A German daily newspaper finds it difficult to get by for a few years without cartoons with anti-Semitic connotations. With the frequency of incidents, the question arises: why?

When something goes wrong in life, it’s good to find someone to blame: monkeypox is the fault of homosexuals and, of course, Bill Gates. From there it’s just a stone’s throw to the “Great Reset”: It’s actually an initiative of the World Economic Forum from 2020. People wanted to learn from the pandemic. In crackhead circles, this quickly turned into a world transformation theory in which the virus was a welcome partner for the “Rothschilds” and the Soros family – in the conspiracy country all roads lead to the Jews.

In this respect, what follows isn’t really a surprise, but it’s definitely disturbing. Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Jew and President of Ukraine, also spoke at this year’s World Economic Forum. It was displayed on a large screen, probably much larger than that in the Bundestag at the time, and that ensured presence. So much presence that the “Süddeutsche Zeitung” (SZ) thought it was caricaturesque. However, the newspaper she published showed something else – at least in the eyes of some observers.

Zelenskyj is oversized in the drawing, the world elite is gathered in a circle under him, he has somehow buggy eyes, somehow a slightly hooked nose, sits somehow hunched over. Many somehow, but they revolve around a core idea: undue influence on the world elite. And these three body traits are anti-Semitic ciphers.

This was noticed not only by many observers, but also by the Green Party politician Volker Beck, and the publicist Alan Posener even spoke of a similarity to a caricature from the Nazi newspaper “Stürmer”. Nothing there, the SZ justifies, it’s just “a graphic implementation”.

This is strange because, except in court cases, newspapers are not actually in the habit of “translating” reality into drawings. Caricatures stand for a mocking look, a comment, just a content “more” to reality. What are you supposed to do with a drawn press photo? One could shrug one’s shoulders in view of the many somehow and the unpleasant topics and research the separation of Bibi and Julian again.

But the SZ is not the first time with this kind of let’s say “humor”. In 2018, she published a cartoon of Benjamin Netanyahu. The Israeli prime minister at the time stood in a Eurovision arena as, of course, a warmonger, had ears sticking out and brandished a rocket with the Star of David on it. Fun! So funny that the newspaper parted ways with its artist.

Five years earlier, the newspaper had provided a drawing by Ernst Kahl with a new caption, which gave the entire work a “Stürmer” appearance. In the “Jewish General” the draftsman expressed his horror.

Then there was the cartoon of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg: an octopus – maybe a “data octopus”. But with the hooked nose and the tentacles, these were now quite unmistakable borrowings from the “striker”, as the Simon Wiesenthal Center complained. You may have already guessed in which respectable newspaper this cartoon appeared in 2014.

Every few years, it seems, SZ editors close their eyes and wave through whatever someone is drawing on the paper. It is quite irrelevant what the respective draftsmen themselves thought. You can say or draw anti-Semitic without being anti-Semitic. It’s not about condemning a person, not even a newspaper. It is also not a question of whether one could determine the anti-Semitism content with absolute probability, so to speak by means of a Nazometer.

It’s about the sensitivity and responsibility of the editors: It’s simply disturbing that nobody came across these clear anti-Semitic codes (noses, octopuses, warmongering). There’s always another way to the punch line – you don’t have to walk the mud of anti-Semitism.

However, sensitivity to anti-Semitism is inevitably also a question of (self-)education: Anyone who has never dealt with drawings in “Stürmer” and anti-Semitic stereotypes will of course not flinch. Anti-Semitism is just a subtle stench that you first have to develop a nose for.

A data protection activist recently railed against Facebook, among other things, with a depiction that was immediately reminiscent of the “Judensau” caricatures from the “Stürmer”: The company sucked on the depiction of a sow’s teats. There are always debates about this “Judensau”, a medieval anti-Jewish depiction, recently in Regensburg, for example.

Just next Monday, the Federal Court of Justice is hearing whether the Wittenberg “Judensau” is an insult – it is a hundred-year-old sandstone relief on a church. The sculpture shows a sow whose teats are sucked by people, a rabbi looks into the animal’s anus. A Jewish pensioner has been going through the courts for years, he wants to see the relief removed or the legal statement that it is an insult

Unfortunately, anti-Semitism and the suspicions that accompany it cannot be killed: Jews as a secret world government, guides of the press and infiltrators of the literary scene, none of this is new, but unfortunately it has not been overcome either – on the contrary, the pandemic has significantly intensified it, as recently the Office for the Protection of the Constitution documented in its “Situation”.

Sad: the downright snotty refusal of many Germans to sensitize themselves to these ciphers, to brace themselves against them in order to ban them forever, reaches even into the editorial offices of well-known newspapers. This willful blindness is familiar. With regard to the Nazi past, the painter Martin Kippenberger put it well with the immortal phrase “I can’t see a swastika with the best will in the world”.

The SZ is apparently sitting out the excitement this time after vowing to improve the case of Netanyahu. So it can’t be long before it says again: “I can’t see any anti-Semitism with the best will in the world.”