The leader of the Jewish congregation in Oslo, Erwin Kohn, has reacted strongly to a drawing by Dagbladet cartoonist Finn Graff, where he draws Palestinian prisoners being released into another “prison” – Gaza, and inserts the Buchenwald KZ lager insignia; Jedem das Seine (to each what he deserves).
Kohn has written an oped in Vårt Land, on the strong reactions this has caused in the Jewish community (unauthorized translation):
Dagbladet gives Israel the Nazi stamp
It is difficult to understand Dagbladet’s cartoonist Find Graff agenda other than that he wants to stick a Nazi stamp on Israel.
The 18 October was a great day for Israel who has lived with the trauma of the Gilad Shalit kidnapping in over five years. It was a great day for the Palestinians who could welcome hundreds of prisoners welcome home.
The joy in Israel to have rescued Shalit’s life is mixed with the pain of the release as many with blood on their hands have been set free. Many of them were serving life sentences for taking part in the massacre of children in buses and pizza restaurants. It is not difficult for us in Norway to feel the pain that the parents of the murdered children must feel. Several commentators have pointed to the historical in the fact that Israel and Hamas have reached an agreement. There are alternatives to the use of weapons. The parties to the conflict can talk if there is sufficiently willingness to do so.
On this day [October 19], on page 3 in Dagbladet, an illustration by Finn Graff can be seen, illustrating an article by Jan Erik Smilden under the heading “The prisoner swap of the century.”
Find Graff made a caricature showing Palestinian prisoners who go from one camp to another. Now, people are free tomake up their own minds whether this is a good illustration or a good description of reality. Some call Gaza a prison camp. It is politics. Also, not all of the prisoners go to Gaza. Many go to the West Bank and some to Jordan and Turkey.
However, it is legal to focus on what you want. It is legal for anybody in a liberal democracy, including journalists and artists, to present the arguments and views you want. Although it may be difficult to see the limits when you act within the expectations it is easier to see when you have stepped over. Finn Graff has stepped over, again.
Centrally in the cartoon Graff has written in German with small print, very small print, “Jeden das Seine.” This is the same text that appeared on the door of one of Nazi KZ-camps, Buchenwald. Freely translated it means “everyone gets what they deserve, or to each his own.”
This is distasteful and lacking in historical understanding. This is a clear violation. This is demonization. It is not the first time Graff cross the red lines in this way way. In 2006 he drewa caricature of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert as a Nazi commander who amused himself by shooting at targets on the prisoners in a prison camp [Taken from the film Schindlers List]. This cartoon too, contained the text “Jeden das Seine”. In 1982, Graff drew a caricature of Prime Minister Begin in Nazi uniform.
It is difficult to understand Graff’s agenda other than that he wants to stick a Nazi stamp on Israel. This is an attempt at a comparison that is insipid, taken out of all proportion and reeks of historical revisionism.
The above is a post that was published in Vårt Land on 20 October. I have just read Dagbladet’s editor, Lars Helle’s comment in Vårt Land’s online edition. This is very depressive reading
Helle says: “Are they really at it again? In an open and democratic society, I demand respect for Dagbladet’s right to publish these drawings. Finn Graff’s drawings are crass and with an edge. We have nothing against it. He has a provocative style that tells a clear language. We must be allowed to publish these drawings without being attacked. ”
I have not indicated, said or thought that Dagbladet has no right to print what it wants. It is first and foremost Graff / Dagbladet that stamps Israel as Nazi. Without the German text from the gates of Buchenwald concentration camp had Graff cartoon would have been provocative, clear and propagandic. Adding “Jedem das Seine” crosses the line. It is strange that Helle doen not understand this.
Helle says: “I did not see it myself. But this drawing is far from what I would consider to stop, says chief editor Lars Helle, who warns that the political debate in Norway post 22/7 is becoming be toothless. ”
Helle’s judgment must then be questioned. Why does Helle bring 22/7 into the debate? The debate we now have, is anything but toothless. There is no reason why the debate after 22/7 has to be obscene. There is every reason why the debates, reports and comments should be empathetic.
I have not criticized Dagbladet’s right to publish. I have criticized the newspaper Dagbladet has actually published. I have criticized the content. This is actually what Helle calls for: A sharp debate after 22/7.