April 1, 2009 Inquiry & Analysis Series No. 507

Antisemitic Statements and Cartoons in Wake of Gaza War

April 1, 2009 | By B. Chernitsky and E. Glass*
Inquiry & Analysis Series No. 507


The Gaza war triggered many expressions of antisemitism (i.e., statements against Jews at large) in the Arab and Muslim world, both by Arab leaders and politicians and by columnists. In their statements, they evoked antisemitic motifs taken from both traditional Islamic sources and from European ones. Cartoons featuring similar motifs were published in the Arab media.

The antisemitic motifs taken from the Islamic tradition included allusion to the Jews as "the descendants of apes and pigs," as dishonest, and as domineering, while the motifs taken from the European tradition included, for example, the claim that the Jews aim to take over the world. Some of the writers also alluded to the Jewish tradition, stating that Israel’s policies are based on Jewish religious commandments.

Another recurring motif was a comparison between the Gaza war and the Jewish Holocaust. The claim that Israel is as bad as, or even worse than, Nazi Germany is frequently made in the Arab press, and is meant to challenge the legitimacy of Israel's very existence.

This document will focus on two aspects of the recent antisemitic attacks: the demonization of the Jews using motifs from the Islamic tradition, and the comparison between Israel and Nazi Germany. [1]

Antisemitic Motifs from the Islamic Tradition

In an article in the Saudi daily Al-Watan, journalist Ashraf Al-Faqi claims that the current Israeli policies are based on "the Jewish interpretation of the Torah": [2]

"The Jewish interpretation of the Torah is behind all the massacres perpetrated by the Israeli forces in Gaza. This proves that Israel is a religious state, [despite] the claims to the contrary repeatedly made by its politicians…

"To justify their massacres and achieve their aims, the Jews rely on tales of killing and on various ploys described in the Torah... They rely, for example, on the story of Dinah, which exposes the extent of their cunning, and their [method of operation, which consists] of breaking promises, setting endless conditions, and eventually killing their victim after exhausting him with all these conditions…" [3]

Writing in the Saudi edition of the daily Al-Hayat, Islamic researcher 'Abd Al-Rahman Al-Khatib describes the Jews as religious fanatics, and claims that their ideology - which is reflected in The Protocols of the Elders of Zion - stems from the Torah and the Talmud, and is currently being implemented in Gaza. Al-Khatib also cites traditional Muslim sources that promise the Muslims victory over the Jews.

"Many of those who follow the events in Gaza have seen on the satellite channels images of Israeli soldiers wearing a robe-like garment over their uniforms, which goes over their heads and reaches to their waists. [While wearing it] they hold Torah books and read out of them … rapidly moving their bodies back and forth. To give the reader an idea of the texts [that appear in these books], here are a few of them. Deuteronomy [1:8] says: 'See, I have placed the land before you; go in and possess the land which the Lord swore to give to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to them and their descendants after them…'

"Anyone who examines these verses in the Torah can see that they have been put into practice in Palestine in the recent years - for people [like the Jews,] who are fanatical about their religion, cannot disregard its commandments… Jewish ideology has only two sources: the Torah and the Talmud. This ideology has spawned many secondary texts, including The Protocols of the Elders of Zion by Matvei Golovinski, The Jewish State by [Theodor] Herzl and The Prince by [Niccolo] Machiavelli..." [4]

In an article in the prominent London daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, Saudi preacher Dr. 'Aidh Al-Qarni compared the conduct of the Jews to that of tyrants like Pharaoh and Nebuchadnezzar: "The Jews are no better than Pharaoh, and are doing [to the Palestinians] exactly what he did to their forefathers... One might have expected the Jews to take a lesson from the fate of tyrants [like] Nebuchadnezzar, Pharaoh and Hitler. But sadly, they [have chosen] to emulate the tyrants and to be led by hangmen. [Consequently] they have [themselves] become terrorists and murderers who want to give others a taste of the torment, abuse, collective extermination, and deportation which was their lot in the past. They enjoy killing children, murdering elderly people and burning homes. They specialize in terrorizing peaceful [civilians], torturing prisoners, burning the livers of mothers, and butchering orphans, while the world remains silent..." [5]

Zahi Hawwas, head of the Egyptian Antiquities Council, wrote in Al-Sharq Al-Awsat that the "Jews of Palestine" are murderous by nature: "The concept of killing women, children and elderly people... seems to run in the blood of the Jews of Palestine. [In fact,] it seems to have become part of the false faith of this people, who is tormenting us in our [own] homeland.

"When I speak of the Jewish faith, I do not mean their [original] faith, but the faith that they forged and contaminated with their poison, which is aimed against all of mankind... The only thing that the Jews have learned from history is methods of tyranny and torment - so much so that they have become artists in this field. They have done to the Palestinians what Pharaoh and Sargon [of Akkad] did to the Jews..." [6]

Similar remarks are made in an article by columnist 'Ali Balout in the Kuwaiti daily Al-Jarida. He states that, in attacking Gaza, Israel was implementing directives appearing in the Talmud, and that the ultimate aim of the Jewish people is to take over the world:

"The big question is: why be so cruel and kill innocent civilians, especially children? Was it a mistake, or was it an accidental consequence of the fighting? [The answer is] neither. [Their conduct was the reflection of] an ancient ideology [that is part of] Jewish history and comes from the book that they call the Talmud… One of the psalms in the Talmud says: 'As for their children, one must focus on killing them and on dashing them against the walls. Pulverize their skulls until no trace is left of them.'

"The violence in Gaza, which focuses on children, may be anchored in the Talmud… [Its] objective is to realize a religious prophecy, which takes the form of a directive. [This directive is obeyed by] Jews who espouse the principles set out in the Talmud and strive to implement them.

"As far as [the Jews] are concerned, the occupation of Palestine is [only] the first step in a long journey [whose ultimate goal] is to take over the entire world and use its resources, according to the right granted to them by the Talmudic authority… Some might say that this [belief] is pure nonsense, and indeed it is. However, Israel is controlled today by the followers of the Talmud, who wish to realize this fairytale, no matter how long it takes, and who base their behavior upon it, out of a deep conviction in the correctness of their beliefs…

"Israel's talk about peace is a temporary [tactic] that is not to be trusted, because the Talmud instructs the Jews to lie, deceive and use every method that is immoral by the lights of both the ancient world and the modern one. All this, in order to achieve their goals… The Talmud also instructs them to corrupt the morals of mankind by every possible means in order to make it easier for the Chosen People to control the world… If we look closely, we find the Jews' fingerprints in all the evils that plague mankind: drugs, prostitution, wars… [They are also the ones who] corrupted the monotheistic religions and beliefs by sowing hatred and division between the [different faiths]…" [7]

In a poem he published in the Saudi daily Al-Jazirah, Saudi poet Sa'd Al-Bawardi portrays Hitler as merciful compared to the Jews, who are described as "apes" and "wild pigs." [8]

"You were merciful, oh Hitler. "[That is my conclusion] when I see around me "The cruel acts "Of the descendants of apes. "You were wise, oh Hitler "To rid the world "Of some of these wild pigs. "[But] they have spawned a gang "[Whose heart] is filled with blind hatred… "Oh Hitler, "The descendents of apes - "None are more cruel and horrifying than they are… "Their wars of destruction "Are worse than the 'Holocaust.' "Destruction of the world is their motto, "And they are implementing it in practice "In Gaza, in the Golan and in Lebanon. "The descendents of apes are the cruelest creatures "That mankind has ever known…" [9]

An Al-Jarida article by columnist Dr. Hassan Hanafi examines the Koran's attitude towards the Jews, stressing its characterization of them as dishonest and domineering:

"The Koran uses three terms to refer to the Jews: 'Jews,' 'those who are Jews,' and 'the Children of Israel'… [The second term appears six times in the Koran]. Five of these [verses describe the Jews] negatively… while the sixth is positive [but] refers only to a minority amongst them.

"The first of these verses [says]: 'Some of those who are Jews change words from their context [Koran 4:46].' [The Jews indeed] distort treaties and interpret them in a way that benefits them. Of the Torah, they understand only that Allah has chosen them, while disregarding [the fact that] Allah has cursed them for disobeying the directives of the prophets, renouncing them and [even] killing some of them. [The Jews] do the same thing with the U.N. conventions, interpreting them [in a way that allows them to] perpetrate genocide, and to kill innocent women, children and elderly people..."

"The second of the verses [also] concerns lies: 'Some of those who are Jews listen to every lie [Koran 5:41].' [This means that] they know what is true, but do not acknowledge it publicly, and say other [things instead]. They know that they are aggressors, robbers and bloodthirsty murderers, but say that they are acting in self-defense...

"The third verse refers to the prohibition against eating certain animals: 'Unto those who are Jews we forbade every animal with claws [Koran 6:146]'... But they do the opposite, bringing destruction upon animals, plants and people..."

"The fourth verse refers to [the Jews'] false claim that they, and none but they, are Allah's chosen: 'If you think that you are the favorites of Allah to the exclusion of other people, then invoke death [Koran 62:6]...' [They believe that] all others are their servants and slaves. They plunder the treasures and property of others, and control almost all the world's resources and capital.

"The fifth verse refers to the fact that [the Jews] think they are always right while others are wrong... and that anyone who is not with them is against them: '[And they say:] none shall enter Paradise unless he be a Jew or a Christian [Koran 2:111]'..." [10]

Arab Leaders and Dailies: "Israel Is Worse than the Nazis"

In addition to describing Israel's offensive in Gaza as a war crime and a crime against humanity, [11] some Arab leaders also described it as worse than the Nazi Holocaust.

In his January 16, 2009 speech at the Doha summit, Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad stated that the Gaza war was part of a conspiracy to turn Israel into a purely Jewish state, and described this as "the most dangerous brand of Nazism in the modern era":

"At previous summits, we spoke about [Israel’s] plans, but today we are talking about their implementation… Today, the holocaust has not only begun, it is about to enter its next stages, which will include all the Arabs, unless we stop it right now…

"The starting point of our decisions today will be our support for the people of Gaza in the face of the new Nazi holocaust [perpetrated by] Israel... The spilling of Arab blood since Israel's establishment is regarded by Israel's leaders as the fuel needed to [power] the machine [designed] to create a purely Jewish state. [This state] will become possible only after the non-Jews are expelled from Palestine and those remaining are exterminated. It follows that the [current] Gaza events are not merely a response to the missiles [fired at Israel] - [because] had missiles not existed, the [Israelis] would have invented them and fired them [themselves] as an excuse [to kill and deport the Arabs]... There must be legal measures so that Israel stands trial... so that it will be written in the annals of history that [the Israelis] are not only racists but [represent] the most dangerous brand of Nazism in the modern era…" [12]

Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Muhammad Al-Salem Al-Sabbah compared Israel's leaders to the Nazis, and the Palestinian muqawama to the Warsaw Ghetto uprising: "When the Israelis see their leaders waging [such an] intensive war on refugee camps in Gaza and bombarding them in such a manner, they must be reminded of the Warsaw Ghetto in Poland... [and of] the 'Jewish intifada' that took place there, [which prompted] the Nazis to enter the Ghetto and burn the Jews. What is happening in Gaza is the same thing: an intifada in a refugee camp, which has been burned down in the same way..." [13]

Egyptian Chief Mufti Dr. 'Ali Gum'a described the attack on Gaza as the blackest episode in the history of mankind, and as "a new holocaust, worse than the Nazi massacre of the Jews that was condemned by all of humanity." [14]

An editorial in the Egyptian government daily Al-Gumhouriyya, titled "The Nazis Deserve an International Apology," stated that Israel's crimes are worse than those of the Nazis: "The international community… should apologize today to the Nazis for opposing their evil agents by waging a destructive war against them, and for punishing them for their crimes during World War II - since what they did pales beside the ruthless crimes against women and children perpetrated by Israel on a daily basis...

"The Nazis, who were condemned with good reason throughout the 20th century, never bombed hospitals, schools, mosques, shelters and compounds of international organizations, as the Israeli terrorists have done. The Nazis never targeted peaceful citizens in their homes using phosphorus bombs, as the murderous descendants of the so-called Jewish Holocaust [survivors] have done in the besieged towns of the Gaza strip. The Nazis, for all their cruelty, never executed prisoners - men and women - by shooting them, and never targeted ambulance drivers carrying the injured and killed, as is being done by the evil agents of Barak, Olmert, Livni, Peres, Bush, Cheney and the other bloodsuckers..." [15]

An editorial by columnist Amin Lutfi, published in the Algerian daily Al-Watan, stated: "What is happening in Gaza is similar, in many respects, to the Final Solution. The systematic murder of children, women and elderly people is reminiscent of certain events that the world had reason to believe would never happen again. How can human conscience fail to be outraged by [the events in Gaza], which are reminiscent of the atrocities of World War II? Has fate decreed that the children of Gaza must suffer a new holocaust, which will supplant the memory of the victims of the German Third Reich...?" [16]

Columnist Jihad Al-Khazen wrote in the daily Al-Hayat: "...Six million Jews were exterminated in the Nazi Holocaust. It is difficult to conceive of a greater crime, but today I would nevertheless like to compare [the Nazi Holocaust to the one perpetrated by Israel], and let the reader [judge for himself]...

"After the Nazi concentration camps were liberated, we saw photos, which are still being circulated [today], of Jews so emaciated that their ribs almost broke out through their skin... What is missing from the text that accompanies these pictures is [the fact] that the Germans also went hungry during the last year of the war, since they were besieged from every side and were under constant fire - so the Jews starved along with the Germans.

"In the war against Gaza, Israel, which has plenty of food, lets the women, children and the elderly of Gaza starve, which is something [even] the Nazis did not do... This leads me to conclude that Israel is worse than the Nazis, even though it seems impossible for anyone to be worse than the Nazis. If the reader accepts this conclusion, he may also accept that those who are waging the Israeli war against Gaza are party to a new Nazi crime..." [17]

Columnist Nasser Al-Umair wrote in Al-Hayat: "...The Jewish Holocaust, which [the Jews constantly] harp about to the world, started in 1933 and ended with the fall of the Nazis [in 1945]... According to Jewish historians, the collective [extermination] of the Jews in the crematoria was [actually] Hitler's second choice. [His first choice was] to deport [them] to Palestine, Eastern Europe or Madagascar. Today, if anyone denies the Holocaust, the Jews have the temerity to accuse him of supporting it. However, they themselves have been waging a war of extermination against the Palestinians for the last 60 years, and deporting them by force. Is this not enough to turn the Holocaust into a mere joke in comparison to what the Palestinians have suffered at the hands of several consecutive generations of Jews?..." [18]

In his daily column in the Egyptian daily Al-Akhbar, journalist Ahmad Rajab wrote that, when Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak looks in the mirror, the face he sees is the face of Hitler:

"General Ehud Barak, imagine that Gaza is a town in Nazi Germany and that Hitler is exterminating its women and children using unconventional weapons. Imagine that you appeal to the gang called the U.N. trying to find recourse, but it replies that Hitler is [merely] defending himself, so you no longer know who to turn to. Suddenly the despicable Hitler appears before you, and you burst out and call him 'bloodthirsty [murderer]'! 'Enemy of Allah and mankind'! 'Villain'! [If you do that,] Mr. General, you will feel better as you turn away from the mirror in which you saw Hitler." [19]

Columnist Muhammad Kishk of the Syrian government daily Teshreen wrote that, when Israel's Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi visited the Warsaw Ghetto in 2008, his aim was to study the Nazis' tactics in order to use them against the Palestinians. Kishk wrote that Ashkenazi, accompanied by "special units of the Israeli occupation army," came to study "the tactics that Adolf Hitler's special army forces... [employed] in the Ghetto in 1943 - [tactics] that are similar to those that were used and are still being used [by the Israelis] in Gaza..." [20]

In a section devoted to comments on current affairs, the independent Sudanese daily Al-Sahafa published a short report containing a quote by Hitler. The report said: "The media is re-publishing [the following] quote by Adolf Hitler: 'I could have killed all the Jews in the world, but I spared some of them so that you understand why I killed them." [21]

Antisemitic Cartoons

Following the Gaza war, the Arab press published cartoons that demonize and dehumanize the Jews and/or present them as attempting to take over the world, as well as cartoons that present the war as genocide or as a second holocaust and the Jews as neo-Nazis. Following are examples:

Cartoons Demonizing and Dehumanizing the Jews

Al-Bayyan (UAE), December 28, 2008
Cartoonist: Hassan Idleby

Al-Ahram (Egypt), January 5, 2009.

Cartoons Comparing Gaza Attack to Nazi Holocaust

Al-Ghad (Jordan), January 4, 2009.
Cartoonist: 'Imad Hajjaj

"The Seventh Day of the Israeli Attack - Gaza Bathed in Fire"

Al-Watan (Algeria), January 4, 2009.

Al-Hayat (London), January 6, 2009.
Cartoonist: Habib Haddad

"Heil Hitler"

Al-Raya (Qatar), December 27, 2008.
Cartoonist: Fares Qarabet

Al-Mustaqbal (Lebanon), December 29, 2008.
Cartoonist: Hassan Bleibel

Al-Ghad (Jordan), December 31, 2008.
Cartoonist: 'Imad Hajjaj

*B. Chernitsky and E. Glass are research fellows at MEMRI


[1] On modern Arab antisemitism, see MEMRI Inquiry and Analysis No. 26, "What Is Arab Antisemitism?," February 27, 2004, What Is Arab Antisemitism? ; MEMRI Inquiry and Analysis No. 442 " Arab and Islamic Antisemitism," May 27, 2008, Arab and Islamic Antisemitism.

[2] In common Arabic usage, the word "Torah" (tawra) refers to the Jewish Bible.

[3] Al-Watan (Saudi Arabia), January 16, 2009.

[4] Al-Hayat (London), January 14, 2009.

[5] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), January 6, 2009.

[6] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), January 22, 2009.

[7] Al-Jarida (Kuwait), January 21, 2009.

[8] The description of the Jews as apes and pigs is based on several Koranic passages, which states that Allah transformed some of the Jews into apes and pigs as punishment for desecrating the Sabbath. (Koran 5:60; 6:65; 7:176). See MEMRI Special Report No. 11, "Based on Koranic Verses, Interpretations, and Traditions, Muslim Clerics State: The Jews Are the Descendants of Apes, Pigs, And Other Animals," November 1, 2002, Based on Koranic Verses, Interpretations, and Traditions, Muslim Clerics State: The Jews Are the Descendants of Apes, Pigs, And Other Animals.

[9] Al-Jazirah (Saudi Arabia), January 9, 2009.

[10] Al-Jarida (Kuwait), February 2, 2009.

[11] This term was used by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to describe the Gaza offensive. Erdogan added that Israel would be damned for murdering children. Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), January 28, 2009. Saudi King 'Abdallah bin 'Abd Al-'Aziz said at the January 19, 2009 social-economic conference in Kuwait, "Mass-murder has been committed in Gaza in front of the whole world by a criminal gang that has not an iota of compassion or human [feeling]." Al-Watan (Saudi Arabia), January 21, 2009.

[12] Al-Ba'th (Syria), January 17, 2009.

For excerpts from Assad's speech, see MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 2243, "Assad's Speech on 'Terrorist Zionist Entity' To Become Part of Syrian School Curriculum," February 13, 2009, Assad's Speech on 'Terrorist Zionist Entity' To Become Part of Syrian School Curriculum.

[13] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), January 27, 2009.

[14] Al-Ahram (Egypt), January 6, 2009.

[15] Al-Gumhouriyya (Egypt), January 10, 2009.

[16] Al-Watan (Algeria), January 11, 2009.

[17] Al-Hayat (London), January 9, 2009.

[18] Al-Hayat (London), January 20, 2009.

[19] Al-Akhbar (Egypt), January 7, 2009.

[20] Teshreen (Syria), March 2, 2009.

[21] Al-Sahafa (Sudan), January 11, 2009.

It should be noted that the Arab media does not always distinguish between Jews and Zionists. Al-Hayat columnist 'Abd Al-'Aziz Al-Sweid argued explicitly against making this distinction: "Though reason compels us to distinguish between Jews and Zionists, [there is no real cause to do so]. The latter term refers to the state of Israel and its leadership, [while the former] refers to [the Jews] who carry out influential economic, financial and media activities in the global arena, and who have not voiced any convincing opposition to [what is happening in Gaza]. In fact, they seem to be doing the opposite. They are extending media and economic support [to Israel] and creating lobbies to reinforce this support [even further]. Al-Hayat (London), January 12, 2009.

Indeed, alongside the articles comparing the Jews to the Nazis, there were articles that equated Zionism with Nazism. For example, columnist Marwan Darraj wrote in the Syrian government daily Al-Thawra: "Some of the voices [condemning the Gaza offensive] displayed [a new feature] this time: they called a spade a spade. [Israel's] massacres in Gaza were referred to as a 'holocaust' and as 'Nazi and fascist crimes.' I think these are the mildest terms that European public opinion could have used. The equation of Zionism with Nazism is not groundless; it is based on, and perpetuated by, the terrorist acts that [the Zionists have been committing] for over 60 years. Hitler's fascism, as everyone knows, went to insane extremes with the [idea] of the Final Solution. The Zionist movement also endorses [this idea], including [the notion] of executing its rivals without a trial.” Al-Thawra (Syria), December 31, 2008.

Columnist 'Abd Al-Rahman Al-Wabili wrote in the Saudi daily Al-Watan: "What makes the Zionist army unique in our era in terms of its unrestrained and criminal [brutality] is the cruel Zionist culture that is deeply rooted in the Zionist [psyche] and which motivates them… One of the tenets of the Zionist faith is that the Jews are the Chosen People, and that God created the universe for their sake… while the non-Jews were created in order to serve the Jews… [According to this outlook], the extermination of the Palestinians is, in its entirety, a sacred act, which comes to rectify an anomalous situation and make it correlate with the divine will…" Al-Watan (Saudi Arabia), January 2, 2009.

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