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Increasing numbers of anti-Semitic cartoons depicting US presidential candidates John McCain and Barack Obama have surfaced throughout the Arab media over the past few weeks.
Since McCain's visit to Israel in March and Obama's current tour of the country, the Arab media have produced an influx of negative cartoons, depicting the supposed Jewish control of the upcoming presidential election in November, according to a report published by the Anti-Defamation League on Wednesday.
In one cartoon published in Saudi Arabia, in two separate newspapers, the presidential candidates are drawn in the jacket pocket of a Jewish man. In another cartoon from the Palestinian Authority, Obama is placed in the back pants pocket of a Jewish man, with an accompanying caption reading "the wagon [that gets you] to the White House" in Arabic.
A third Jordanian drawing depicts the candidates meeting President Bush, who is drowning in a sand pit among skulls in Iraq. The Arabic caption below read, "Come in, make yourself at home."
"[The Arab media's] message is not one of legitimate political issues, but one of anti-Semitism that [claim] Jews control the candidates," Arieh O'Sullivan, spokesman for the League in Israel, told The Jerusalem Post.
Cartoons have a powerful effect throughout the Arab world because they are able to reach a wider audience, due to high illiteracy rates. Their messages have a "big reach," since they can be understood by all people, O'Sullivan said.
The anti-Semitic cartoons appear in outlets throughout Arab media, and can be traced to Bahrain, Hamas-affiliated newspapers, Jordan, the Palestinian Authority, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria and the United Arab Emirates, according to the report.
Through cartoons, a specific image of the presidential candidates can be depicted to the public, said Baha Boukari, a Palestinian cartoonist for a newspaper in Ramallah - whose work is known to be moderate.
"Cartoons give sharp messages, and can read between the lines of any subject," he said.
Arab media outlets criticized American presidential candidates when they condemned terrorism and cited common values shared by Israel and America, said Kory Bardash, co-chairman of Republicans Abroad Israel.
"It is not surprising that the same state-controlled Arab media that celebrates child-murderer Samir Kuntar, also promotes the anti-Semitic conspiratorial theories and stereotypes of Jewish control," he said.
Democrats Abroad Israel Chairwoman Joanne Yaron said she found the cartoons shocking, especially since they came from government-controlled media sources.
"I don't think McCain or Obama are in anyone's pockets," she said. "I think [the cartoons] show who our - both Israel and the United States' - friends are or aren't."
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