Monday, March 19, 2012

Christian Art Exhibit Featured "Jewish Rats"

A lot like Die Stuermer...      photo:Bilda
A recent art exhibit stirred controversy as it included a poster showing three rats  nibbling away the West Bank. One rat has an assault rifle on his back  The poster was rapidly construed as an anti-Semitic slur showing the Israelis/Jews as vermin. In fact it would be hard to construe it any other way. As Rabbi Abraham Cooper of the Simon Wiesenthal Center noted in the JPost:

-"The use of animalization in caricatures was a favorite propaganda tactic of Nazis, later used by Soviet and Arab cartoonists to dehumanize Jews."

The Local quotes a far-right Swedish group's comment on the poster:

- "Swedish artists grasped that Jews were violent pests'".

Bilda, the exhibit's organizer, which is a state-funded Christian organization has published a semi-apology, in which they express their regrets for creating an internet brouhaha and straying from their mission to be even-handed and inoffensive:

-"Studieförbundet Bilda has made a mistake, and we want to apologise for this.

-"There are reasons to criticise how Bilda marketed Stefan Sjöblom’s and Larz Lindqvist's exhibition 'The holy land – the holey country'. We should have realized how wrong a picture of cheese and mice could lead people’s thoughts, and how, for example, could be exploited in anti-Semitic circles. The intention of this image was to describe how all sides in a conflict are losers." Ja.

And here's another non-apologetic line:

-"We are aware that we are always at risk in one way or another, to get mixed up in the Middle East conflict."

This was originally penned in Swedish, so a better translation would perhaps have been "All those people are so touchy, and this time we really stepped in it through no fault of our own."

Despite the final lines in which the the group "evenhandedly" apologizes to "everyone" they offended, at no point in their public apology does Bilda actually apologize to Jews for the anti-Semitic character of the poster. Their  spokesman Magnus Stenberg has tried to describe as depicting as "Israelis or Palestinian leaders". Blaming all Israelis, but only Palestinian leadership for the Arab-Israeli conflict only throws more fat in the fire.

By Chanah Shapira

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