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. 2006 cartoon in response to the Drawing Mohammed cartoon controversy