January 14, 2011

Beyond Satire. Captain Israel fights the snake of BDS

This is surreal. JVP’s Muzzlewatch has an article on Stand With Us’s latest production. The right-wing Zionist group, Stand With Us has recently produced a children’s magazine which Muzzlewatch correctly points out is racist. Unabashedly in-your-face racist. Muzzlewatch focuses on the figure of the BDS-serpent which Captain Israel slays in issue 2 (no, I’m not making this up) and the serpent’s resemblance to traditional antisemitic portrayal of the Jewish menace. In their words:

Where on earth did they get the inspiration to portray the Palestinian and international human rights groups that support the BDS movement as a big, fanged, serpent? As vermin? And then I remembered I had seen it in different (Genesis inspired) anti-Semitic propaganda about ‘conniving’ Jews, and thought, why not just call them all “cockroaches” and get it over with?

The cockroach reference indexes both Nazi language and the word that former Israeli PM, Yitzhak Shamir used to describe Palestinians. Strong, insightful analysis, complete with said antisemitic cartoons. Myself, though I was more caught with the figure of Captain Israel, because when I saw him, there was an immediate click in my brain. I had seen this person before. The brilliant American-Jewish cartoonist Eli Valley had already portrayed him in a series of cartoons as Israel Man. The resemblance is almost too perfect to be coincidental. What was for Valley a way of satirising Zionism has moved beyond satire. It is now an approved way of portraying Zionism.

Muzzlewatch makes the point that ‘Perfect, shining Captain Israel needs a diseased, less than human “other” to give him his all-man mojo’. For Valley that ‘other’ was Diaspora Boy, the Zionist diaspora Jew whose pronouncements against his loathsome self have become self-fulfilling prophecies. For the Los Angeles based Stand With Us, such criticism is too close for comfort, much as they revere the Israeli muscle Jew ideology first propounded by (need it be said) a diaspora Zionist who never moved to Israel/Palestine, Max Nordau.

Whenever Valley’s cartoon’s appears, he is of course accused of being a kapo nazi self-hating rat, somewhat proving his point about Zionists excoriating diaspora Jews, even (especially?) when they too are diaspora Jews. More ‘thoughtful’ critiques said that his cartoon wasn’t funny since the satire was too crude, too extreme. It seems now that it’s no longer funny, since it’s no longer satire.


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