German Cartoon of Facebook’s Zuckerberg Compared to Nazi Imagery
A caricature of Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg published on Friday by a German newspaper was sharply criticized by Jewish human rights group the Simon Wiesenthal Center (SWC) as reminiscent of Nazi imagery.
SWC Associate Dean Rabbi Abraham Cooper on Monday called the cartoon “an outrage” and said is was anti-Semitic.
The cartoon, published by Suddeutsche Zeitung (SZ) and entitled “Krake Facebook,” German for “Facebook Octopus,” shows Zuckerberg as a half-human sea giant grasping with tentacles at computers around him. Depicted with a hooked nose, the 29-year-old entrepreneur is shown smiling while his curly hair creeps out from under an oversized hat that has the Facebook logo on its brim.
One of the creature’s tentacles holds the logo of WhatsApp, the world’s largest mobile messaging service, recently acquired by Facebook.
Cooper told The Algemeiner, “The nefarious Jew/octopus was a caricature deployed by Nazis. That was used pretty much as a staple by the Nazis in terms of their hateful campaign against the Jews in the 1930s. [An] exaggerated Jewish nose removes any question if this was unconscious anti-Semitism.”
“Mark Zuckerberg is fair game for the media, including German media, but no German should deploy such caricatures,” he added. “Does anyone doubt that the simple use of the ever-present F symbol would have made the point just as well. You don’t have to put someone’s face with an exaggeration clearly to show ‘the Jewish element’ in it… Don’t introduce these highly charged images that would deploy so effectively to spread the hatred of Jews.”
“Anti-Semitism and racism are ideologies which are totally foreign to me,” he said, flatly rejecting the notion that his cartoon could be viewed as offensive to Jews.
He explained that his cartoon was designed to be a commentary on Facebook’s purchase of WhatsApp. What he “meant was a cartoon depiction of the company Facebook beyond a specific person,” he said. “I am sorry that it led to this misunderstanding and hurt the feelings of some readers.”
Last year Suddeutsche Zeitung also came under fire for publishing another cartoon, which showed Israel as a demonic monster.
Aside for the cartoon itself, Rabbi Cooper commented on the fact that the cartoon was coming out of Germany, of all places.
“This kind of cartoon is not acceptable especially in a place like Germany where Germans still have, even generations later, a special responsibility not to deploy anti-Semitic imagery,” he said. “The way the Jews were attacked by the Nazis is you use the cartoon, which is a very effective, very fast, very emotional-base type of thing… Here you have a business leader who’s depicted as an animal. That dehumanizes the person and uses the tactical animalization.”
“What this cartoon has effectively done in its protest is to cross the red line.”
Suudeutsche Zeitung, which is the largest German national subscription daily newspaper, did not immediately respond to The Algemeiner‘s request for comment.