The anti-Semitic cartoon in a Munich-based left-wing newspaper is yet another example of the rapid legitimization of anti-Semitism in the European media.
Süddeutsche Zeitung, which has a daily readership of 1.1 million people, has been slammed by several Jewish organizations for publishing a cartoon depicting Israel as a ravenous beast.
The caption beneath the cartoon translates as: “Germany is serving. For decades now, Israel has been given weapons, and partly free of charge. Israel’s enemies think it is a ravenous Moloch. Peter Beinart deplores this situation.”
Beinart is an American Jewish journalist who has authored a book entitled The Crisis of Zionism. Moloch was a Canaanite idol which burnt its children to death as a sacrifice.
The Simon Wiesenthal Centre said that the depiction of Israel as a monster “deploys a classic tool of dehumanization – animalization”.
The fact that a respected broadsheet in Germany feels able to publish an anti-Semitic cartoon is indicative of a depressing decline in moral and intellectual standards in Europe.
On a deeper level, the cartoon can be interpreted as a public expression of German resentment of the Holocaust.
This resentment is hardly new. A survey conducted in 1989 found that nearly half of all West Germans believed reparations paid to Israel and/or Jews were too high or should stop altogether.
The compilers of the survey concluded in their report that present-day anti-Semitism “is essentially tied to memories of Nazism, feelings of guilt, and the desire to end discussion of the past and return to normalcy.”
Unfortunately, this return to normalcy may also mean a return to the atmosphere of the 1870s and 1880s when Germany was a breeding ground for anti-Semitic sentiment and a seedbed for the ideas that guaranteed Nazism’s ideological survival in late 1920s onwards.
Joe Hyams, the boss of media watchdog Honest Reporting, has expressed his outrage that Germany has not learned from its Judeophobic past:
“For a German newspaper, of all European publications, to portray Israel as a child sacrificing monster, demonstrates that the lessons of the past have clearly not been learned. Instead of claiming a misunderstanding, the Süddeutsche Zeitung should immediately apologize and acknowledge that the use of this image in the context of this article is completely unacceptable.”
Meanwhile, the newspaper maintains that the cartoon is not anti-Semitic. Many Jews and non-Jews beg to differ.