Omar, Tlaib Share Drawing by Cartoonist Accused of Trivializing the Holocaust

August 18, 2019 Updated: August 19, 2019

Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) have prompted ire after the pair shared on their social media a political drawing by a cartoonist who has been accused of engaging in antisemitism in his works.

The two freshman congresswomen shared a cartoon by Brazillian cartoonist Carlos Latuff on their respective Instagram stories. This revelation was first posted to Twitter by The Jewish Daily Forward’s Batya Ungar-Sargon.

“Oof. Looks like both Rep. Omar and Rep. Tlaib shared this awful Carlos Latuff cartoon in Instagram stories yesterday. In 2006, Latuff came in second in Iran’s International Holocaust Cartoon Contest, which is a thing that exists, in case you thought the TL couldn’t get any worse,” Ungar-Sargon wrote on her Twitter.

The cartoon allegedly depicts Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu covering Tlaib’s mouth, while President Donald Trump is drawn doing the same to Omar. The text above the picture in Tlaib’s post states: “The more they try to silence us, our voices rise. The more they try to weaken us, the stronger we become. The more they try to discredit us, the truth prevails.”

Ungar-Sargon pointed out the work as belonging to Latuff, who in 2006 won second prize in an Iranian Holocaust cartoon contest that received international condemnation.

The curator of the competition, Masoud Shojai, said at the time that the competition would continue until “the destruction of Israel,” according to the Associated Press.

In an interview with the Forward, Latuff addressed the accusations about him “denying the Holocaust.” In his works, such as the one that won second place, depicts “an elderly Palestinian man wearing a Nazi concentration camp uniform.”

“Believe me, no matter what I draw and where I publish, there will be always someone who will point a finger and say it’s antisemitic,” he said, adding that he was trying to draw attention toward “suffering of the Palestinian people.”

“My cartoons have no focus on the Jews or on Judaism. My focus is Israel as a political entity, as a government, their armed forces being a satellite of U.S. interests in the Middle East, and especially Israeli policies toward the Palestinians,” Latuff also said during the interview.

Dov Hikind, the founder of Americans Against Anti-Semitism, criticized Omar and Tlaib for sharing the cartoon, accusing the pair of engaging in “vile antisemitism by sharing a cartoon from a Holocaust denier.”

“We are watching YOU @SpeakerPelosi & Schumer after Tlaib and Omar indulged yet again in vile antisemitism by sharing a cartoon from a Holocaust denier who consistently mocks the memory of my grandparents and the 6 million Jews murdered by the Nazis!” Hikind wrote in a Twitter post that called for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Rep. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) to condemn the two Democratic congresswomen.

Hikind’s Twitter post is accompanied by a video where he accused Latuff, without identifying him by name, as “an individual responsible for mocking the Holocaust, mocking the memory of the 6 million, mocking the memory of my grandparents, uncles, and aunts, and children that were sent straight to the gas chamber.” The video displays a variety of works apparently drawn by Latuff.

“Nancy Pelosi, how much more does America have to tolerate this anti-semitism? … What are you going to do about this?” he asked.

Omar and Tlaib, who have been accused of spreading an antisemitic narrative, made headlines throughout the week for their reactions after they were denied entry to visit Israel.

The Israeli government said in a statement of Aug. 15 that it decided to deny entry to Tlaib and Omar, both of whom have been outspoken about their disdain toward Israel. The report said their itinerary “reveals that the sole purpose of their visit is to harm Israel and increase incitement against it.”

“As a free and vibrant democracy, Israel is open to critics and criticism, with one exception: Israeli law prohibits the entry into Israel of those who call for and work to impose boycotts on Israel, as do other democracies that prohibit the entry of people who seek to harm the country,” Netanyahu wrote in a statement.

Both congresswomen have publicly announced support for the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement, which aims to cut off all support for Israel and isolate the majority Jewish state.

Following Israel’s decision, Tlaib wrote to the Israeli Interior Minister Aryeh Deri, making a humanitarian request claiming that it could be her final opportunity to see her 90-year-old grandmother. She promised to “respect any restrictions and will not promote boycotts against Israel during my visit” in her letter.

Deri subsequently approved the request on early Aug. 16.

But Tlaib, in a statement and series of Twitter posts, announced that she decided not to go despite the approval.

“When I won, it gave the Palestinian people hope that someone will finally speak the truth about the inhumane conditions. I can’t allow the State of Israel to take away that light by humiliating me & use my love for my sity [grandmother] to bow down to their oppressive & racist policies,” Tlaib said in a Twitter post.

Responding to Tlaib, Deri criticized the congresswoman for putting her “hate for Israel” over her “love for her grandmother.”

“Rep. Tlaib just tweeted that she won’t be coming to Israel. Just yesterday she sent me a letter, asking to visit her 90-year-old grandmother saying, ‘it might be my last chance to meet her,’” Interior Minister Aryeh Deri wrote on Twitter on Aug. 16.

“I approved her request as a gesture of goodwill on a humanitarian basis, but it was just a provocative request, aimed at bashing the State of Israel.

“Apparently her hate for Israel overcomes her love for her grandmother,” he added.

Both Omar and Tlaib continued to speak out against Netanyahu and Trump, who also criticized the congresswomen throughout the week, following Deri’s response.

On Aug. 16, Trump slammed Tlaib for her reversal, accusing her of grandstanding.

“Israel was very respectful & nice to Rep. Rashida Tlaib, allowing her permission to visit her ‘grandmother,'” Trump posted on Twitter. “As soon as she was granted permission, she grandstanded & loudly proclaimed she would not visit Israel. Could this possibly have been a setup? Israel acted appropriately!”

“Rep. Tlaib wrote a letter to Israeli officials desperately wanting to visit her grandmother. Permission was quickly granted, whereupon Tlaib obnoxiously turned the approval down, a complete setup,” he said in a separate post.

“The only real winner here is Tlaib’s grandmother. She doesn’t have to see her now!” he added.

Follow Janita on Twitter: @janitakan