Politico Punch-Card Cartoon Absurdly Suggests Israel Gets a “Free Pass”

As CAMERA’s Sean Durns has documented, Politico has long adopted “a narrative that demonizes Israel and treats Palestinians as oppressed victims without independent agency.” And while oppression of Palestinians is regularly used to demonize Israel, in a cartoon published this month, Politico also used oppression of Jews to demonize Israel.

The cartoon depicted a punch-card, such as those you would use to get a free sandwich or coffee, that said, “Acknowledging centuries of pogroms, anti-semitism, and the Holocaust, Israel is granted a free pass.” The card is riddled with punches far in excess of the allotted boxes, and the punched-out holes litter the ground beneath it.

Let’s start with the obvious: Nothing could be further from the truth than the claim that Israel is getting a “free pass.” It’s an absurd suggestion. The chair of urban warfare studies at West Point, John Spencer, has shown that “Israel has taken more measures to avoid needless civilian harm than virtually any other nation that’s fought an urban war.” In addition, Israel has delivered 303,000 tons of aid into the territory, even as Hamas commandeers much of that aid. Yet, Israel continues to be subjected to a relentless double standard, blamed not only for the civilian casualties that are inevitable in a war that it did not start, but also for the casualties caused by its own enemies, such as occurred at Al Ahli hospital. Have cartoonist Matt Wuerker and Politico forgotten that Israel was hauled to defend itself at the International Court of Justice even as Israeli hostages, including children, were still held captive in Gaza? That hardly sounds like a free pass.

More insidiously: While the cartoon doesn’t go as far as Holocaust inversion, it is related to Holocaust inversion in that it uses the Holocaust “as a stick to beat” Israel. The cartoon suggests that Israel cynically manipulates the Holocaust and antisemitism for its own gain, and the many, many holes seem to suggest that these supposed excuses are worn out. But in fact, while the centuries of European pogroms, expulsions and antisemitism that culminated in the Holocaust were very real, they have nothing at all to do with current war. The war that is being fought now, as Wuerker and Politico seem to ignore, is a response to 1200 people murdered, tortured, and raped, and 240 more taken hostage, in a savage attack on Israel on October 7, and Hamas’s credible threats that, if it is allowed to remain in power, “there will be a second, third, and fourth” such attack. 

StopAntisemitism called the cartoon “Sickening,” but it remains on Politico’s site without apology.

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