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'Funny' Anti-Gaddafi Cartoons Reveal Rebel Racism, Anti-Semitism

In the caricature in the bottom left of the below photo, Gaddafi has black skin. He also has fangs.

(Source: Reuters)

In a photo-montage just below it, he appears to be wearing side-curls in the style of an orthodox Jew. Here is a somewhat closer look.

Note too the caricature in the upper-right hand corner. Jason Koutsoukis explains that it shows Gaddafi unleashing one of his alleged African mercenaries. Except that in the meanwhile someone has seen fit to add Stars of David on Gaddafi’s hat and robe. Here is a closer look.

The caricaturing of Gaddafi appears to have been officially encouraged by the new authorities in Benghazi. Some of the earliest drawings on paper were reportedly posted around the so-called “media center” set-up by rebel officials for foreign journalists. (See here, for instance.)

One might have thought that with official sponsorship and the increasing attention of the international media, the expressions of anti-Semitism and/or “anti-Zionism” would have diminished. But precisely the opposite appears to have occurred. Stars of David abound in the caricatures of Gaddafi. They are so prevalent that I can here only provide a small selection to illustrate the point.

(Source: Reuters)

(Source: NPR)

(Source: Reuters)

Here is an earlier mural, dating from the first week of the rebellion, but that has typically been shown in photos that render the Star of David difficult to see.

(Source: AP)

Note too the dollars: a less frequent but also regular motif in the caricatures.

The presence of the Stars of David in the caricatures has rarely provoked comment in the traditional media, let alone any effort at explanation. In the blog post containing his photos, Jason Koutsoukis notes, “There is a widely held perception in Libya that Gaddafi is the son of Jewish parents and is a secret ally of The State of Israel.” Despite the massive presence of Western journalists in Benghazi, few others appear willing to broach, much less investigate the subject.

Moreover, just as eastern Libyan cartoonists have resorted to racist stereotypes in caricaturing Gaddafi, so too have they employed anti-Semitic ones. Here is an example in which Gaddafi is depicted as an orthodox Jew.

It is taken from the collection published by National Public Radio. According to the accompanying blurb, the NPR correspondent spotted the cartoons near “the old courthouse in Benghazi, now the Information Ministry, where journalists come for their press credentials.”

Sometimes the racist and anti-Semitic motifs are combined. This last picture, for instance, can be regarded as a sort of racist/anti-Semitic “tour de force.” It shows a vampire Gaddafi with a Star of David emblazoned on his robe accompanied by an African tribesman with horns.

(Source: Reuters)

Note too that the tribesman and Gaddafi sport nearly identical afros, thus again underscoring the “African-ness” of Gaddafi in the eyes of his opponents.