Cartoons from the Arab World

A selection of cartoons from the media of seven Arab countries (Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Bahrain, Syria and Egypt) and from the Palestinian Authority is displayed below. A number of these countries are regarded as moderate or allied to the West. Most print media in the Arab world are under the full or partial control of the ruling regimes.

One picture can sometimes be deadlier than a thousand words.

-- Tom Gross


The cartoon above, clearly depicting the railroad to the death camp at Auschwitz-Birkenau – but with Israeli flags replacing the Nazi ones – is from the Jordanian newspaper Ad-Dustur (October 19, 2003). The sign in Arabic reads: “Gaza Strip or the Israeli Annihilation Camp.” This accentuates the widespread libel that Israel’s policies towards the Palestinians have been comparable to Nazi actions towards Jews. Jordan is supposedly a moderate country at peace with Israel.

In this cartoon, from Al-Watan newspaper in Qatar (June 23, 2002), Ariel Sharon is shown watching on the sidelines as an Israeli plane crashes into New York’s World Trade Center. The Arabic words alongside the Twin Towers are “The Peace.” This cartoon restates the widely held myth in the Arab world that Israel and the Jews were responsible for the 9/11 attacks which were in fact of course carried out by al-Qaeda.

The cartoon above, from Arab News (April 10, 2002), shows Ariel Sharon wielding a swastika-shaped axe to chop up Palestinian children. Arab News is a Saudi-based English language daily which is supposedly one of the Arab world’s more moderate papers.

In September 2005, at a time when non-Arab Moslem-majority states like Pakistan and Afghanistan were making peace overtures to Israel, even supposedly moderate Arab states like Qatar were continuing their anti-Semitic approach. Above, Israeli jets over Gaza form a swastika in this cartoon published on September 27, 2005 in Al-Watan (Qatar).

This cartoon from the Internet site of Omayya Joha, portrays an Israeli soldier who, having chopped off the foot of a Palestinian man, holds up a bloody hand to the camera and orders “No photographs.” Omayya Joha is one of the staff cartoonists employed by Al-Hayat Al-Jadeeda, the Palestinian Authority’s official daily newspaper. Her cartoons continue to regularly appear in the official Palestinian press.

Above, Ariel Sharon is shown sitting in a large cup overflowing with blood. This cartoon, also by Omayya Joha, appeared in Al-Hayat Al-Jadeeda, the Palestinian Authority’s official daily newspaper, on April 22, 2003.

In this cartoon, from Al-Watan (Oman) (August 10, 2002), Jewish acts are equated with those of the Nazis. This Nazi-type anti-Semitic caricature of a Jew has a hooked nose, a hunched back, has no shoes, and is sweating.

In the above cartoon, from Akhbar Al-Khalij (Bahrain) (June 10, 2002), the anti-Semitic caricature of a Jew on the right says: “Say: ‘I hate the Arabs!’” and American president George W. Bush, made to resemble a parrot, repeats: “I hate the Arabs, I hate the Arabs.”

Above, another cartoon from the Internet site of official Palestinian Authority cartoonist Omayya Joha, showing alleged Jewish control (in the form of snakes) of the United States. The snake was often used to portray Jews in historic European anti-Semitic images.

This cartoon, from May 13, 2005 (a month when many western papers were claiming that the Palestinian Authority media had adopted a more moderate tone), shows a Jew impaling the northern region of a map of the Islamic world with the flag of Israel, with blood spurting out. At the lower end is what seems to be an Arab man hanging upside down, holding a white flag of surrender. This cartoon appeared in Al-Hayat Al-Jadeeda, the official daily newspaper of the Palestinian Authority.

This cartoon, from the Syrian newspaper Al-Ahram (May 29, 2002), shows an anti-Semitic caricature of a Jew with a long beard and hooked nose, fuelling the “World Media” with “Zionist Media” propaganda, while in the background bombs are falling on the Moslem al-Aqsa shrine on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount. This cartoon stereotypes Jews, repeats the anti-Semitic myth that the Jews control the world media, and adds the lie that the Israeli government has damaged the al-Aqsa complex on the Temple Mount.

The cartoon above, with text in English designed for a foreign audience, was posted on the official website of the Palestinian Authority State Information Center on April 6, 2003. The Palestinian Authority State Information Center regularly posts ugly anti-Israel and anti-American cartoons, including this reiteration of the anti-Semitic blood libel that Jews kill non-Jewish children.

The cartoon above, from the Egyptian weekly Al-Ahram al-Arabi (June 8, 2002), shows not only members of the Likud party murdering Arabs, but long-time Labor Party leader and Israeli “dove” Shimon Peres standing aside and applauding with bloody hands. Egypt is the second highest recipient of U.S. aid in the world. The U.S. senate has approved a $1.84 billion aid package for Egypt for 2006.

This cartoon is from Al-Watan (Qatar), May 13, 2003. The U.S. and Israel are shown eating from two sides of an apple that represents “the Arab states”. This cartoon is also noteworthy since it was published in Qatar, home to the influential Al Jazeera TV network. Qatar is considered by many in the U.S. State Department to be a U.S. ally and a relatively moderate state.

The cartoon above, from Arab News, depicts rats wearing Stars of David and skullcaps. They scurry backwards and forwards through holes in the wall of a building called “Palestine House.” Arab News, an English-language daily widely read by expats in Saudi Arabia, is widely-regarded as a moderate publication. It is published by a state-owned Saudi corporation. The imagery in the cartoon may well be inspired by a well-known scene from the Nazi film “Jew Suess,” to which it bears a close resemblance – a scene in which Jews are depicted as vermin to be eradicated by mass extermination.


Selection, text of the captions and juxtaposition of cartoons © Copyright Tom Gross