July 14, 2021

Anti-Israel, antisemitic slant of Qatari daily 'Al-Quds Al-Arabi,' as reflected in cartoons

In the recent years, the London-based Qatari daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi has taken a virulently anti-Israel and antisemitic line. Since its founding in 1989 by Palestinian businessman 'Abd Al-Bari 'Atawan, who lives in London, the paper has been known for its harshly critical stance against Israel and its allies and support for terror organizations such as Hamas, Hizbullah and even Al-Qaeda. But this tone grew even harsher after Qatar purchased the daily in July 2013, about one month after the ascent to power of the present Emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad. This development caused 'Atwan, who refused to comply with the political line dictated by Qatar, to resign as the daily's editor.[1] He was replaced by his former deputy, Sana Al-'Aloul. Since then the paper has maintained an anti-Israel stance, very conspicuous in its articles,[2] which sometimes takes the form of flagrantly antisemitic propaganda against Israel and Israelis.

This anti-Israel and antisemitic line is especially noticeable in cartoons published in the daily. Many of these cartoons represent Israel using the stereotyped figure of the bearded and hook-nosed Jew. Others feature classical antisemitic themes derived from Christianity or Islam, such as the Jew as the crucifier of Jesus, or the popular antisemitic hadith about the Muslims' war on the Jews at the end of days, which appears in the Sahih Muslim compilation of authentic hadiths. According to this hadith, Muhammad said: "Judgement Day shall not come before you fight the Jews and [every] Jew shall hide behind stones or trees, and the stones or trees will say: 'Oh servant of Allah, oh Muslims, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him – except for the gharqad tree, which is the tree of the Jews."[3] There are also cartoons that portray Israel and Israelis as vermin, such as spiders or ants, a theme used in European antisemitism to dehumanize Jews and associated them with danger and disease. Others compare Israel to Nazi Germany, or convey hope for its demise.

It should be noted that the daily's team of cartoonists includes the Palestinian Umaya Juha, known for her virulently antisemitic cartoons, which have often been removed from social media after being flagged as incitement.[4] Umaya Juha is affiliated with Hamas and is known as "the Wife of Two Martyrs," because she was the wife of two operatives of Hamas' military wing who were killed.[5] Another regular cartoonist for the daily is the Palestinian Mohammad Saba'aneh, who was arrested by the Israeli security forces on suspicion of providing services to hostile organizations during a visit to Jordan in 2013.[6]

This report presents some of the anti-Israel and antisemitic cartoons published in the Al-Quds Al-Arabi daily over the last year.

Israel Represented By Antisemitic Stereotype Of The Jew

Many of the cartoons published in the daily depict Israel as the antisemitic caricature of the black-cloaked hook-nosed Jew. An example is the cartoon below, published after the latest round of fighting between Israel and Hamas in May 2021, which Hamas calls "Sword of Jerusalem," and in response to Israel's holding of its annual "Flag March" parade in Jerusalem.

Cartoon captioned "Sword of Jerusalem – The failure of [Israel's] Flag March" (June 17, 2021)

A cartoon published on May 8, in response to Israel's reported refusal to let East Jerusalem residents participate in the planned Palestinian elections, shows Israel, depicted as the stereotyped Jew, shattering a Palestinian ballot box.


Below are additional examples of the use of this stereotyped fugure of the Jew:

Demonic Jewish figures armed with scythes emerge from book titled "Zionist Religious Dossier" and storm Al-Aqsa (April 28, 2021)

The world shatters "Israel's image" (June 5, 2021)

Other Antisemitic Motifs In Al-Quds Al-Arabi Cartoons

Other cartoons feature classical antisemitic motifs taken from Islamic or Christian traditions. For example, a cartoon published on September 21, 2020, criticizing the normalization agreement between Israel and the UAE, showing an Arab who has dropped his sword and is rushing towards former Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu. The latter is standing behind a stone that says, "Oh Muslim… Oh servant of Allah…what are you doing?!!". This is a paraphrase of the abovementioned hadith, which appears in the Sahih Muslim compilation of hadiths, in which the Prophet Muhammad says: "Judgement Day shall not come before you fight the Jews and [every] Jew shall hide behind stones or trees, and the stones or trees will say: 'Oh servant of Allah, oh Muslims, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him – except for the gharqad tree, which is the tree of the Jews."


A July 3, 2021 cartoon evokes the claim that the Jews crucified Jesus, by depicting Ghadanfar Abu Atwan, a Palestinian prisoner who is on hunger strike in an Israeli prison, hanging on a cross.


Israel Depicted As Vermin

Below are cartoons that demonize Israel by depicting it or its people as insects or vermin:

Cartoon published on occasion of Palestinian Land Day portrays Israel as a spider that has captured Palestine (March 30, 2021)

Israeli soldiers, depicted as ants, gnaw at the "[olive] branch of peace" (March 19, 2021)

Israel depicted as a chameleon, changing color from "the red of the Palestinians' blood" to the green of "normalization with the Arabs" (July 12, 2021)

Cartoons Expressing Hope For Israel's Demise

Yet other cartoons describe Israel as an illegitimate state whose end is near, such as the cartoon below, published May 20, during the latest round of fighting between Israel and Hamas. Captioned "You are Bound to Leave," it conveys that the Jews will leave Palestine "very soon," taking with them their "fake history," "the Balfour Declaration," and "Trump's promise" (i.e., the Deal of the Century). The Palestinian woman is thinking "go to hell."


Below are additional examples:

Cartoon, captioned "The Day of Israel's Collapse," shows armed Palestinian fighters eliminating Israel (May 20, 2021)

Cartoon captioned "Flag March" shows Israel's flag disintegrating (June 16, 2021)

Israel As A Nazi State

An additional recurring theme is the depiction of Israel as Nazi. An example is the following cartoon, from April 10, which depicts an Israeli prison in the form of the Auschwitz concentration camp. Published after a Palestinian, Mansour Al-Shahatit, was released from Israeli prison in poor physical and mental condition, the cartoon is captioned "Palestinian Prisoner Does Not Recognize His Own Mother After Being Tortured In [Israeli] Prisons." It should be mentioned that, even at the time of Al-Shahatit's release, Palestinian and Arab elements blamed Hamas leader in Gaza Yahya Sinwar for his condition, claiming that he had been beaten by prisoners from Hamas following a dispute with Sinwar.[vii]


The cartoon below, published June 16, shows the Israeli flag, with a swastika at its center, disintegrating into Israeli soldiers plunging to their grave.


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[1] According to a report in the Lebanese Al-Akhbar daily, 'Azmi Bishara, an Palestinian intellectual who is considered to be a close advisor of the Qatari emir and a figure of great influence in Qatar, advised the emir to "regulate the relations" with the media financed by his country, because "Qatar is not a charity." Complying with this advice, the emir demanded that Al-Quds Al-Arabi make significant changes to its positions as a condition for its continued funding by Qatar, a demand which prompted 'Atwan's resignation (Al-Akhbar, Lebanon, July 11, 2013). In his farewell article in the daily, 'Atwan wrote: "I have never bargained over the values, principles and political beliefs…, and I have paid, am paying and will continue to pay a heavy price for this" (Al-Quds Al-Arabi, London, July 10, 2013). After resigning 'Atwan founded the online daily Raialyoum.com, of which he is the chief editor.

[2] For example, in the recent year the daily directed brutal criticism, in articles and cartoons, at the countries that announced the normalization of their relations with Israel: the UAE, Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco. See MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 8944 – Qatari Political Cartoons Attack Emirati, Bahraini Peace Agreements With Israel, September 24, 2020.

[3] It is unclear what tree this is. Some exegetes say it is a large thorny tree the Jews are fond of growing. On the prevalent use of this hadith, see MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 7587, Antisemitic Hadith: 'The Prophecy Of The Rock And The Tree' – MEMRI Clips And Reports, July 25, 2018.

[4] Aljazeera.net, January 11, 2016; arab48.com, January 9, 2017.

[5] Ikhwanonline.com, May 4, 2009, alqassam.ps.

[6] Arab48.com, February 20, 2013.

[7] According to the Saudi Al-Arabiya website, a dispute between Al-Shahatit and Al-Sinwar dating back to 2009 led to his beating by Hamas prisoners, which resulted in a severe head injury (Alarabiya.net, April 11, 2021). Palestinian sources, including Fatah spokesman Mounir Al-Jaghoub, made similar claims (see: Facebook.com/ profile.php?id=100004559626345, April 9, 2021).

Source: Memri