In 2006, Moroccan Abdollah Derkaoui won first place at Iran’s Holocaust cartoon exhibition. Entrants from Brazil and France tied for second.
The exhibit was an attempt at responding to cartoons of Muhammad published the previous year in a Danish newspaper. Many Muslims considered the cartoons published by the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten a violation of traditions prohibiting images of their prophet. The Tehran daily Hamshahri, a co-sponsor of the exhibition, said it wanted to test the West’s tolerance for drawings about the Nazi killing of 6 million Jews in World War II. The entries on display came from nations including United States, Indonesia and Turkey.
In response, two Israelis, Eyal Zusman and Amitai Sandy, launched an “Israeli Anti-Semitic Cartoon Contest.” According to Sandy, the goal was to find “the best, sharpest, most offensive Jew hating cartoons ever published! No Iranian will beat us on our home turf!”
Although their first impulse was to draw cartoons of Muslim mullahs, they quickly decided to fall back on the longstanding Jewish tradition of self-deprecation in an attempt to fight bigotry with humor. The winning entry, “Fiddler on the Roof” by Aron Katz, depicts a Jew fiddling while planes crash into the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.
Needless to say, Zusman and Sandy’s attempt to fight hate with humor proved controversial within the Jewish community. A spokespeople for both the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem and the Simon Wiesenthal Center expressed misgivings about the initiative. Overall, however, there was no genuine outcry against the contest—an indication to Sandy of Jewish strength and self-confidence.
About a third of the 150 entries were disqualified either because they were of poor quality or because they made fun of Jesus or Muhammad.