The Jerusalem Post
There is a strong case for saying that the Danish cartoons
of Mohammed, which have caused so much uproar, are fair
comment. Certainly those who haven’t seen them can rest
assured that they are relatively tame in comparison with
many cartoons on other subjects which regularly appear in
the European press. Even so, non-Muslims might have more
sympathy with Muslims who find them offensive, if it weren’t
for the astonishing double standards and hypocrisy of the
Muslim world when it comes to accepting and applauding truly
vicious slanders against Jews, and to a lesser extent
The arguments from Muslims – though not the fanatical,
violent manner of many of their protests – would no doubt be
taken more seriously if they had also objected to the
depiction on Syrian television of rabbis as cannibals. Or if
last Saturday, Britain’s Muslim Weekly had not published a
caricature of a hooked-nose Ehud Olmert.
Or if last Friday, “Valley of the Wolves,” the most
expensive movie ever made in Turkey, had not opened to great
local acclaim. In the film, American soldiers in Iraq crash
a wedding and pump a little boy full of lead in front of his
mother. They kill dozens of innocent people with random
machine gun-fire, shoot the groom in the head, and drag
those left alive to prison, where a Jewish doctor cuts out
their organs, and sells them to rich people in New York,
London and Tel Aviv.
Or if a Belgian and Dutch Muslim group hadn’t last week
posted on its website pictures of Anne Frank in bed with
Hitler. Or if the mere display of a cross or a Star of David
in Saudi Arabia wasn’t illegal.
And when it comes to newspaper cartoons – the subject of the
present unrest – Muslim countries are world leaders in
stirring up hate, without a peep of protest elsewhere, let
alone the torching of buildings, threats to behead European
tourists, and the burning of the Danish flag (which
incidentally bears a Christian symbol, the cross). So much
for religious respect.
The cartoons published last September in Jyllands Posten, a
paper that hardly anyone outside Denmark, one of Europe’s
smallest countries, had ever heard of, are mild when
compared to cartoons routinely produced about Jews in the
countries where some of the worst anti-Danish protests are
now being staged.
Arabic Jew-baiting is not – as Israel’s enemies in the West
often try to argue – limited to political attacks on
Zionism. They are directed against Jews in general, and are
as loathsome and dehumanizing as those produced under the
We might expect such demonic images from a country led by a
Holocaust-denier like Iran, or a rogue regime like Syria.
But these vile images are to be found in the media of
supposedly moderate, pro-Western states like Jordan, Qatar,
Saudi Arabia, Oman, Bahrain and Egypt.
Al-Watan (Oman) has run Nazi-type caricatures of Jews with
hooked noses and hunched backs, not wearing shoes, and
Akhbar Al-Khalij (Bahrain) has shown anti-Semitic
caricatures of black-hatted Jews spitting and sweating as
they manipulate America to do their bidding.
Al Ahram, one of Egypt’s leading dailies, has published
cartoons of Jews laughing while they drink blood. (The U.S.
senate has approved a $1.84 billion aid package for Egypt
for 2006, the second highest in the world.)
The official cartoonist of the Palestinian Authority has
portrayed Jews in the form of snakes, a historic motif of
medieval European anti-Semitism. The PA website has posted
cartoons repeating the ancient blood libel that Jews murder
Some of the cartoons don’t just resemble those published by
the Nazis. They are literally copied from Nazi originals.
For instance, a cartoon from Arab News (an English-language
Saudi daily regarded as one of the more moderate
publications in the Arab world), depicts rats wearing Stars
of David and skullcaps, scurrying backwards and forwards
through holes in the wall of a building called “Palestine
House.” The imagery used is almost identical to a well-known
scene from the Nazi film “Jew Suess” – a scene in which Jews
are depicted as vermin to be eradicated by mass
At other times the Jews are the Nazis. The Jordanian
newspaper, Ad-Dustur, for example, ran a cartoon showing the
railroad to the death camp at Auschwitz-Birkenau – but with
Israeli flags replacing the Nazi ones, and a sign which read
“The Israeli Annihilation Camp.” Jordan is supposedly a
moderate country at peace with Israel.
To mark the UN designation of January 27 as Holocaust
memorial day, the cartoonist for Al-Yawm (Saudi Arabia)
superimposed the Nazi swastika on the Star of David.
Nor is Judaism spared. The Daily Star in Beirut ran a
cartoon showing a large Talmud with a bayonet sticking out
of it shooting an elderly man in Arab headdress who then has
red blood gushing out of him. Other Arab cartoons have shown
Jews with money bags, spreading death, terror and disease.
The relatively mild Danish cartoons have been republished in
several European papers so readers can discover what all the
fuss is about. (It is hard for readers to judge the story
without seeing them.) But not in papers in Britain or in any
major publications in the US, countries that are now
apparently too intimidated to run the risks that might go
with reproducing them.
At the same time, whereas editors from both the Guardian and
Independent in London, for example, have appeared on the BBC
saying they wouldn’t dream of publishing cartoons that
Muslims find offensive, these papers have not hesitated to
publish cartoons offensive to Jews (Arab blood being smeared
on the Western Wall in The Guardian, the flesh of
Palestinian babies being eaten by Ariel Sharon in The
Independent, and so on.)
The New York Times rushed to praise a frivolous Broadway
play showing Jesus having gay sex with Judas, yet hasn’t
dared to reproduce a Danish cartoon making a serious point
about the misuse of the teachings of the prophet Mohamed by
With demonstrators on the streets of London last Friday
chanting in unison “Europe you will pay, your 9/11 is on its
way” and holding signs reading “Behead those who insult
Islam,” and “Prepare for the REAL Holocaust,” it is perhaps
not surprising that weak spirits in the West are cowed.
Yet this is an issue that goes far beyond cartoons, and if
they want Western freedoms to survive, moderate Muslims and
non-Muslims alike have to stop caving into threats. On
Sunday, Mark Steyn reminded us of the best-known words of a
famous fictional Dane: “To be or not to be, that is the
(The writer is a former Jerusalem correspondence for the
Sunday Telegraph. www.tomgrossmedia.com)