ECAJ and Jewish GLBTI community critical of cartoon

September 23, 2016 by J-Wire Staff
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The Executive Council of Australian Jewry executive director Peter Wertheim has commented on The Australian’s cartoon depicting Nazi storm-troopers in a uniform decided the colours of the GLBTI movement.

leakWertheim commented in a letter to The Australian: “It can be readily accepted that hyperbole is a stock in trade of any cartoonist, and Bill Leak is entitled to give satirical expression to his opinion that certain advocates of same sex marriage are intolerant to any contrary point of view. Yet to compare them to Nazi SS divisions does little credit to the point he was presumably trying to make.

To liken any advocate of same sex marriage to the perpetrators of mass murder and cruelty in the Nazi era is an inversion of history. In Nazi Germany homosexuality was a criminal offence. Approximately 100,000 suspected homosexuals were arrested and up to 15,000 of them were interned in concentration camps where many were tortured and killed.

As a political cartoonist, it is Bill Leak’s job to be provocative and controversial, but this was not his best work.”

The Convenor of Melbourne’s Aleph said: “On many levels it is disturbing to see a campaign to advance human rights being likened to part of the Nazi regime.  In no way is there a comparison between the tactics deployed by the Waffen-SS and those who are advocating for equality.

Although both Jews and homosexuals were victims of the Nazis, few non-Jewish homosexual people would have a direct connection to the horrors of Nazi regime, yet many Jews do.  For those of us who do, the memories are fresh and painful, often through stories of murdered relatives or families broken by the shattered lives of the survivors.  The knowledge of my mother’s uncles families who were exterminated in Treblinka is a pain I feel very deeply.

Michael Barnett

Michael Barnett

For queer Jews, the hurt caused by calculated and insensitive cartoon imagery is amplified and very real.  It affects us deeply, together with our families and friends.

Not so long ago it was illegal to be homosexual.  Now it is not illegal but we are still denied equality before the law.  People like Bill Leak, who exist in posititions of extreme privilege, appear incapable of understanding the impact of the discrimination we face every day, when the best they can do is vilify an entire group of people who simply want the same rights as everyone else.

Bill Leak has demonstrated extreme arrogance by depicting LGBTIQ people as collaborators in the worst type of evil possible.  We have done nothing to deserve his abuse.

When attacks like this come in, every day, from a variety of places, it feels to me like death by a million cuts.  Each attack hurts just a little more, and goes a little deeper.  It’s no wonder so many LGBTIQ people experience higher-than-average rates of mental health issues.  Now there’s a topic Bill Leak might like to explore.

My husband and I have been working in the activist space for many years and take a lot of abuse from those opposed to our relationship being treated with dignity and respect.  This cartoon is an affront and attack on us.  I’m deeply offended and I know that Gregory is hurt beyond belief that he has been depicted as a murdering Nazi for simply trying to have our marriage recognised in Australia.”

Comments

11 Responses to “ECAJ and Jewish GLBTI community critical of cartoon”
  1. Susie Danziger says:

    Reply to Paul Winter
    Paul winter is fortunate in that JWire is an available platform whereby oxygen is given to ignorance,innacurracy and homophobia/transphobia.
    Comparing protests of what he describes as the “LGBTI mob” to Nazis is a gross misappropriation.This is not the first time Mr Winter has seized an opportunity to express his tasteless and scornful views regarding LGBTI and marriage equality whilst denigrating them to be second class citizens,but I will try and delude myself into thinking that he will find other issues to focus on.

  2. Michael Baume says:

    While Aleph may “have done nothing to deserve his abuse” [Bill Leak’s cartoon], the same is simply not true about those LGBTIQ supporters whose actions (and words) in opposition to allowing the people to speak through a plebiscite certainly fully deserve the Leak treatment. Closing down dissent, as in the cancelled Sydney churches meeting, and the use of abusive emotional epithets like “homophobic” (even against people like me who support civil unions in order to guarantee same-sex partners rights, but not the appropriation of the word “marriage”) are major weapons of totalitarians. The greatest threat to Jewry is totalitarianism; the greatest defence against totalitarianism is freedom of speech. Bill Leak was right to link these totalitarian actions to an appalling totalitarian regime; it’s a warning we should all take seriously, rather than complain about.

    • Michael Barnett says:

      Michael, when it’s your rights we’re voting on, maybe you might have a greater degree of empathy. And if you believe some people deserve more rights than others, then the term “homophobic” fits.

  3. Paul Winter says:

    Peter Wertheim’s point about Bill Leak is apt: none should compare the Nazis to any movement in our society. Comparing LGBTIQ activists to Nazis trivialises the Shoah.

    At the same time ignoring the context, distorts the historical distortion. The cartoon was in response the LGBTIQ “activists” using intimidation to prevent Christian anti-gay groups holding a meeting in a hotel. That bully-boy tactic is indeed reminiscent of the Nazis, but it is also the tactics used by the Green-Left-Gay “militants”. It is basically illiberal and antidemocratic.

    Whoever is complaining that presumable he and his “husband” was hurt by the cartoon is all too ready to ignore the hurt felt by people who value and respect their traditional marriages, that of a man and a woman whose love brings forth new life. The fact that the writer complains that all he (I surmise) and his “husband” want is for their “marriage” to be recognised shows deep confusion. If he is married there is no need for recognition and if he is not married, he doesn’t have a “husband”. The very notion that two men are husbands or one is a wife is a nonsense. And all of this could be avoided if they simply asked for a partnership pact. But of course they don’t, because the LGBTIQ mob which sets itself apart wants to change society to make their life styles and gender fluidity not only be accepted but to be regarded as the social norm. That demand is unacceptable and even if the definition of marriage is changed, people like me will work to reverse that change and to stop fringe groups distorting society with their identity politics. If LGBTIQ people want respect, they must show respect for reasonable traditionalists.

  4. Paul GALY Galambos OAM says:

    The marchers with goose steps could be communist or fascist, it certainly projects an image, we will march right through your right ,to oppose our views , we will stomp on all opposing groups or ideas.

  5. Mike Gold says:

    Pretty weak from the ECAJ. Usually such prominent use of Nazi symbols brings out something more than just “not his best work.”

    • Michael Barnett says:

      The ECAJ expressed an unambiguous message of disapproval in the mainstream media. It conveyed the necessary sentiment.

      There is precedent in the tone they used here. Refer “ECAJ critical of Nazi comparison” on J-Wire, February 18, 2016.

      I’d be keen to see the sort of message they have had published in the mainstream media that you refer to, for purposes of comparison.

  6. Erica Edelman says:

    Is it possible that under 18C Bill Leak could get his come-uppence?
    Is this the thick end of the thin line?
    Offensive doesn’t even begin to describe this attempt
    At the worst of the worst
    An apology is never going to clear his bad name

  7. Michael Barnett says:

    The Anti-Defamation Commission provided the following response to Out In Perth:

    =====
    Dr Dvir Abramovich, Chairman of the Anti-Defamation Commission (ADC) said he understood why cartoonists are drawn to the Nazi analogy but described the comparison as repulsive.

    The ADC describes itself as one of Australia’s leading civil and human rights organisations. The Australian Jewish community organisation aims to fight anti-Semitism and all forms of racism.

    “I recognise how irresistible the Nazi analogy is for cartoonists looking to generate shock and headlines and grab attention. But no matter how strong Leak’s objections to marriage equality advocates, to compare them to the Waffen SS, part of Hitler’s demonic regime and responsible for the murder of millions, only adds to the cynical debasement, twisting and abusing of the Holocaust so prevalent today.” Dr Abramovich said.

    “To draw such repulsive equations is deeply offensive, shows a gross lack of understanding of the historical truth, and only fans the flames of hatred and demonisation of the LGBTI community. It also insults the memory of the victims, which included gay people, as well as hurts the survivors and all those who fought valiantly against the Nazis in WWII.

    “Such analogies are totally unacceptable, even in satirical cartoons, and only serve to coarsen public debate. They have no place in Australia’s civil discourse and must be repudiated.” Dr Abramovich concluded.
    =====

  8. sheree waks says:

    I applaud the sentiments expressed by Peter Wertheim and Michael Barnett. Though I usually think that cartoonists should have quite a high degree of leeway, I find this cartoon neither funny nor remotely accurate, and definitely unnecessarily offensive.

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