February 17, 2020

ADL, Jewish Groups Criticize Omar, Tlaib for Sharing Anti-Semitic Cartoon

U.S. Representatives Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) and Ilhan Omar (D-MN) discuss travel restrictions to Palestine and Israel during a news conference at the Minnesota State Capitol Building in St Paul, Minnesota, August 19, 2019. REUTERS/Caroline Yang

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and other Jewish groups have criticized Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) for sharing a cartoon on their Aug. 16 Instagram stories by an author who placed in Iran’s 2006 Holocaust cartoon contest.

The cartoon shows Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Donald Trump silencing Tlaib and Omar, respectively. A Star of David is in the center of the cartoon.

Forward Editor Batya Ungar-Sargon noted on Twitter that the cartoonist, Carlos Latuff, “came in second in Iran’s International Holocaust Cartoon Contest.” She added, “Jews controlling and subverting world leaders is a classic anti-Semitic trope. So is Jews silencing critics. But no one has silenced the Reps. The ways in which it gets the story wrong fits into an aesthetic designed to give anti-Semites pleasure.”

ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said in an Aug. 19 statement, “Reps. Tlaib and Omar absolutely shouldn’t have lifted up the work of a cartoonist who frequently promotes hate toward Israel, mocks the Holocaust and traffics in #antiSemitic tropes. Doing so legitimizes his bigotry.”

Associate Dean and Director of Global Social Action Agenda at the Simon Wiesenthal Center Rabbi Abraham Cooper told the Journal in a phone interview that Omar and Tlaib’s sharing of the cartoon shows that “they’re anti-Semites, they hate the state of Israel, and until now, they have no interest in being players in trying to work toward peace.” He added that if Omar and Tlaib were truly concerned about making sure Palestinians have their voice heard, they would have gone with the bipartisan 72-member congressional delegation that went to Israel earlier in August.

“We shouldn’t be surprised that they would [wind] up invoking, just naturally… a cartoon from a guy like Latuff because the credentials that incense us are the credentials that attract [Omar and Tlaib],” Cooper said. 

The Progressive Zionists of California said in a statement to the Journal, “Anti-Semitism from any political angle must be rebuked. Democrats rightly condemned Donald Trump when he invited anti-Semitic cartoonist, Ben Garrison, to the White House. The cartoon Representatives Tlaib and Omar shared clearly furthers the anti-Semitic trope of Israeli control of the United States–a bigoted lie that both women have previously reiterated they would refrain from using. Democratic leadership must also condemn their actions, and the representatives should apologize.”

Daily Wire Editor-In-Chief and Journal columnist Ben Shapiro argued in an Aug. 19 Fox News appearance, “Imagine if someone on the right had tweeted a cartoon out from a virulent racist and had done so knowing what that person was. There would be appropriate blowback. You’re getting none of that from the mainstream media today.”

Latuff defended his work on Twitter.

Latuff also tweeted out an interview with the Forward from 2008, where he explained his participation in the Iran Holocaust cartoon competition.

The artwork with which I won second place was a depiction of an elderly Palestinian man wearing a Nazi concentration camp uniform, and some people said that I was ‘denying the Holocaust!’” Latuff said. “That was completely stupid, since I’m affirming the Holocaust with that illustration. Believe me, no matter what I draw and where I publish, there will be always someone who will point a finger and say it’s anti-Semitic.”

He added that he viewed the competition “as both a good chance for denouncing the suffering of the Palestinian people before the eyes of world public opinion and for raising questions about the West’s double standards. I mean, you insult the Muslims with a cartoon depicting the Prophet Muhammad as a bomber and then claim the right to ‘freedom of speech,’ but if you make drawings about the Holocaust, then it’s ‘hatred against the Jews.’”

The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum has stated Iran’s Holocaust cartoon competitions “occur in the context of official Iranian policy and practice of promoting Holocaust denial” and “are insulting to the victims and memory of the Holocaust.”

Omar and Tlaib’s offices have not responded to requests for comment.