Israeli political cartoonist Amos Biderman has shocked the world with his latest in which he depicts Binyamin Netanyahu as a 9/11 bomber. The cartoon, which appeared in the Israeli Hebrew daily newspaper Haaretz, shows the Israeli Prime Minister flying a plane into a building that looks a lot like one of the former towers of the World Trade Center.
Americans are furious at what many see to be an insensitive use of the memory of 9/11 by the cartoonist. Some Israelis are angry because they see it as an acknowledgement of conspiracy theories which say that Israel and the Mosad were really the ones behind the 9/11 attacks and not Al Qaeda.
The cartoon was drawn in response to the uproar in Israel at reports that a senior White House official called Netanyahu a “chicken shit,” a term which cannot even be properly translated into Hebrew. Some on Israel’s left blame its Prime Minister for their country’s strained ties with the Obama administration, while people on its political right put the blame on Obama himself.
So how could this guy have been so unbelievably clueless? Yes there is a line at which a political satirist like Biderman goes from acceptable mockery into offensive tripe and he definitely crossed it.
How could he have not known that there would be an outrage at his comparing Netanyahu to a 9/11 bomber? Does he really not know that whether you are right or left, conservative or liberal, if you use imagery like that, like swastikas or the Cycle & Hammer and so forth, you lose any credibility?
Political cartoons like this make the American 24 hour cable news channels seem almost professional in comparison.
It would be nice to think that whatever one’s political orientation people can at least come together on this one and agree that this man has gone overboard.
Biderman, for his part, is defending the cartoon, saying that he merely wished to express his feeling that Netanyahu is harming Israel’s relationship with the U.S. He released a statement saying, “The message is that Bibi is arrogantly and wantonly destroying Israel’s ties with the U.S. and leading us to a disaster on the scale of 9/11.”
“It was certainly not my intention to insult or upset anyone,” Biderman told Haaretz on Thursday. “I wasn’t sufficiently aware of the great sensitivity that 9/11 holds for Americans.”
Haaretz defended Biderman. Last week it posted an open statement saying that the paper, “values Israel’s friendship with the United States as an unparalleled strategic asset and as a backbone of Israel’s existence, security and prosperity. We expect any prime minister to do the utmost to develop the relationship and not to undermine America’s support through harmful policies, fueled by short-lived political considerations, at the expense of Israel’s key national interests.”
“Amos Biderman’s editorial cartoon was a reaction to the current state of mistrust between Prime Minister Netanyahu and the Obama administration, as reflected in Jeffrey Goldberg’s story in The Atlantic.”
What? That was definitely in no way an apology nor did it express any regret on even the slightest level that the cartoon went too far.
Shame on Haaretz. It has proven that when it comes to Israel’s domestic politics it is a shameless promoter of the country’s left wing.
Now before anyone calls me a right winger for saying that, it is really an undeniable truth. And yes there are Israeli publications that do the same thing in support of its right wing.
In response to the Haaretz cartoon, another one was released with a similar theme. Only this time a plane with the paper’s name on it is depicted as crashing into the Israeli parliament building, the Knesset.
That one is also inexcusable. Haaretz should apologize to Netanyahu personally for this insult. Whatever you may think of the man or his politics, he is owed at least that. But at the same time for one to critique the newspaper in the exact same way that Biderman libeled Netanyahu is just plain absurd.