General Antisemitism

Guardian cartoonist draws upon antisemitic stereotypes in depicting Henry Kissinger

Here’s a recent photo of former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.


Now, here’s how Kissinger was depicted on June 8th by Guardian cartoonist Martin Rowson, in a cartoon about the annual meeting of the Bilderberg Group in Watford. (The Bilderberg Group is  a policy forum consisting of influential people in business, finance and politics which consistently provides fodder for conspiracy theories due to the relative secrecy of the meetings.)

Martin Rowson cartoon 8.6.2013

Here’s a closeup.


A few observations:

  • Though the Bilderberg meeting includes other former political leaders vilified by some due to their involvement in foreign wars, such as Tony Blair for instance, Rowson chose only Kissinger (A German-born Jew) to depict as having blood on his (oversized) hands – inspired, presumably, by his role under President Nixon during the wars in Vietnam and Cambodia.
  • Despite the antisemitic history of such caricatures – historically, the ‘big hooked nose’ (often in conjunction with a sneering expression) on a Jew is typically meant to suggest his depravity – Rowson chose to include such a stereotypically exaggerated nose among Kissinger’s other grotesque features. 
  • Rowson’s history at the Guardian includes cartoons which have employed similar motifs, including such facial features and the gratuitous use of blood to illustrate putatively sadistic Jewish behavior. Here’s one, titled Mindless in Gaza”, of Ariel Sharon from 2001:


Additionally, to provide further visual context, here’s a collection of Nazi and Arab antisemitic depictions – focusing on the hooked nose and oversized hands – which CAMERA published during the row over Gerald Scarfe’s ‘Sunday Times’ cartoon.  (Scarfe’s cartoon, which Rowson defended in an essay at the Guardian, is on the top right.)

anti semitic cartoons

Indeed,  if you compare Rowson’s cartoon with the most extreme racist depictions of Jews in the 20th century it isn’t difficult to see the overlapping facial features.  Here’s a side-by-side comparison of Rowson’s Kissinger with the infamous Nazi antisemitic caricature published by Julius Streicher’s Der Sturmer, titled ‘The Poisonous Mushroom’:


Whilst we’re not suggesting that Rowson was intentionally evoking such comparisons, the Guardian’s readers’ editor Chris Elliott, in a post responding to criticism over Steve Bell’s Nov. 15 cartoon depicting William Hague and Tony Blair as puppets being controlled by Bibi Netanyahu, wrote the following:

I don’t believe that Bell is an antisemite, nor do I think it was his intention to draw an antisemitic cartoon. However, using the image of a puppeteer when drawing a Jewish politician inevitably echoes past antisemitic usage of such imagery, no matter the intent.

The Holocaust and its causes are still within living memory. While journalists and cartoonists should be free to express an opinion that Netanyahu is opportunistic and manipulative, in my view they should not use the language – including the visual language – of antisemitic stereotypes.

Echoing Elliott, whether or not Martin Rowson had racist intent is not as relevant as the more fundamental point: that a cartoonist for a “liberal” broadsheet should possess the moral decency to strenuously avoid employing visual language which historically represented the major antisemitic motifs in the long and bloody persecution of Jews.

14 replies »

  1. Why the meetings of this group bring every nutcase out I don’t know.
    Those of us who live in the U.K. and watch a Sunday show called Sunday Politics on the BBC had to stomach a complete loon from USA called Alex Jones this morning.

    • The only person with common sense was the little teenager from Watford…
      Thought it was quite funny over all.
      The guy has no ability to conduct a discussion.
      Reminds me of a certain group called the PSC…
      I’d add John Snow into that as well.

      • Funny? Hilarious, more like! This guy Alex Jones wastes no time launching into his loony rant: “The euro was a Nazi plan to take over countries economically. Now that’s on record.”

        I was also reminded of a spectacularly unreveiling (in similar style to that silly Dispatches “report” about the Israel lobby) documentary from several years back, featuring Denis Healey:

        (the poster of this video doesn’t seem to get his point)

    • It’s very worrying that 20 years after the Waco siege Americans like Alex Jones behave in similar fashion with out an ounce of thought to what this leads to.
      If you listen to the clip he behaves exactly like Koresh while substituting religion prophecy with conspirecy theory. Yet the result is the same.
      do what i say cause I’m trying to warn you theme.

  2. I am not surprised but what I am sure of, is that we are experiencing the worst antisemitism online and in print media than ever before. We are once again, at the defense stage of vile, abusive and outrageous Jew hatred.
    Though from some it is our own tribe members who are stirring the pot so to speak.
    The hatred is coming also from the most shocking corners of our own community.
    What to do? Keep online, keep posting and exposing, keep blogging, tweeting and Facebooking, keep writing, keep it in the public eye. Use every means to expose it as CIF and others have done over the past.
    Don’t think that this will end soon. It will be a long battle.
    Okay a cup of tea I think?

    • The battle is not that bad but incidents created by islamo facists in the UK only creates strife in the western community and ultimately Jews and others will find themselves in the firing line.

  3. The Guardian is a racist rag written by English toffs who learned their anti-semitism at public school or from their mummies and daddies. And if they didn’t, Alan Rusbridger makes sure they don’t last long in the job.

  4. And check out this charming response below the Rowson cartoon:

    paulrudolph 08 June 2013 2:30pm

    @PeleMcAmble – I’ve just been reading “The Trial of Henry Kissinger”,which almost makes me wish i was a christian of the old school, just so i could believe he was going to get his just desserts in a next life.


  5. Until there are loud,shouty demos outside the Guardian at this kind of 1930s racist garbage,it will continue.

  6. Do we think it’s a good or bad thing that cartoonists who diss Israel/the Jewish people are not subjected to the level of reaction that they would be if they dissed, say, Islam?