An Israeli exhibition of cartoons criticizing human rights conditions in Iran will be displayed next to the European Parliament in Brussels starting Wednesday after the parliament refused to display them inside the building, The Times of Israel reports.
The exhibition, initiated by the American Jewish Committee (AJC) and The Israeli Cartoon Project (TICP), is an Israeli response to an annual anti-Israel cartoon contest in Iran often slammed as anti-Semitic and Holocaust-denying.
Along with Yesh Atid party leader MK Yair Lapid, the organizations requested 10 months ago that the exhibition is featured at the European Parliament, but received a negative answer several days ago, the Ynet news site reported Tuesday. The parliament explained its decision by saying that “the exhibition is too controversial,” after which the organizations decided to display it in an adjacent building.
Some 20 drawings by leading Israeli caricaturists will be featured in the display, with the goal of raising the issue of Iran’s human rights violations and Holocaust denial with European Union members, according to a statement by AJC and TICP. The cartoons vary in content from Tehran’s stifling of freedom of expression and arrest of opposition figures to the regime’s public assassinations and persecution of women, minorities and LGBT people, among others.
“The European Union’s decision to reject the caricature exhibition turns the EU itself into a caricature. They have failed to distinguish between killers and those killed, between victims of terror and terrorists. This exhibition will be displayed on schedule in Brussels, to remind the world of the simple truth: Iran is an Islamic terror dictatorship that believes in bloodshed,” said Lapid.
The exhibit focuses on a wide range of serious human rights violations in Iran and its proxies: violation of women’s rights, repression of the political opposition through arrests and execution of political activists accused of crimes, oppression of homosexuals and Sunni and Baha’i minorities, underage marriages, death sentences for minors, etc.
The list of artists involved includes some of the best illustrators and cartoonists in Israel: Shay Charka, Uri Fink, Guy Morad, Elhanan Ben Ari, Moshik Gulst, Asher Schwartz, Vladic Sandler, Yotam Fishbein, Din Gach, Moshik Lin and others.
“We are here to express solidarity with the Iranian people. I always prefer war by cartoons rather than by drones, this is a wonderful way to convey the message,” said Fink.
Shay Charka added: “I look at Persian illustrations from the 14th and 15th centuries, and I cannot believe that all this aesthetic and cultural richness simply disappeared. They are just buried under the terror regime of the Ayatollahs. I think if the Iranian people are freed from the yoke of their government, not only will we benefit from the removal of a threat over our heads, but the whole Muslim world will receive an opportunity to rebuild and begin a new and better phase.”
Avital Leibovich, the AJC’s director in Israel, said that “promoting human rights worldwide is a central value for us, as Jews, and that’s why we initiated the exhibition in Brussels, capital of the European Union, to raise the issue of blatant human rights violations in Iran. Since human rights issues are regularly on the EU’s agenda, it would only be appropriate to also discuss the brutal violations in Iran.”
“As Israelis, we are proud to stand with the oppressed Iranian people, whose rights are being brutally trampled by the Ayatollah regime. Iranian society, like Israeli and Syrian societies, are victims of this regime, so it is only natural for us to show solidarity with our partners in struggle,” said Yossi Klar and Asaf Finkelstein, directors of TICP.