Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council

Fatah uses controversial Australian cartoon by Glen Le Lievre to promote antisemitic conspiracy theories

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Fatah's "Mobilization and Organization Commission" has re-publicised a controversial Australian cartoon drawn by Glen Le Lievre which originally appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald. Fatah's implication is that Jews are in control of acts of terrorism and violence around the world. The infamous cartoon (above) of a Jewish person with a large nose, wearing a Jewish skullcap, seated in an armchair with an emblazoned Star of David, causing violence with a remote control device, was published on that Commission's website on Sept. 20 according to Palestinian Media Watch.

The cartoon first appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald in 2014 in the context of the contemporaneous Gaza conflict (Operation Protective Edge) and was the subject of significant controversy in Australia at the time.

Attorney-General George Brandis labelled it as "deplorable" and "overtly anti-Semitic," and called on the Herald to "have a very good look at itself when it publishes cartoons (of) the kind we haven't seen since Germany in the 1930s."

The Australian reported that then-Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull personally called the Editor of the Herald to say that the cartoon "had a disturbing similarity with a long and deplorable tradition of anti-Semitic caricatures." There were also reports of readers cancelling their subscriptions following the cartoon's publication.

In a subsequent editorial in the Herald, the paper apologised for the cartoon, stating that "the newspaper invoked an inappropriate element of religion, rather than nationhood, and made a serious error of judgement. It was wrong to publish the cartoon in its original form. We apologise unreservedly for this lapse, and the anguish and distress that has been caused."

It is telling that Fatah, the ruling party of the Palestinian Authority - whose representatives continue to incite hatred against the Jewish people and engage in abominable libels - would now use this cartoon to promote their objectives.

There is currently of course no ongoing war in Gaza - the context of the cartoon today is to send the conspiratorial message that Jews are collectively responsible for terrorism and violence everywhere. Palestinian Media Watch shows an additional recent cartoon from another Fatah website which illustrates the antisemitic conspiracy theory that Fatah is trying to spread, blaming a hook-nosed Jew for causing Shi'ite-Sunni enmity.

Indeed, Palestinian Media Watch has collected numerous other examples of implications by Fatah or PA affiliated outlets that Israel or the Jews are really the ones responsible for acts of Islamist terrorism.

It goes without saying that the spread of such antisemitic conspiracy theories by the ruling party of the PA is hardly conducive to achieving Israeli-Palestinian reconciliation, and bodes very poorly for hopes for a negotiated two-state resolution any time soon.

Further, this incident shows the egregious nature of the original cartoon. The fact that it is now being used to promote antisemitic conspiracy theories by a radical group just goes to reinforce that the Sydney Morning Herald was quite correct to conclude, "It was wrong to publish the cartoon in its original form" and to apologise.

Glen Falkenstein

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