Poor Gerald Scarfe.
The Sunday Times cartoonist says he didn’t know Jan. 27 was International Holocaust Memorial Day and for that reason chose that day to publish a cartoon depicting Bibi building a wall on the body of Palestinians.
He got in a lot of trouble for it, including scoldings from the U.K.’s chief rabbi and moral exemplar Rupert Murdoch.
Confession: I didn’t know it either, Gerald, and I’m a writer at a Jewish newspaper.
So I cut you slack for being what you in your apology call “stupidly completely unaware” of your timing.
Turns out this particular commemorative day is a much bigger deal in the U.K. than it is here. So maybe Gerald should have had a clue. (American Jews remember the Holocaust on the Israeli Yom Hashoah.)
But even if IHMD, as the Brits call it – sounds like a government agency – is truly significant somewhere, I’d argue that it probably shouldn’t be. Here’s why: the United Nations made it up. Less than ten years ago. According to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, the General Assembly picked Jan. 27, the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.
Maybe the whiff of bureaucracy surrounding the thing is no coincidence.
So not only is IMHD a bit ersatz, but it owes its existence to the U.N., the very institution that serves as a communal whipping boy for the very folks who are getting all worked up about the timing of Scarfe’s cartoon.
Even richer, they got all worked up on the very day Israel itself delivered a (quite possibly deserved) public slap to the U.N. by becoming the first member country ever, with the exception of Haiti after the storm, to boycott its human rights review.
This means the Scarfe outcry is just not internally consistent. And such noisy, illogical distress weakens our stance when we have more significant grievances.
I’m no self-hating Jew. I love myself. (Thanks for that to Simon Kelner and Howard Jacobson, two British Yids.) But for our own sake, we need to consider picking our battles more carefully.