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.
In old time comics there was a great thing where, when a character gives a dirty look the cartoonist would draw knives, or daggers, coming out of their eyes, pointing at where they are looking. Urbandictionary.com defines it this way:
When someone who tries to intimidate another person, they will flinch quickly towards that person, and exercise a quick widening of the eyes, in effort to scare away the supposed moron who tried to intimidate them in the first place. Usually, the kid who gives the dagger eyes is much more adapted to survive through mockery, and this action helps to scare off possible douche bags who try to scare the dagger eyed kid.
In Hawaii they call it “stink-eye”. With all the stabbings, “dagger eyes” worked for me.
I recently drew this cartoon about the “Gaza Missile Defense System” which got 3,044 shares on my Facebook page – that’s a lot of shares for one of my cartoons. I guess it struck a nerve.
In general, American cartoons are supportive of the Israeli side and international cartoons are supportive of the Palestinian side in the conflict, with some of the foreign cartoons getting pretty anti-Semitic. The theme of Hamas hiding behind babies has been popular among the American cartoonists, with a grand Yahtzee of babies tied to missiles and babies as suicide belts. Here’s one by Randy Bish.
Here’s one I drew years ago when Israel was fighting Hezbollah in Lebanon …
(My color was pretty lousy in those days, I know.) The baby-belt theme has been big.
I thought this anti-Israel cartoon (right) by Malcolm Evans in New Zealand was powerful – it brings up the “Jews Killing Babies” anti-Semitic theme in cartoons that has a rich history so it is something that I would have stayed away from, that said, the current circumstances are bringing out a lot of classic, anti-semetic cartoon themes with the international cartoonists.
Among the anti-Israel international cartoons, I thought this David and Goliath cartoon by Mexican cartoonist Dario Castillejos, was a nice, fresh take.
The theme of a ruined Gaza declaring victory over Israel is another Yahtzee. Here’s one by my buddy Bruce Plante …
I’m guessing that most people won’t like my solution to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict – but, hey, I usually only complain, so here’s a solution. Stop Grousing.
Interesting that the Israel/Palestinian stuff makes readers so angry and makes for lots of passionate comments, but when this topic is featured on Cagle.com it gets little traffic – people want domestic news and celebrity crap.
Beyond the passionate constituencies, I think the Israeli/Palestinian conflict suffers from a weary, disinterested audience-at-large. It may be that the ultimate solution will be that the conflict fades from view, like a TV show that is quietly cancelled without ever resolving the story line.
At that time I asked readers to send a letter to the Israeli Ambassador calling for Sabaaneh’s release. Cartoonists around the world made the same requests of the Israeli ambassadors in their countries – I never heard of any of them getting a response. I got no response.
Ambassador Michael Oren
Embassy of Israel to the United States
3514 International Dr. N.W.
Washington, DC 20008
Dear Ambassador Oren,
I am writing to urge Israeli authorities to release a Palestinian political cartoonist, Mohammad Saba’aneh, who was jailed by the Israeli Defense Forces, on February 16th, at a border crossing between the West Bank and Jordan. He is being held without charge and is denied access to an attorney. Under Israeli law, Muhammad may be held indefinitely without charge. Only Israeli authorites know why he is imprisoned.
Muhammad is a cartoonist for Al-Hayat al-Jadida, the official newspaper of the Palestinian Authority, and he works at the Arab American University in Jenin on the West Bank. He is a respected cartoonist; he is not a terrorist or a criminal. Arab cartoonists often draw ugly, racist, offensive cartoons about Israel, but Muhammad’s cartoons are not among those; his work, although critical, is more balanced and artful.
Click on the photo above to read more about Saba’aneh’s plight from the Cartoonists Rights Network site.
I met Muhammad in 2010, when the U.S. State Department sent him to our Association of American Editorial Cartoonists convention in Florida, where he got to meet many of his American colleagues. Muhammad told me he was a fan of my work; he is a charming guy, eager to show his own cartoons to all of his new friends. Muhammad is active in the global cartooning community and cartoonists around the world are closely following the story of his plight in Israel.
I run a small business, Cagle Cartoons, Inc., that syndicates the work of cartoonists from around the world to over 850 subscribing newspapers, including half of the daily, paid-circulation newspapers in America. Among the cartoonists we distribute is Yaakov Kirschen, the cartoonist who draws Dry Bones for The Jerusalem Post; Yaakov’s cartoons run in Jewish newspapers throughout the USA. Our American editorial cartoonists are great supporters of Israel, in contrast to cartoonists from the rest of the world who harshly criticize Israel. The contrast is easy to see as editorial cartoons reflect world opinion. American cartoonists are Israel’s most visible suporters, and my own small business is the leader in distributing these views for America and the world to see.
It seems clear that Muhammad has been jailed to chill his cartoons that are critical of Israel. Instead, this ugly incident risks chilling Israel’s most visible supporters in America’s press, at a time when Israel needs our support more than ever.
American cartoonists like to see Israel as a champion of democracy and press freedom in a hostile Middle East – Muhammad’s case undermines that perception and seems to be a clumsy attempt to silence the press. This incident makes Israel appear to be no better than its repressive neighbors.
I’m writing to you in the hope that you will urge the authorities in Israel to release Muhammad, return him to his family and allow us to again see Israel as a democracy that respects a free press.
President, Cagle Cartoons, Inc.
The conflict between Israel and the Palestinians still looms large in cartoons around the world, with an endless flow of cartoons from Arab countries showing monster-Israel assaulting, eating, crushing or somehow decimating the poor Palestinians.The dove of peace has been killed by Israel in every imaginable cartoon – crushed, squeezed, stabbed, burned, eaten.Poor bird.
The conflict goes on forever, long after every original cartoon idea has been exhausted.Americans don’t see much of these cartoons because they would be regarded here as anti-Semitic at worst, or as the same thing over and over, at best.
After Algeria, my Middle East speaking tour took me to Egypt, Israel and the Palestinian territories.At my first event in Cairo I spoke to a group of Egyptian journalists who brought a newspaper up to me, proudly pointing out that in Egypt, editorial cartoons are often printed big and in color on the front page of the newspaper.The cartoon they showed me would make an American editor choke; it showed a spitting snake, in the shape of a Star of David; inside the snake/star was a peace dove, behind bars, and above the snake, in Arabic, were the words, “It’s not about the bird flu, it’s about the swine flu.”
I explained that in America this cartoon would be regarded as anti-Semitic, and it would never be printed.The Egyptian journalists were emphatic, explaining to me that the cartoon was about Israel, not about Jews – an important distinction to them.
“Israel isn’t mentioned anywhere in the cartoon,” I said.
“But we all know the Jewish star is the symbol of Israel,” they responded.
I said, “It is a religious symbol.It is the same as if I took the star and crescent off of the flag of Pakistan and drew a similar cartoon, saying it was about Pakistan.” They didn’t respond to me, my comment was such nonsense. I continued,“The cartoon seems to say that Jews are like snakes and pigs.”
“No, no!We have lots of symbols for Israel that we all know, like the Jew with black clothes and a big hooked nose!” one of the Egyptian journalists insisted with some passion.“We like Jews, we just don’t like Israel!”
The newspaper with the cartoon disappeared when I mentioned that I would like to scan the cartoon for a column about our spirited conversation.The Egyptian journalists all continued to insist that I misunderstood what the cartoon meant.
I had an opportunity to meet with a group of Palestinian editorial cartoonists in Gaza by teleconference.I sympathize with their plight; the poor cartoonists had almost no outlets to print their cartoons.One of the Gaza cartoonists showed me a cartoon he was proud of, showing an alligator eating a dove.I told him I didn’t understand the cartoon, and he explained that the alligator was blue, “which everyone understands to be Israel” and the dove had green wings, “which everyone understands to be Palestine.”
I tried to come up with some advice for the Gaza cartoonists on how to get their work published.I suggested that they could submit their work to international publications, but that it would be tough if every cartoon was another Israel/monster cartoon.The cartoonists responded to say that in Gaza, they are under siege, and they don’t care to draw anything else.
I suggested that the Gaza cartoonists need to coax Western editors into printing their cartoons, and they would do well to consider some other angles, for example, drawing about their personal experiences and day-to-day difficulties.Palestinian cartoons criticizing Hamas and Fatah are rarely seen and would get reprinted.I spoke with one West Bank Palestinian cartoonist, Amer Shomali, who lost his gig with his newspaper because he insisted on drawing cartoons critical of Fatah; he was so frustrated that he rented a billboard to post a Fatah cartoon that his newspaper refused to publish.The billboard was swiftly taken down.
I explained to the Gaza cartoonists that when the Israel/Palestine conflict is big in the news, and we post cartoons about the topic on our site, our www.cagle.msnbc.com traffic goes down.Americans are not very interested in events that happen outside of America, especially when it is the same news story, year after year.I told them that the most popular topic ever on our site was Janet Jackson’s boob, and that our readers really like cartoons about cute puppies.Hearing this, the Gaza cartoonists stared at me blankly, and then urged me to organize an international exhibition of cartoons that highlight their plight at the hands of Israel.
Not all Palestinian cartoonists fit the same Israel/monster mold.I met two interesting West Bank cartoonists in Ramallah.The cartoon below is by Khalil Abu Arafeh, who has a nice style and range; he draws for the Al Quds, the big newspaper in the West Bank.This cartoon is about the United Nations Goldstone report, when they were looking for witnesses to testify about Israeli war crimes in the recent Gaza incursion, a lady stands out from the crowd saying, “We are all witnesses.”
Another interesting Palestinian cartoonist in Ramallah is Ramzy Taweel, who draws about everyday life in the West Bank, and posts his cartoons on Facebook here.I regret that they are all in Arabic, and incomprehensible to most of our American audience, but the cartoons are quite nice. Â Befriend Ramzy and take a look at his cartoons.It would be good if we could send a few new Facebook friends Ra
After meeting with the Egyptian journalists and Palestinian cartoonists, I spoke in Israel to close to three hundred students in a crowded auditorium at the Bezalel Academy of Art & Design and to a Journalism class at Hebrew University.I also spoke to a journalism class in the West Bank, at Birzeit University. The students were all great fun.
Thanks again to the U.S. State Department for arranging the trip and the speaking engagements.