May 1, 2013 Inquiry & Analysis Series No. 963

The Image Of The Jew In The Eyes Of Iran's Islamic Regime – Part III: Dehumanizing Jews In Cartoons Inspired By Classic European Antisemitism

May 1, 2013 | By E. Zigron*
Iran | Inquiry & Analysis Series No. 963


This paper, the third in a series on the image of the Jew in the eyes of Iran's Islamic regime, deals with the Jew as reflected in cartoons published on official Iranian websites, and compares these cartoons with classic antisemitic European caricatures and depictions of Jews from previous centuries. An examination of these Iranian cartoons shows a clear intent to dehumanize Jews, with the aim of humiliating them and stripping them of their humanity – the better to foster emotional distance and alienation from them.

The cartoons depict Jews as or in conjunction with animals known for their cruelty and other negative attributes and for the fear and revulsion they evoke in humans – serpents, swine, wolves, disease-spreading vermin, and more, as if indicating that shunning or even killing them could be considered essential to protect human life.

The Iranian regime draws its inspiration for these cartoons from several sources. First, the motifs of physical characteristics originate without a doubt from classic European antisemitism – for example, the medieval depictions of Judensau, or Jews suckling from a sow, and the serpent, a main motif in The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Second, the regime is inspired by Islamic motifs of Jews as descendants of apes and pigs, as mentioned in the Koran. Third is the uniquely Persian and Iranian motif of Jews as dogs – in this culture, dogs are considered not only impure but also untouchable.

The following are examples of various forms of dehumanization of Jews, in cartoons published by official Iranian regime websites.

The Jew As A Serpent

European antisemitic content from the late 18th century to the early 20th century commonly used serpents, symbolizing cunning and treachery. Iranian cartoonists often combine the serpent with the Star of David.

The Inspiration

Dreyfus the Jew. Musee des Horreurs series, France, 1900.

The Iranian Interpretation

An Iranian publication (in MEMRI's possession) that discussed the Protocols of the Elders of Zion showed the alleged Jewish expansion across Muslim lands, portrayed as a serpent with Stars of David (see MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 98, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, An Iranian Perspective, June 7, 2000).

Javan (Iran), August 24, 2012

Javan (Iran), May 16, 2012

Fars (Iran), August 20, 2012

Nassim, (Iran), September 15, 2012

Nassim (Iran), October 27, 2012

Fars (Iran), September 16, 2012

Javan (Iran), May 19, 2012

Javan (Iran), September 9, 2012

Javan (Iran), September 16, 2012

Fars (Iran), December 20, 2012

Fars (Iran), January 30, 2013

"Judensau" – Jew's Sow

Judensau, "Jew's sow," is a visual antisemitic motif from the Middle Ages widely depicted in sculptures and drawings from that time showing Jews suckling from a sow.

The Inspiration

Wittenberg: Wolfgang Meissner (Germany), 1596.[2]

Judensau at Regensburg cathedral, Germany.[3]

The Iranian Interpretation

Rahma, Fars (Iran), September 7, 2012

The Jew As A Worm

Jews have been depicted in Europe as worms eating away at society and humanity from within, causing it to rot. Iranian cartoonists use the same motif with the same intent

The Inspiration

Der Stürmer (Germany), November 1931

The Iranian Interpretation

Javan (Iran), October 3, 2010

Fars (Iran), August 15, 2012

Gerdab (Iran), May 16, 2011 (Iran), December 4, 2012

Fars (Iran), November 18, 2012.

The Jew As A Spider

European cartoons showed Jews as spiders ensnaring nations and even the entire world in their web; contemporary Iranian cartoonists have adopted the motif.

The Inspiration

Der Stürmer (Germany), February 1930.[5]

The Iranian Interpretation

Javan (Iran), April 23, 2012

Rahma, Fars (Iran), June 29, 2012

The Jew As An Octopus

As in European depictions, the motif of the Jew as an octopus with tentacles reaching everywhere is used by Iranian cartoonists.

The Inspiration

Antisemitic cartoon by Josef Plank, circa 1938

The Iranian Interpretation

Qodsna (Iran), November 11, 2012

Jews As Vermin

In Europe, Jews were commonly depicted as vermin – disease-spreading nocturnal creatures evoking fear and revulsion. The Iranian regime today is doing the same.

The Inspiration

"Rats. Destroy Them" 1940s poster from occupied Denmark

Das Kleine Blatt
(Vienna), February 2, 1939.[8]

The Iranian Interpretation

Javan (Iran), August 6, 2012

Fars (Iran), August 18, 2012

Jam News (Iran), July 3, 2012

Fars (Iran), March 25, 2013

Fars (Iran), November 18, 2012

Javan (Iran), May 17, 2011

Jam News (Iran), April 17, 2012

Fars (Iran), April 12, 2012

Fars (Iran), August 26, 2012

The Jew As A Wolf

Iranian cartoonists have adopted the European depiction of the Jew as a voracious wolf.

The Inspiration

Der Stürmer (Germany), 1943.[9]

The Iranian Interpretation
(Iran), May 20, 2012

Fars (Iran), June 5, 2012

The Jews As Descendants Of Apes And Pigs

Iranian antisemitic cartoons also use the Islamic antisemitic motif depicting Jews as the descendants of apes and pigs, from the Koran (5:60).

Rooz (Iran), February 2, 2013

Fars (Iran), September 16, 2012

The Jew As A Dog

Iranian cartoons show Jews as dogs; dogs are considered unclean and untouchable in Iranian society.

Fars (Iran), December 3, 2012

IRNA (Iran), September 19, 2012

Fars (Iran), November 14, 2011

Aviny News (Iran), January 29, 2012

Fars (Iran), April 16, 2013

* E. Zigron is a Research Fellow at MEMRI.


[2] Einblattdruck mit Darstellung der Wittenberger Judensau (Wittenberg: Wolfgang Meissner 1596),

[4] A "Jewish Worm" eats away at the apple of the "German economy." Text: "When something is rotten, the Jew is behind it."

[5] A "Jewish spider" catches Germans in its web and "sucks them out"; the cartoon is titled "The Sucked-Out ones."

[8] Jewish rats swept out of Germany are refused admission to the democratic countries that are attacking the Nazis' antisemitic policies.

[9] The drawing, titled "Philosophy of the Wolf," shows the wolf of "Culture Bolshevism" with Star of David eyes devouring a sheep. Text: "Rebbich, a sheep only knows what happens when it is devoured."

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