Fiendish Fiddler Finishes First in Cartoon Contest

By Joshua Yaffa

Published April 28, 2006, issue of April 28, 2006.
  • Print
  • Share Share

For the Jewish humorist, satire and a dose of self-deprecation have long proved to be a dependable formula for easy laughs and subversive social commentary. In celebration of this tradition, the Israeli Anti-Semitic Cartoons Contest announced this week a winner in its drive to find a Jewish artist who could produce “the best, sharpest, most offensive Jew-hating cartoon ever published.”

Earning the dubious honor was “September 11” — a cartoon that depicts the iconic figure of a Jewish fiddler watching somewhat mysteriously — if not downright conspiratorially — from the Brooklyn Bridge as the Twin Towers burn.

“The idea is very simple,” explained Amitai Sandy, a graphic artist and comic book publisher who created the contest with fellow Tel Aviv resident Eyal Zusman. “By joking about ourselves, we wanted to show how ridiculous all these images can be.”

The pair envisioned their award as a response to another competition — the call for Holocaust-themed political cartoons, issued by an Iranian newspaper, Hamshahri, in the wake of the controversy triggered by cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad that had run in Denmark’s Jyllands-Posten newspaper.

Sandy emphasized the educational power of the more than 150 intentionally provocative — and in some cases downright disgusting — entries submitted. “My hope is that the next time someone in Iran, for example, sees an antisemitic cartoon in their daily paper, they will see it for what it is: absurd,” he told the Forward.

Not all have shared the organizers’ belief in the positive impact of the irreverent contest. “We don’t think this is the right way,” a spokesperson for Jerusalem’s Yad Vashem memorial said. The Simon Wiesenthal Center dismissed the competition as “gallows humor.”

Acclaimed cartoonist and contest judge Art Spiegelman found himself feeling ambivalent after reviewing the submissions. The proposition of Jews drawing antisemitic cartoons was a “great conceptual idea,” an act of “sheer chutzpah,” he wrote in a letter to his fellow jurors. “I found many of the entries as blood-curdling as the contest literally asked for; but if one erases the Jewish names below the cartoons, they pretty much just reinforce the stereotypes they mock.”

Emory University professor Deborah Lipstadt, who was involved in the early stages of the contest’s organization, lauded the idea as a “stroke of brilliance,” drawing an analogy with her own battle with Holocaust denier David Irving. “The worst thing that happened to David Irving,” she told the Forward, “was not just the defeat of his ideas, but that he was made to look stupid and ultimately really silly.”

The contest winner, 24-year-old Aron Katz of Los Angeles — whose cartoon is a nod to the rumor that Israeli spies were somehow involved in the 9/11 attacks — has decided to donate his $600 prize to Jewish charities working on human rights issues. Taking second place in the competition was “Studio 6,” a drawing made by Australian artist Ilan Touri that spoofs the claim championed by some Holocaust revisionists that Auschwitz was actually a film location.

According to Sandy, “My personal favorite was actually ‘The Jew Monster,’” a cartoon by New York’s Eli Valley depicting a Jew with two penises — “so he could rape both Muslim and Christian girls at the same time.”

“It is not all that difficult to joke about others,” Sandy added in a moment of seriousness. “It takes a lot more self-confidence to joke about yourself.”






Find us on Facebook!
  • "It pains and shocks me to say this, but here goes: My father was right all along. He always told me, as I spouted liberal talking points at the Shabbos table and challenged his hawkish views on Israel and the Palestinians to his unending chagrin, that I would one day change my tune." Have you had a similar experience?
  • "'What’s this, mommy?' she asked, while pulling at the purple sleeve to unwrap this mysterious little gift mom keeps hidden in the inside pocket of her bag. Oh boy, how do I answer?"
  • "I fear that we are witnessing the end of politics in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I see no possibility for resolution right now. I look into the future and see only a void." What do you think?
  • Not a gazillionaire? Take the "poor door."
  • "We will do what we must to protect our people. We have that right. We are not less deserving of life and quiet than anyone else. No more apologies."
  • "Woody Allen should have quit while he was ahead." Ezra Glinter's review of "Magic in the Moonlight": http://jd.fo/f4Q1Q
  • Jon Stewart responds to his critics: “Look, obviously there are many strong opinions on this. But just merely mentioning Israel or questioning in any way the effectiveness or humanity of Israel’s policies is not the same thing as being pro-Hamas.”
  • "My bat mitzvah party took place in our living room. There were only a few Jewish kids there, and only one from my Sunday school class. She sat in the corner, wearing the right clothes, asking her mom when they could go." The latest in our Promised Lands series — what state should we visit next?
  • Former Israeli National Security Advisor Yaakov Amidror: “A cease-fire will mean that anytime Hamas wants to fight it can. Occupation of Gaza will bring longer-term quiet, but the price will be very high.” What do you think?
  • Should couples sign a pre-pregnancy contract, outlining how caring for the infant will be equally divided between the two parties involved? Just think of it as a ketubah for expectant parents:
  • Many #Israelis can't make it to bomb shelters in time. One of them is Amos Oz.
  • According to Israeli professor Mordechai Kedar, “the only thing that can deter terrorists, like those who kidnapped the children and killed them, is the knowledge that their sister or their mother will be raped."
  • Why does ultra-Orthodox group Agudath Israel of America receive its largest donation from the majority owners of Walmart? Find out here: http://jd.fo/q4XfI
  • Woody Allen on the situation in #Gaza: It's “a terrible, tragic thing. Innocent lives are lost left and right, and it’s a horrible situation that eventually has to right itself.”
  • "Mark your calendars: It was on Sunday, July 20, that the momentum turned against Israel." J.J. Goldberg's latest analysis on Israel's ground operation in Gaza:
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.