Iran hosts anti-Israel cartoon contest

An Iranian man looks at an anti-Nazi cartoon showing late German dictator Hilter at the second international exhibition of drawing and cartoons on the Holocaust in Tehran on Saturday. (AFP)
Updated 14 May 2016

Iran hosts anti-Israel cartoon contest

TEHRAN: A contest of anti-Israeli cartoons opened Saturday in the Iranian capital, with many entries deriding Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his government’s Middle East policies.
The exhibition, totaling 150 entries from 50 countries, was launched on the eve of the Palestinian commemoration of “nakba,” which means catastrophe in Arabic, marking the 1948 creation of Israel.
The Iranian government has distanced itself from the contest, which Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said was organized by a non-governmental organization without any support from the authorities.
Several cartoons on display poke fun at Netanyahu, with one depicting the Israeli prime minister as a member of Daesh and holding a sabre in his hand.
Another shows a map of the Middle East with a coffin bearing the word “Holocaust” flattening Palestinians in place of what should be the country of Israel.
“We are not seeking to confirm or deny the Holocaust,” said organizer Massoud Shojaie Tabatabaie, himself a cartoonist.
He said the exhibition was a rebuttal to the publication of cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad by French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo, which was attacked last year.
The best cartoon will be awarded $12,000, said Tabatabaie. An earlier edition of the exhibition was held in 2006. He said the contest was being organized by a non-government organization “that is not controlled by the Iranian government. Nor is it endorsed by the Iranian government.”
Asked why Iran has allowed the exhibition to go ahead, Zarif said: “Why does the US have the Ku Klux Klan?
“Is the government of the United States responsible for the fact that there are racially hateful organizations in the US? Don’t consider Iran a monolith. The Iranian government does not support, nor does it organize, any cartoon festival of the nature that you’re talking about.”


Lebanese donor hands Nazi artifacts to Israel, warns of anti-Semitism

Updated 08 December 2019

Lebanese donor hands Nazi artifacts to Israel, warns of anti-Semitism

  • Abdallah Chatila spent about 600,000 euros ($660,000) for eight objects connected to Hitler
  • He said he had felt compelled to take the objects off the market

JERUSALEM: wealthy Lebanese-Swiss businessman said Sunday he had bought Adolf Hitler’s top hat and other Nazi artifacts to give them to Jewish groups and prevent them falling into the hands of a resurgent far-right.
Abdallah Chatila said he had felt compelled to take the objects off the market because of the rising anti-Semitism, populism and racism he was witnessing in Europe.
He spent about 600,000 euros ($660,000) for eight objects connected to Hitler, including the collapsible top hat, in a November 20 sale at a Munich auction house, originally planning to burn them all.
But he then decided to give them to the Keren Hayesod association, an Israeli fundraising group, which has resolved to hand them to Israel’s Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial center.
Chatila told a Jerusalem press conference it had been a “very easy” decision to purchase the items when he saw the “potentially lethal injustice that those artifacts would go to the wrong hands.”
“I felt I had no choice but to actually try to help the cause,” he added.
“What happened in the last five years in Europe showed us that anti-Semitism, that populism, that racism is going stronger and stronger, and we are here to fight it and show people we’re not scared.
“Today — with the fake news, with the media, with the power that people could have with the Internet, with social media — somebody else could use that small window” of time to manipulate the public, he said.
He said he had worried the Nazi-era artifacts could be used by neo-Nazi groups or those seeking to stoke anti-Semitism and racism in Europe.
“That’s why I felt I had to do it,” he said of his purchase.
The items, still in Munich, are to be eventually delivered to Yad Vashem, where they will be part of a collection of Nazi artifacts crucial to countering Holocaust denial, but not be put on regular display, said Avner Shalev, the institute’s director.
Chatila also met with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin and visited Yad Vashem.
Chatila was born in Beirut into a family of Christian jewellers and moved to Switzerland at the age of two.
Now among Switzerland’s richest 300 people, he supports charities and causes, including many relating to Lebanon and Syrian refugees.
The auction was brought to Chatila’s attention by the European Jewish Association, which has sought to sway public opinion against the trade in Nazi memorabilia.
Rabbi Mehachem Margolin, head of the association, said Chatila’s surprise act had raised attention to such auctions.
He said it was a powerful statement against racism and xenophobia, especially coming from a non-Jew of Lebanese origin.
Lebanon and Israel remain technically at war and Lebanese people are banned from communication with Israelis.
“There is no question that a message that comes from you is 10 times, or 100 times stronger than a message that comes from us,” Margolin told Chatila.
The message was not only about solidarity among people, but also “how one person can make such a huge change,” Margolin said.
“There’s a place for optimism.”