Jewish Leaders Not Amused
In a parody of Hitler and the Holocaust, cartoonist Gustavo Sela drew “FieSSta.” The cartoon introduces Jews in a concentration camp asked to participate at a dance. They object, citing their hopeless situation. “Do you know that they kill us in gas chambers and make soap with us?” the Jews exclaim. Hitler enters the scene and urges the Jews to take advantage of the opportunity. “Life is short,” he sardonically remarks. “If [the Jews] are relaxed, the soap will be better,” the Fuhrer says while later thanking the DJ.
The cartoon was printed in the Argentine Pagina/12 newspaper, and received heavy criticism from Latin American Jewish authorities.
“We hope the Argentine government swiftly and strongly utilizes its anti-discrimination law to take the appropriate route to quell this and any further anti-Semitic behavior,” said B’nai B’rith International President Allan J. Jacobs. The Jewish advocacy group highlighted this instance as indicative of the global anti-Semitic climate. “This cartoon strip is beyond offensive—it is frightening. It epitomizes the blatant, ongoing anti-Semitism that still exists, in 2012, throughout the world,” added Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin.
The Simon Wiesenthal Center, another prominent Jewish organization, noted the incongruity between the cartoon and the attending newspaper. “This so-called parody is beyond offensive. As a newspaper that has been a champion for human rights and fight against racism since its foundation, we expect the editors of Pagina/12 to immediately and publically apologize for this distortion of history,” explained Sergio Widder, the director of the Center’s Latin American division. “Pagina/12 ‘Young Culture’ section would better serve its youthful readers by teaching them the importance of preserving the memory of the Nazi genocide through remembrance, education and prevention of human rights violations,” he clarified.
Calling the latest incident a “provocation,” Guillermo Borger of the Asociación Mutual Israelita Argentina (AMIA) said the cartoon struck a personal chord. “As a son of Holocaust survivors, I will fight against this type of shameful provocation until the final consequence.” The AMIA is recognized as one of Argentina’s main Jewish community centers.
The Pagina/12 apologized Friday for the cartoon and expressed their “[regret for] the pain and distress [it] caused.” The cartoon was printed in the newspaper on Thursday, January 19.
Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Wiesenthal Center acknowledged the apology, but said the cartoon left an indelible impression. “We welcome the apology, but we remain deeply angered, especially because the comic was published on the 70th anniversary of the Wannsee Conference (where Nazi officials launched the Final Solution) and just days before the International Holocaust Remembrance Day.”