The Latuff Cartoon

Here is a cartoon from Carlos Latuff, with ensuing discussion: http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2007/11/385592.html?c=all.The cartoon is intended to preclude the very possibility that a comment can be both anti-Zionist and anti-Semitic, and that anti-Zionism is therefore an instantaneous defence against the charge of anti-Semitism in all its forms, a defence that simply cannot be trumped.

A poster who lost family in the Holocaust protests:“This comic deeply offends and upsets me. My family has been murdered through outright anti-semitism, all my family around my grandparents disappeared in concentration and labor camps. This is exactly the kind of thing which makes me feel nautious on Indymedia, and far more under attack than on any other website on the net, including the far rights: i simply expect them to hate me.”

The poster is, I believe, giving a from-the-heart complaint and is right to be offended. Latuff attempts to preemptively defend any anti-Israel comment of any kind from the charge of anti-Semitism, and to ridicule the charge, even when deserved. How does he do this? He claims that if you never mention Israeli violence against the Palestinians “you’ll never be labeled an anti-Semite.” Therefore, according to the cartoon’s logic, it’s only those who protest Israeli violence against Palestinians who are called anti-Semites. And in turn if you hear the charge of anti-Semitism, you should immediately conclude that it’s coming from a defender of Israel trying to whitewash Israeli violence.

Latuff’s position, though, seems to be the actual motivation behind the Indymedia UK reluctance to hide even obviously anti-Semitic posts: editors presume that the accusation of anti-Semitism is inherently false, and the burden of proof is on the accuser. This leads to an obvious double standard: a post which skirts the line of anti-Semitic bigotry is allowed to remain and is defended ardently on anti-censorship grounds by one or two UK editors; posts which skirt the line of other forms of bigotry are hidden immediately and that’s that.

Hence, the poster’s complaint about antisemitism on Indymedia UK was swatted away instantly, ignored, or even derided.

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One Response to The Latuff Cartoon

  1. geniza says:

    Here is the full text of the reader complaint mentioned above:

    this really upsets me

    13.11.2007 17:06

    This comic deeply offends and upsets me. My family has been murdered through outright anti-semitism, all my family around my grandparents disappeared in concentration and labor camps. This is exactly the kind of thing which makes me feel nautious on Indymedia, and far more under attack than on any other website on the net, including the far rights: i simply expect them to hate me.

    The activist left in the UK keeps on falling into the same modes of thinking that Germany’s Socialists did, which enabled it to be appropriated so well into NS. The term anti-semitism has been blurred by the state of Israel, and many of its defenders, to be focused around critique of Israel. Latuff plays exactly into this by not appreciating that anti-semitism is something other than this, by making a joke out of it as if this were the same as making a joke out of criticizing critique of Israel.

    Anti-semitism is a view of the world where you see Jews as ruling the world. I think it is particularly rife amongst the left and consipiracy theorists because its nice and easy to think that there is someone controlling everything, that power is as strictly hierarchical as it were under feudal times. Anti-semitism is based on rejecting the concept that everyone recreates power structures, enforces it upon each other, maintains this current system. Activists are not immune to this, look at how so much of feminism is still so marginalised in our movement, how much patriarchal modes of behaviour that reinforce gender based subordination are ignored.

    Ive been told so many times that anti-semitism is too confused an issue to bother with any more, that the biggest problem in the world is what Israel is doing to the Palestinians, and that this should be my focus. If I care about the Palestinians then forget the holocaust, thats irrelevant now and anyways has nothing to do with anything, its a part of history (which i suspect many people on indymedia would want to argue against as well…). I can’t. My scars keep getting inflamed by people like Latuff who laugh at them, ignore them, ridicule them.

    Understanding anti-semitism is one of the main keys to understanding Israel’s psyche. Outrightedly rejecting it simply inflames the scars, enrages the beast…

    If you are interested in understanding anti-semitism then a good, but difficult place to start is Moishe Postone, ‘Anti-Semitism and State Socialism’. Its been published in a lot of places, but you can find it in an Anti-German rag (a movement which Postone condems in Principia Dialectica issue 2) here:

    http://antifa-hamburg.com/no-liberation-reader/en/download.html

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