The State of Israel -- headed at the time by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, architect of the 1982 brutalization of Lebanon as Israeli Defense Minister and quite possibly with the largest overall girth of any world leader -- was going on another one of its recent periodic ass-stomping parties in Palestine, this time directed at the towns of Ramallah and Jenin. It was starting to look more and more like the Nazis moving into Warsaw every day, to the point where the comparison was far more accurate than your average overblown "Godwin Rule" Nazi analogy rant on Usenet. While comparisons to Warsaw 1940 and 1960's South Africa are today made by everybody and their cat -- including former US President Jimmy Carter -- in early '02, with the big Crusade still going on in Afghanistan, to dare compare Israeli State behavior in Ramallah and Jenin to the Nazi occupation of Warsaw was taking a huge-ass chance not only with the rightist/zionist factions among Jewish America, but with the then-highly intimidated US Left as well.
A lot of folks here will also remember this piece in the context of the infamous Danish cartoon brouhaha because this fracas spawned the now-legendary Holocaust Cartoon Competition sponsored by Hamshahri, the major Iranian daily paper out of Teheran. As you recall, the contest called on cartoonists around the world to submit Holocaust-themed cartoons as a challenge to people who claim to support free speech to put their money where their mouths are. Iranian president Ahmadinejad, himself a Holocaust denier, was expecting to see cartoons denying the Holocaust; what he got instead was an outpouring of cartoons critical of US/Israeli policy on Palestine, cartoons which compared the Israeli aggression in Palestine to the Holocaust — cartoons which, by their very nature, assumed not denial but acknowledgement of the historical fact and reality of the Holocaust. As I recall, there was a grand total of one — count ‘em, one — cartoon actually denying the Holocaust in the entire competition.
I, along with five other Americans, were participants in this contest and exhibition, to which I submitted the cartoon you see above, which basically asked what Prime Minister Sharon and others of a generation of Israeli leadership old enough to have lived through the Holocaust, exactly what they’d leared from it; my own answer was that they’d learned precisely the wrong things, as both history and recent events had shown they’d become that which they themselves hated generations ago.
Needless to say, I caught a shitstorm of howling criticism from not only the reactionary right-wing Zionist factions, but the reactionary US right wing, in the form of interviews I gave on a couple of right-wing talk-radio programs whose hosts bitched and fumed at me for being “anti-Semetic”, when anyone with two brain cells to rub together could see that the cartoon was not a slag on Judaism or Jews but a direct, pointed criticism of Israeli state behavior in Palestine. Talk about your great truth beginning as blasphemy; here we are three years later, and everybody from the UN to former US President Jimmy Carter is comparing Israel’s behavior in Palestine to the Nazi occupation of Warsaw, and to South Africa’s apartheid era.
It was tough going for a while, there, but man, it sure is nice to be right.
High-res jpg image, 968k