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A Cartoon in More Than Bad Taste

German blood libel depiction deemed not to incite hatred

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The poster in question.(Jewish Chronicle)

Unlike the United States, Germany, due to legal culture and not-all-that-distant history, has fairly extensive restrictions on speech; particularly hate speech; and particularly hate speech that hates the Jews. Quick example: in Germany, the Nazi Party is banned; in America, it’s not (not going to dignify it with a link, but if you want, Googling it is very easy).

Now look at this cartoon, a poster actually, which is part of a display—called the “Wailing Wall”—in the town square of Cologne, Germany. In case you don’t “get it,” the ostensible point of the cartoon is that Israel is using Gaza—maybe the Gaza blockade? the politics, needless to say, aren’t the most sophisticated in the world—to kill innocent Palestinians. In case you still don’t “ get it,” this is a depiction of the blood libel: the centuries-old anti-Semitic myth that Jews murder and feed on Gentiles (note not just what’s on the plate, but what’s in the glass, too).

The poster has been removed, although the “Wailing Wall” proprietor pledges to try to put it up elsewhere. Meanwhile, however, the public prosecutor has declined to charge the poster-maker under a German law that bans the incitement of racial hatred. “It is not a tendency of hostility toward Jews, but an actual criticism of the situation in Gaza,” he explained of the poster. “The cartoon is a sarcastic expression of the Israeli army in Gaza.”

This puts me in a tricky position. I think cartoons like that should be allowed. Only by allowing a full public airing of atrocious views can we ensure that decent people know about them, condemn their makers, and educate the ignorant. So I don’t want the person who made them to be prosecuted.

However, it’s very, very disturbing that local authorities think that this doesn’t violate their law. It plainly does; it plainly incites anti-Semitism. Believeing that it doesn’t indicates a lack of knowledge about and sensitivity to the history of anti-Semitism that would be troubling anywhere, and is particularly chilling in, well, Germany. And ignorance is a charitable explanation for this lapse.

But this is also a lesson, right? Maybe if anti-Semitism weren’t a crime in Germany, then Germans would be more willing to call people on it!

Cologne Refuses Action Against Artist ‘Blood Libel’ [Jewish Chronicle]

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Alan Eisenberg says:

A depiction of the Israeli army?!?!?!?! They don’t wear blue.Some things, sadly, never change.

Robert says:

I am always on the side of tolerance, but in this case I would have to disagree. The cartoon is POLITICAL not racial. The fork is an American flag, if you notice. The bib is that of the Israel flag. There are no stereotypical “Jewish” features on the diner, nor are there any outward signs of Jewish regalia (No Kippah, no Tallit, no Payos, etc…). The poster makes a statement about the Israel government, not Jews or Jewish culture. Criticism and satire towards the country of Israel is not antisemitism.

Robert says:

It is definitely the sort of “razors edge” type expression that could easily be used as leverage to repeal the German laws. To someone well versed in the history of antisemitism, as the writer clearly is, the “blood libel” screams at them that it is antisemitic. On the other hand, the use of the American flag, and the lack of any overt stereotypes would make the common person outraged if the creator was prosecuted. Once the laws were repealed, if they had prosecuted, the flood gates for things like the Neo-Nazi party would open. Beware the law of unintended consequences.

Suzanne says:

Robert, that is a bib with the symbol of the Jewish religion and the Jewish People – had it been a flag of Israel it would have 2 blue stripes. Maybe if the artist had made the star yellow you would not be so easily misguided. The illustration is an exact depiction of blood libel. It is both political and very anti-semitic. It is not sarcasm, it is intentional, to do harm.

Insan Mukmin says:

The new racists of Europe are anti-Arab and anti-Islam and not so much anti-Jews. However, many Europeans feel that Israel’s behaviour is fueling terrorism and being used as propaganda by Al-Qaeda to carry out attacks against Western countries perceived to be biased towards Israel.


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A Cartoon in More Than Bad Taste

German blood libel depiction deemed not to incite hatred

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