Jews dragged into cartoon controversy

AEL posts anti-semitic cartoons to protest Mohammed caricature in Danish press.

anti semitic cartoon 298 (photo credit: Reprinted from
anti semitic cartoon 298
(photo credit: Reprinted from
Non-Jews slander non-Jewish prophets and then come to hang the Jews, one could say of the latest, ugly twist in the Danish cartoon controversy, paraphrasing one of Menachem Begin's most famous lines. A Belgian-Dutch Islamic political organization, the Arab European League, posted anti-Jewish cartoons on its Web site on Saturday in response to the cartoons of the prophet Mohammed that appeared in Danish papers last year and offended many Muslims, unleashing violent demonstrations around the Islamic world. One of the AEL cartoons reportedly displayed an image of Anne Frank in bed with Hitler, and another questioned whether the Holocaust actually occurred. Dyab Abou Jahjah, the party's founder and best-known figure, defended the action on the Dutch television program Nova Saturday. "Europe has its sacred cows, even if they're not religious sacred cows," he told the program. The AEL espouses nonviolence but has gained a reputation for extremist views, and opposes Muslims integrating with non-Muslims. It promotes the participation of Muslims in political dialogue in European countries, but is internally divided as to whether or not to participate in elections directly. The Israeli Foreign Ministry, which over the years has often protested anti-Semitic political cartoons in the Islamic world, stayed true to its policy regarding the Danish newspaper cartoon controversy and refused to issue a response. One ministry official said that the "cartoon wars" were not Israel's battle, and that it did not want to get dragged into it. If Israel would react to the whole controversy, the official said, the Islamic world would eventually blame Israel for being behind the whole incident. The Anti-Defamation League, however, did not feel the same restraints. In a statement released on Friday, the ADL said the fact that despicable anti-Jewish caricatures appear daily in newspapers across the Arab and Muslim world has been overlooked in the whole controversy. "While invoking the supposed 'freedom of the press' in their countries, Arab and Muslim leaders have refused to take any action to stem the drumbeat of anti-Semitism in widely circulated newspapers, many state-sponsored," the statement read. The statement said that the leaders of Egypt and Saudi Arabia have "virtually ignored" appeals from the United States and Jewish organizations to put an end to incitement in their media. "One would hope that leaders of the Arab and Muslims would turn all of the anger being aimed at the European press into a larger lesson for their own people about the power of images," the statement read. The statement said that the ADL was opposed to religious, racial and ethnic stereotyping in the media," and found "some of the cartoons in Jyllands-Posten troubling, particularly the direct linkage of Mohammed and violence." At the same time, statement said the ADL was "gravely concerned" by the extreme violent reaction these cartoons have generated. "It is certainly the right of individuals and governments to express their disagreement with these depictions," the statement said. "However, the use of violence, threats, boycotts and other extreme reactions are highly inappropriate and bode ill for future debates involving Islam, democracy and free speech." AP contributed to this report.