Criticizing Israel Doesn’t Make You Anti-Semitic

Jon is one of the more thoughtful respondents who had a beef with last week’s cartoon about “Israeli Policy Fantasies”:

Generally i think you are right on target about Bush but you have got it wrong on israel and palestinians. How about a cartoon showing arafat as a 2-bit dictator refusing a very very nice deal three years ago? Where is the biting satire when it comes to blowing up people celebrating a holiday or a wedding or sitting at their kitchen table?

My friend’s mother was blow to bits during a Seder in Israel 18 months

ago. Are the Palestinians defending themselves in this case?

I appreciate that strong ideas need strong ,almost hyperbolic rhetoric at times; but i urge you to consider a biting attack on Palestinian duplicity. I am fairly left-wing like you but you are pushing a doctrinaire line almost as bad as the rightists.

Jon raises some good points. Yassir Arafat is a corrupt turd whose corruption nearly erases the good he has done as the world’s highest profile Palestinian revolutionary. And anyone who fails to deplore terrorist attacks by Palestinians against innocent Israeli civilians is heartless and immoral.

This cartoon, however, isn’t meant to present a fair and balanced look at the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It’s simply making fun of the absurd argument, heard repeatedly in the media, that Israel is justified in doing just about anything–assassinating public officials, building Berlin Walls, launching rockets that miss their targets, invading Syria–to “defend” itself.

An analagous cartoon could obviously be done from the other point of view, with a Jewish victim of Palestinian terrorism saying that he doesn’t mind losing his family because, after all, the Palestinians were “merely” fighting for independence.

So why didn’t I do such a cartoon?

Because, first and foremost, you don’t hear Hamas or the PLO arguing that Israelis shouldn’t mind getting blown up. But also because an editorial cartoonist’s job is to defend the defenseless against the powerful, and in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Israel has the overwhelming advantage in military, diplomatic and political terms. No one needs to come to the aid of the Israelis; they’re doing a great job themselves.

American media coverage of the Intifada is so one-sidedly pro-Israel, however, that it’s important to balance things out now and then. If it were the other way around, if Palestinian atrocities were always brushed off as the Israelis were condemned, I’d be moved to do a cartoon from the opposite viewpoint.