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ADL Decries ‘Hideously Anti-Semitic’ Cartoon

Syndicated Oliphant cartoon published worldwide shows Israel as a headless storm trooper wheeling a fanged Star of David, persecuting small Gaza.
By Maayana Miskin and Gil Ronen
First Publish: 3/27/2009, 9:36 AM

Slate.com screenshot

The Anti-Defamation League has protested against a cartoon published Wednesday by syndicated cartoonist Pat Oliphant which shows a Nazi-type storm trooper wheeling a fanged Star of David that appears ready to devour a woman and child labeled “Gaza”, both much smaller than the headless figure and star.

"Pat Oliphant's outlandish and offensive use of the Star of David in combination with Nazi-like imagery is hideously anti-Semitic," Abraham Foxman, the Anti-Defamation League national director, said in a statement. "It employs Nazi imagery by portraying Israel as a jack-booted, goose-stepping headless apparition. The implication is of an Israeli policy without a head or a heart. Israel's defensive military operation to protect the lives of its men, women and children who are being continuously bombarded by Hamas rocket attacks has been turned on its head to show the victims as heartless, headless aggressors."

Nazi propaganda
The other leading monitor of anti-Semitism in the world, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, said in a statement: "The imagery in this cartoon mimics the venomous anti-Semitic propaganda of the Nazi and Soviet eras. It is cartoons like this that inspired millions of people to hate in the 1930s and help set the stage for the Nazi genocide."

Other groups complained as well, including the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA). CAMERA called the cartoon “incendiary,” saying it “grotesquely demonizes Israel, turning the Star of David, the most recognizable Jewish symbol, into a monster... the tiny, vulnerable 'Gaza' image gives no indication that Israeli mothers and children have been on the receiving end of thousands of rockets targeting them....”

The group criticized the artist for falling into Hamas's trap. “Nor, obviously, is there a hint that Hamas purposely places its civilian population in the line of fire to elicit just the kind of distorted media depictions Oliphant obligingly produced,” CAMERA noted.

Oliphant has faced criticism in the past for his virulently anti-Israel drawings. In 2004, Oliphant came under fire for depicting the Jewish state as a dog labeled with the star of David urinating on the leg of a figure representing America. In 2002, at the height of Palestinian Authority suicide bombings against Israel, Oliphant depicted both arch-terrorist Yasser Arafat and then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon as suicide bombers.

Oliphant has not responded to the criticism of the cartoon, which was published in the Washington Post, Yahoo News, and numerous other outlets.

Equal opportunity offender?
Oliphant, 75, considered one of the world’s leading cartoonists, won a Pulitzer Prize in 1967. He has offended different ethnic groups in the past. The Amercian Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) protested a cartoon he published in 2005 which depicted Arabs as insensitive to the victims of the Tsunami disaster.

The ADC wrote that “an especially offensive cartoon was published in the San Francisco Chronicle, which implied that Arabs are unconcerned with the Tsunami disaster and are inhumane. The caricature draws on false stereotypes and reinforces negative views of Arabs.

In 2001, the Asian American Journalists’ Association said Oliphant had "crossed the line from acerbic depiction to racial caricature" because of a cartoon they found offensive. The cartoon portrayed a buck-toothed Chinese waiter dumping noodles on the head of an Uncle Sam figure, then jumping up and down while saying, "Apologize Lotten Amellican!"