Jaspal, Rusi. “Delegitimizing Jews and Israel in Iran’s International Holocaust Cartoon Contest.” Journal of Modern Jewish Studies 13.2 (2014): 167-89.
In 2006, the Iranian government-aligned newspaper Hamshahri sponsored The International Holocaust Cartoon Contest. The stated aim of the contest was to denounce “Western hypocrisy on freedom of speech,” and to challenge “Western hegemony” in relation to Holocaust knowledge. This government-backed initiative was a clear attempt to export the Iranian regime’s anti-Zionist agenda. Using qualitative thematic analysis and Social Representations Theory, this article provides an in-depth qualitative analysis of the cartoons submitted to the contest in order to identify emerging social representations of Jews and Israel. Three superordinate themes are outlined: (i) “Constructing the ‘Evil Jew’ and ‘Brutal Israel’ as a Universal Threat;” (ii) “Denying the Holocaust and Affirming Palestinian Suffering;” (iii) “Constructing International Subservience to ‘Nazi-Zionist’ Ideology.” Although the organizers of the International Holocaust Cartoon Contest claimed that their aims were anti-Zionist, this article elucidates the overtly anti-Semitic character of the contest and its cartoons. It is argued that the cartoons exhibit a distorted, one-sided version of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and of Jewish history, and may therefore shape viewers’ beliefs concerning Jews and Israel in fundamentally negative ways, with negative outcomes for intergroup relations and social harmony.