Today I entered Iran’s Second International Holocaust Cartoon Contest. The first contest was a response to the Danish Muhammad Cartoons back in 2006. This time around, the contest is in response to the Charlie Hebdo murders.
People usually respond to events by doing what they would want to do anyway, so anti-Semitic cartoons are both the natural Iranian response and are what they would draw anyway if there was nothing to respond to.
The Holocaust Cartoon Contest Website shows three stacked army helmets, two with swastikas, and a third with a Star of David. There are two sections to the contest, the regular cartoon contest I entered, and a caricature contest where cartoonists are instructed to draw likenesses of Benjamin Netanyahu with Adolph Hitler. Most of the cartoons in the first contest were depictions of Jews as Nazis.
The site claims that they don’t deny the Holocaust, and that they are not anti-Semitic, but the cartoon winners from the first contest tell another story. The winner of the first Holocaust Cartoon Contest back in 2006 was Moroccan cartoonist Derkaoui Abdellah, whose winning cartoon showed an image of a Nazi concentration camp on a wall which a crane, marked with a Star of David, was placing around Jerusalem’s Dome of the Rock. The US State Department paid Derkaoui’s way for an extensive tour of America, including a visit to the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists convention, where I met him.
The Holocaust Cartoon grand prize is “12,000” which is a lot if that is US dollars, but if it is Iranian currency, that amounts to less than fifty cents; I’m not sure which it is.
In my cartoon, I drew Iran’s Supreme Leader, with his face as a butt that is farting out the words to his famous statement, “The Holocaust is an event whose reality is uncertain and if it has happened, it’s uncertain how it happened.” The fart-sentence takes the form of a “wafteroon” which is a cartoon term for a wavy, steamy, horizontal line that typically runs under someone’s nose, indicating that a character is smelling something. A wafteroon can come out of an apple pie, under the nose of a smiling face, or it can come out of the Supreme Leader’s butt-face, under the noses of a frowning crowd, as in my cartoon.
I have an Iranian cartoonist friend, Nik Kowsar, who was imprisoned in Iran for drawing cartoons that the clerics didn’t like. Nik was held in the infamous Evin prison in Tehran that now holds Washington Post reporter, Jason Rezaian. I asked Nik if I should enter my cartoon in the contest, or would that just be stupid and pointless? Nik said, “Yes! Enter it! It’s funny!”
My next problem was that I had missed the deadline. Nik told me, “They are good about taking late submissions. Don’t worry about it.” And Nik was right, the Iranians responded immediately to tell me that it was OK to submit my cartoon today, after the deadline.
I’m guessing the Iranians will not choose to include my cartoon in their exhibition and competition – but considering how the contest organizers complain about the “West” censoring “discussion” of the Holocaust, I thought it was a nice irony to give them a Holocaust cartoon that they would likely censor.
Now I’m kicking myself that I missed the deadline for “The Second Major International Award of DOWN WITH AMERICA” contest back in January. I need to pay closer attention to this stuff.