison at all. The Star of David not only represents Judaism, but also the State of Israel. Along with two bold blue lines that some say represent the Nile and Euphrates rivers as borders to the Zionist state, the star is the only clear symbol on the Israeli flag. Often when cartoonists make fun of a country, they will use a symbol of that country to illustrate their point (think how Uncle Sam has been used by cartoonists when criticizing the US.) If Jewish groups are angered by its use, then maybe they should demand that the symbol of their world religion not confined only to the Middle East, be removed from the flag of a country that has killed thousands of innocent civilians over the past few years alone.

This cartoon should not be seen in the context of the Nazi Holocaust that slaughtered millions of innocent Jews decades ago. Only three months ago, more than 1,4000 Palestinians were killed and 5,000 injured — the vast majority were civilians including a large number of children. The attacks lasted day and night for three long weeks. It was F-16s, Apache attack helicopters, unmanned attack drones, tanks, a ground infantry against a people with homemade rockets and AK47s. The ratio of those killed was greater than 100 Palestinians to every one Israeli (10 of the 13 Israeli casualties were military). Major international organizations as well as Israeli soldiers who took part in the war are coming out and accusing Israel of war crimes. This is in the context of the ongoing occupation, displacement and siege of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip that has lasted for more than 60 years. And this is the context in which this cartoon was created by Mr. Oliphant and that is clear with the small female figure labeled “Gaza.”

Jewish groups cannot connect themselves to Israel, a country with one of the world’s most active and powerful armies, and then claim they are under attack from cartoonists like Oliphant. Israel is a state, and criticizing it like any other state must be allowed without being labeled an “anti-Semite.”


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