Friday, 1 February 2013

Holocaust: A great destruction resulting in the extensive loss of life.

Assad cartoon in Sunday Times

Two pictures, one of which caused wide spread condemnation, including a public apology from the media mogul Rupert Murdoch via Twitter, the other is an image of Assad drinking the blood of children from a bucket, both by the satirical political artist Gerald Scarfe.

Gerald Scarfe has been a political cartoonist for the Sunday Times since 1967 and covered a great many different moments of our history which will have drawn no end of collective gasps over the decades no doubt. So the question is what is different about this one?

Israeli elections. Will cementing peace continue?
The two pictures accompanying this blog have taken place over a period of one year. The first regarding the Syrian massacre was published on February 26th 2012. The image of Israeli President Netanyahu was of course January 27th 2013 and happened to coincide with Holocaust Memorial day. The opinion of some is that this picture has antisemitic sentiment which is a nonsense. 

Anyone with even a brief knowledge of the type of
work Scarfe does will know this is not the case.

What it does highlight however is the appalling lack of reasoning in some quarters. The two images are both emotive, but the International outrage that accompanied the Netanyahu image was sorely missing from the Assad picture, yet both are borne out of some degrees of truth. It is this fact that seems to have been lost. Where were the cries of antisemitism regarding Muslims or Islam over the Assad picture? Neither was this the only time Scarfe has commented on the Syrian massacre.

You may or may not be wondering what is meant by antisemitic views of Muslims and Islam but the word Semite relates to a group of languages and people, of which Arabs form a part of. Quite how the Jewish community have managed to corner the market on this word for themselves I do not know but it appears they have.


Along with Semite it appears the Jewish community have monopoly over the word Holocaust. Holocaust has come to be associated with the Jews following the Nazi concentration camps of World War Two but before this it could be attributed to any number of near mass extinctions of people at the hands of an aggressor, such as the indigenous people of America. As a child I referred to them as 'American' Indians but as I grew older and studied the atrocities that were perpetrated by the white man to install civilisation on a peaceful people, I began to find it an insult to their heritage. Perversely as it may seem to some but there is evidence to show that Hitler's techniques for the Holocaust, as we were taught of the meaning in schools, came from the study of America and its history in 'dealing with' the indigenous people and similarly of the British Empire and their past (and present?) barbaric nature.

These are sad and challenging times we are living in when people evoke the idea of antisemitism to hide behind, when questions are asked about the actions of what in some eyes is essentially a rogue state. Just on Wednesday this week Israel launched a pre-dawn air strike on the Syrian-Lebanese border which has enraged Russia and others within the region. They have maintained silence in response to this, whilst America was allegedly informed of the assault according to the New York Times. 

What, I wonder, would have been their response if another nation launched an attack such as this?

The closest we have had to any semblance of normality in reference to the Scarfe cartoon came from Simon Keller on Independent Voices this week, but finished his piece with this statement: "...but I do think the world would be a better place if people were able to tell the difference between a political comment and a religious insult.

Should there be a difference?

People will talk of the fine line between the freedom of speech and the incitement of hatred. This will not be solved until people start to take ownership for finding out for themselves, having a firm grasp of the nuances surrounding all of these issues, rather than relying on the media spin from the mainstream agenda setters. The very fact Murdoch felt it necessary to apologise for Scarfe's cartoon should have been reason enough for most to question the timing and motive of the entire thing.