Our perpetually outraged friends at the Anti-Defamation League (the guys that tally the aggregate number of synagogues fire-bombed and university lectures critical of Israeli policy per year) are now defaming cartoonist Pat Oliphant for making a cartoon they call “hideously Anti-semitic.” Why? His “use of the Star of David in combination with Nazi-like imagery.”
Which bring us to that old chestnut: Is it antisemitic for cartoonists to use the Star of David as a symbol for the State of Israel? We were all over this one back in 2003.
(Short answer: No. Slightly longer answer: Abe Foxman missed the boat about sixty years ago on keeping the Star of David out of cartoons about the State of Israel.)
Not to imply that the ADL has a firm grasp on what constitutes defamation, but what they said about Oliphant is – contra your assertion – almost certainly non-defamatory. I know it wouldn’t be as sharp a critique without, but in the nit-picking spirit, I thought it’d be worth pointing out that defamatory statements are usually statements that can be proven true or false. If a reasonable person could hold such an opinion – and I think a reasonable person could consider a Jewish star with fangs to be an attack on Judaism – then it’s probably not defamatory, at least in the legal sense.
Not to defend the ADL or the state of Israel, but the star of david has always also stood for Jews as a collectivity and Judaism as a religion, right? This is why Jewish activists in the Palestine solidairty movement have taken issue with the star-of-david-morphs-into-swastika graphic you used to see at rallies a lot, and what with the fascist jackbootery this cartoon’s trying to do the same thing, only in throws in fangs (invoking the jew=vampire coupling which is deeply anti-semitic, and the presence of Palestinian madonna and child as victims of Jewish calumny is similarly troubling) and collapsing, whether intentionally or not, all Jewery under the sign of Israel. Basically I think those of us who are anti-zionist, pro-palestine, whatever need a new and better iconography of critique than this. That said, I think Abe Foxman and the ADL are pretty terrible and I wish the U.S. media devoted half the attention they give to him to the daily struggles of Palestinians in the occupied territories, which I would like to think, but can’t quite bring myself to, that this cartoon is trying, and failing, to do.