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

Universities Are in Thrall to a Constituency That Sees Israel as an Affront to Its Identity

Commenting on the hearings of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce on Tuesday about anti-Semitism on college campuses, and the dismaying testimony of three university presidents, Jonah Goldberg writes:

If some retrograde poltroon called for lynching black people or, heck, if they simply used the wrong adjective to describe black people, the all-seeing panopticon would spot it and deploy whatever resources were required to deal with the problem. If the spark of intolerance flickered even for a moment and offended the transgendered, the Muslim, the neurodivergent, or whomever, the fire-suppression systems would rain down the retardant foams of justice and enlightenment. But calls for liquidating the Jews? Those reside outside the sensory spectrum of the system.

It’s ironic that the term colorblind is “problematic” for these institutions such that the monitoring systems will spot any hint of it, in or out of the classroom (or admissions!). But actual intolerance for Jews is lathered with a kind of stealth paint that renders the same systems Jew-blind.

I can understand the predicament. The receptors on the Islamophobia sensors have been set to 11 for so long, a constituency has built up around it. This constituency—which is multi-ethnic, non-denominational, and well entrenched among students, administrators, and faculty alike—sees Israel and the non-Israeli Jews who tolerate its existence as an affront to their worldview and Muslim “identity.” . . . Blaming the Jews for all manner of evils, including the shortcomings of the people who scapegoat Jews, is protected because, at minimum, it’s a “personal truth,” and for some just the plain truth. But taking offense at such things is evidence of a mulish inability to understand the “context.”

Shocking as all that is, Goldberg goes on to argue, the anti-Semitism is merely a “symptom” of the insidious ideology that has taken over much of the universities as well as an important segment of the hard left. And Jews make the easiest targets.

Read more at Dispatch

More about: Anti-Semitism, Israel on campus, University