Anti-Semitic Artwork Raises Eyebrows, but Not Hard Questions, in Germany

In May, one of Germany’s most prestigious art shows featured a giant mural created by an Indonesian artistic collective called Taring Padi. According to Taring Padi, “figures depicted in the banner reference commonly-known symbols within the Indonesian political context, for example corrupt bureaucracy, military generals [sic] and their soldiers, which are symbolized by pigs, dogs, and rats to criticize an exploitative capitalist system and military violence.” Jurek Molnar explains the ensuing controversy, which led to parts of the mural being covered up, before it was removed completely:

What is not mentioned [in the official description] is that some of the soldiers are depicted as pigs and one of them has a line on his helmet that reads “Mossad.” He is also wearing a Star of David on a scarf. Another figure is a somehow-identifiable Jewish man with vampire teeth and an “SS” logo on his bowler hat. The banner itself was made twenty years ago and shown around the world at several festivals of the same kind and nobody ever seemed to have taken offence. At least that’s the perspective of Taring Padi. They were never challenged at all, because “anti-Zionism” is a standard idea among progressives all around the world and outside Europe they never triggered any sensitivities.

Their perspective is what most progressives think about the issue. Anti-imperialism and anti-militarism come by default with a Palestinian flag. And nobody ever questioned that Taring Padi’s noble activism against Suharto’s dictatorship and its critique of militarism naturally has to involve Jews painted as pigs and vampires. If these are really “commonly-known symbols within the Indonesian political context,” then these must be quite regular images in [the artists’] work and of course in their own bubble of global political leftwing milieux.

The condemnations in the German press were shared by all mainstream media organizations; even demands for banning Taring Padi from the festival were widespread. That’s not nothing. But . . . Taring Padi’s excuse that the banner only reflects local political issues was accepted without further questions and they will continue to propagate their noble cause against imperialism and militarism. . . . . Nobody, it seems, wasted any thought how anti-Semitism and Jews with SS signs on their hats do play into the political protests in Indonesia.

Read more at Harry’s Place

More about: Anti-Semitism, Art, Germany, Indonesia, Progressivism

How to Turn Palestinian Public Opinion Away from Terror

The Palestinian human-rights activist Bassem Eid, responding to the latest survey results of the Palestinian public, writes:

Not coincidentally, support for Hamas is much higher in the West Bank—misgoverned by Hamas’s archrivals, the secular nationalist Fatah, which rules the Palestinian Authority (PA)—than in Gaza, whose population is being actively brutalized by Hamas. Popular support for violence persists despite the devastating impact that following radical leaders and ideologies has historically had on the Palestinian people, as poignantly summed up by Israel’s Abba Eban when he quipped that Arabs, including the Palestinians, “never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.”

Just as worrying is the role of propaganda and misinformation, which are not unique to the Palestinian context but are pernicious there due to the high stakes involved. Misinformation campaigns, often fueled by Hamas and its allies, have painted violent terrorism as the only path to dignity and rights for Palestinians. Palestinian schoolbooks and public media are rife with anti-Semitic and jihadist content. Hamas’s allies in the West have matched Hamas’s genocidal rhetoric with an equally exterminationist call for the de-normalization and destruction of Israel.

It’s crucial to consider successful examples of de-radicalization from other regional contexts. After September 11, 2001, Saudi Arabia implemented a comprehensive de-radicalization program aimed at rehabilitating extremists through education, psychological intervention, and social reintegration. This program has had successes and offers valuable lessons that could be adapted to the Palestinian context.

Rather than pressure Israel to make concessions, Eid argues, the international community should be pressuring Palestinian leaders—including Fatah—to remove incitement from curricula and stop providing financial rewards to terrorists.

Read more at Newsweek

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Palestinian public opinion