The West in The Soviet Caricature: Israel

Yes, I know Israel is not in the West, but, as you will see below, hardly any caricature from the Soviet satirical magazine Krokodil depicting Israel went without bringing the United States into the picture. Having a lot of Jewish friends and/or people who know my email address, I frequently receive emails and links to various examples of anti-Israel and antisemitic propaganda being published around the world; recently started Advocacy KC Israel page is keeping me updated on the latest creations of that nature. However, all the newly-minted humorists should stand back in awe and acknowledge the original and still unsurpassed masters of the anti-Israel humor – the Soviet caricaturists and satirists.

While looking through the images below, published in the late 1960’s – early 1970’s, keep in mind that they express the official position of the Soviet Government. All the press, including Krokodil, was state-owned and 100% censored and vetted by the appropriate branches of the Government and the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. Frequently the subject of the next outburst of humor was directly dictated by the ideology departments on various levels. What makes these cartoons even more sinister is that at the same time when they were published the USSR was thinking up, creating, financing and arming the PLO and Yasser Arafat. As an aside, recently when I mentioned this in an argument I was told that this is my personal opinion, however, multiple authentic documents (in Russian) exist, clearly demonstrating the Soviet overt and covert support of the PLO’s terrorist activities.

With that in mind, take a look at these images, most of which are probably shown in the West for the first time.

Hide and Seek. New York Police pretends not to be able to find the Zionist perpetrators of the provocations against the Soviet establishments and citizens. 1976.

Links of the same chain -Israel and South African Republic. (Anvil is marked “Africa”) 1972

“Give me some fire, I can’t make out what it says” while reading UN resolution. 1969

Behind the cover. 1969.

-General, the UN representative just arrived! -Entertain him with talk about the Arab aggression.

Over-the-shoulder bag. Front:peace proposals on the Middle East. Back:weapons for Israel. 1969.

Top: Israel is recruiting mercenaries in Western Europe.The first group of 70 arrived from the Western Germany. Bottom: So what do we start with – Oradour or Majdanek? (names of WWII concentration camps) 1969.

The US Government officially allowed US citizens to serve in the Israeli Army. The sign says “To Israel”. 1969.

Ali Baba and 40 thieves. 1969.

Top: Map of the Arab world. Bottom: Map of the Great Israel. Caption: Stitch this piece on! 1970.

Moshe Dayan (Israeli military leader and politician) at the eye doctor: No,can’t see anything! (looking at the UN resolution) 1970.

Dayan’s Face. Bottom left: factory Bottom right: school. 1970.

Top: Emissaries from Israel constantly visit the Western capitals begging for million dollar donations to conduct bandit,aggressive war. Bottom: Too bad, colleague, that we are far from politics. 1970.

Top: Had a little too much… Bottom: Now I’ll show you where lies the border of the Great Israel.1970.

Delusional Mirage. 1970.

American Virgin with babies. 20th century A.D. (The one on the left is Greek Junta). 1970.

Profitable serenade. 1970.

Freedom of actions. 1971.

At the Suez Canal. The ship is named “Peaceful Initiatives of United Arab Republic” 1971.

Weapon of aggression. 1971.

Links of the same chain. Thousands of Arab patriots are locked without the trial and investigation in Israel’s prisons and concentration camps. 1971.

Zionist sight. The building is marked “UN”

With their own drill. The field is captioned “Arab Lands”1972

Trying to stake out. The poles are captioned “Border. Great Israel”. The field “Arab Land”. 1972.

We are trying to find a way to a peaceful resolution.1972.

The chassis of the Israel’s military. Top: Zionist organisations generously donate to Israel’s military needs. 1972.

Aggressor’s invasion army. Front of the tank: Oil Companies. Land: Arab Lands.1972.

Sinister shadow. 1972.

  • Anonymous

    Hey Meesha! I’ve been following your blog for a few months and I’ve just figured out how to comment. Thanks for the interesting caricatures from Krokodil. I’ve just wanted to use this opportunity to introduce myself, now you have a follower from Canada…

    • Awesome! I always enjoy new readers and especially commenters.

  • Rick in PV

    The leftist critique is unchanged in 40 years! Happy Passover, Meesha.

    • Thanks Rick, same to you and yours.

  • burrowowl

    Maybe I’m just not adequately sensitive to such things, but I don’t see anything specifically antisemitic going on in these. Anti-Israel, sure, and I think we would all expect a negative view of capitalism considering the source. Perhaps there’s a distinctly-Russian caricature of “the evil jew” that I’m just totally ignorant of?

    • Actually I was careful to stay with “anti-Israel” for this set. I have few others elsewhere on the blog that may be deemed as antisemitic but these are not so much. After all, the Jews where the soviet citizens like any others, and it was the evil zionists who did all the bad stuff. Real antisemitism, while also a government policy, was a lot more hidden.

      • burrowowl

        Oh, good. Sometimes I’m concerned I may be a bit dense about such matters.

        • The problem was that at the time the Soviet Jews still remembered the Stalin’s repressions, doctors’ trials, etc. ,so they viewed these pictures and articles in the official press in a different context. There was a recent precedent for the state antisemitism and people always had to gauge how the new anti-Israel policies would reflect on the Jewish population of the USSR. Since there were hardly any other sources of information besides the official censored channels, people were used to picking up hints, rumors, subtle policy changes and making conclusions. Also at that time the saga of emigration to Israel and government bans on it was going on, people who wanted to leave had to watch for hints like these as well. So, to reiterate, today these caricatures may seem more anti-Israeli than antisemitic (many people would equate these anyway), but back in the day, they had a different meaning.

          • burrowowl

            Well that’s a bit disappointing. I was hoping that you were steering away from the old “criticism of Israel implies antisemitism” angle here. To this day in the United States a politician cannot be caught publicly displaying even a hint of doubt about any Israeli policies for fear of getting a swastika stamped on his forehead by anti-defamation watchdogs. And this in a country that never had the kinds of brutal anti-Jewish policies that the USSR and tsarist Russia had.

          • I am steering away from that, but at the same time pointing out that for the
            people at that time,in that country, in that circumstance, such distinction
            was probably non-existent. Looking from here and now you can clearly tell
            the difference. There was plenty of antisemitism in day-to-day life on
            personal, professional and many other levels, so I normally don’t feel the
            need to drag things into it that don’t belong. I was just trying to provide
            a bit of context.

      • Jon

        I would say there are definitely some anti-semetic stereotypes being played out, even if they are not the main purpose of the cartoons. 

  • Maria Meylikhova

    Hi, excellent collection… Julius Streicher’s “Der Sturmer” would not have found nothing amiss in these images.
    One correction though. The “American Madonna” caricature by Bor. Efimov is dated 1970 so the “baby” on the left can’t be Chilean junta. Allende’s attempt to establish a Soviet client state in Chile did not end in Pinochet’s coup until 1973. This is so called “чёрные полковники” – military junta of the right bend which took power in Greece in 1967.

    • Cool, I’ll get this corrected :-), I should’ve been paying attention.