Definition of anti-Semitism
Definition of anti-SemitismiStock

Amnesty International distanced itself from a caricature bearing its name in a Belgian schoolbook, depicting an overweight Jewish settler sleeping in a bathtub alongside a thirsty Palestinian Authority Arab.

A spokesperson for the human rights group last week told the Joods Actueel monthly in Belgium that the cartoon, which appears in the 2016 geography textbook “Polaris GO!3” for Flemish-speaking high school students, that the cartoon is “misleading.” It refrained from using the term anti-Semitic, however.

The book is used in several high schools in Belgium’s Flemish Region, one of three autonomous entities that make up the federal kingdom. It was written as an aid for the Flemish government’s GO! Educational program, which the government says on its website “takes extreme care to fulfill its fundamental mission, which is to offer ‘neutral’ education.’”

Raymonda Verdyck, who heads the Flemish government’s GO! Pedagogical program, condemned the inclusion of the cartoon in the book, which is published by the commercial publishing house Plantyn. She called it “stereotypical and incompatible with our pedagogical values.”

The cartoon by the Brazilian artist Latuff, who often compares Israel to Nazi Germany in his works, shows a clearly religious Jewish man with sidelocks snoring in an overflowing tub, whose excess disappears into a drain. The shower filling the bath is connected to a pipe leading to a spigot whose head is the shape of a Star of David. It also leads to a different pipe, which a woman wearing a Palestinian Authority flag is using unsuccessfully to fill an empty bucket of water.

An English-language text inside the cartoon reads: “Amnesty International: Israel is denying Palestinians access to water… while settlers enjoy lush laws and swimming pools.” And a caption under the cartoon reads: “Water distribution according to Amnesty International.”

The aquifer supplying Judea and Samaria is shared by Israeli and Palestinian Arab communities and in fact, any scarcity of water is caused by illegal Arab holes drilled all along the pipelines laid by Israel to supply both sectors.

"The water theft epidemic is a serious one that harms the residents of Judea and Samaria, Israelis and Palestinians alike. Since the beginning of 2017, Civil Administration teams have disconnected over 400 pirated water line connections,” reported COGAT (the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories) in 2017.

The Interim Water Agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority created a Joint Water Committee which finally began working in 2017 after five years in which the PA refused to promote projects to improve the water infrastructure in the area,

COGAT added that “currently, Israel is providing 64 million cubes [per year], about 33 million cubes above the agreed amount in the interim agreement.”

Joods Actueel was informed about the caricature by the father of a 15-year-old student of the Atheneum Jan Fevijn high school in Assebroek, a suburb of the city of Brugge 60 miles northwest of Brussels, the paper reported last week.