The artist, a Jordan-based Palestinian named Emad Hajjaj, routinely publishes work in leading international Arab newspapers, including Al-Quds Al-Arabi, printed in London. His cartoons regularly feature anti-Israel and anti-Jewish incitement, equating Israel with Nazism, crudely caricaturing Jews (distinguished by religious garb and symbols) as bloodthirsty murderers and monsters, portraying menorahs as weapons and showing the “crucifixion” of Palestinians on a cross marked by a Star of David. The cartoons also often target the United States; a typical example supplanted a burning “Iraq” and “Palestine” (using a map negating Israel’s very existence) for the smoldering Twin Towers in the 9/11 attacks. Click here to view a selection of Hajjaj’s cartoons.
Among those that the firm where Hajjaj is identified as partner and creative director, Abu Mahjoob Creative Productions, claims as clients are the United Nations Development Fund for Women (now merged into U.N. Women), the United Nations Development Programme, and the United Nations Children's Fund, known as UNICEF; several Jordanian government bodies; the British Council; and the companies Visa, Orange, Ferring Pharmaceuticals and German industrial giant Siemens. IREX, a Washington-based nonprofit whose stated objectives include “conflict-resolution,” also had dealings with the firm.
B’nai B’rith has written to officials at these institutions noting that Hajjaj’s longtime engagement in incitement and the most dangerous anti-Semitic libels and stereotypes makes it unlikely that the patrons he boasts would not have been aware of these before engaging his firm, thus “effectively legitimizing and rewarding its output.”
In response to the letter from B’nai B’rith, IREX’s president said his organization wasn’t aware of the offensive cartoons and didn’t plan to work with Hajjaj or his creative firm again. U.N. Women, in response to B’nai B’rith’s letter, wrote that it is investigating the matter. “Hajjaj’s consistently disturbing record of anti-Semitic cartoons over more than a decade should have precluded him from working with the United Nations and multinational corporations,” B’nai B’rith International President Allan J. Jacobs said.
While noting B’nai B’rith’s consistent support for the free expression of legitimate, diverse perspectives, B’nai B’rith wrote in the letters to the organizations engaging Hajjaj’s firm: “incitement to violent, abiding bigotry is fundamentally unacceptable and should not be proactively afforded encouragement by responsible actors, particularly corporate and public institutions. Not least in the Middle East, trading in the crass, skewed and inflammatory imagery used by Mr. Hajjaj is a foremost impediment to a future of peace and coexistence. The kind of demonization he directs at Israel and Jews would rightly not be tolerated against other groups.”
B’nai B’rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin said: “Hajjaj’s extensive record and his client list reflect how pervasive this crude, dangerous venom is in the Arab world, and how utterly ignored it is by the international community.”
B’nai B’rith has urged the institutions contacted to urgently clarify their relationship to Hajjaj, publicly disassociate from his firm’s work and offer consumers assurance of commitment to vigilance in choosing future business partners.
B'nai B'rith Director of U.N. Affairs David Michaels also wrote an op-ed on this subject that was published in JTA. Read it here.