Saturday, 6 Jun 2020 - 14 of Sivan, 5780

Portuguese cartoonist uses antisemitic symbols to illustrate the Israeli-Palestinian conflict

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In the cartoon, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – who appears with a kippah on his head and an armband with the Star of David – pushes a coffin covered with the flag of Palestine into a crematory. On top of this, one can read ‘’Arbeit Macht Frei’’, the inscription at the entrance gate to the Auschwitz death camp, used by Nazi propaganda to trivialize extermination camps.

A Jewish group dedicated to human rights has accused Portuguese cartoonist Vasco Gargalo of anti-Semitism after he used antisemitic symbols to portray the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

B’nai B’rith condemned the publication of the cartoon and asked that the illustrator be fired from the media with which he collaborates regularly.

“O Crematório”, a cartoon designed by Gargalo last November and published on the Cartoon Movement platform, illustrates the presentation last week of US President Donald Teump’s  peace plan.

In the cartoon, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – who appears with a kippah on his head and an armband with the Star of David – pushes a coffin covered with the flag of Palestine into a crematory. On top of this, one can read ‘’Arbeit Macht Frei’’, the inscription at the entrance gate to the Auschwitz death camp, used by Nazi propaganda to trivialize extermination camps, suggesting that they were intended for re-education by forced labor.

In another Gargalo’s cartoon, Netanyahu was depicted as an octopus, a creature whose tentacles have long been a favored symbol for antisemitic agitators of supposed Jewish world domination. The Israeli premier was enclosed by a large Star of David as he gripped large bags of money marked with US dollar signs.

B’nai B’rith, the oldest Jewish organization in the world, condemned the cartoon as “a black politician being‘ crucified ’on a Star of David”.

Several Jewish digital publications and pro-Israel groups criticized the work of Vasco Gargalo.

The cartoonist told Portuguese magazine PUBLICO that he is not “against the Jewish community” but against “the policy exercised by Israel towards Palestine”. He believes that the “persecution” that he is being subjected to constitutes an “attack on freedom of expression.”

Esther Mucznik, a scholar of Jewish themes and a chronicler for PÚBLICO, considers “O Crematório” to be an “ignoble” cartoon. She said that the government of Benjamin Netanyahu is “very criticizable”, but considers that the comparison to the Holocaust and the Nazi regime is “erroneous and ignorant.”

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