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May 19, 2016 1

Iranian Holocaust Cartoon Exhibition Opens

Iran’s newest “Holo­caust con­test” exhi­bi­tion opened on May 14 in a gallery in Tehran. Accord­ing to Iran­ian news reports, the con­test received over 864 sub­mis­sions from par­tic­i­pants around the world.  Of those, 150 car­toons from 50 coun­tries were accepted, with rep­re­sen­ta­tion of car­toon­ists from Brazil, China, Colom­bia, France, Indone­sia, Peru, Syria, Turkey and Yemen, among others.

Con­test orga­nizer Masoud Sho­jai Tabatabaei insisted the event was not to deny or cel­e­brate the Nazi Holo­caust, but to call out the “Holo­caust” being wit­nessed with “the big killings by the Zion­ist regime in Gaza and Palestine.”Iranian Holocaust Cartoon

Of course this is not the first such con­test held in Iran, nor the first time the Iran­ian gov­ern­ment and its organs have politi­cized, denied and abused the mem­ory of the Holo­caust and its victims.

In the exhi­bi­tion, the car­toons are divided into two themes. The first relate to the Holo­caust; the sec­ond com­pare Israeli Prime Min­is­ter Netanyahu to Hitler. Pho­tos from the exhi­bi­tion reveal car­toons fea­tur­ing swastikas and other anti-Semitic imagery.

The con­test has earned the con­dem­na­tion of the State Depart­ment (“abhor­rent”), UNESCO (“goes against the uni­ver­sal val­ues of tol­er­ance and respect”) and the Ger­man For­eign Min­istry (“the mur­der of 6 mil­lion men, women and chil­dren dur­ing the Holo­caust, for which we Ger­mans bear guilt and respon­si­bil­ity, must not be aban­doned to ridicule”).

The con­test win­ners will be announced on May 30.

If you’re won­der­ing how much one can earn from a car­toon lam­poon­ing or dimin­ish­ing an act which killed six mil­lion Jews, it is reported that the win­ning car­toon will be awarded a sum of $12,000.

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May 11, 2016 56

Iran’s Second International Holocaust Cartoon Exhibition Opens On May 14

On May 14, 2016, the sec­ond inter­na­tional Holo­caust Car­toon Con­test exhi­bi­tion will open in Iran, with the first place win­ner – report­edly to be announced in June – receiv­ing a large cash prize. Accord­ing to reports in the Iran­ian press, the May 14th date was cho­sen to coin­cide with Nakba Day (cat­a­stro­phe day), the term used by Pales­tin­ian to refer to the events sur­round­ing Israel’s inde­pen­dence in 1948.

The con­test report­edly received over 800 sub­mis­sions from artists in 50 coun­tries, and the exhi­bi­tion will fea­ture 100 works, as well as 50 pro­file car­toons on the sub­ject of “Netanyahu”, a ref­er­ence to the Israeli Prime Minister.

Auschwitz TracksDome of the Rock

 

 

 

 

 

In a recent New Yorker mag­a­zine inter­view, Iran­ian For­eign Min­is­ter Javad Zarif denied accu­sa­tions that the Holo­caust con­test is sup­ported by the Iran­ian gov­ern­ment. How­ever, accord­ing to the Mid­dle East Media Research Insti­tute, the sec­re­tary of the NGO respon­si­ble for con­test Mas­soud Sho­jaei Tabatabaei stated that the con­test orga­niz­ers coop­er­ate with the Iran­ian Min­istry of Cul­ture, and that every­one in the Iran­ian regime “knows that this exhi­bi­tion is highly respected.”

Iran held its first Holo­caust car­toon con­test back in 2006 under Pres­i­dent Mah­moud Ahmadine­jad, receiv­ing 204 entries from Iran and around the world. Dur­ing his tenure as Pres­i­dent, Ahmadine­jad repeat­edly used his posi­tion to pro­mote Holo­caust denial, a prac­tice that con­tin­ues to this day in parts of Iran. The 2006 contest’s win­ning sub­mis­sion depicted Israel con­struct­ing a wall, painted with an image of the infa­mous rail­way lead­ing to the gates of Auschwitz, around the Dome of the Rock mosque in Jerusalem. Other win­ners included images of Pales­tini­ans in con­cen­tra­tion camp garb, the “myth of the gas cham­bers” and a Holo­caust museum in the shape of a swastika.

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April 20, 2016 Off

As Passover Approaches Temple Mount Tensions Remain

With Passover approach­ing, Israeli author­i­ties are gear­ing up for poten­tial ten­sions over the Tem­ple Mount/Noble Sanctuary.

The sacred space has long been the focal point of reli­gious and polit­i­cal ten­sions and con­flicts. The respon­si­bil­ity for the site is shared by Israel, which has sov­er­eignty over the site, and Jor­dan, whose Cus­to­dian Min­istry has man­aged the site since the 1994 peace treaty between Jor­dan and Israel. The agree­ment includes a clause restrict­ing Jews from pray­ing on the Mount, known infor­mally as the “status-quo.” The Waqf, an Islamic reli­gious trust, over­seas the day-to-day oper­a­tions at the site.

Credit: Andrew Shiva

Credit: Andrew Shiva

There have been many flash­points.  For years, there have been accu­sa­tions among Pales­tini­ans and across the region of a con­spir­acy by Israel to “Judaize” Jerusalem, par­tic­u­larly when it comes to this shared holy site. In 2000, then-Israeli oppo­si­tion leader Ariel Sharon vis­ited the site, which the Pales­tini­ans used as an excuse to launch the Sec­ond Intifada. Hamas, the Gaza-based ter­ror group, even praised the recent bus bomb­ing in Jerusalem as a “nat­ural reac­tion” to Israel’s “des­e­cra­tion of the Al-Aqsa Mosque” located on the site.

In recent years ten­sions relat­ing to the site have inten­si­fied, with a notice­able increase in the num­ber of Jews vis­it­ing and secretly pray­ing on the Mount, a vio­la­tion of the status-quo. Among them, Israeli gov­ern­ment min­is­ters and politi­cians, some of whom have called for Jews to be allowed to pray on the Mount.

And over the past week, other inci­dents have focused atten­tion on the sacred space.  Last week, the Tem­ple Mount Insti­tute, a Jew­ish mes­sianic orga­ni­za­tion, con­ducted a secret Jew­ish wed­ding on the Mount, which was filmed and posted on social media. While it may sound strange to con­demn a Jew­ish wed­ding at a holy Jew­ish site, the inci­dent was part of the larger, poten­tially explo­sive effort by some on the reli­gious right, to change the sta­tus quo on the Tem­ple Mount.

And from the Pales­tin­ian side, there was the adop­tion by the UNESCO exec­u­tive board of a highly-biased, one-sided res­o­lu­tion on Jerusalem which ignored the Jew­ish con­nec­tion to holy sites like the Tem­ple Mount and West­ern Wall. The res­o­lu­tion described both sites only in their Muslim/Arabic names, alleged Israel was plant­ing fake Jew­ish graves, and crit­i­cized, on polit­i­cal grounds, a recent Israeli deci­sion to build an egal­i­tar­ian prayer area in the West­ern Wall Plaza. Shock­ingly, a num­ber of West­ern coun­tries voted to sup­port the res­o­lu­tion, includ­ing France, Spain and Sweden.

The Israeli gov­ern­ment, much to its credit, has taken steps to reduce ten­sions, includ­ing ban­ning all gov­ern­ment min­is­ters and Knes­set mem­bers from vis­it­ing the Mount. They have also worked closely with US and Jor­dan­ian gov­ern­ments on a plan to install sur­veil­lance cam­eras on the Tem­ple Mount, which would help refute claims that Israel is vio­lat­ing the sta­tus quo. In an unfor­tu­nate devel­op­ment how­ever, Jor­dan announced this week that it was drop­ping this plan due to objec­tions from the Pales­tini­ans who were “skep­ti­cal” about the ini­tia­tive. Pales­tini­ans had also placed notices on the Mount threat­en­ing to smash any secu­rity cam­eras which were installed. This is not an encour­ag­ing development.

In the ancient tra­di­tion of Passover, Jews were required to make a pil­grim­age to Jerusalem and bring a spe­cial Passover sac­ri­fice to the Jew­ish Tem­ple. While the sac­ri­fice is no longer prac­ticed, the next week will bring many tens of thou­sands of Jews to the Old City of Jerusalem and West­ern Wall area adja­cent to the Tem­ple Mount for prayers, bless­ings and celebrations.

While Israel must con­tinue efforts to ensure the status-quo remain unchanged, the Pales­tini­ans must refrain from fur­ther esca­lat­ing the ten­sions by using the Mount as a polit­i­cal issue to attack Israel. Any seri­ous esca­la­tion of ten­sions over the Tem­ple Mount/Noble Sanc­tu­ary — over Passover and beyond — could turn into a poten­tially explo­sive and vio­lent situation.

 

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