My cartoon criticizing the Israeli government

Early last week I created a cartoon about the bombings in Gaza. In editorial cartooning, there are some topics which will result in intense reactions from certain groups, as did this one. The series of events started with the Simon Wiesenthal Center issuing a press release last Friday from which the Jerusalem Post wrote a short article titled “US Jews furious over Washington Post cartoon showing Netanyahu punching Palestinian infant” (I’ll note the JP did not ask me for a comment).  So all weekend and again this morning I’ve been getting tweets and emails, some obviously group orchestrated,  accusing me of antisemitism and that I support Hamas.  Anyone remotely familiar with my work knows I never criticize people’s religious beliefs, only the actions of governments and the leaders of any organization which try to influence public policies that affect ordinary people’s lives.

I’ve been in this profession long enough to know that dealing with blowback and angry reactions about a cartoon is part of the job description. However unlike my male colleagues I also am receiving sexually violent and misogynistic threats in response to this cartoon. During the Danish cartoon controversy in 2006 I maintained that regardless of what one thinks about a cartoon and its message, no one or group has the right to threaten or censor a cartoonist. You have the right to criticize, protest, or draw your own response to the cartoon- but violence and threats are not acceptable. I am a firm believer in every person’s free speech rights, regardless if a group finds the message offensive.

I’ll give the Simon Wiesenthal Center credit for acknowledging my free speech rights but they should be aware of what some of their supporters are saying in response to their press release. Drawing a line in the Danish Cartoon Controversy2006 cartoon in response to the Drawing Mohammed cartoon controversy

Comments

  1. bob scherer says:

    The Simon Wiesenthal Center should concern themselves with the lack of dissenting opinions in Israel. There is no free speech there unless you parrot the government talking points.
    I hope this personal intimidation ends quickly for you. Be careful. Some people have taken leave of their senses.

    • Ann Telnaes says:

      Thanks, Bob- I appreciate it.

    • Joanie says:

      Absurd Bob. Read the Israeli paper Haaretz and tell me there is no dissenting opinion in Israel. There is an old Jewish saying “two Jews three opinions.” There is a reason for that. I also point out there are Arabs in the Israeli Knesset.

      • bob scherer says:

        Yes Joanie, there are some dissenters. Neve Gordon of course. He writes “… it seems the only vocal criticism against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is that he is too soft on the Palestinians. There is no public debate about the necessity of another war, but only about how punitive Israel should be.”
        The recent treatment of a young American Jew demonstrates that on the topic of Palestine, there is absolutely no free speech in the state of Israel.
        The 12 Arab members of the Knesset are marginalized and have no power to effect change. Apparently no one else has either.

  2. Ann-

    Stay safe and give ‘em what for!!!

  3. Kal says:

    Ann
    Your comments above are both eloquent and right. Your work is terrific and thought provoking for those interested in moving the world forward. The knee jerk reactions from the predictable parties is an uncomfortable part of the increasing course dialogue that permiates our public discourse today. The threats and abusive comments against you and make me very angry. I am sorry that they are targeting you… fortunately we both have a good platform to shout out our frustrations against them!

    Keep well

    Kal

  4. Dwane Powell says:

    Ann, some years ago B’nai B’rith came all the way from NY to my office at the News and Observer in Raleigh. We all went to the conference room where they brought out a scrapbook filled with my cartoons on Mid-east issues. “Look here,” they said, “…explain why there are more cartoons critical of Israel than of the Palestinians?” I thought a moment, and told them, “I hold Israel to a higher standard.” Chin up.

  5. Kelly McNutt says:

    I think it’s a case of willful ignorance on the part of those claiming antisemitism. You’ve clearly represented Hamas in full suicide bomber/RPG wielding form and they’re the ones hiding behind their children. The Israeli government sadly took the bait. It’s reprehensible that commenters find it acceptable to threaten over this or any political cartoon.

  6. Juan says:

    I’m sorry, but i find that cartoon to be fallacious and distasteful. It implies that the Israeli governments purposely targets gazati infants as a way to spite Hamas. That couldn’t be less true. Is so untrue, i fact, that i question the honesty of the cartoonist, her integrity.

    • Bob scherer says:

      You may infer what you wish but I don’t think Ann implied that. My inference is that the Israeli government does not care about the civilian/children collateral damage.

  7. dan murphy says:

    the fact that some will get more upset over the cartoon of a politician hitting the cartoon of a kid than they will over a flesh-and-blood politician giving orders that will inevitably kill flesh-and-blood kids is quite astounding.

  8. Joseph Gezelter says:

    My parents lived through Russian pogroms, some of them triggered by blood-libel accusations. In case you are not aware of that history, Jews were accused of killing Christian children to use their blood in religious rites or to make matzah. Your cartoon is a clear descendant of such false accusations. Any sensitive editor should have picked up on that and either refused to publish it or demanded changes to remove the clear implications of Israeli intent to kill children.

    • Juan says:

      Hadn’t picked up on that, is even worst than what i thought.

    • Hex says:

      Nonsense. The way that you can imagine a highly creative link to historical antisemitism in order to allow you to reject a legitimate criticism of the Israeli government is a clear result of cognitive dissonance. You know what’s happening is wrong, you just can’t resolve it with your idea of what Israel is supposed to be.

      Children have died, and Israel has not stopped doing the things that resulted in those deaths. I’m sure there is no active intention to kill children, but it’s also clear by now that they have no intention of not killing children either. They clearly do not care.

      • 1. What is wrong is that Hamas started and will not stop terrorizing an entire country with rockets, and dug a massive attack-tunnel system to perpetrate mass terror attacks in Israel proper, with the express aim of eradicating the Jewish state. Ann’s cartoon, with its passive Hamas figure and active Israeli bully represents cognitive dissonance.

        2. Children have not died in Israel no thanks to Hamas, who are constantly striving to kill as many men, women and children as they can. That they have been miraculously unsuccessful is not for lack of trying.

        3. “They clearly do not care.” Quite a bold assertion when the Israeli government and army have demonstrated how they strive to forewarn and avoid civilians. Mistakes are tragic, but they are mistakes. Not like Hamas, which is constantly plotting deliberate attacks on civilians.

  9. Monique Kadnar says:

    Anne – Wonderfully stated. Your cartoons are insightful and thoughtful. Thanks for fighting the good fight.

  10. Alan Bornstein says:

    I am a fan of Ann’s work as I was of the late Mr. Block’s.

    I respectfully believe that her cartoon, of Bibi Netanyahu punching a baby in front of an unsullied Hamas terrorist, is improvident. I offer some reasons for my beliefs.

    First, Hamas placed its missile batteries in densely populated areas of the poor. There are no missile batteries in the seaside enclaves of the party faithful or in the rural areas of Gaza (check Google Maps – about 40% of the land). Hamas has turned the screws on the poor for use as human shields.

    Second, Israel has opened her field hospitals to treat harmed Gaza civilians and Hamas refused blood supplies sent from Israel. Blood knows no race or religion, only Rh factor and type.

    Third, if Israel was deliberately targeting civilians, then she would have inflicted a ratio, of civilian deaths to the total population, that approximates what we have seen in Syria. Syria has become a macabre control group because its government did target civilians in that house of horrors. Each civilian life is precious and it needs to be spared wherever and whenever possible. What I respectfully suggest is that since this horrible ratio is 30-50x in Syria than in Gaza, then Israel is trying to minimize loss of civilian life. I leave it to you to consider whether any army could have done a better job to minimize the loss of civilian life.

    Fourth, Hamas came to power through a democratic process. However, since 2007 it consolidated its power by murdering its rivals and then dragging their bodies through the streets. It then started hanging gays and condoning the honor killings of women. It burns churches and bans the pleasures of alcohol. I have just read what I typed. I realize that I have described a totalitarian regime.

    Fifth, and please stay with me, the Jewish people are sensitive to cartoons given the consequences of anti-semitic cartoons regularly published in Julius Streicher’s Der Sturmer. These ugly cartoons were the psychological spark that ignited the crowd as they reinforced base and prejudiced narratives. You hold great power, perhaps more than you realize. I trust that you will exercise that power wisely and justly.

    Sixth, Hamas is the belligerent that started this war, abused cease fires, and then denied the benefits of cease fires to Gazans. War is horrible, and it exacted a terrible toll on the US and Britain to destroy Nazi Germany in an effort to end a war that the Nazis started. My concern is not that Israel will destroy Hamas, but one shared by you that she may kill more innocent civilians. Given what I have said above, i believe that she will do her best, while under fire, to minimize civilian casualties.

    Shalom to you and my fellow posters, and I mean it in the broadest and deepest manner possible.

  11. Rick Marschall says:

    Kudos to you, Anne. Not only for drawing a striking portrayal of the situation, but (as you often do) enduring the slings and arrows. By the way, your lines’ economic simplicity, and your forceful concepts, are unique; I love your work. But you know that any whisper of criticism of that foreign country will bring accusations that you eat babies for breakfast, and enjoy doing so. I am reminded of Tony Auth’s brilliant cartoon of Uncle Sam being led around by a ring in the nose — the Pollard Spy Ring, 25+ years ago. His studio at the Phila Inquirer was broken into and trashed. You are proving that we still have a little free speech in the US, and this still is the home of the brave.

  12. Steve Artley says:

    Ann, regardless of how anyone feels about a cartoon you’ve drawn, you should never have to endure violent threats and personal attacks. That’s ludicrous and steps over the line of civil discourse and responsible critical appraisal. Even if I disagree with an opinion, I defend your right to express it without suffering such treatment. In any case, know that am in your corner.

  13. Dan Nott says:

    Ann, I really admire your courage and skill in crafting cartoons like this. That people would lash out at you personally and with such hate for contributing your opinion really just reflects the belligerence that defines the conflict and the discourse. And considering this cartoon seems to be standing up for the innocents caught between two warring factions, I think the hostility also speaks to the rorschach-like quality of cartoons.

    Keep up the good work!

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