Powered by WebAds

Monday, February 06, 2006

The Cartoon Controversy Hits Israel

As I noted yesterday, the Muslim world has responded to cartoons of Muhammed by - what else - publishing more anti-Semitic cartoons. As if there were anything new in that. Two of Israel's three English language dailies respond with editorials in today's edition. The Jerusalem Post points out the contrast between how the Jewish world responds to blatantly anti-Semitic cartoons and how the Muslim world responds to 'offensive' cartoons. Hint: we didn't burn any embassies. HaAretz, Israel's Hebrew Palestinian Daily as Steven Plaut calls them responds like a good dhimmi - criticizing Europe's newspapers for their 'insensitivity' as if Muhammed had been portrayed as a child molester or a murderer. If one thinks about it, the irony in all this is that it's the Euroweenies who have been at the forefront of this controversy. They are usually good dhimmie's in order to keep their Muslim populations under control.

Here's some of the Post's editorial:

The cartoon was disgracefully insensitive. It depicted a barbed wire Star of David in which innocent Palestinian men, women and children were trapped. By the time it appeared in the Seattle Times in July 2003, hundreds of Israeli civilians had been mercilessly slaughtered by Palestinian terrorists in what they call the "second intifada." But compared to what is typically found in the Arab press, cartoonist Tony Auth's effrontery was fairly bland.

Arab political "humor" knows no bounds. A cartoon in Qatar's Al-Watan depicted Prime Minister Ariel Sharon drinking from a goblet of Palestinian children's blood. Another, in the Egyptian Al-Ahram al-Arabi showed him jackbooted, bloody-handed and crushing peace.

Arab cartoonists routinely demonize Jews as global conspirators, corrupters of society and blood-suckers. Just this Saturday, Britain's Muslim Weekly published a caricature of a hooked-nose Jew - Ehud Olmert.

And it's not just cartoons. During Ramadan 2002, an Egyptian satellite television channel broadcasted the multi-episode Horseman Without a Horse series based on the Protocols of the Elders of Zion canard.

How did Israel and world Jewry respond? The Israeli embassy in Cairo filed a protest. A US student group held an orderly demonstration outside an Egyptian consulate, and Jewish leaders sent a strongly-worded letter to the Mubarak government.

Contrast this with the frenzied Muslim reaction to 12 cartoons, including one depicting the Prophet Muhammad wearing a bomb-shaped turban which appeared in the Danish newspaper Jyllands Posten five months ago and was recently widely disseminated. It was intended, paradoxically, to satirize Muslim intolerance.

The cartoon "blasphemy" has generated bomb threats, armed takeovers and widespread desecration of the Danish flag. A Western cultural center was vandalized; Catholic aid workers were threatened. European observers at the Rafah crossing between Gaza and Sinai wisely stayed away from their posts.

But here's the key part of this editorial. It's "spot-on."


There are those who would argue that the controversy does not reflect a clash of civilizations. Yet it is precisely this persistent refusal to acknowledge the obvious that weakens the cause of tolerance and liberty. Must "understanding" invariably result in the abdication of Western values?

If anyone wants to appreciate why the West views with such suspicion the weapons programs of Muslim states such as Iran, they need look no further than the intolerance Muslim regimes exhibit to these cartoons, and what this portends.

No one wants to add fuel to the fire. Mobs are more easily placated than reasoned with. But once this controversy passes it will be valuable to determine just who exploited the flap to foment anti-Western outrage, and to inquire what "moderate" Muslim voices said.

One such voice, Jihad al-Momani, editor-in-chief of the Jordanian weekly Shihan, was arrested for republishing the cartoons (to show Arabs what they were protesting). In an accompanying editorial - which his staff subsequently repudiated - Momani wrote: "Who offends Islam more? A foreigner who draws the prophet... or a Muslim with an explosive belt who commits suicide in Amman or anywhere else?"

Globalism demands that points of contact between Islam and the West be multi-cultural havens, not flashpoints. For that to happen, tolerance must be a two-way street.

Contrast that with the dhimmi's at HaAretz:


Nevertheless, it is impossible not to understand the feelings of insult among Muslims worldwide, including in the territories and in Israel. The West's preaching of the value of multiculturalism cannot be taken seriously if it does not include both religious and secular people, members of different communities, religious minorities and Muslims and Christians alike. No society can remain apathetic to offensive publications that insult values held sacred by certain groups within it. [Suicide bombings are sacred to Muslims. That's a 'value' we should all oppose. Again, Muhammed was not depicted as a blood sucker, a child molester or a wife beater. He was depicted as a suicide bomber. If the Muslims feels hurt that the rest of the world views them as suicide bombers, maybe it's time for those who feel hurt by that depiction to speak out against the culture of violent intolerance that (at least seems to and likely does) permeate the Muslim world today. CiJ]

The publication of these cartoons was a display of insensitivity - and so was their reprinting by various European media outlets, which sought to express solidarity with those responsible for the initial publication.

The publishers argued that they have the right to publish these drawings, in the name of freedom of expression and to protest the self-censorship that Europeans are imposing on themselves with respect to Islam. But even freedom of expression - noble though it is - requires limits. Jewish communities worldwide, and even the official Israeli government, have always been sensitive to, and protested vigorously against, anti-Semitic and anti-Jewish publications throughout the world. In this context, Israel has no right to adopt a discriminatory policy - especially since it is usually in the forefront of those hurt by such publications.

Throughout Europe, there are grave fears of elements within the continent's Muslim minorities that seek to impose their culture and way of life on the nations of Europe in which they live. These fears are based, inter alia, on the persecution of author Salman Rushdie, the murder of Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh and the battle in France over the ban on wearing head-coverings in public institutions.

The Arab media, including the Palestinian press, publish an endless stream of cartoons, television series and books whose anti-Jewish character falls little short of the infamous caricatures and publications of the Nazi Der Sturmer. These publications should be unequivocally condemned. But neither European countries' fears of their Muslim minorities, the fear of terrorism by Al-Qaida zealots nor the anti-Jewish publications of the Arab states suffice to justify hurtful assaults on religion.


Post a Comment

<< Home