Antisemitism/Judaeophobia/Nazi Propaganda/Anti-Jewish Racism

The posters in this Special Collection do not technically qualify for inclusion at the PPPA site. I have made an exception and included them owing to the fact that they relate directly to the emergence and evolution of political Zionism which was a Jewish political response to antisemitism. As such they are invaluable pedagogical resources for both teaching and learning about the contemporary Zionist-Palestinian conflict. The majority of the posters in this Special Collection originated in Nazi Germany or in countries it occupied or controlled. They are all unquestionably antisemitic in the sense that they specifically target and attempt to dehumanize Jewish people. Their intent was to motivate German and subject peoples to do violence against Jewish people for the act of being Jewish.

These poster are beyond any shadow of a doubt, racist, hateful and antisemitic in the original sense.

As such they are useful in terms of understanding the very real dangers that faced Jewish communities in Europe during the 1930's and 1940's. They clearly demonstrate that political Zionism's emergence and early organization was not an overreaction but rather a very reasonable response to a growing threat to Jewish life in Europe in the decades before, and during, World War II.

An equally valuable pedagogical benefit of these posters is that they serve as graphic counterpoints, or perhaps better, refutations of the claim made by contemporary political Zionism that the poster art of contemporary Palestinian nationalism, and those of its allies worldwide, are mere extensions of the poster designs, content, intent, techniques and strategies the Nazi regime used.

They are not.

For example many, perhaps most, Nazi-published antisemitic posters depict "stereotypical" physical characteristics to identify Jewish people with the idea that this would help to isolate and frighten them. They also served to tutor the German public in a Nazi pseudo-science based on racial characteristics. Contemporary Palestine posters, whether by Palestinian artists and agencies or any of the growing number of international sources of Palestine posters almost never refer to Jewishness: Instead, the majority of Palestine posters refer to either Palestine history, Palestinians or to specific policies and actions of the Zionist movement such as the Occupation, land seizures, deportations, human rights and the Nakba.

Despite these obvious differences and despite the rich diversity of images, messages, sources, subjects and styles deployed in the Palestine poster genre (as compared with the single anti-Jewish themes of Nazi-published posters) this genre is dismissed en toto as being "antisemitic". Consider, as but a single example of this worldview, that in 2015 UNESCO's then-Director General, Irina Bokova, vetoed the nomination of 1,700 Palestine posters to UNESCO's Memory of the World program because she considered some of the posters to be antisemitic. Bokova did not define her terms and she denied the nominators the traditional opportunity to refine the nomination. 

This labeling is not only counterfactual based on any library science, art history, anthropological or any other purely empirical criteria it is also an enormous disservice to contemporary American education.

It is our goal to challenge, and ultimately break, the unfounded and unsustainable conflation of the authentically antisemitic posters of the Nazi government with those of contemporary Palestine.

Number of posters in this collection: 127

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