BERLIN – A regional German newspaper published an anti- Israel cartoon on Kristallnacht, depicting Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu as killing the Iran nuclear talks with poison.
The illustration triggered allegations that the paper Badische Zeitung, which is based in the southwestern German city of Freiburg, sought to stoke anti-Semitism among its readers.
Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld, a leading Israeli expert on modern anti-Semitism, told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday, “In the 14th century in Germany and France, the Jews were accused of poisoning wells and became the victims of murders. This German cartoon is yet another mutation of the ancient anti-Semitic poisoning motif. It follows an earlier one this year in the Stuttgarter Zeitung. Both fit perfectly the evil mindset of half of the German population which believes that Israel exterminates the Palestinians or behaves like the Nazis.”
The Badische paper cartoon shows a seemingly angry Netanyahu holding poison for both a peace dove and a snail on its way to the Geneva talks on Iran. Netanyahu talks on his mobile phone, saying, “I need pigeon and snail poisons.”
Alex Feuerherdt, a German journalist who has written extensively on media anti-Semitism, told the Post the cartoon shows “that modern anti-Semitism is dressed up as criticism of Israel.”
The Badische cartoon shows traditional anti-Semitic depictions of Jews as “poisoners” or “saboteurs” or a “danger for world peace.”
Feuerherdt says the cartoon ignores Iran’s threat to obliterate Israel through its nuclear weapons program. He added it is “disgusting” that the Badische paper published the illustration on Kristallnacht, the 1938 pogrom launched by Germans and Nazis to kill Jews and destroy their businesses.
Dr. Elvira Grözinger, from Scholars for Peace in the Middle East, told the Post, “This is a remake of the scandalous series of anti-Israeli cartoons with clear anti-Semitic connotations initiated a few months ago by the Suddeutsche Zeitung with its monster cartoon, followed by the Stuttgarter Zeitung with its cartoon referring to Georg Kreisler’s famous song about poisoning pigeons. Now, another unknown provincial newspaper tries to get into headlines by copying the trick.
“The German Presserat should once for all intervene in order to end this anti-Jewish incitement,” Thomas Fricker, a political editor with the Badische, flatly denied the allegations of anti-Semitism. In an email to the Post, Fricker wrote the accusation that the cartoon contains anti-Semitic cliches “seems to me to be unfounded.”
He wrote the illustration shows concretely “the position of the head of Israel’s government.
He tried in the days before to prevent a compromise of the P5+1 group in the nuclear conflict with Iran.”
Fricker continued, “the rapprochement between the P5+1 and Iran, which took place at this time, was symbolized by the peace dove in the cartoon.
And the extreme slowness of the process was expressed by the snail.”
The figure of Netanyahu as poisoner of the dove and snail shows, in a “figurative sense,” that Netanyahu attempted to prevent the rapprochement, said Fricker.
The political editor continued that he sees no connection between cliches of an alleged poisoning of the well by Jews in connection with the cartoon. “The Badische is aware of this agitational depiction of Jews from the Middle Ages and we would never make it.”
As an explanation, Gerstenfeld said, “Anti-Zionists and anti-Israelis frequently repeat the lie that they are not anti- Semites. Yet the classic anti- Semitic motifs appear in their circles again and again with new anti-Israeli mutations.
That is true for the blood libel and the accusation that Jews are subhuman or animals.”