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Democracy or Jew-Hatred? The Libyan Edition

In Libya now, just as in Egypt one month ago, protesters are using the Star of David as a symbol of hatred and contempt.

by
John Rosenthal

Bio

February 28, 2011 - 10:01 am
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The virtual entirety of the western media and all western governments appear to be united in their condemnation of Libyan leader Muammar al-Gaddafi and their open or tacit support of the forces seeking to topple his regime. It should be noted that this “opposition to Gaddafi,” as it is typically described in the media accounts, is clearly not now a non-violent opposition — whether it ever was one — but has taken the form rather of an armed rebellion.

Little attention, however, has been paid to the nature and motives of the Libyan “opposition.” Indeed, there is even evidence of the American media editing out aspects that might trouble the simple and reassuring picture of the oppressed masses protesting against tyranny. Consider, for instance, the following AP photo, which accompanies a syndicated article from the New York Times:

The caption reads: “A Libyan man hits a defaced billboard of leader Moammar Gadhafi with a stone during a demonstration against the regime Saturday in Tobruk, a city in eastern Libya.” Note the light red smudge on Gaddafi’s cheek below the backwards swastika. It might be a Star of David, but it is hard to tell.

Now, look at the following AP photo, which appears on Yahoo Korea (hat-tip: Clemens Heni) and which shows the same defaced image:

This view clearly reveals that the light red element is indeed a Star of David. Moreover, it also reveals something else: a dark red Star of David scrawled on Gaddafi’s raised fist. Whether as a result of the original framing or of cropping, the raised fist does not appear in the first photo.

Wire service photos taken at last week’s protests in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi reveal several other examples of Stars of David drawn on portraits or caricatures of Gaddafi. For example, three of the four posters of Gaddafi shown in this collection of photos feature Stars of David. Smaller versions of the same photos, all from Reuters and dated February 23, are shown below:

Just as Hosni Mubarak was hanged in effigy in Cairo’s Tahrir Square one month ago, so too was Gaddafi hanged in effigy in Benghazi. And just as the effigy of Mubarak had a Star of David drawn on it, so too did the effigy of Gaddafi. Oddly enough, although the caption to an AP photo of the hanging effigy of Gaddafi mentioned the Star of David, the reproductions of the photo were frequently too small actually to see it. Here is a close-up detail that makes the Star of David clearly visible:

There is only very limited photographic documentation of the Libyan unrest currently available on Flickr. But the relevant Flickr archives also reveal protesters making the association “Gaddafi=Star of David.” The below detail from a Flickr photo dated February 25 apparently shows youngsters making anti-Gaddafi posters in Benghazi. The caricature at the bottom of the photo depicts Gaddafi holding forth at a podium emblazoned with the Star of David:

It is not clear if the below photo from Al-Arabiya was taken in Libya or at a “solidarity” rally outside Libya:

In any case, photos taken at “solidarity” rallies regularly feature portraits of Gaddafi defaced with Stars of David.

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