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The Islamic Republic of Iran's Vile Cartoons
Last uploaded : Friday 3rd Nov 2006 at 02:29
Contributed by : Carol Gould


Notwithstanding the pronouncements of Western-based Imams and Islamic scholars that Islam is the faith of peace and understanding, the idea that a Muslim nation can sponsor a competition for the best lampoon of the Nazi Holocaust is beyond the stretches of human decency.

The malevolent President of Iran, who espouses the idea that the Holocaust is a myth and that even if it did happen Israeli Jews should be resettled elsewhere, and who calls for the annihilation of the Jewish State, has now given prizes to international cartoonists who offered the best parody of the Nazi genocide of six million Jews. For those who need a brush-up on recent history, Adolf Hitler convened the Wannsee Conference to arrange the 'Final Solution' (mass extermination) when far too few countries absorbed Jews from Nazi-occupied Europe.

What is so grotesque about the Iranian cartoon exercise is that it has happened at all. The rationale is alleged to be Iran’s desire to hit back at the cartoons of Muhammad in a Danish publication, the outrage from which caused worldwide riots. Perhaps the Islamic Republic of Iran was hoping world Jewry would take to the streets and riot, carrying posters like those seen in London in February calling for the beheading of those who attack Islam.

This has not happened because Jews aren’t like that. Jews do not take to the streets and burn flags and effigies alongside terrifying banners and posters. ‘Oh, but Jews have a terrorist state and don’t have to demonstrate,’ protest the readers of ‘The Independent,’ whose columns of late are in perpetual clamour about the crimes of Israel and the USA. 'they have a vile little nation' says Yvonne Ridley of the UK respect Party. The fact is that Diaspora Jews, no matter how bitterly they are attacked, maintain their dignity.

The tragedy of all of this is that somewhere in the universe well-meaning people are still trying to bring Jews and Muslims together in peace. The two faiths share a common belief in the family, in daily prayer and devotion to a moral code, carry out circumcision of boys and ritual slaughter and observe strict dietary laws.

In the United Kingdom men of the eminence of Sir Sigmund Sternberg and Rabbi Jonathan Sacks attempt to sustain a dialogue started by the late Sheikh Zaki Badawi, but the Muslim Council of Britain mortally insults Holocaust survivors with its shameful contempt for Holocaust Memorial Day. How sad that Sternberg was compelled to withdraw an award to Sir Iqbal Sacranie, head of the Muslim Council after he twice boycotted Holocaust Memorial Day. It must be pointed out that Sir Sigmund gave the money to a Gaza charity. MPACUK, the Muslim Public Affairs Council embarks on endless diatribes about ‘Zionists’ as if a worldwide plague is about to engulf us all. (Would the followers of MPAC like to stop their children from having polio immunisations because a ‘Zionist’ developed the vaccine?)

A true irony developed this week when British Channel Four television presented a documentary about the conflict within the Muslim community over the exclusion of women from mosques. (Of course, I could tell Channel Four about the occasion in 1998 when I was prohibited, for my own safety, from filming at the Regent’s Park Central Mosque because the 'Friday extremists' had found out I was American, not to mention a female.)

The documentary showed a very angry Asghar Bukhari, head of MPAC, fighting the battle to allow women into mosque life. Some of the confrontations were ugly and physical. It was jarring to see observant men emerging from prayers to tell the women, the film unit and Bukhari to ‘f off.’

Like Ahmadinejad in Iran, Bukhari has so alienated and angered the wider non-Muslim and Jewish community of Britain, who might have some useful pointers on female religious involvement, that it is doubtful he will get any help from those quarters. As I watched the programme I thought of the contribution Jewish women could make to the cause of their Muslim sisters portrayed in the film, but who would want to help MPAC, who daily insult Anglo and world Jewry with their ignorant, often ill-founded and vicious verbal assaults on the things Jews hold dear, most particularly the safety of the state of Israel?

Jewish women have taken an active role in synagogue and community life for decades; Lily Montagu was one of the founders of the Liberal movement in the early 1900s and Regina Jonas was ordained a rabbi by Dr Leo Baeck in Terezin concentration camp. Today, women rabbis are commonplace and there are female synagogue presidents, council members and teachers. Would that the young men and women of MPAC took the time to read Jewish history and consult with the Jewish community on women’s aspirations instead of sending out miles of invective about imaginary Zionist plots.

As Iran hands out its cash awards for the cartoons lampooning the Nazi genocide of Jews in the Holocaust, synagogues across the world distribute the monies collected this past New Year and Yom Kippur to help Muslims in need. Many Progressive synagogues including West Central Liberal Synagogue of London have donated funds to Palestinian psychologists dealing with the aftermath of the Lebanon war, to Druse villagers and to Israeli Arab children traumatised by the same conflict.

The hideous behaviour of so much of the Muslim world at present, aided and abetted by Syria and Iran, is only serving to place wider gaps amongst the faiths. The anger of Muslim youth in Britain is worrying, and the problems they are encountering in their lives will never be solved if they alienate other faith communities with their thoughtless internet rantings.

Iran has committed a grievous sin with its cartoon competition; Jews do not riot, but like the USA after Pearl Harbour, they can be a sleeping giant. There are 14 million Jews in the world, virtually all of whom think about the Shoah every day of their lives, along with Christians who suffered in the Nazi era. The behaviour of Iran, and of the wider extremist end of Islam, will not soon be forgotten and one fears a conflagration will soon be upon us if their malevolence continues.
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