Thursday, August 28, 2014

Persian Letters

Anti-Semitic Entry Wins Iran's 'Wall Street Downfall' Cartoon Contest

A prizewinning cartoon by Mahmud Mohammad Tabrizi equates Wall Street with Jerusalem's Western Wall.
A prizewinning cartoon by Mahmud Mohammad Tabrizi equates Wall Street with Jerusalem's Western Wall.
A cartoon by an Iranian illustrator that portrays stereotyped Jews worshipping the New York Stock Exchange has won first prize in the inaugural "International Wall Street Downfall Cartoon Festival."

The festival was co-sponsored by Iran's semiofficial Fars news agency in an attempt to show solidarity with the Occupy Wall Street movement and "help people in the United States take their message out to the world."

Entries from around the world -- including Iran, the United States, Russia, China, Serbia, Kazakhstan, and Turkey -- were put on display in Tehran and can be viewed on a Fars webpage dedicated to the event.

At least one, the winning entry by Mahmud Mohammad Tabrizi, was anti-Semitic in nature. It depicts Wall Street, the hub of the U.S. financial world, as Jerusalem's Western Wall, one of the holiest sites of Judaism.

Second prize went to a Ukrainian cartoonist, Oleksiy Kustovsky, whose entry shows the image of a man being struck by falling rocks as two men try to scale bags of American money.

Third prize went to another Iranian artist, Farhad Gharamal, whose cartoon pictures dozens of penniless men with water dripping out of their empty pockets, forming a sea in which Wall Street is drowning.

PHOTO GALLERY: International Wall Street Downfall Cartoon Festival 
  • Iranian cartoonist Farhad Gharamaleki's entry took third prize.
  • Second prize went to Oleksiy Kustovsky from Ukraine.
  • Iranian Mahmud Mohammad Tabrizi's winning entry has anti-Semitic overtones.
  • A submission by Turkish cartoonist Ahmet Öztürklevent
  • A submission from Vasily Aleksandrov (Russia)
  • Another Iranian entry from Mahdi Azizi
  • This effort is by Serbian illustrator Toso Borkovic.
  • A hard-hitting image by Mahdi Rozbahani (Iran)
  • Another Iranian submission, this time from Mehdi Nemati
  • Iranian illustrator Bahman Jalali Nokandeh submitted this effort.
  • This Wall Street depiction was entered by Yuriy Kosobukin (Ukraine).
  • Another Ukrainian entry from Aleksandr Dubovsky

Judges choosing from a total pool of nearly 1,600 cartoons selected 99 finalists, from which a seven-person panel -- that included four judges from Iran and one each from Poland, Romania, and Turkey -- chose the top 10.

Tehran has cited the Occupy Wall Street protest movement, which hit its peak last autumn, in its war of words with the United States and the West in general.

Police action against protesters gave Iranian officials an opportunity to hit back at U.S. criticism of Iran for human-rights abuses, including the use of force against antigovernment protesters.

Comparison With Arab Uprisings

Hard-liners have compared the movement to the Arab uprisings and said it would ultimately topple capitalism in the United States. And Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said in an October speech that, "Ultimately, it will grow so that it will bring down the capitalist system and the West."

Speaking at the closing ceremony of the festival on July 9, Iranian lawmaker and senior Khamenei adviser Gholam Ali Haddad Adel said the Occupy Wall Street movement reveals "the untruthful nature of Washington's propaganda" about freedom, democracy, and human rights.

He said the Occupy Wall Street movement was commendable and shouldn't be stopped.

Haddad Adel also blasted Western media for their coverage of the 2009 mass antigovernment protests in Iran.

"The U.S.-led Western media released untruthful reports about the lack of democracy in Iran, street clashes, violence, and arrests every 15 minutes during the 2009 sedition," he said. "This is what they always do with any country which is not in harmony with them."

He also claimed that Western media were initially reluctant to cover the Occupy Wall Street protests. Only when they were too large to ignore, he said, did they provide limited coverage of the events.

Haddad Adel said that the cartoon festival will immortalize the protests. "As the supreme leader has put it: 'Realities live forever when they are presented in the form of art," Haddad Adel said.

Iranian state media, which ignored the 2009 street protests against the disputed reelection of President Mahmud Ahmadinejad, covered the Occupy Wall Street protests extensively.

State media have not covered the numerous artworks created by artists both inside and outside Iran about the Green opposition movement and the state's crackdown on the protests it led in 2009.

Iran held a cartoon contest on the Holocaust in 2006 in which the first prize was awarded to a Moroccan artist for his illustration depicting Israel's security wall with a picture of the Auschwitz concentration camp on it. The newspaper that co-sponsored the contest said it was testing the West's tolerance.

-- Golnaz Esfandiari
This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: Jack from: US
July 11, 2012 15:12
Why is it as soon as someone does something against Zionism it is said it is anti-Semitic? This is just against Israel; it has nothing to do with Jews. The truth is that cities like Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Beer sheba all rightfully belong to Palestinians. This is nothing against Jews, just for the rule of law and peace.
In Response

by: Scott from: US
July 11, 2012 23:25
So those cities are Palestinian? Are you going to send the Jews back to Europe to claim cities that are "rightfully theirs?"
In Response

by: Jack from: US
July 12, 2012 02:31
Wrong. The Palis are from Jordan. An area formerly known as Trans-Jordan.
The term "Palestinian" itself had referred to Israeli Jews back in the 1940s, and had been slowly deconstructed and redefined to refer to the Arabs in the West Bank and Gaza. The Middle East Conflict was always a war by Arabs against Jews, not a conflict between Israelis and "Palestinians." The war was repackaged as a conflict between Jews and Palestinians as a public relations gimmick by the Arab fascist regimes. These regimes had never had any interest in "Palestinians," in creating a "Palestinian" state, or in "Palestinian nationalism" before 1967. That is because Palestinian nationalism did not and DOES NOT exist. The Palestinians were a regional group of Arabs having virtually no cultural nor national distinctive traits separating them from Syrians, Lebanese, and Jordanians. They are all basically Arabs!.
In Response

by: rumi from: Tabriz, iran
July 12, 2012 10:06
Nothing wrong with this cartoon, why is any criticism of wall street and polices of Israel considered anti-semetic??
In Response

by: Abbas from: Shiraz, Iran
July 12, 2012 17:04
Rumi, because Jews don't run wallstreet, because this wasn't about Israel. What if every time we talk about war we draw up Muhammad and a sword killing babies? Wallstreet downfall has nothing to do with Jews, so yes this is anti-simetic and so are you.
In Response

by: Mark Kerpin from: US
July 12, 2012 21:15
The Western Wall is one of the holiest sites to Jews.
This has nothing to do with Zionism - it's pure antisemitism.

by: Anonymous
July 11, 2012 19:09
Why should everything which adresses any subject that involves jews and/or some jews be anti-semite?
that's crazy! criticism and self-reflexivity is fine, but don't get paranoid!
Some gentiles of course are anti-semites (no doubt, maybe even more than some) but not everyone who is critical of jewish society, israel, jewish orthodoxy, aspects of jewish life, maybe even some jewish bankers (of course there are many non-jews), etc. is anti-semite.
That's very dangerous to state something similar and obviously it's not very intelligent.
This tabooization might also create enmity towards jews.
beyond that, just watch some inner-jewish discussions! and don't forget some jewish artists who make fun of jews, non-jews, their respective societies, etc.
It's evidently a very delicate subject and people should watch carefully what they do and in which way they depict notions, etc. but anyway, to deduce anti-semitism in everything which portrays and plays with some aspects of jewish life is not tenable.
as some people said, racism is not only in words and pictures, it might also be hidden in the mind and hide harsh words.
If you like, read some Yeshayahu Leibovitz, Finkelstein, Israel Shahak, Gideon Levy, watch some Eyal Sivan, Noam Chomsky, etc.
Not only jews should have the privilege to make fun of jews (in a nice manner of course) or criticize jews (religious, non-religious, whoever, etc.)

by: Hamik C Gregory from: Reno, NV USA
July 11, 2012 20:03
The festival you mention in your article, "International Wall Street Downfall Cartoon Festival," has nothing to do with promoting job creation or helping the Iranians put food on their tables. I reviewed the Fars News Agency cartoon web site. Cartoons created by the competing cartoonists where universally repugnant. The cartoon above, created by Mahmood Mohammad Tabrizi, is sick and repulsive and reminds me of what the Nazis were thinking more than sixty five years ago.
The authorities in Iran are so naïve, they don’t understand the Arab Spring that they are so fond of mentioning is associated with drought. It has no intellectual rain or snow. Period! They also don’t understand that their educated Western leaning population stands at the very age of a precipice that once they cross it, they will initiate the Middle Eastern Age of Enlightenment. Turks and Arabs have not done it! Only the Iranians will because their Persian ancestors have contributed so much to the Islamic Civilization. Their descendents will start The Islamic Renaissance in Iran, and from there, it will spread into the rest of the Middle East. It can not be stopped. It is inevitable.
May be along the way we will see historical determinism at play!
In Response

by: Jack from: US
July 11, 2012 21:23
There is nothing repuslive about cartoons. What is repulsive is how US is the biggest sponsor of terrorism, much of it directed at Christians. And US supports peaceful Wahhabi activists. US government hates Christians, but this will not last.

by: Jake from: Nearby
July 11, 2012 22:47
I don't see anything wrong with his cartoon.
Stop calling anyone who criticizes you Aunti Semite, not everyone is your aunti :)

by: Leon Davis from: Oakland, Ca
July 12, 2012 00:29
Clearly, these scandals go far beyond London and Wall Street. The decline in the personal morality of America’s elite is a fundamental threat to American freedom and prosperity.
In Response

by: Alex from: LA
July 12, 2012 22:53
I applaud your comment. My original comment was too truthful for the RFE/RL to post. You can't even say anything real and bad about Jews. I am married to one and they agree that today Israeli govt is worst for the Middle East.
In Response

by: Leon Davis from: Oakland, Ca
July 13, 2012 17:27
Thanks Alex

by: Mansur from: ME
July 12, 2012 08:29
Well, 1st of all ıt ıs a cartoon agaınst Zıonıst and not Jews and secondely when the West honours Islamophobes lıke Rushdıe, Mubarak, Ben Alı, thomas Freedman thats all fıne, but doıng somethıng agaınst Zıonısm ıs ''antı-semetıc.''

In Response

by: Ilya
July 13, 2012 08:21
Rushdie's not an Islamophobe. It's not a 'phobia' if they really do want to kill you. And the cartoon is obviously about Jews - it doesn't even feature any references to Zionism. Anti-semites like to hide behind 'anti-Zionism' to cover up their bigotry.

by: me first from: London
July 12, 2012 16:42
The rabbis in Israel are worst than the mullahs in Iran. The are the most extremist of all religious goons. They run the US foreign policy because they are supported by Jews in US. They are responsible for the lives of millions of people including American soldiers who fight wars to protect Israels hegemony in the middle east. They believe that everyone is sub-human next to Jews so who care if they are offended. They need to be offended and further more that regime in Israel needs to be overthrown and only then there will be peace in the world.
In Response

by: Leon Davis from: Oakland, Ca
July 13, 2012 23:36
Me first from London, you are spot on!

by: Matt from: USA
July 12, 2012 18:53
You think the cartoon's not anti-Semitic? It portrays Orthodox Jews worshipping at Wall Street (depicted as the Western Wall in Jerusalem), with one of them leaping up as if he is reaching for something (maybe money?). The implication is that Wall Street capitalism and the 1%'s supposed oppression of the 99% are carried out by Jews. How much more anti-Semitic can you get? I don't know how you can claim this is simply anti-Zionist. In fact, there's no mention of Israel or Israeli statehood in the cartoon. Yes, the Western Wall is located in Israel, but it is a important in Judaism and would be regardless of what geopolitical state it were located in.
In Response

by: Anonymous
July 13, 2012 10:09
Leibovitz denominated the prayers at the western wall (bacotel hamaaravi) idolatrous behaviour.
Since many people (jews and non-jews (including muslims, christians, hindus, atheists... alike, many brokers at wall street succumb to the illusion and the perspectives and realities of money) the message is at least in my reading clearly subjective and maybe naive reading not anti-semite.
So the cartoonist intertwines religious behaviour and economics.
Historically, of course there is much evidence that anti-semites used specific stereotypes to manipulate populations and to organize pogroms against jews. (that's true, no doubt.)
So, that many people here talk of anti-zionism/zionism is not really appropriate.
2. yet, you can also read it the way that some religious people really pray for the character of wall-street to change. (maybe!)
some orthodox jews are clearly not racists.

The "oppression" you are talking about is also not to find in any way in the cartoon.

So. it seems, as psychologically corroborated, people read what they want or they have learned into specific images.

In this case maybe anti-semites hide maybe behind anti-zionism and say there's only anti-zionism, which clearly is not the case. others say this is completely anti-semite which they should prove. just the cotel hamaaravi and some orthodox praying is not anti-semite immediately. it's about more messages.
and others (maybe only a few don't fall into these dangerous clichés.

just a final question:
would it be less anti-semite if there were a Muslim, a Christian, a Hindu, an Atheist, a Sikh, a Buddhist, a Jain, a Bahai, etc. who'd pray in front of Wall Street.
If you were to say yes, ok then the solution would be to draw only various different groups in cartoons. otherwise the group solely portrayed might be attacked.
all this against the background of ethnic and religious conflicts, territorial disputes, historic evidence of genocide, pogroms, unacceptable racism and violence it's obviously a very delicate dimension.
That some guys make politics instrumentalizing ethnic or religious sentiments is really sad and sometimes even shameful
(No offense, just some different perspectives)

by: Rita from: New York
July 15, 2012 11:48
Wall street brokers are from all nations and denominations, and therefore this cartoon presents a false and ugly view against Jews that the Iranian government tries to encourage.It incites its people against Israel and the Jews to divert attention from their own misery ,caused by their backward, fanatic and cruel regime. This tactic has been used by all Moslem governments in the Middle East ever since. The Iranian and the Arabs claim that they care about the Palestinians, but the truth is they don't care about them at all, just as they don't care about the current horrible killings in Siria.

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Persian Letters is a blog that offers a window into Iranian politics and society. Written primarily by Golnaz Esfandiari, Persian Letters brings you under-reported stories, insight and analysis, as well as guest Iranian bloggers -- from clerics, anarchists, feminists, Basij members, to bus drivers.

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