The Soviet Roots of Today’s Anti-Semitic Cartoons

June 12 2019

On Monday, the New York Times announced that its international edition will no longer feature political cartoons, a decision precipitated by the appearance several weeks ago of an anti-Semitic caricature. That particular image—which depicted Benjamin Netanyahu as a dog pulling Donald Trump by its leash—brought comparisons to the Nazi periodical Der Stürmer, but a more accurate comparison, writes Izabella Taborovsky, would be to the anti-Zionist cartoons found in Soviet publications:

Soviet ideology didn’t allow [for] outright racist anti-Semitism of the Nazi variety. [Soviet propagandists thus] rejected accusations of anti-Semitism, claiming that their ideology was anti-Zionist, not anti-Semitic. In developing their ideas, Soviet ideologues relied for inspiration on the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, on the ideas of classic religious anti-Semitism, and even Mein Kampf, but adopted them to the Marxist framework by substituting the idea of a global anti-Soviet Zionist conspiracy for a specifically Jewish one. Jewish power became Zionist power. The rich and conniving Jewish bankers controlling money, politicians, and the media became the rich and conniving Zionists. The Jew as the anti-Christ became the Jew as the anti-Soviet. Instead of the Jew as the devil, they presented the Zionist as a Nazi.

In practice, the distinction between Soviet anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism often proved a distinction without a difference. The tropes were the same, albeit with a new set of labels. [At the same time], Jews living in the Soviet Union saw their culture and religion decimated, their educational and professional opportunities depleted, and themselves becoming licensed targets of casual grassroots anti-Semitism. . . .

One of the forerunners to the guide dog in the New York Times cartoon is the Soviet Israeli-Zionist dog who loyally served its master, the imperialist Uncle Sam. The smallness of the dog signals its contemptibility. For example, the tiny attack dog in [a] 1969 image is barking mad, dropping bombs instead of saliva at the behest of its American master. The dog wears an Israeli military uniform, but the viewer also knows that the dog is a Jew because of its Jewish facial features. The uniform makes the Jew—and by extension, any Jew—a fair game for demonization.

The concept of a Zionist Jew as a stand-in for Israel who drags the United States toward a destination of its choice—the core idea of the New York Times cartoon—appeared frequently in Soviet caricature. . . . The goal of these cartoons was to demonize Israel and Zionism. But the use of stereotypical [and] pejorative signifiers of Jewishness showed whom its intended audience would find at fault: any Jew they came in touch with.

Read more at Tablet

More about: Anti-Semitism, Anti-Zionism, New York Times, Protocols of the Elders of Zion, Soviet Union


President Biden Should Learn the Lessons of Past U.S. Attempts to Solve the Israel-Palestinian Conflict

Sept. 21 2023

In his speech to the UN General Assembly on Tuesday, Joe Biden addressed a host of international issues, mentioning, inter alia, the “positive and practical impacts” resulting from “Israel’s greater normalization and economic connection with its neighbors.” He then added that the U.S. will “continue to work tirelessly to support a just and lasting peace between the Israelis and Palestinians—two states for two peoples.” Zach Kessel experiences some déjà vu:

Let’s take a stroll down memory lane and review how past U.S.-brokered talks between Jerusalem and [Palestinian leaders] have gone down, starting with 1991’s Madrid Conference, organized by then-President George H.W. Bush. . . . Though the talks, which continued through the next year, didn’t get anywhere concrete, many U.S. officials and observers across the world were heartened by the fact that Madrid was the first time representatives of both sides had met face to face. And then Palestinian militants carried out the first suicide bombing in the history of the conflict.

Then, in 1993, Bill Clinton tried his hand with the Oslo Accords:

In the period of time directly after the Oslo Accords . . . suicide bombings on buses and in crowded public spaces became par for the course. Clinton invited then-Palestinian Authority chairman Yasir Arafat and then-Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak to Camp David in 2000, hoping finally to put the conflict to rest. Arafat, who quite clearly aimed to extract as many concessions as possible from the Israelis without ever intending to agree to any deal—without even putting a counteroffer on the table—scuttled any possibility of peace. Of course, that’s not the most consequential event for the conflict that occurred in 2000. Soon after the Camp David Summit fell apart, the second intifada began.

Since Clinton, each U.S. president has entered office hoping to put together the puzzle that is an outcome acceptable to both sides, and each has failed. . . . Every time a deal has seemed to have legs, something happens—usually terrorist violence—and potential bargains are scrapped. What, then, makes Biden think this time will be any different?

Read more at National Review

More about: Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Joe Biden, Palestinian terror, Peace Process