Holocaust cartoonist writes an e-mail

I received an e-mail from one of the European cartoonists that took part in the Iran Holocaust Cartoon contest.
From: [name and adress deleted]
To: kleinverzet@yahoo.com
Subject: Hello, Irancartoon contest about the western limits of freedom of expression
Date: Mon, 04 Sep 2006 13:43:24 +0200

Hello "Kleinverzet"

I'm a [Euro - KV] cartoonist,

I read your recent post criticizing the contest organized by Hamshari-Irancartoon.

I totally respect your opinion.

You criticized the cartoonists who participated to this contest. Please read the letter (below) we have written, as participating cartoonists, to reply to all the criticisms.

I also learned that names had been strangely invented and added in the participating list.

Good day.

[name deleted]

PS: I attach my last cartoon for you, it's a boy in front of this dreadful wall. He draws a dove and stands next to a surrealistic door where he can see a blue sky. This is a source of hope for him. Hope of better time, hope of sooncoming Peace and Freedom.
The letter he mentioned is published after the break, as is my answer to this e-mail and letter, so click here if you want to continue.

The letter written by cartoonists participating in the Holocaust Cartoon contest.
To whom it may concern:

Having participated in the Irancartoon-Hamshari contest, we would like to affirm that we are not anti-semitic and do not agree with the way this contest is being used and manipulated by the Iranian government as a revisionist action, which purpose is to incite Israel and the US.

We are professional cartoonists and have participated in many other international cartoon contests. As artists, we are deeply concerned about various issues. The recent war in the Middle East is one of them. (the heavy attacks by Tsahal (Israel Defense Forces) in Palestine and Lebanon, and the response of the Hezbollah...)

When we participate in a cartoon contest we usually accept its rules. The organizers usually have a professional ethic (they do not change the rules), independence and they respect the ideas of the cartoonists. But unfortunately, we noticed that the Iranian Cartoon House used our trust for the Iranian government's benefit. The Iranian government states: "the Holocaust on Jews never existed". For us this is a historical fact and we want to make clear that we are against all kind of revisionism, antisemitism, racism or xenophobia. We do not at all deny that millions of Jews were horribly murdered by the Nazis.

As cartoonists, our aim is not to revise the historical record. That is the realm of historians. On the other hand we certainly do not deny our responsibility concerning the personal work we created relating to the contest initially titled "What is the Limit of Western Freedom of _Expression?". We would like to insist on the fact that our intention was not to mock in a funny way the Holocaust. Our drawings are political and aim to arouse reflection in the people’s mind.

All of us are anti-war proponents, and most of us democratically support the "weakest and oppressed ones" and thus draw in their favor. That's why we supported the Palestinians and Lebanese in the war that Tsahal wages on them. This doesn't mean at all we are "revisionists".

We have not received any information from the Iranian Cartoon House telling us that the intention of this contest was to link the exhibition to a specific governmental action. We strongly protest against such decision without our knowledge.

The participating cartoonists

And my e-mail answering the fellow that contacted me:

[name deleted],

Thank you for the email you sent me about the letter you and your colleagues have published regarding the Iranian Holocaust International Cartoon Exhibition.

While I appreciate the effort you and your colleagues have taken to clarify their position I still feel it is all too little, too late and too self serving to be credible in any way, shape or form. As you know all too well, the Iranian cartoon contest was organized in a reaction to the Mohammed cartoons published in the Danish Jyllands Posten. The cartoons themselves may have been published back in November last year, but the real furore happened only in February this year. It was also at this time that the newspaper Hamshahri wrote out the contest.

Even before the Mo-toon furore Ahmadinejad had come out and said that Israel must be "wiped of the map" and had denied the Holocaust. More specific, at the time of announcing the contest, the Iranian authorities called for cartoons challenging the notion of the Holocaust in a bid to "test the Western notion of freedom of speech".

To anyone even slightly involved in matters political (as one would expect from a politically motivated cartoonist) it was abundantly clear what the Iranian authorities were aiming at: "A prominent Iranian newspaper said yesterday it would hold a competition for cartoons on the Holocaust to test whether the West extends the principle of freedom of expression to the Nazi genocide as it did to the caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed." (Globe and Mail, 7 Februari 2006). The defence of you and your colleagues, that it was only after submitting your work you all found out the Iranian government had a specific agenda, sounds weak. So weak in fact, that it doesn't quite ring true.

I can understand the cartoon world is a highly competetive one and cartoon contests are a great way to get some exposure and generate some interest in ones work. But I had hoped that more European cartoonist would show a little common sense and decency before entering in this particularly vile contest.

You claim you are neither anti-semetic nor xenophobic. I have no reason to believe otherwise. But I do have an issue with the ease with which you've evidently put those fine principles to the side for a little media exposure in a controversial contest venue. Since actions speak louder then words, it matters not a damn whether you say are anti-semitic or not, xenophobic or not, anti-war or not. You've participated, and therefore have legitimized, have given your own personal seal of approval to the proven anti-semitic, anti-western and decidedly less then peaceful aims of the Iranian government. With that you've become an accomplice. An accomplice to antisemitism, discrimination and incitement to war against Israel and the west. You've become as guilty as the Iranian authorities of all the things you profess you are not.

So frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn. I don't give a damn what your excuse is, or how you try to defend your innocense. The fact remains you've participated in an event that is in a most literal sense on par with the anti-jewish Nazi propaganda you probably vowed never to lend yourself for. You've become the thing you probably hate most. Which is quite the irony, don't you think?

I personally don't think that participating in this thing is going to prove much of a career booster for you. But all the same I sincerely hope you will become successful. I just hope it will be with material that is more just and more worthy and ther stuff on display in Palestine Museum of contemporary Art in Tehran.

Best regards,


PS Just a heads up: I will publish your email to me (and the letter) as well as my answer on the blog. Of course I will make sure that personal data is omitted.

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