# 226 – Anti-Semitism by Stephen Pohlmann - Ourboox.com
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# 226 – Anti-Semitism

Helping others to understand Israel - and Israelis to understand others...
  • Joined Sep 2016
  • Published Books 409

February 5, 2013

Let me start by saying goodbye to Ed Koch. This great man died on February 1st. The fact that he never married and was definitely not gay has nothing to with the fact that he was perhaps New York’s hardest-ever-working mayor, achieving so much in his long stints in perhaps America’s 2nd most powerful position.


He cleaned up the streets, suppressed the over-powerful unions, increased the building of high-rises (skyscrapers), saving the city from bankruptcy. Unfortunately, nothing lasts forever, and, like many other ‘greats’, the same problems they originally faced proved to be stronger and caused their eventual downfalls.


I touched last week on the subject of the Gerald Scarfe cartoon in the Sunday Times.  Reminder:



Two ‘events’ have occurred that make me write this – on a subject that is soooo sensitive.

First, I made contact again with Stefan, a primary school friend of mind. I’ll keep his surname out of this for now, although I doubt that he’d mind me identifying to anyone who’s specially interested. He’s a semi-retired cartoonist. He was the one who created the brilliant one that accompanied my ‘Gaza Tunnel’ story. Here it is again…






The 2nd cartoon was also one I ‘commissioned’, illustrating how often ‘common sense’ hits us in the face….



Stefan’s words confirm what I suspected about Gerald Scarfe. Already years ago, I felt the same way about the Steve Bell cartoons (in the Guardian, which, then, I was reading adamantly – almost never now, due to it’s blatantly anti-Israel sway). Bell’s images were also designed to shock, and his words or meanings often had a very biting tongue.


This is what Stefan has written to me about Scarfe – interesting because it is an insight into an insider’s view of the political cartoonist’s world:

I haven’t seen the Scarfe cartoon, SP–don’t read papers these days (except free ones); waste of time and money, but I’m not sure about anti-semitism–he is, after all, married to a sort of Jewish person in the shape of Jane Asher, but you’re right about editorial responsibility.


He nicked his style from former Hampstead friend, Ralph Steadman back in the 60s. The latter would dearly like to kill him, or cut off his drawing hand–a la Middle East justice! You may or may not know that Scarfe is not good on ideas, and at one point had to rely on Bernard Levin to boost his flagging editorial cartoons at the Times. It is possible that it was a ‘committee’ decision to publish the cartoon, which is why they have all apologised for the timing–Scarfe just doing the drawing.


You have to remember the FO here is filled with bed-wetting apologists for the Arabs going back yonks, and they all went to the same racist public schools as the editors, and proprietors, so they feel they are doing the ‘right thing’ by their oil-rich friends in the East! In the end it’s all about oil, isn’t it, and Scarfe will do anything to raise his profile in old age!


This is not the first ‘Israeli’ cartoon that has caused an uproar here. There is a very boring, though competent, cartoonist called Dave Smith, who used to be an illustrator at the Sunday Times. He produced a very anti-semitic drawing, in which a sort of neo-nazi inspired image of Sharon could be seen eating Palestinians (what a good idea!). Once again, Smith is no ideas-man, so I expect this was the Editor and his gang promoting their own take on the subject.


Sadly, the ‘cartoonist puppet’ is not new–Lesie Illingworth had no interest in, or affiliation to any political party, but was known as a ‘political cartoonist’ for heaven knows how many years, and was an excellent draughtsman, working for right-wing papers like the old Punch used to be.


Further back, Gillray and his contemporaries were just mercenary cartoonists who took from the highest bidder–and then stuck the nib in. Vicky was an exception to all this, and hoped to change the world–it killed him eventually; he commited suicide in the block opposite me in Maida Vale. He and JAK loathed one another, and entered the Standard by separate doors!  All good fun!!


Stefan confirms to us (to me at least) that the cartoonist is not the main player here. He says he didn’t know that his cartoon coincided with Int’l Holocaust Day. Well, why should he? He’s a cartoonist.

Martin Ives, the Sunday Times Editor, has unreservedly apologised for the timing of the cartoon – and for the cartoon itself, stating that it clearly had ‘crossed the line’. Well, I’m sorry. A little late for that. It was his job to control the publication and he failed.


Anti-semitic? Some of you are not going to like this….In fact, I don’t like it!!. But yes, this is the anti-Semitism that won’t go away; the one that people just don’t get.

First, an experience I had with anti-Semitism…


I was brought up Catholic – yet have 100% ‘Jewish blood” – another of ‘those’ stories. My maternal parents, Catholic, were sent to Auschwitz for being Jewish… I was sent to Anglican and then Catholic schools. So I had little ‘awareness’ of ‘the Jewish subject’. I had Jewish relatives, but that’s all they were. We Christians, unless we really study the subject, still only think of Judaism as a religion.


Around 10 years ago, I was subject to a bona fide anti-Semitic attack – from a ‘good friend of mine’. Was called “Nazi” and all that…I am proud of my reaction, which was a) to sever my ties with him, and b) to get a book on the subject.


In the intro, I read about the bomb attack on a Jewish restaurant in Paris. Several dead and injured. The then President of France made an immediate and public comment, aimed at full sympathy etc. Trouble is, he said words to the effect that in addition to the Jewish victims, several innocent French were also victims.

This is classic anti-Semtism, the one that sits there asleep for perhaps a lifetime, the one that started nearly 2,000 years before the Holocaust.


Remember, only recently did the Pope officially pardon the Jews – and Jehovah’s Witnesses, among whom I have some valued customers and friends, STILL haven’t done so. In their eyes, we lost the title of the Chosen People (not that most of us really wanted it).


The 2nd event –

Sunday morning, I watched a programme on BBC called ‘The Big Question’. There’s an ‘invited audience’ and a moderator. Racism in the police force and gay marriage were 2 of the subjects. The other: ‘Was the Gerald Scarfe cartoon anti-Semitism?’.


They had a very articulate rabbi from Mill Hill, and Sikh and Muslim clerics, all 3 of whom also commented on the racism subject. On the other side of the room and spectrum, was a priest, a cartoonist and a ‘Free Palestine’ activist (his t-shirt was as blatant as the rabbi’s kippa, the sikh’s turban and the priest’s collar).

The turbulent discussion that followed was frightening. How can I summarise it?



  • The uninformed kept on bringing up the subject of the Holocaust. Yet anti-Semitism has existed since Roman times (as we all know).

  • Blood libel, which the cartoon clearly featured, also goes back many centuries.


The 3 ‘on the other side of the room’ were, in my opinion, the anti-Semitic ones. They kept on getting their subjects confused – and their anger erupted uncontrollably. In my opinion (again), the sikh and the muslim appeared more sensitive to the subject, the need to separate criticism and hate. (They both soon countered that by voicing strong anti-Israel and pro-Palestinian views – some of them so wrong –  in my opinion again – but quite clearly not based on a prejudice so deep, that it was unrecognisable)



I am not sure that what I am referring to as anti-Semitism will ever go away. Prejudices are rampant. And the older they are – the more ‘entrenched’ in our unconscious – the less chance of being eliminated. Suppressed perhaps, but not eliminated. Racism is perhaps the next one on the list. And Islamaphobia is is catching up.


Yesterday, I went, for the first time, onto a Hamas-website (can’t say which – I don’t trust the Internet). Wow…virulent stuff. But occasionally, I have glanced into forums on your ‘next-door-neighbour’ websites. Among the thousands of subjects – and there ARE thousands – and there are millions of people with the time and the interest and the passion to contribute – is, of course, the Israel-Palestine conflict.


Anti-Semitism is splattered across these forums. Perhaps some of my best friends are anti-Semitic. Perhaps I am hoping that this email does not expose this.

Pandora’s Box?


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