Oct. 27, 2004
Arab press: Jews control US elections

By URIEL HEILMAN
NEW YORK

While American Jews debate which U.S. presidential candidate would be better for Israel and the Jewish people, for readers of Arab newspapers the choice seems clear: It doesn't much matter, since both candidates are stooges of the Jews and Ariel Sharon.

At least, that's the message of editorial cartoons in newspapers across the Arab world. In the cartoons, President Bush and Sen. John Kerry are portrayed as puppets controlled by Jewish hands, as characters reading a script saying "Israel is always right" and as two heads of a single Jewish body. In one cartoon, a caricature of a Hasidic Jew is shown using a remote control to manipulate the U.S. Congress.

"Throughout the Arab world, they project that Jews control this election," said Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, which tracks anti-Semitic images in the Arab press. "It's one thing to say the Jews control it, it's another thing to illustrate it. Doing that in the cartoon manner in a country where people don't read or don't read a lot communicates it in a clearer, uglier fashion."

The cartoons hew to many of the classic Arab conspiracy theories about Jewish influence in the United States. They show Jews manipulating the U.S. election from behind the scenes, the presidential candidates following the dictates of Israel and the Jews, and the Jews as miserly, depraved and power-hungry.

The images have appeared not only in countries that have an official policy of hostility toward Israel and the Jews-such as Saudi Arabia, whose state-sponsored religion, Wahhabism, has been described as the Islamic equivalent of the Ku Klux Klan-but also in newspapers in Jordan, the United Arab Emirates and the Palestinian Authority.

In the Oct. 12 number of the Jordanian newspaper Ad-Dustur, the Israeli prime minister is depicted wearing an army uniform decorated with skulls and images of Kerry and Bush. Another cartoon from the same newspaper shows the two candidates kissing the Jewish vote while Arab votes are dropped directly into the garbage. The images are viewable at www.adl.org.

These anti-Semitic caricatures being disseminated in the Arab world are worse than in previous elections, Foxman said, and they are the natural result of comments made by countless Arab leaders-and by one U.S. presidential candidate, Ralph Nader, who is running as an independent. Nader's insistence that the White House and Congress are puppets of Prime Minister Sharon has prompted repeated rebukes from Foxman, who has exchanged several letters with Nader on the issue.

"To say that Sharon and Bush are responsible for it feeds into this mentality, this conspiracy," Foxman said. "It builds and builds conspiracy theories, so we shouldn't be surprised that Taba is seen in the Arab world as an Israeli-planned event," he said, referring to the terrorist bombings earlier this month in Taba, Egypt.

The ADL said it was publicizing the images to generate increased pressure on Arab countries to rein in their anti-Semitic incitement.

"John Kerry has been critical of Saudi anti-Semitism," said Jay Footlik, a campaign adviser for the Democratic nominee on Jewish issues. These cartoons, Footlik said, "underscore the need to have American leadership fighting global anti-Semitism and strongly supporting Israel, and that's exactly what John Kerry's going to do as president."

An adviser to the Bush campaign on Jewish issues, Michael Lebovitz, noted that Bush confronted Malaysia's former prime minister, Mahathir Mohammad, a year ago after the Malaysian said that "Jews rule the world by proxy."

"The president has been very outspoken in confronting anti-Semitism," Lebovitz said.