London-based Arabic outlet peddles antisemitism and support for terror

Last Thursday, a new antisemitic cartoon was published in London-based, Qatariowned and Palestinianrun newspaper al-Quds al-Arabi.

Drawn by Syrian cartoonist Fahd al-Bahady, it depicts a mosquito-shaped Israeli soldier feeding off a puddle of blood from a (presumably dying or dead) Palestinian.  The title reads “Israeli occupation delves into the Palestinian blood”:

A common counter-argument challenging the antisemitic nature of this cartoon and its likes focuses on the fact that the evil insects, octopuses, viruses, beasts, reptiles and puppet-masters they show do not bear the ‘ordinary’ Jewish or Israeli image.

Rather, they have the specific characteristics of an Israeli soldier – green uniforms, helmets, bulletproof vests and M-16s. Supposedly, this would absolve the cartoonists of the antisemitism accusation, since they ostensibly attacked only the military occupation Palestinians are subjected to, or at worst the Israeli state – not Jews or Israeli civilians collectively.

However, as other al-Quds al-Arabi cartoons by al-Bahady from earlier this year reveal, to him the ‘occupation’ – and the ‘Israeli soldier’ imagery that symbolises it – both refer to Israeli Jews as individuals, as well as to Israel’s Jewish population as a whole. This is evident from the way the cartoonist has commented on deadly attacks against Israeli civilians.

Celebrating the January 27th Neve Yaakov shooting which killed seven civilians aged 14-59, and not one soldier or police officer, he drew the following al-Quds al-Arabi cartoon:

Titled “the Jerusalem operation – for every action there is a reaction”, the cartoon features a Palestinian shooting an Israeli officer (“Israeli security establishment”) in the head.

Al-Bahady similarly praised the August 19th murder of two civilians, aged 60 and 28, in Hawara:

Titled “a shooting operation targets the Occupation in Hawara”, in this cartoon the mosquito is positively depicted as a Palestinian bullet stinging the Israeli soldier.

Notably, on other occasions Bahady did evoke explicit antisemitic tropes, for example when he commented on the possibility of the UK moving its embassy to Jerusalem last October:

Al-Bahady’s al-Quds al-Arabi cartoon from October 10th, 2022, is titled “the UK considering to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.”

Of course, al-Bahady is not the only al-Quds al-Arabi cartoonist overjoyed by the murder of Israeli civilians, making no distinction whatsoever between them and soldiers. This is how Palestinian cartoonist Muhammad Sabaaneh chose to honor another “Jerusalem operation”, this time a ramming attack which cost the lives of three Israeli civilians, aged 6-21:

He even further elaborated on Twitter on the event (note that one of the two “colonisers” whose death was already announced at the time of the tweet is 6-year-old Yaakov Yisrael Paley):

And just like al-Bahady, on other occasions Sabaaneh also reverts back to classic antisemitic imagery:

Titled “hostilities towards Jerusalem’s churches”, this February 4th cartoon published al-Quds al-Arabi depicts a Jew crucifying a Palestinian Jesus.

Sabaaneh’s depiction of “the American veto in Israel’s favor” (September 23rd, 2022) features a Jewish hand controlling the United States which, in turn, controls the UN through its UNSC veto:

In conclusion, the ‘Israeli soldier’ image in al-Quds al-Arabi cartoons should be examined within the context of the broader worldview of the entire newspaper, whereby there’s no distinction between combatants and uninvolved civilians.

To wit, since al-Quds al-Arabi deems all manifestations of Jewish sovereignty ‘between the river and the sea’ as foreign occupation of solely Arab lands, any Jew exerting such sovereignty is consequently a “soldier” of an occupying force. Never truly innocent, they all thus become legitimate targets of ‘heroic’ deadly attacks – including even Jewish children.

This, of course, does not push more classic forms of antisemitic speech aside, like the three versions of the same antisemitic cartoon which the London-based outlet published between May 2020 and November 2021 predicting that Israel’s Jews will eventually “take their names and leave” because this is “Allah’s promise.”

(See an Arabic version of this post, here)

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