Controversial Anne Frank post card won’t be withdrawn
The distribution in the Netherlands of a free postcard depicting Anne Frank wearing a Palestinian scarf will not be stopped, according to editor-in-chief Pascale Bosboom of Boomerang publishers. Sebastiaan Gottlieb reports.
Bosboom regards the card as a small work of art which encourages people to reflect on a peaceful solution for Israel and the Palestinians. However the Dutch Centre for Information and Documentation on Israel (CIDI) considers the card to be ‘a tasteless rewriting of history’ and is calling for halt to its further distribution.
The image of Anne Frank with the keffiyeh (the kind of scarf once worn by Yasser Arafat) already existed before the card was made. The artist, who calls himself ‘T’, ‘distributed’ the image in the form of graffiti on a number of walls in Amsterdam. Actress Birgit Schuurman decided to use the image for one of the free cards distributed throughout the Netherlands by Boomerang publishers. Acting as guest editor-in-chief for a month Ms Schuurman was allowed to choose which subjects were to be seen on the cards. Much to her surprise many people were offended by the image. She says:
“It was never my in intention to hurt people’s feelings with the card.”
The image of Anne Frank with the Palestinian scarf has also stirred the emotions of Israel’s ambassador in the Netherlands, Harry Kney Tal.
“Anne Frank is an icon of Dutch history. She was killed because she was Jewish. The artist has used this icon and transferred it to the political struggle between Israeli and Palestinians. It’s an outrage, I have no other words to describe it.”
The ambassador referred to the card as gross manipulation and propaganda.
According to Tuvit Shlomi of the CIDI, one cannot equate recent Jewish history and the current Palestinian situation.
“Palestinians are not being persecuted, there are no extermination camps and there is no genocide. The comparison of Anne Frank’s fate in the Second World War and the present situation of the Palestinians doesn’t hold water.”
CIDI’s request to Boomerang publishers to stop distributing the card is not a violation of the freedom of expression, according to Ms Shlomi. She doesn’t want to impose a ban on the card, but would like to clarify the CIDI’s criticism.
”This image of Anne Frank cannot be linked to Israel or with Jews living in Israel. Within Israel and the Jewish community there are many different opinions and you can't tar everyone with the same brush by use of Anne Frank’s image.”
Boomerang publishers – which distributes free postcards to cinemas, bars and universities - is surprised by CIDI’s criticism. The company is convinced that the artist - who, incidentally, still remains anonymous - aims to propagate fraternization and reconciliation. While Boomerang co-owner Olivier Wegloop does agree with the CIDI analysis that the Palestinians aren’t facing the same fate as the Jews in World War II, he objects, however, to the comment about this particular image being a tasteless rewriting of history. He says:
”According to the maker, the card is about a desired image of the future, in which two oppressed peoples live side by side harmoniously.”
Boomerang’s website has received mixed reactions to the card. Some people have complained about the lack of respect for the fate of the Jews in World War II and remark that the younger generation shows less and less consideration for people’s sensitivities about this issue. There are also those who think that freedom of expression includes the right to insult. One of the reactions expressed the idea that we can probably now expect a card showing the Prophet Mohammed with a Jewish yarmulka on his head.
29 January 2008
[Copyright Radio Netherlands 2008]