Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Holocaust Cartoon Exhibit Opens In Iran

Among the 200 cartoons designed to "explore the limits of freedom Westerners believe in" is one depicting "the Statue of Liberty holding a book on the Holocaust in one hand and giving a Nazi salute with the other."

Hellava mixed metaphor there, if you ask me. But then, I hardly think coherence is the point.

From the AFP piece:
"We staged this fair to explore the limits of freedom Westerners believe in," Masoud Shojai, head of the country's "Iran Cartoon" association and the fair organizer, said.

"They can freely write anything they like about our prophet, but if one raises doubts about the Holocaust he is either fined or sent to prison," he added.

I would love to be able to say, "Oh, really? Where?" Except--though the latter part of the statement is too sweeping, and meant to be--he does, in fact, have a bit of a point there.
"Though we do not deny that fact that Jews were killed in the (second world) war, why should the Palestinians pay for it?" Shojai told the opening ceremony of the month-long fair in Tehran's Palestine Contemporary Art Museum.

He added that around 1,100 cartoons were submitted by participants from more than 60 countries and that more than 200 are on show.

He said the top three cartoons will be announced on September 2, with the winners being awarded prizes of 12,000, 8,000 and 5,000 dollars respectively.

The BBC article notes that among the countries from which entries came are the United States, Indonesia and Turkey. I'd sort of like to see the whole list, complete with numbers of entry by country, for however enlightening or not that would be. And wouldn't you like to know how many cartoonists entered because they wanted to express their true feelings about the holocaust (or Jews generally) and how many simply to "test" the West's tolerance and its commitment to free expression and speech?

I, myself, questioned the latter in light of generalized reaction to the printing of the Prophet cartoons last year, but I fully expect to have my faith renewed by the outpouring of understanding and tolerance of this event.

Or, at least, by a relative silence reflecting a "ho-hum, whatever" attitude about the whole thing--which, if you think about it really is the essence of take-it-all-in stride tolerance, or should I say, apathy. (That's not to say that some objections and complaints haven't been lodged so far; the BBC article quotes Israel's "holocaust authority," and an organization of Russian Jews are calling for the exhibit's closure.)

One thing's a pretty sure bet: It's highly unlikely that anyone should clear one's schedule to cover mass and violent riots around the world, similar to those to which we were treated earlier this year. Or even to comprehensively read a gazillion blog posts about the insensitivity and disrespectfulness of the cartoonists.