The “peaceful” protests in Gaza have been quite dramatic, with both sides blaming each other for the violence. I thought it would be interesting to draw the peaceful protesters as doves of peace. Those are olive branches in their mouths.
My personal view is that there is no solution to the Israel/Palestinian issue. Someday soon we may look back on these ugly times as the good old days. If I could play God and impose my own peace plan, it would be to force everyone to give up their religion.
When I started this I thought I would draw all of the doves with no pants, Donald Duck style, with bird legs and feet. The problem is that birds have knees that go backwards and it was difficult to put them into the action poses without suffering some strange compromises, so I went with a different compromise: human knees, feet, pants and shoes, and birdie hands on the ends of their wings.
Cartoons about the Israeli/Palestinian conflict often invite angry email. I’ve drawn militant doves before –here’s one that got me lots of angry email …
The angry mail for this one came from Israel supporters who thought the cartoon was anti-semitic because they thought the helmet on the Israeli soldier looked like a German Nazi helmet; they also objected to the Star of David on the helmet, arguing that it signified Jews rather than the complete Israeli flag with stripes, signifying Israel.
Cartoons about the conflict don’t please anybody and are among the least reprinted cartoons –but cartoonists don’t get to choose the news.
Pundits like to complain that there are few voices from the Islamic world that condemn terrorist attacks by Islamic extremists. I run a small business that distributes editorial cartoons from around the world. With every major attack, including the recent attacks in Paris, I see a chorus of cartoons from Arab countries condemning the terror. The pundits must not be looking at the cartoons.
Editorial cartoonists are typically the most influential voices in newspapers throughout the Middle East, reflecting the views of their readers. Newspapers remain important in everyday life in the Middle East. Editorial cartoons grace the front pages throughout the Middle East. Arabic language cartoonists are typically anti-American and anti-Semitic, but on issues of terrorism they are largely voices of reason.
I often hear politicians complain about how the war with Islamic extremists is a battle for hearts and minds and we need to step up our role in an information war that we are losing. Editorial cartoons could be a weapon on the
front lines of that battle. By now Americans should see how powerful cartoons can be; clearly the terrorists see this, as cartoonists are among their primary targets. It is difficult for Americans to comprehend that editorial cartoons are important and effective in the Middle East because we view cartoons as trivial jokes, leading us to miss many opportunities.
Until recently, the US State Department had programs that brought American cartoonists on speaking tours to the Middle East to meet their colleagues, and had reciprocal programs to bring Arabic language editorial cartoonists to America. The programs sought to spread common values to countries where persecuted and influential cartoonists typically are barred from drawing their own presidents. These effective State Department speaking programs for editorial cartoonists were dropped at the time of the “sequester” budget cuts. USAID supported journalism education initiatives in the Middle East ignore and exclude cartoonists.
As international respect for America has plummeted, respect for many of our institutions still runs high. American cartoonists are respected around the world, like American jazz musicians and basketball players. Middle Eastern cartoonists are eager to have their work appreciated by American readers and by the star American cartoonists who they respect and emulate. The Arab cartoonists push back against the press restrictions imposed by their regimes and envy America’s press freedoms.
Every act of terror brings new recruits to the Islamic extremists in ISIS; they seek glory, selling an image of bravery, striking back against the arrogant infidels in the West. Brandishing a gun demands a kind of respect. Fighting for religious values, no matter how twisted, demands a kind of respect. ISIS craves respect; what they can’t bear is ridicule. Islamic extremists who are widely seen as the butts of jokes won’t find many eager converts.
Cartoonists are masters of disrespect and are a continuing threat to the Islamic extremists. It is no surprise that editorial cartoonists are prime targets for terror. Along with other web sites around the world, my own editorial cartoon Web site, Cagle.com, is suffering hacker attacks that appear to originate with terrorists and despotic regimes who fear cartoons. Terrorists and despots have a weakness in common; they can’t take a joke.
America needs to wake up, deploy and support the world’s best soldiers in the modern information war, American cartoonists.
This weekend President Obama claimed that he is already doing most of the things that his political opponents demand in the war with ISIS; he called on his critics to contribute new and constructive ideas on what should be done. My recommendation is inexpensive and powerful: bring back and greatly expand the State Department’s shuttered editorial cartoon programs around the world.
It is no secret that Obama and Netanyahu don’t like each other, and it is amusing to watch them act like they are buddies – therefore today’s cartoon …
And here’s the rough sketch …
I don’t draw Netanyahu very often, so I had to do Google Images to see what he looks like, and I erased his face two or three times before I thought I got close enough. Notice that the final Netanyahu face is much better than the sketch – that always happens with me. I stare at the Google Images Netanyahu faces as I’m tracing the final line art and it gets closer to the right caricature with another step. I went in a different direction with his big nose than I see other cartoonists do – I’m still not sure about that.
Notice that when I’m free-handing something like this, I don’t get it right. Obama is too high and Netanyahu too low for their eyes to meet, so I noted that Netanyahu needed to stretch up to make eye contact and I made the correction as I was tracing it. I never just trace, I’m always redrawing, which can be frustrating, because my natural inclination would be to continue redrawing forever. Rough sketch Obama was looking pretty lousy here too – that’s why artists don’t like to show their rough sketches – rough sketches are lousy!
There you have it, the inside story on the meeting of Obama and Netanyahu today!
There’s been a a lot in the news about how Iraqi troops cut and run when they face off with ISIS. The US Army trained Iraqi troops for years, but it doesn’t seem to stick. Now President Obama is re-doubling the training efforts, but I’m guessing that won’t make any difference.
I had in mind that there would be a caption to this cartoon, “Training Iraqi Troops,” and as I looked at it, it seems better without a caption, although it isn’t really clear that it is about training Iraqi troops, still, no caption is better.
It is pretty common for editorial cartoonists to draw parody cartoons with the Peanuts characters. Lucy pulling away the football is a political cartooning standard. I wonder why it is always Peanuts, and not other strips that find their way into editorial cartoons – so, here’s my Zits-ISIS-ISIL-Dash-Zits cartoon.
I’m a big Zits fan. I have two Zits originals, that I bought at charity events, hanging on the wall in my house. Borgman and Scott are brilliant, although I don’t think they’d ever draw Jeremy joining ISIS, so … sorry about that. Kids and ISIS – always a surprise, huh?
I’m headed off to Ukraine next week and I won’t be drawing cartoons for a while. Hold your breath until I get back!