Anti-Semitic Symbolic Warfare

The venomous imagery and language that targets America, Israel, Jews and Trump supporters.

The April 25th international edition of the New York Times published an anti-Semitic cartoon that portrayed a blind President Trump being led by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu depicted as a dog with a Star of David collar around its neck. After widespread criticism for perpetuating anti-Semitic tropes the New York Times apologized and deleted the cartoon. Which only brought more attention to it.

Cartoons, words, images, symbols and gestures that individually seem trivial, collectively reveal a pattern of stealth anti-Semitism. These continual incidents are casually explained as anti-Semitic tropes. The use of the word trope minimizes the threat, sounds like an unintended blunder and sugarcoats the covert agenda. These are not simply anti-Semitic tropes they are symbolic warfare tactics used in global information operations that target America, Israel, Jews and Trump supporters. These tactics were successfully used by Hitler and subsequently adopted by Islamists. Symbolic language that evokes anti-Semitic conspiracy theories are skillfully being used by Congresswomen Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib and sanctioned by democrat apologists to incite hatred against Jews, Israel and President Trump.   

Islamist anti-Semitism adopted many Nazi themes and symbols in their propaganda including the strategy of depicting Jews as dirty, filthy, impure life-threatening agents of disease and corruption. Both Nazi ideology and Islam are based on doctrines of purity resulting in the use of specific language, symbols and fears to perpetuate anti-Semitic hatred. Stigmatizing Jews as filthy impure dogs is effective because Islamic purity rules inculcate a particularly potent version of a moral revulsion against the unclean other.

Islamic purification rules function to protect true believers from both physical and spiritual contamination by designating specific things as taboo and impure. These impure taboo things are referred to as najis. There are two kinds of najis: inherent, which cannot be cleansed, and acquired, which become unclean through contact with an inherently impure thing. Things that are inherently najis and cannot be purified include: alcohol, dogs, swine, dead animals that were not ritually slaughtered, blood, urine, semen, feces, milk of animals whose meat is forbidden, dead bodies and unbelievers. Anti-Semitic images depicting politicians as dogs or pigs are chosen to evoke visceral emotions of disgust, impurity and uncleanness.

Congresswomen Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib understand the fear of impurity and have weaponized it. For this reason, symbols of Islamic impurity and the symbolism of contagion are found throughout anti-Semitic propaganda in both overt and subliminal images and language. Images of blood, pigs and dogs, all inherently impure unclean things, are often used by Islamists and frequently misinterpreted and perpetuated by Western Newspapers like the New York Times. Numerous political cartoons in which enemies are depicted or referred to as a dog, ape or pig are symbolic warfare tactics designed to evoke subliminal disgust emotions that evoke fear and incite violence.

This visceral reaction appeals to the unusual and accepted Islamic idea that Jews are descended from apes and pigs. For many this is not just symbolic or figurative derogatory speech but based on beliefs that Allah turned disobedient Jews into apes and pigs and that modern Jews are literally descended from them. Depicting Jews as the descendants of apes and pigs is extremely widespread in public discourse in the Arab and Islamic worlds which is why the New York Times cartoon depicted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as a dog, symbolizing inherent unclean evil.

Symbolic warfare is most successful when evoking deep-seated feelings of disgust and arousing fears of contagious impurity. This is evident in the use of shoes in Muslim protests. Shoes are one of the quintessential symbols of Islamist impurity and are often used to insult politicians. Throughout the Muslim world shoes are considered ritually impure, they protect the person from coming in direct contact with feces, urine and other designated najis. They are dirty in more than the material sense of the word; they are the embodiment of spiritual impurity.  Shoes are often used in Islamist protests; held in the air, attached to, thrown at and standing on images of politicians. Images of President Trump and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with shoe prints and protesters standing on their faces is a very common form of protest. Throwing shoes at someone is the epitome of humiliation, the Western equivalent of having feces or urine thrown at you. Shoes spread spiritual disease; hence the intended target signifies infection by coming in contact with the unclean footwear, he is the epitome of impurity, the personification of defilement, and the embodiment of evil contamination. The target is viewed as dirtier and more impure than the shoes. This was epitomized in December 2008 when an Iraqi journalist Muntadhar al-Zeidi threw his shoes at President George W. Bush during a news conference in Baghdad, Iraq and shouted "This is a farewell kiss, you dog…"  President Bush was quick enough to duck and was not hit by the shoes but symbolically the incident was a successful strike and achieved its goal of insulting the President of the United States. In fact, it was a double insult because calling the President a dog also references impurity and uncleanness.

For Islamists, words are often meant as curse words in the traditional meaning of the term, specifically the belief that cursing someone will bring actual harms. Referring to non-believers as dirty filthy dogs and other derogatory unclean words is more than just an insult. It is a form of word magic that transforms the person into a lower status of less than human, an impurity that must be eradicated. If it were simply an insult, the name-calling could take the form of more mundane expressions such as stupid or ignorant infidel. In magical thinking words have power, and the anti-Semitic use of specific words marks the unbeliever as the polluted other.

Anti-Semitism goes beyond perpetuating tropes when it equates Jews with impurity. Impurity is symbolically contagious in many cultural contexts, including that of Nazism and Islam. Impurity signifies the other and is experienced both physically and spiritually as a mysterious and harmful substance of the outside world that keeps attacking, contaminating, defiling and desacralizing the sacred world of true believers. True believers have to protect themselves and their communities against this threat of defilement and to get rid of it once the contamination has taken place. Individuals have to cleanse themselves by means of various purification rites and cathartic practices, while communities cleanse themselves by excluding, expelling, or proscribing the things and people whose presence defiles the community. Those unclean things are Jews, Christians, Trump and Israel supporters.

Combined with the fundamental belief that impurity must be cleansed, relegating the other to dirt and disease makes it easier to commit violence. Symbolically, instead of harming a person you are just removing dirt, taking out the garbage. Name-calling prior to and during attacks symbolically functions as a method of transforming violence into a sacred cleansing ritual. There have been many incidents of anti-Semitic violence where the offender used phrases like dirty Jew to demonize the victims and legitimize the cruelty. This form of cursing transforms any potential feelings of remorse into righteousness.

The symbolism of blood in anti-Semitic media often appears in political cartoons, posters and in television programs as part of the classic blood libel myth that alleges that Jews murder and drink the blood of children for ritual purposes. Since human blood is intrinsically najis, blood libel represents the epitome of impurity. Dogs, pigs and blood are overt symbols of the impure other. A more insidious form of propaganda involves stigmatizing the other as infectious disease. It is a calculated tactic to evoke fears of contagion, death and annihilation. Contemporary infection libels are found in anti-Semitic and Palestinian television, cartoons and news reports that characterize Jews and Israel as a disease and a cancer. The symbolic warfare campaign to stigmatize Jews as infectious disease intensified in 2009 when Muslim and Arab media exploited the swine flu epidemic. Symbolically the swine flu was the perfect disease, a combination of an inherently impure animal and an infectious illness. Anti-Israel swine flu cartoons appeared in Arab and Muslim newspapers in Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and the United Kingdom. A prominent theme of the cartoons was depicting Israeli leaders with faces of pigs. The incident was characterized by the media as classic anti-Semitic insults, but the subliminal message evoked fear of impurity from diseased others.

The fear of infectious impurity corresponds with several full-blown Muslim conspiracy theories claiming that the West infected Muslims with diseases. Allegations include Jews deliberately infecting Palestinians with AIDS and drug addictions, Americans lacing polio vaccines with anti-fertility agents to sterilize Muslims, that Egypt’s peace treaty with Israel resulted in increased instances of hepatitis, cancer and kidney infections and that America infected Africans with AIDS through Christian missionary groups by putting the virus in medicine used to inoculate people. The conspiracy theory that Americans were lacing polio vaccines to sterilize Muslims resulted in an epidemic of polio in sixteen Muslim countries in Africa and Asia where polio had been eradicated.

Anti-Semitic symbolic warfare is flourishing. Once the trope, cartoon, image or conspiracy theory is injected into the internet, apologies only serve to spread the propaganda further. Anti-Semitism is the real highly contagious virus and U.S. Congresswomen, their democrat apologists and propaganda arms like the New York Times are all carriers of the disease.  


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