Car­toons and Extrem­ism: Israel and the Jews in Arab and West­ern Media

Joel Kotek
  • Review
By – January 6, 2012

This is a provoca­tive, at times mad­den­ing, book. Kotek’s prin­ci­pal aim is to trace major themes in anti-Israel car­toons in the Arab press (and on the Inter­net) back to their roots in his­tor­i­cal anti-Semit­ic slan­ders such as the blood libel, the myth of con­spir­a­to­r­i­al Jew­ish world-con­trol set forth in the fraud­u­lent Pro­to­cols of the Elders of Zion, and the image of Jews as sub­hu­man as exem­pli­fied in such Nazi pub­li­ca­tions as Der Sturmer.

Most of the hun­dreds of car­toons repro­duced indeed sup­port Kotek’s the­sis that today’s anti-Zion­ism” is basi­cal­ly a revival of tra­di­tion­al vir­u­lent anti-Semi­tism, but in far too many cas­es, the issues are more com­plex and his argu­ment seems ten­den­tious. Kotek’s analy­sis is made even more prob­lem­at­ic by the pauci­ty of trans­la­tions for many cap­tions in the car­toons and of explana­to­ry con­text for car­toons that include rep­re­sen­ta­tions of rel­a­tive­ly unfa­mil­iar peo­ple and events, which make it dif­fi­cult — if not impos­si­ble — for the read­er to judge for her­self exact­ly what the car­toon­ist is doing.

Bill Bren­nan is an inde­pen­dent schol­ar and enter­tain­er based in Las Vegas. Bren­nan has taught lit­er­a­ture and the human­i­ties at Prince­ton and The Uni­ver­si­ty of Chica­go. He holds degrees from Yale, Prince­ton, and Northwestern.

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