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Oof. Looks like Batya Ungar-Sargon is using disingenuous antisemitism charges against Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib. Again.

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on 14 Comments

Oof. Looks like both Rep. Omar and Rep. Tlaib shared this awful Carlos Latuff cartoon in Instagram stories yesterday,

tweeted the Forward Opinion Editor Batya Ungar-Sargon yesterday.

The cartoon features Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US President Donald Trump silencing congresswomen Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar respectively. Their blue sleeves formed two blue lines, framing a Star of David, thus forming the Israeli flag.

Tlaib wrote when she shared it:

The more they try to silence us, our voices rise. The more they try to weaken us, the stronger we become. The more they try to discredit us, the truth prevails.

This is of course a reference to her being barred from entering Israel following a lobbying effort which seemed to be a joint venture of President Trump and the Israeli government. 

Ungar-Sargon wasn’t immediately calling this one an anti-Semitic cartoon, but she was suggesting it through association. Her next sentence was:

In 2006, Latuff came in second in Iran’s International Holocaust Cartoon Contest, which is a thing that exists, in case you thought the TL [timeline] couldn’t get any worse.

In the thread of tweets that followed, Ungar-Sargon noticed that many were wondering what was wrong with the cartoon itself, in that it seemed to be making a valid political point. She seemed coy about actually calling it that, and seemed to prefer a slow circling of her prey to arrive at the guilt-by-association point:

Jews controlling and subverting world leaders is a classic anti-Semitic trope. So is Jews silencing critics. But no one has silenced the Reps. The ways in which it gets the story wrong fits into an aesthetic designed to give anti-Semites pleasure.

Ungar-Sargon is trying to push the point that Trump was calling the shots:

 [C]onsider how Trump is drawn as an instrument of Israel, when we know Israel barred the Congresswomen at Trump’s behest.

That point is one that Israel-apologists have been making. They seem desperate to shift the blame of the congresswomen’s being barred from Israel and Netanyahu to Trump. Yes, Trump prodded it, but Israel’s ban is an existing law from 2017. Israel was reportedly pressed by AIPAC to make an exception for Tlaib and Omar so as to not get cancellations from Democrats on the recent AIPAC-sponsored tour to Israel. Once the trip went ahead a couple of weeks ago, Israel was free to ban their colleagues. Israel didn’t need much convincing from Trump here – after all, why violate your own laws for nothing? To be honest, it’s very hard to see who is pulling who’s strings here, and let’s not forget the Benjamins from Trump’s major donors, the Adelsons, who make it all about Israel. So Latuff’s cartoon is actually making this point – the US and Israel under Trump and Netanyahu are working together to silence Tlaib and Omar. It’s not hard to see how that works.

But Ungar-Sargon was desperate to convince the skeptics. She took it a notch further:

It’s sad to me how many people are proud that they don’t see anything wrong with the comic. Go educate yourself. This isn’t something to be proud of. Every single Jew you know has lost family members because of these kinds of comics. That’s why we recognize them.

Really? Every single Jew? That’s just absolutely not the case.

And furthermore, the stretch here in terms of demonizing the messenger as genocidal-by-association is just despicable.

This is not the first time for Batya Ungar-Sargon. Earlier this year, she was a major inciter against Ilhan Omar when the latter spoke about the effect of money from Israel lobby on US foreign policy. That time she tried to disingenuously downplay the role of AIPAC, so as to vilify Omar. Her piece was titled “Ilhan Omar tweeted something anti-Semitic. Again.”

As to the issue of Carlos Latuff, a Mondoweiss contributor, and the Iranian Holocaust Cartoon competition. That’s something that occurred twice, in 2006 and 2016, as a reaction to what was first called “Western hypocrisy on freedom of speech” by the Hamshahri Iranian newspaper, referring first to the Danish Jyllandsposten Mohammed cartoons of 2005 and then the French Charlie Hebdo publishing cartoons of Mohammed in the wake of the shootings in 2015. This was a reactive challenging of “freedom of speech”, testing whether the insistence on this freedom could survive if the cartoons were about subjects considered sensitive to Jewish sensibility.

Latuff hastened to tweet his cartoon which won the 2nd prize, together with an interview he gave about it for the Jewish Forward.

The cartoon features a Palestinian man with the separation wall in the background, dressed in concentration camp prisoner clothes from World War II, with a red moon badge (with ‘P’ for ‘Palestinian’). The message is one that has been uttered many times by Jews – a comparison of contemporary Israeli practices to that of Nazis. This is comparison that some are seeking to outlaw via the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance working definition of anti-Semitism.

In the 2008 interview with the Jewish Forward’s Eddy Portnoy, Latuff refers to the moral consideration of this:

Eddy Portnoy: You frequently use the Holocaust as a metaphor to criticize Israeli policies. This is seen as an inaccurate comparison and deliberately hurtful to Jews. Can you further explain your use of this metaphor?

Carlos Latuff: As a cartoonist, I feel comfortable enough to make any comparison I think necessary that expresses my point. Metaphors are the key point to political cartooning. Of course Israel isn’t building gas chambers in the West Bank, but surely we can find some similarities between the treatment given to Palestinians by the [Israel Defense Forces] and the Jews under Nazi rule. Inaccurate or not, it’s important to highlight that such comparisons have been made worldwide not only by cartoonists, but by people such as Yosef “Tommy” Lapid, Ariel Sharon’s former justice minister and a Holocaust survivor (deceased in June of 2008). He said in 2004, during an interview, that a photo of an elderly Palestinian woman searching through rubble reminded him of his grandmother who died in Auschwitz. For me, this is more painful than comparisons of how Palestinians live under Israeli occupation.

But all that nuance is not really important for Ungar-Sargon. As a self-righteous ‘liberal-Zionist’ who purports to speak on behalf of “all Jews”, the “Jewish imagination” and what not, she is just fine with blowing dog-whistles for the right-wing attackers of Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib to pick up on. And indeed, in no-time, Ungar Sargon was cited by Fox News and a range of right-wing outlets.

The New York Post came out with this title just now: “Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar share cartoon by artist accused of anti-Semitic imagery”.

How McCarthyite can you get? In the article Yaron Steinbuch is already more accusative:

Reps. Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib continued their attack against President Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu by posting a cartoon drawn by an artist who has created anti-Semitic imagery and mocked victims of the Holocaust.

You see how this one goes. It’s that trick again. Like the late Israeli minister Shulamit Aloni once said to Amy Goodman on Democracy Now: The ‘anti-Semitic’ claim is a “trick” which “we always use” to rebuff criticism of the Israeli government.

And maybe Batya Ungar-Sargon sees herself as the savior of all Jews, because those cartoons just kill family members of “every single Jew you know”, or something crazy like that. But in reality, she’s just a cheerleader for an assault on those very few who dare challenge Israeli policy head-on. As such, Batya Ungar-Sargon is nothing but a cheap Israel-apologist, disguising as a liberal.

Jonathan Ofir

Israeli musician, conductor and blogger / writer based in Denmark.

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14 Responses

  1. JaapBo on August 19, 2019, 5:17 pm

    She also tweeted that Latuff was second in a Holocaust DENIAL competition! Strong stuff!

    To be fair to Ungar-Sargon, for a Zionist she is rather critical of the occupation: “Gonna end with what I think is the most important part of this whole saga: Palestinians who live in the West Bank face what Rep. Tlaib faced every single day. They are stateless and their lives are controlled by an occupying force they cant vote for. Raise up your voice for them.”
    How long can she put up with the contradictions?

    • eljay on August 19, 2019, 6:16 pm

      || JaapBo: … To be fair to Ungar-Sargon, for a Zionist she is rather critical of the occupation … How long can she put up with the contradictions? ||

      “Jewish and democratic”

      “Moral beacon” / “light unto the nations” / “progressive paradise” and not as bad as Saudi Arabia, Mali, African “hellholes”, etc.

      Zionists have been putting up with the contradictions for over 70 years.

    • JWalters on August 19, 2019, 8:42 pm

      “How long can she put up with the contradictions?”

      As long as she is well paid. Ungar-Sargon is one of the wicked witches of Zionism.

    • andrelevy on August 19, 2019, 9:35 pm

      > How long can she put up with the contradictions?

      Dialectics, not contradictions. Her stance is the standard JStreet-Avodah Left-Zionist one. It is, in fact, the one of Israel’s ruling elite of its first 30 years, and that managed and executed the Nakba. They oppose Likud-Chabad’s Right-Zionism for being right-wing, not for being more or less tribalist. Ben Gurion vs. Jabotinsky, pick your poison.

    • Marnie on August 20, 2019, 3:43 am

      It’s called bullshit JaapBo and should be taken in the context of a zionist experiencing a short circuit in their regular programming. Not to be confused with anything else. She is who she is and shows her ass 24/7.

    • pabelmont on August 20, 2019, 7:04 pm

      The Palestinians in the West Bank put up with far more, every day, than the USA Reps were faced with (and declined to submit to). Get the dear Ungar-Sargon to give as complete a description as she can of what Palestinians face every day. If she wishes to shut down editorial cartoons (and doubtless much else) as “antisemitic”, then she must not engage in Zionist apology by failing to tell the complete story.

      In other words, if Nazi comparisons are telling too much story, she must not try to excuse Israel by telling too little story.

      Let her say: “Israel does this and this and this (but they are not the same as and not as bad as Nazis)” — that sort of thing. And then let others decide which is worse or if it really matters.

  2. lyn117 on August 19, 2019, 8:26 pm

    I’m losing track. Is there any criticism of Israel that isn’t an anti-semitic trope?

  3. Marnie on August 20, 2019, 3:41 am

    She reeks of desperation and is desperately calling everything wrt to Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib antisemitism. Batyashit crazy Ungar-Sargon deserves a footnote in the History of the Minimization of Antisemitism by Zionist Jews. Her parents must be so proud.

  4. Misterioso on August 20, 2019, 10:48 am

    The Zionist camp is becoming more and more desperate. Its dam of lies and bribery that has held back the truth for over 70 years is under increasing stress brought on by an ever growing river of truth and will inevitably give way.


    “If Israel wants to ban anti-Semites, it should start by banning anti-Semites”
    The Independent, August 19, 2019, by Rafael Shimunov

    “As a Jewish refugee from Uzbekistan, I know the truth about the history between Jews and Muslims – and I won’t be swung by propaganda”

    “I’m no stranger to trumped-up antisemitism charges placed on Muslims. As a Jewish refugee from Soviet-dominated Uzbekistan, we lived as a minority among majority Uzbeks, Tajiks, Kazakhs and other Muslims for generations. Of course, no melting pot is free from conflict, but under Soviet dominance, which disguised white supremacy as communism, our families were in it together. At home in Queens, New York, we were the first of our family and among the first Bukharian Jews to settle in the US as HIAS refugees. With our success came opportunities to receive other families fleeing as hosts.

    “My childhood became a reality show, where each season, a new family would arrive and its elders and its children would share with me all of their stories. They arrived in Muslim or Jewish garb from Iran, Mongolia, China, North Africa and Eastern Europe, with the same instruments and traditions we recognised. And the stories they told made two things very clear to me.

    “When Central Asian Jews and Muslims found themselves under the boot of Moscow’s white supremacy, our rabbis and our imams found interfaith solidarity.

    “As Soviets banned synagogues, it was the imam who opened his mosque for our bar mitzvahs. As Soviets made the bribes Muslims needed to prepare food under halal dietary requirements unsustainable, it was the rabbi who worked with kosher preparation to make it work for Muslims. It was stories like these from elders that convinced me solidarity is possible under any scenario.

    “But I also learned how quickly those stories began to change. Right-wing Israeli propaganda made me realise the fragility of solidarity. Fuelled by free trips, organised by apps, and ignited with million-dollar Facebook ad campaigns, the children of those elders, who inherit these stories today, have changed the narrative of us fleeing Soviets to us fleeing the very same Muslims we stood with.

    “Today, that same propaganda machine has resulted in an Israel where white supremacists and the world’s most infamous anti-Semites have been enjoying an open door to the country without much attention, while shaking the earth at the notion of a Palestinian American congresswoman wishing to visit her Palestinian grandmother.

    “There are few people on this planet with more right to visit the West Bank than a Palestinian, no less one who is a member of an American Congress which doles out seemingly infinite amounts in foreign aid, and enforces its veto power over human rights accountability in the UN.

    “Yet today, it is anti-Semites who enjoy unrestricted freedom to travel granted by Israel.

    “Sebastian Gorka, who wore the honorary medal of Hungarian nationalist organisation Vitezi Rend, a group with alleged historical links to Nazi Germany, visited Israel with no restriction for a conference in 2017. Andras Heisler, vice president of the World Jewish Congress, said at the time that wearing such insignia ‘isn’t a good message for a democratic society.’

    “Founder of the Proud Boys, Gavin McInnes, said during his trip to Israel that Jews in Israel have a ‘whiny paranoid fear of Nazis’ and posted an article detailing ’10 things I hate about Jews.’ McInnes publicly claimed to have left the group in 2018, after the FBI reportedly categorised it ‘an extremist group with ties to white nationalism.’

    “Milo Yiannopoulos, following a stunt where he created a mock Western Wall to pray against immigrants, with ‘ICE’ emblazoned on a Jewish kippa, was celebrated by enough Israeli youth that a movement to invite him was sparked by fans.

    “Modi, the far-right Hindu nationalist PM of India, who oversaw the Gujarat State Board where textbooks glorified Hitler, was a state-honored guest of Israel, along with Italian former fascist sympathiser Gianfranco Fini and far-right leader Matteo Salvini. Antisemitic Hungarian PM Viktor Orban has also been courted by Israeli politicians.

    “‘This propaganda would have you believe that these are friends of Jews, and that the true anti-Semite is Rep. Rashida Tlaib, who found the strength and solidarity with Jews to opine that even in the midst of near total destruction of her homeland, and daily humiliation of her people, it gave her comfort to at least know that it was Jews fleeing the Holocaust who found refuge in Palestine as they fled those very same European anti-Semites.”

    “Rafael Shimunov is a board member of Jews for Racial and Economic Justice (JFREJ), and co-founder of The Jewish Vote in New York City. He says the Muslim Jewish solidarity of his home country, is alive and well in Queens, NYC today with Desis Rising Up & Moving (DRUM), Yalla Brooklyn!, MPOWER Change and the Arab American Association of NY, most recently offering mutual aid after white supremacist attacks on mosques and synagogues.”

    • Mooser on August 20, 2019, 3:27 pm

      Very interesting. As always, thanks, “Misterioso”

  5. Vera Gottlieb on August 20, 2019, 11:34 am

    There is a price to pay for all this, israel…From the Warsaw ghetto to the Gaza ghetto.

  6. Mooser on August 20, 2019, 5:24 pm

    Trump today on Omar/Tlaib:

    “Any Jewish people that vote for a Democrat — I think it shows either a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty.”

  7. tony greenstein on August 26, 2019, 1:37 pm

    Batty Batya Ungar-Sargon is worse than the Mort Klein’s of this world because everyone knows that Mort is a racist scumbag. Batty poses as some progressive whilst exceptionalising Zionism and Jews. You can’t compare what Israel does to the Holocaust though Israel can compare its victims to the Nazi.

    But we should address this argument about Jews controlling non-Jews etc as reminiscent of old anti-Jewish stereotypes and say that unfortunately much of what Zionism and Israel does IS an attempt to fulfill the old stereotypes.

    E.g. it was an old antisemitic canard that Jews poison non-Jews’s wells. But it is well documented that in the 1948 war Israel did infect Palestinian water sources with bacteria to make the inhabitants of villages ill. It is documented without a doubt that settlers poison and pollute Palestinian water sources today. So is it antisemitic to say so

    Of course not because Israel is NOT the collective Jew. What Israel does has nothing to do with Jews apart from the fact that it is a Jewish racial supremacist state. In much the same way as South Africa under apartheid claimed to be a Christian state. There is nothing essentially Jewish about Israel. Indeed the whole point of Zionism wasn’t to create a state with Jewish values (as historically understood) but one which achieved Jewish asssimilation on a collective basis. It was to be a state like all others, except that in the process of formation it became like the worst of such states.

    As for Batty, she will continue to be an apologist for Zionism. Far more dangerous than the Right because she has more credibility.

    She has also recently blocked me on Twitter which is an acolade of sorts!

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