Cartoonists and Israel — the heinous slander

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The calumnies perpetrated by cartoonists against the only democracy in the Middle East, surrounded by barbarous neighbours, increases daily, writes Evan Jones.

On 21 November 2012, the Melbourne Age’s Michael Leunig published a cartoon on Israel’s seemingly perennial victimisation of the Palestinian population:


The occasion was Israel’s belated disciplining of an uncontrite Gaza, under its neo-Cast Lead Pillar of Cloud/Defence operation — to teach the cursed Hamas a lesson. There were some casualties — but, of course, all of them were militants.

Appropriately enough, the letters page of The Age ran hot with Leunig’s perfidy. There were even articles written as a follow-up.

It is not the first time that Leunig has broken the rules of decorum, of balance, and, indeed, of intelligence. Leunig has, indeed, been a serial offender (of which, more down the track).

The Melbourne pro-Israel community is, to put it mildly, fed up to the back teeth with the unreconstructed Leunig.

For instance, over eight years ago (how long has Leunig been at it?), Leunig fed us this ‘gem’:

(Leunig, The Age, 12 March 2004.)[/caption]

The ever watchful Philip Mendes honed in on the sickness of the off-with-the-fairies Leunig in 2006:
The implication was that the Israeli actions were as bad if not worse than the Palestinian actions.

What a diabolical implication!

And a mere two weeks later, on 25 March 2004, Leunig was again entirely unrepentant in The Age:


Mendes hones in on the target like an Israeli guided missile taking out a terrorist.

This cartoon, he said:
suggested that the Israelis had driven the Palestinians off their land, systematically oppressed them, and slandered those who defend them.’

Inconceivable! Villainous! Actionable!

But Leunig is not alone. There appears to be other cartoonists, in Australia and abroad, that feel compelled to ‘say’ something – and something critical, offensive, deeply offensive – about Israel.

And the more one looks, the more one finds.

There are a great number of cartoonists involved, not counting the virulent representations from within Arab and/or Muslim countries. What is going on? What follows are some examples.

First, there is the Brazilian Carlos Latuff, who visited Palestine in the late 1990s and has been obsessed ever since.

(Carlos Latuff, 2006)

For sheer quantity of output, Latuff is right up there in the Israel hate brigade list. But what would Latuff know about Israel?

Here he is suggesting that attempted criticism of Israel is censored? An outrageous claim.

A 2008 book, Cartoons and Extremism, calls Latuff ‘the contemporary [Edouard] Drumont of the internet’, after the notorious fin-de-siècle French anti-Semite.

Curiously, here we have Forward opining (in reviewing the above book):
‘It’s true that Latuff’s Israel-Palestine cartoons are harshly (this may be too soft a word) critical of Israel. The images can be brutal … But let’s be clear: The animus is directed at the State of Israel, its leaders and its army. None of Latuff’s cartoons libels the entire Jewish people, something that would seem to be necessary in order to charge Latuff with antisemitism.

But who cares about crap opinions emanating from the pinko Forward?

From another wayward Brazilian, Carlos Alberto da Costa:

[caption id="attachment_29596" align="alignnone" width="509"]DACOSTA1 (Carlos Alberto da Costa, Amorim, 14 July 2006)

Israel kidnapping children?

Outrageous! It just doesn’t happen — couldn’t.

Some journalists  ‒ including one from the usually steadfast Murdoch press ‒  appear to share the delusion: here, here and here.

Then there’s the ‘respected’ British leftie rags — the Guardian and the Independent.

(Steve Bell, The Guardian, 9 February 2005)[/caption]

And again:

[caption id="attachment_29599" align="alignnone" width="536"]BELL2 (Steve Bell, The Guardian, 7 May 2009)

And this last one rightly had a Guardian editorial apologising for hurt feelings:

Steve Bell 16.12.2012
(Steve Bell, The Guardian, 15 November 2012)

Foreign Secretary William Hague and the Quartet’s peace negotiations representative Tony Blair as mouthpieces for Likud?

Absurd! Although some journalists and academics appear to have somehow succumbed to the same delusion – here and here.

It gets worse.

Here’s Dave Brown of The Independent during Operation Cast Lead:

(Dave Brown, The Independent, 29 December 2008)

Here’s Brown again the next day:

(Dave Brown, The Independent, 30 December 2008)

And here’s Martin Rowson from the Guardian, in 2010, vilifying Israel’s ongoing underpinning of the peace process against odds from a recalcitrant ‘partner’:

(Martin Rowson, The Guardian, 4 June 2010)

We refrain, for reasons of good taste, from reproducing Rowson’s disgusting take on Israel’s pursuit of Hezbollah terrorists, 19 July 2006, in which a blood-spattered boy is smashed by a gloved Israeli iron first.

Across the Atlantic, Mr Fish (Dwayne Booth) degrades the historic magazine Harper’s with his bile:

(Dwayne Booth, Harpers, November 2007)


Tom Toles, Washington Post, 26 May 2006, ignores the fact that Judea and Samaria are an integral part of Eretz Israel, which G-d gave to his chosen people in perpetuity until the rapture:


In South Africa, Zapiro joins the Independent’s Dave Brown in a scandalous butchery of then Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s crushing of the Hezbollah offensive against sacrosanct borders:

(Zapiro, Sunday Times, July 2006)

Zapiro (Jonathan Shapiro, who is Jewish) has managed to offend everybody by his universally disrespectful cartoonery, so we are in good company by being dismayed and appalled.

Worse, Zapiro has invaded the inner sanctum, denigrating South African Jewish elders by supporting the traitor Richard Goldstone in his so-called ‘Fact Finding’ Mission for the UN.

(Zapiro, Mail & Guardian, 22 April 2010)

Down under, Michael Leunig has blood brothers in other newspapers.

Geoff Pryor early blasphemes the foundational builder of the Israeli state – he who rid the promised land of its British oppressors – Menachem Begin:

(Geoff Pryor, Canberra Times, 29 July 1982.)

Ian Sharpe, Pryor’s successor, continues in the same vein, when Israel is forced to invade Lebanon again:

(Sharpe, Canberra Times, 11 August 2006)


And again:

(Sharpe, Canberra Times, 21 July 2006)

Truth-telling is claimed as its opposite. Outrageous!

(Bruce Petty, The Age, 20 April 2004)


In the Australian Financial Review, of all places, where the Editorial and Opinion pages have long been kept under tight control:

(David Rowe, Australian Financial Review, 29 July 2006)


(Ward O’Neill, Australian Financial Review, date unrecorded)

Then we have Alan Moir in the Sydney Morning Herald implying Operation Cast Lead was driven by domestic politicking:

(Khalil Bendib,14 August 2005)

And a cartoon, apparently published in Syria and Saudi Arabia in June 2008 – by a cartoonist unknown – implies that US politics is in the pocket of the Israel lobby:


A preposterous claim, without a shred of empirical evidence.

The ever astute, rock-solid, British activist, Melanie Phillips, accurately noted (Autumn 2007):
‘At the heart of this ugly development is a new variety of anti-Semitism, aimed primarily not at the Jewish religion, and not at a purported Jewish race, but at the Jewish state. Zionism is now a dirty word in Britain, and opposition to Israel has become a fig leaf for a resurgence of the oldest hatred.

The calumnies perpetrated by cartoonists against the only democracy in the Middle East, surrounded by barbarous neighbours, increase daily. It is a global phenomenon. There is no respite from it. How can we explain it? Are those who take up cartoonery (or as some friendly wit termed it, ‘toonerism’) genetically predisposed to the hatred of valiant Israel?

How has the stupendously resourced Hasbara enterprise failed to capitalise on selling the magnificent edifice that is the current state of Israel? We remain open to enlightenment on this fundamental vexing question, in which the future of our self-image is encapsulated.

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