KZ: Most of your critics accuse you of arising anti-Semitic sentiments by drawing cartoons that condemn the State of Israel and its leaders for the atrocities and crimes they commit. Is this the case, that you’re opposed to Jews as the followers of a divine religion, or do you simply go up against the expansionist Zionists who commit crimes against humanity and massacre the defenseless people of Palestine?
CL: I’m not a religious man, and none of my cartoons deal with Judaism. You won’t find any of my artworks attacking the Jewish people. My issue with Israel and their supporters is only about politics, imperialism. Even not being Muslim, I do support Muslims against Islamophobia, since I can’t agree with prejudice against religion. Of course anything that may be slightly perceived as criticism towards Israel will be associated with hatred towards Jews. This old trick is applied to anyone who dares speak against Israeli apartheid. But everyday more activists understand this misuse of anti-Semitism and keep the struggle regardless of the false allegations and smear campaigns from Zionists.
KZ: Have the global mainstream media outlets (the New York Times, Washington Post, Guardian, Los Angeles Times, BBC, Reuters, Associated Press and so forth) that universally rule public opinion, ever published your cartoons? Why don’t such media outlets, which present themselves as pioneers of freedom of expression, accept allowing the publication of disparate viewpoints which are contrary to their focal approach?
CL: Reuters made a video interview with me last year about my art and views. I had some of my cartoons shown on Al Jazeera and a George Galloway show at Press TV, but this is an exception. Usually only Arab media outlets are interested in my opinions. Western mainstream media isn’t interested in giving space to a leftist artist who supports people’s struggle in Palestine, Iraq and elsewhere. But in one way or another, I find a place to make my opinions visible. The internet is my best ally. You see, even not being a famous artist promoted by mainstream media, you and your newspaper know about me and my cartoons. The internet has broken the obstacles imposed by corporate media. And I won’t make concessions for a mere 15 minutes of fame; I will keep fidelity with my principles.
KZ: The subjugated people of Palestine and other countries that have been subject to the brutality of imperialism throughout history will be encouraged and hopeful when they find conscientious artists like you sympathizing with them. Have you ever felt the courage and valor you present to the people of Palestine with your artistic endeavors?
CL: I’m very enthusiastic for talking about the Palestinians. I have never seen such a brave and courageous people like them. I started making cartoons about Palestinians after my trip to the West Bank in 1999, and since then my sympathy for their cause has only grown. After my recent visit to Jordan and Lebanon, invited by the Al Hannouneh Society for Popular Culture, I realized that my relationship with Palestinians is not only political. I have pure love for that people.
KZ: Please tell us about your latest activities. How was the experience of winning a prize in the Iran-based International Holocaust Cartoon Competition? Would you like to come to Iran once again and witness the pain and difficulties of the Iranian people in person?
CL: Usually I don’t participate in contests, since I’m not interested in the prizes and stuff. The purpose of my art is supporting social movements, rather than feeding my own ego. But I saw the Holocaust cartoon competition as a timely opportunity for making visual comment about Palestinian suffering. In that occasion, I was invited by my good friend Massoud Tabatabai to attend the prize award ceremony in Teheran but unfortunately I wasn’t able to travel. But of course if I had another chance, I would be more than glad to visit Iran.
[Editor’s Note: See more of Carlos Latuff’s cartoons on his website.]