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  • Letter to the Jury
  • Art Spiegelman (bio)

Lady and Gentlemen of the Jury:


As one of your esteemed fellow judges for the Israeli Anti-Semitic Cartoons contest, it's clear to me that the large pot of gold that should be First Prize if the Jews running this contest weren't such miserable cheapskates must go to . . .

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Figure 1.

. . . The Israeli Anti-Semitic Cartoon contest itself!

Everything submitted after the genuinely inspired—brilliant!—gesture of holding such a contest at all has been, at best . . . anticlimactic: mere illustration that yes, we Jews are indeed a very ironic pipple.

The idea of drawing better anti-Semitic cartoons than our non-Jewish neighbors was a great conceptual cartoon, albeit an act of sheer chutzpah (How can one successfully compete against cartoonists who've had centuries to practice and refine their invective?) [End Page 783]

If there has to be a winning visual representation of the contest though, it might as well be the well-crafted logo design that announced it—the glowering hook nosed spider astride a world in flames effectively evokes the grand tradition of anti-Semitic cartooning through the ages . . . and that cartoonist-puppet is a swell example of Jewish sneakiness—presenting sinister and irresponsible cartoonists as child-like Innocents angelically afloat in the cosmos! I tip my skull-cap to the designer!

Looking through the other 67 entries I found many 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. It's really hard to reach those giddy heights of irony that force irony to transcend itself and say something actually worth saying . . . or drawing. Cartooning is, of course, a lot harder than it looks, and too many of these submissions weren't even as well-crafted as most of the banal Danish cartoons that got this whole mess rolling. I guess the best Jewish cartoonists were just too busy grubbing for money to bother entering a contest where the crummy first prize is a bloody box of matzohs. I dunno, maybe a ten dollar cash award might've gotten more real professionals to step up to the plate.

Still, many of the entries do offer some guilty pleasures (the only kind I know) and if you're willing to grant first prize to the contest itself I am then game to grant matzoh boxes to any of these runner-ups:

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Figure 2.

I propose 2nd prize be given to Doron Nissimi's "Jewhammad." Putting a Hasidic Lid on the infamous bombturbaned Mohammad that has come to represent the whole Cartoon Jihad is downright profound . . . the only problem with this submission is that barely anyone has actually seen the original cartoon that Mr. Nissimi uses in his collage!—certainly not most of the rioting Muslims, some of whom died in their protests, and certainly not most consumers of a mainstream media too circumspect or cowardly to reprint the offending cartoon! Those with the necessary googling skills to find it on the web have been too busy [End Page 784] downloading pictures of Paris Hilton to bother. The artist might have won first prize if he'd just used his skill to paint the Hasidic hat on a spreadshot of Paris Hilton.

(There is, of course, another major problem with this picture: apparently a number of Muslims think the Danish drawing in this collage actually does represent Mohammad. If the Israeli Anti-Semitic Cartoon Contest endorsed this picture, we would run the risk of getting some Arabs annoyed at us Jews.)

I suggest a 3rd prize for this cartoon by "The Surreal McCoy." Even though it verifies the existence of one of our darkest secrets it's kinda funny and I hear cartoons are supposed to strive for that quality. Besides, it offers a rather convincingly-drawn likeness of Uncle Morrie.

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Figure 3.

My vote for 4th place goes to the well-drawn, well-staged, "Jew in the Queue." Though I really am squeamish about drawings that trivialize the...


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