Posts Tagged ‘Holocaust’
The hero of “freedom of speech”, boycotted by the corporate, mainstream media that are irresistible against the astringent truth: this is the most precise and accurate introduction which I can present about Carlos Latuff. Born in the suburbs of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, he is an artist of conscience whose artistic commitment and morality prevented him from becoming the pawn of imperialism.
Carlos Latuff is a world-renowned cartoonist who has long brought into existence artistic works and cartoons in which the footsteps of creativity, novelty, intelligence and decency can be traced noticeably. He has never been given the opportunity to showcase his matchless cartoons in the New York Times, Guardian, Washington Post, BBC or CNN; however, the narrow hallways of personal blogs and independent media outlets which allowed his cartoons to breathe in the atmosphere of publicity, made him a man of genuineness and reality, known by those who seek something beyond the outdated, obsolete propaganda of “all options are on the table”.
Carlos Latuff has drawn numerous cartoons which depict the pains of oppressed nations around the world; from the Palestinians being suffocated under the Israeli occupation to the Iranians receiving the spates of psychological operation co-manufactured by the White House and Tel Aviv.
Here is the complete text of my interview with Carlos Latuff, conducted for Iran’s best-selling newspaper Jame-Jam, where we elaborately discussed his intellectual mission and the prospect of his artistic trajectory.
Kourosh Ziabari: Dear Carlos; it seems that you’ve dedicated your entire mission to independent, freelance journalism and one can clearly figure out that you are not usually paid in lieu of what you draw for the magazines, newspapers and websites since a complete set of your cartoons and caricatures are available on your website for free. Do you accede to draw cartoons which are contrary to your ideological mindset should you be offered remarkable, irresistible payments?
Carlos Latuff: No way! I will only make artworks according my own Leftist beliefs. I don’t trade ideology for money. I work for Leftist trade union (workers) press since 1990, that’s what I make for living. Mainstream media would never pay me for making anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist artworks. But I have what I call of “artistic activism”, producing cartoons and making them available on the Web for free of charge reproduction; cartoons with a different point of view from the Western mainstream media; cartoons exposing what Michael Moore would call of “the awful truth”. I already refused payments for my drawings about Palestine. Solidarity can’t be measured by dollars.
KZ: You’ve received serious death threats from the Zionist circles and Israeli groups a number of times. Would you please explain for us a little about the details of these threats and the consequential events that followed them? Have you ever thought of putting aside your professional and artistic mission in order to preserve your safe, tranquil life?
CL: In 2006 a website associated to Likud (Likudnik) published a long article about me, my art, my support to Palestinians and labeled me as an agent at the service of a supposed “Iranian propaganda machine”, comparing me with Nazi propagandists. The author of the article argued why Israel didn’t take care of me before and urged readers to take steps against me. Let me be straight, I really don’t care about threats. Along the Palestinian cause I also support human rights organizations against police brutality in Brazil. This kind of activism alone could put me in high risk of life. But, as I said, I don’t care; I will continue with my artistic support, ’cause if Zionists worldwide are pissed off about my cartoons, it’s because I’m doing something right. Death can stop me yes, but not my cartoons. That’s why I make them run free around the world through Internet.
KZ: You belong to a prosperous country which is the 8th economic power of the world and the 10th trade partner of the United States. Brazil also maintains normal ties with Israel and this is something which many anti-war and anti-imperialism activists dislike. Coming from such a country, you profoundly grasped the essence of oppressed nations’ suffering and sympathized with them wholeheartedly. How did you rise from Brazil and came to assist the oppressed nations?
CL: I grown up in the suburbs of Rio and my parents worked hard to give me study and a humble but decent life. Being the 8th economic power makes no difference to the ordinary people in Brazil. We have poverty, corruption, criminal and police violence, influent and strong landowners in countryside, people dying of dengue fever and malaria, and a mainstream media which is always trying to convince public opinion that everything is ok with capitalism. As someone living in a Third World country I can’t turn a blind eye to this situation here and in other parts of the world. Last year I was in Palestinian refugee camps in Jordan and Lebanon, places very similar to Brazilian slums (favelas). It wasn’t hard to realize that the language of poverty is universal, as universal must be the solidarity with people in need.
KZ: You’ve for years cooperated with a number of media outlets in the Western countries and can precisely estimate the veracity of the slogan of “freedom of expression” in the countries who introduce themselves as the harbingers of liberty and tolerance. I clearly remember the spates of verbal and political attacks on the artists who had participated in Iran’s International Holocaust Cartoon Competition. Even the then United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan had condemned the contest and this could simply demonstrate the lopsidedness of “freedom” which they claim to be the pioneers thereof. What’s your idea about that? Are the western media outlets really free?
CL: Still today I’ve been accused of denying Holocaust because of that artwork for which I won the second place in the Iranian cartoon contest. It’s funny since the cartoon shows a Palestinian elderly wearing a concentration camp uniform, which not only affirms the existence of the Nazi Holocaust as well as making a comparison between it and the suffering of the Palestinians. I believe that this contest had exposed the Western’s double standard. When you ridicule and attack Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), Islam or Muslims, then this is called “satire”, “humor”, “freedom of speech”, whatever. Joking about Islam is pretty acceptable. Islamophobia is popular in the US and Europe, specially after September 11. However the same freedom you have for making cartoons about Islam and its Prophet you won’t have while dealing with Holocaust and Israel. If you dare draw Israeli soldiers killing Palestinians (isn’t a fact?), you will be automatically labeled as anti-Semitic. While Muhammad cartoons were wide spread in Europe, Holocaust cartoons weren’t not reproduced in any European newspaper.
KZ: Your stance towards Iran’s nuclear program (Iran intends to meet its energy, electricity needs through nuclear reactors) and Israel’s nuclear program (Israel possess up to 200 nuclear warheads, according to the Federation of American Scientists) is delicately accurate and specific, indicating your extensive acquaintance with the regional equations and developments. Iran is being lethally pressured to halt its civilian nuclear program and Israel has been unconditionally safeguarded by Washington to keep up with its military atomic program. What’s your take on this?
CL: In fact all this turmoil about Iranian nuclear program has more to do with the fear of US, Europe and Israel of having a country in Middle East with nuclear capability. It will change the geopolitics in the region, since no Arab country was ever allowed by US of having anything nuclear. Only Israel can have not only nuclear plants but also nukes, immune to inspections and international law. If Iran will develop nuclear capabilities for civilian or military use, it doesn’t matter. The point is, if US, Europe and Israel are so concerned about threats to peace, why don’t they start proposing sanctions against Pakistan and India, since both countries have a nuclear arms race since long time? Because both countries are allies of Washington? Why not a single word about the Israeli nuclear program? Why Mordecai Vanunu is prevented to speak about it?
KZ: Most of your critics accuse you of arising anti-Semitic sentiments by drawing cartoons which condemn the State of Israel and its leaders for the atrocities and felonies they commit. Is this the case that you’re opposed to Jews as the followers of a divine religion, or do you simply go up against the expansionist Zionists who commit crimes against humanity and massacre the defenseless people of Palestine?
CL: I’m not a religious man, and none of my cartoons deal with Judaism. You won’t find any of my artworks attacking the Jewish. My issue with Israel and their supporters is only about politics, imperialism. Even not being Muslim, I do support Muslims against Islamophobia, since I can’t agree with prejudice against religion. Of course anything that may be slightly perceived as criticism towards Israel will be associated with hatred towards Jews. This old trick is applied to anyone who dares speak against Israeli apartheid. But everyday more activists understand this misuse of anti-Semitism and keep the struggle regardless of the false allegations and smear campaigns from Zionists.
KZ: Have the global mainstream media outlets (the New York Times, Washington Post, Guardian, Los Angeles Times, BBC, Reuters, Associated Press and so forth) which universally rule the public opinions ever published your cartoons? Why don’t such media outlets which assert to be the pioneers of freedom of expression accept allowing the publication of disparate viewpoints which are contrary to their focal approach?
CL: Reuters made a video interview with me last year about my art and views. I had some of my cartoons shown on Al Jazeera and George Galloway show at Press TV, but this is an exception. Usually only Arab media outlets are interested in my opinions. Western mainstream media isn’t interested in giving space to a Leftist artist who supports people’s struggle in Palestine, Iraq and elsewhere. But in a way or another, I find a place to make my opinions visible. Internet is my best ally. You see, even not being a famous artist promoted by mainstream media, you and your newspaper know about me and my cartoons. Internet has broken the obstacles imposed by corporate media. And I won’t make concessions for mere 15 minutes of fame; will keep fidelity with my principles.
KZ: The subjugated people of Palestine and other countries which have been subject to the brutality of imperialism throughout the history will be encouraged and hopeful when they find conscientious artists like you sympathizing with them. Have you ever felt the courage and valor you present to the people of Palestine with your artistic endeavors?
CL: I’m very suspicious for talking about the Palestinians. I have never seen such a brave and courageous people like them. I started making cartoons about Palestinians since my trip to West Bank in 1999 and since then my sympathy for their cause only grow up. After my recent visit to Jordan and Lebanon, invited by Al Hannouneh Society for Popular Culture, I realized that my relation with Palestinians is not only political. I have pure love for that people.
KZ: Please tell us about your latest activities. How was the experience of winning a prize in the Iran-based International Holocaust Cartoon Competition? Do you like to come to Iran once again and touch the pains and difficulties of the Iranian people in person?
CL: Usually I don’t participate in contests, since I’m not interested in the prizes and stuff. The purpose of my art is supporting social movements, rather than feeding my own ego. But I saw the Holocaust cartoon competition as a timely opportunity for making visual comment about Palestinian suffering. In that occasion, I was invited by my good friend Massoud Tabatabai to attend the prize award ceremony in Teheran but unfortunately I wasn’t able to travel. But of course if I had another chance, I would be more than glad to visit Iran.
Posted by Gilad Atzmon at 2:37:00 AM
Carlos Latuff Cartoons
West Bank Concentration Camp
From Politics Unspun
Posted: 25 Jan 2010 03:05 AM PST
“Good evening, and welcome to WTFN’s inaugural Oscar preview show. I’m your host Lance Boyle coming to you from Los Angeles. The ceremony may still be weeks away but there’s a lot to talk about. Joining us in The Cutting Room is veteran movie columnist and critic Miriam Kale.”
(Lance Boyle turns to face Miriam Kale. They are sitting in high-backed upholstered chairs across from each other. A black coffee table is between them and all around are enlarged stills and posters of the nominated movies.)
Before we get into the movies themselves, Miriam, what’s your opinion on the Academy’s decision to include 10 best-picture nominees instead of the usual five.
Miriam Kale: “In a word—embarrassing. It amounts to handicapping the big Hollywood studios because their movies can’t compete with the best independent and foreign films. In contrast to inventive, entertaining films like last year’s winner Slumdog Millionaire (a British film shot in India), Hollywood churns out an insipid diet of zombies, vampires, cartoonish action, angels, devils, torture, comic books, teen sex farces, sequels, prequels, remakes and bastardizations of TV shows. Recycling may be good for the planet, but in a creative medium like movies, it’s an admission of intellectual bankruptcy. All the Academy did was debase the award.”LB: “Surely, you don’t think all Hollywood films are recycled dross.”
MK: “No, of course not. Last year’s The Devil Wears Prada from 20th Century Fox was a deserving nominee, especially because of Meryl Streep’s performance as tyrannical magazine editrix Miranda Priestly. My point is that so few award-worthy movies are being made that the odds of one being nominated for, much less winning, the Best Picture Oscar are slim to none. Unfortunately, rather than rely on the studios to improve the quality of their movies, the Academy changed the rules to give the illusion that such movies are worth consideration, which is kind of fitting for an industry based on presenting illusions.”
LB: “What happened to Hollywood?”
MK: “The same thing that happened to the big U.S. automakers: it fixated on short-term profits, became afraid to take risks, and lost respect for its market. Hollywood studios still think that the average 12-year-old boy is its key demographic. On the other hand, independent and foreign filmmakers are more willing to make intelligent movies that have the grace, wit and sophistication to attract an adult audience. Such thinking does not compute in Hollywood where studios have gone to great lengths to inure filmgoers to such things as grace, wit and sophistication. Let’s face it: where else but in Hollywood could Adam Sandler have a career, or great films like Carrie, Psycho and The Manchurian Candidate be remade into inferior knockoffs?”
LB: “The Academy said the doubling of the Best Picture nominees is just an experiment. Do you think it will continue past this year?”
MK: “Sadly, yes. Once you handicap an industry it’s nearly impossible to get it to stand on its own two feet.”
LB: “Well, we’ll have to wait until 2011 to see if your prediction comes true, but right know I’d like to move on to the Academy’s newest category, one that should be getting more attention than it has so far—The Leni Riefenstahl Award for Excellence in Propaganda. First, Miriam, tell us how this award came about.”
MK: “Two years ago, the Academy came to the belated realization that holocaust movies and documentaries are getting a disproportionate amount of nominations just because of their subject matter. Moreover, many of these films are thematically repetitious, stereotypical and historically dubious. They don’t so much present historical entertainment as they do historical dogma. As such, they constitute propaganda. Of course, you can criticize any film genre, but since the U.S. movie industry is dominated by a hierarchy of Jews, many of whom support Israel, the Academy felt that holocaust movie genre was compromising the aesthetic and moral integrity of the awards. Therefore, it decided to create a special category for holocaust-themed propaganda—‘The Leni’ for short.”
LB: “Leni Riefenstahl, for those who may not remember, was a great 20th-century German filmmaker, but because she portrayed Hitler and the Nazi Party sympathetically, her movies have become scorned as fascist propaganda.
MK: “Sad, really, because her films were otherwise excellent, as evidenced by her numerous awards.”
LB: “So Miriam, what’s your pick?”
MK: “Inglourious Basterds—no contest!”
LB: “I had a feeling you’d say that, but…”
MK: “Uh, just one thing first, Lance…”
LB: “Sure, go ahead.”
MK: “The Academy created The Leni precisely to avoid the kind of tasteless spectacle we saw at the Screen Actors Guild Awards. By honouring Inglourious Basterds SAG enphasized the image of Hollywood as a holocaust propaganda factory. To all intents and purposes, SAG seems to be forcing us to respect Inglourious Basterds as a legitimate film, rather than the Grand Guignol schlock it really is. I have had to sit through scores of World War II/holocaust films in my career, and none can compare to this one’s reprehensible dishonesty. Shame on SAG!”
LB: “On the surface, it seems that Inglourious Basterds is a strange choice for The Leni, since one of the award’s defining criteria is to serve Israel by promoting sympathetic or even pathetic images of Jews. It shows Jews committing torture and dehumanizing their enemy with unapologetic, sadistic glee. Does this film not debunk the Jew-as- victim stereotype and therefore undermine its propaganda value?”
MK: “Excellent observation, Lance, and I share your ambivalence, but the needs of Israeli propaganda have changed. The Jew-as-victim shtick is still important, but Israel can no longer rely on it alone. The Internet has exploded the illusions of Israel as a poor, victimized state and bastion of democratic virtue. Israel has been forced to recognize that it can no longer pretend to be something it’s not and expect to be believed. Inglourious Basterds depicts the changing face of Israeli propaganda.”
LB: “Which is?”
MK: “A country that commits torture and dehumanizes other human beings with unapologetic, sadistic glee. This is why Inglourious Basterds is so deserving of The Leni. Even though it is yet another unnecessary remake, it normalizes Jewish cruelty to make it easier for the world to accept it in real life. I’d like to show a brief clip from early in the film that makes this point. The leader, Aldo “the Apache,” played by Brad Pitt gives orders to the basterds: (They turn to look at the film screen behind them.)
Aldo: “We will be cruel to the Germans, and through our cruelty they will know who we are. They will find the evidence of our cruelty in the disemboweled, dismembered, and disfigured bodies of their brothers we leave behind us. Every man under my command owes me 100 Nazi scalps.” (The screen retracts.)
LB: “How does depicting and celebrating Jewish cruelty aid Israeli propaganda?”
MK: “If we can feel nothing for Germans who are tortured, because we have been brought up to view them as ‘evil,’ then it is easier for us not to feel anything for Arabs who are tortured, because Israel spreads the propaganda that they are ‘evil.’ For propaganda to succeed, it must control and politicize language to make independent thought impossible. Israel cannot expect to get away with an atrocity like Cast Lead if the world persists in viewing Palestinian Arabs as human beings with inalienable human rights. Inglourious Basterds helps Israel do this by making a cruel mockery of human compassion. As it is the Western world has done virtually nothing to punish Israel for its unprovoked slaughter, or demanded that Egypt stop building a wall to prevent humanitarian aid from entering the Gaza Strip.”
LB: “Let me read to you the following statement from Quentin Tarantino: ‘When you watch all the different Nazi movies, all the TV movies, it’s sad, but isn’t it also frustrating? Did everybody walk into the boxcar? Didn’t somebody do something?’ Isn’t Tarantino trying to show compassion for the Jews who are about to be murdered?”
MK: “That’s what were supposed to think, but in fact Tarantino cares far less about the Yiddish victims of Nazi Germany than he does about slaking the atavistic bloodlust of his zionist producers. Here’s what Lawrence Bender said to Tarantino: ‘As your producing partner, I thank you, and as a member of the Jewish tribe, I thank you, motherfucker, because this movie is a fucking Jewish wet dream.’”
LB: “What a horrid, perverse thing to say! How could anyone take pleasure in torture! What did Bob and Harvey Weinstein have to say. After all, it was their production company that made the movie?”
MK: “They also got off on the Jewish revenge theme. Significantly, though, many Jews were deeply offended by it, and some even walked out of screenings! But this fact should not be seen as a failure on Tarantino’s part; rather it shows how he has evolved—or devolved, if you like—from being a self-indulgent filmmaker into a willing propagandist for Jewish fascism. Then we have to look at a possible motive for the Weinsteins. Their company is such dire financial straits that they need a major hit in the worst way. What better gold mine than a farcical Holocaust story where Jews are shown to be sadistic ‘heroes’ who go medieval on Nazis. This illustrates what I said earlier about holocaust movies getting unfair, automatic recognition.”
LB: “Clearly, this a perfect example of why The Leni is necessaary, but I’d pick up on a point you just made: How do you make the leap from Jews fighting Nazis to Jewish fascism?”
MK: “Remember Aldo’s speech? Tarantino wants us to believe that the holocaust might not have occurred if Jews has been as cruel as the Nazis. First of all, this idea monstrously stupid. You might as well say that unarmed Palestinians deserve their own fate because they aren’t as murderous and cruel as the Israeli military. Second, it is blatantly anti-Semitic, to use a pet phrase of zionist propaganda!”
LB: “You’ve lost me.”
MK: “If we take Tarantino’s mission statement at face value, then he declares that Jews, not Nazis, were ultimately responsible for the holocaust. He stands the Jew-as-victim image on its head to give us the Jew as moral coward.”
LB: “But this does undermine Israeli propaganda. The idea that Nazis are uniquely responsible for the holocaust is a fundamental dogma, as is the idea that all Jews were victims of the Nazis. Has Tarantino not given ammunition to those who challenge the official holocaust narrative?”
MK: “In a general sense, yes, but as Bender said, the film is ‘a Jewish wet dream.’ The orgy of cruelty overrides any such thoughtful consideration of what is actually being depicted. This was a major risk both for the Weinsteins and Tarantino, because if people do stop to analyze Inglourious Basterds, they will see that, in effect, it justifies the holocaust! And by justifying the holocaust, the film reinforces the propaganda that Israel is necessary.”
LB: “Let me see if I get this straight: In the old propaganda, Jews are depicted as victims of the holocaust, and Israeli exploits this image to blackmail the world into silence about its treatment of Palestinians; in the new propaganda, the holocaust is downplayed as a historical event and Jews are reinvented as kosher Nazis?!”
MK: “Well, not kosher, exactly. The Jews that supported Hitler were anything but!”
LB: “Jews that supported Hitler?”
MK: “Lance, the great failure of holocaust movies is that they present an absolute moral dichotomy between Nazis and Jews that didn’t exist. A tiny minority of Jews, zionist Jews, actively collaborated with the Nazis because they also wanted to rid Europe of its Jewish population. The only difference was that zionists wanted ‘their people’ to go to Palestine. In exchange for Nazi support, they abetted the suffering of other Jews: they betrayed the Jewish resistance, helped the Nazis sabotage negative press reports, and prevented the vast majority of Jews from fleeing to other lands. The more these non-zionist Jews suffered, the easier it would be for zionists to force the world to agree to a Jewish state after the war. In effect, zionist Jews needed the holocaust, which is why they helped Hitler fill and administer the concentration camps. So, yes, Jews supported Hitler—fascist Jews, that is.
LB: “Still, though, the Basterds are killing Nazis, right? They’re not helping them.”
MK: “True, but the Nazis are mere props. They don’t matter because we’re supposed to identify with the killers and their motives, not with their victims and their suffering. By making torture look slick and morally defensible, Inglourious Basterds perverts our sense of justice, and that’s how it serves Israeli propaganda. Just replace Nazi soldiers with Arab civilians and the film imitates life. Whether he intended to or not, Tarantino has equated the murderers of Jews with the victims of Jewish murder in such a way that the torture and gleeful sadism in each case are contextually identical.
LB: “It didn’t entirely work, though. As you said, many Jews walked out of the screenings. Even if the producers loved the movie, its propaganda value seems weak.”
MK: “Ironically, Jewish alienation enhances the film’s propaganda value because it reinforces the new propaganda. Israel knows that its most effective critics are Jews: Richard Goldstone, Richard Falk, Ilan Pappé, Philip Weiss, Akiva Eldar, Norman Finkelstein, just to name just a few. The film is a declaration that the fascist Jew is superior to the moral Jew, and that the moral Jew is an enemy of Israel. If Tarantino and the Weinsteins wanted to make a legitimate film about preventing the nazi persecution of Jews, here is the film they should have made. (As he says this, the movie screen behind them comes down and a movie poster is shown.)
LB: (He looks at the poster and is a little startled.) “I don’t think Hollywood is ready for that.”
MK: “Of course is isn’t. It would be an indictment of Hollywood’s role as a zionist collaborator as well as a devastating refutation of Israel’s right to exist. Nevertheless, I suspect that Israel’s defenders would find a way to gush over it.”
LB: “We’re almost out of time, Miriam. Any last words?”
MK: “Yes. Appearances to the contrary, Inglourious Basterds is the face of the new propaganda and deserves The Leni. Also, since Avatar will clean up at the Oscars, the Academy could not have picked a more preposterous year to expand the list of nominees.”
LB: “Let’s pick it up there next time. Thanks for coming.”
MK: “Always a pleasure.”
LB: (To camera) Thanks for joining us. For Miriam Kale and our crew, I’m Lance Boyle. Good night!”