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Steve Bell editorial cartoon called antisemitic

Antisemitic cartoon by Steve Bell?

A recent cartoon by The Guardian’s editorial cartoonist Steve Bell is being attacked as antisemitic. The cartoon depicts Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as a puppet-master controlling Foreign Secretary William Hague and Tony Blair.

A complaint has been lodged with Press Complaints Commission alleging the cartoon as “plainly antisemitic.” The Community Security Trust, a British charity established to “ensure the safety and security of the Jewish community” called the cartoon “subtle” antisemitism.

Steve has rejected the label. From The Jewish Chronicle:

Mr Bell said he had chosen to draw the cartoon because “the coverage of Operation Pillar of Defence has been so skewed in favour of the Israeli side, particularly I regret to say on the BBC, that I do personally feel quite a strong need to make the counter argument”.

He said the cartoon was about “the cynical manipulation of a situation by a specific politician” and “NOT about cynical manipulation by ‘the Jews’. I refute completely any charge of antisemitism, since I would never conflate the two.”

Mr Bell added: "I also refute the charge that I am somehow deliberately repeating the antisemitic ‘trope’ of the puppet master.

Community Comments

#1 Donald Rex Jr.
November/20/2012
@ 5:08 pm

“He (Steve Bell) said the cartoon was about ?the cynical manipulation of a situation by a specific politician? and ?NOT about cynical manipulation by ?the Jews?. I refute completely any charge of antisemitism, since I would never conflate the two.?

We have seen Prime Minister Netanyahu use the same bullying manipulative tactics here in the USA since President OBama took office. Now these antisemetic charges serve to further obscure any attention to the other side.

The cry that Israel has a right to defend itself from rocket fire is a bit hollow when the Gaza Palastinians can ONLY make the news by firing them.

Oppression sucks.

#2 Mike Rhode
November/20/2012
@ 6:43 pm

Alan, something’s wrong w/ the link to the original story. Good catch though. Those darn cartoonists…!

#3 Dave Stephens
November/20/2012
@ 11:07 pm

Israel is the only country on planet earth that should NOT defend itself from rocket fire? Do tell! LOL! What a magical mind you have…

#4 Alan Gardner
November/21/2012
@ 12:28 am

Thejc.com site isn’t loading for me either. Here are a couple more links to the story from other sources.

Gaza Attacks: Guardian’s Steve Bell Sparks Outrage Over Israel ‘Puppet Master’ Cartoon

The Guardian?s Steve Bell Defends his ?Anti-Semitic? Cartoon

#5 Mike Peterson
November/21/2012
@ 5:07 am

Dave, proportionality is one of the pillars of the Just War Theory. You don’t have to debate any further than the numbers: Compare rockets launched with casualties sustained and you can see the very limited effect of the Palestinian rockets — they are a nuisance, not a menace. Then look at the effect of Israeli response.

I don’t know how many people are saying they don’t have a right to respond to this potentially fatal nuisance, but there are moral parameters to be observed.

Strictly from a pragmatic point of view, they’d probably save more Israeli lives by bombing an automobile plant.

#6 Mark Juhl
November/21/2012
@ 6:49 am

Mike nearly 2,000 rockets and shells have been lobbed at Isreal just this year alone, some loaded with agents that have been declared off limits by agreement with the UN and no one does anything. No crys of outrage for any of the attacks against Isreal, only when Isreal responds, in any fashion, in any proportion does anyone complain.
If after being attacked 2000 times in one year and barely retaliating and the attacks don’t stop, a big response is proportional.

#7 Donald Rex Jr.
November/21/2012
@ 10:03 am

I wonder what our response would be if Canada closed all of our borders and blockaded all of our ports, airports and access to importing all products, medical supplies and technologies for their own ‘security’?

Would 2,000 largely ineffective rockets seem an over reaction? Two wrongs don’t make a right, but I see a clear bad guy here, and we are sending him billions per year.

Reality is a shifting commodity, and when oppression of human beings becomes institutionalized I applaud a cartoonist who bravely speaks truth to power.

#8 Mark Juhl
November/21/2012
@ 3:16 pm

If the U.S. was sending suicide bombers in to blow up civilians, taking control of the borders would be the least they should do.

#9 Mark Juhl
November/21/2012
@ 3:19 pm

In regards to the cartoon, whether I or anyone agrees with the toon or not he should be able to do what he wants. They can fire him but they shouldn’t be able to tell him what he should or shouldn’t draw.

#10 Dave Stephens
November/21/2012
@ 6:32 pm

“Just War Theory.” Heh. Is that related to the “Ride a Unicorn to Work Theory?” Makes about as much sense…

#11 Mike Garman
November/22/2012
@ 12:30 am

Middle east apartheid anyone?

#12 Mike Peterson
November/22/2012
@ 4:17 am

Yeah, Dave, the basic foundations of Christianity are pretty ridiculous. Still, some really stupid people continue to read that absurd “Bible” and claim to live by the rules set up by the superstitious people who have believed its nonsense.

You’re right, though. We should probably have a law against letting any of those fools into government.

#13 Mike Peterson
November/22/2012
@ 4:30 am

Mark: As of the end of October, there were a reported 227 deaths in automobile accidents in Israel this year. That’s down from 326 in the same period in 2011.

Israel must have blown up some automobile factories, eh? Or is there a way to handle a threat to the lives of its people that doesn’t involve blowing things up?

#14 Mike Lester
November/22/2012
@ 11:42 am

“Still, some really stupid people (Christians) continue to read that absurd ?Bible? and claim to live by the rules set up by the superstitious people who have believed its nonsense.”
-Mike Peterson (bigot)

#15 Mark Juhl
November/22/2012
@ 6:47 pm

Mike Peterson, seriously? Your comparing deaths due to car accidents to deaths by suicide bombers,missiles and rockets.

#16 Terry LaBan
November/23/2012
@ 11:25 am

I would love to know what Mike Petersonor Donald Rex would consider an acceptably “proportional” response on Israel’s part to rockets being fired randomly on its towns and cities. Does Israel get to respond after 10 rockets? 100? Do they have to wait until 30 civilians are killed or are 10 enough? Can they only use rockets as good as Hamas has or do they have to use worse ones, since they’re so much more powerful and all? Or is that all the more reason why they shouldn’t be able to defend themselves at all?
Of course, if it was any other country, especially the US, that wouldn’t even be a question. If terrorists sponsored by the Mexican government were lobbing shells into Brownsville, along with a few long-range ones that could reach San Antonio, we would do whatever we needed to do to stop them. See, there’s a reason Israel blockades Gaza, and it doesn’t have anything to do with apartheid. It’s because Hamas is a nihilistic, destructive organization that profits from conflict, and considers a few hundred dead Palestinians to be excellent publicity.
Israel is not a nation of angels and the Middle East conflict is complicated. But personally, I’ll do a shot every time Israel takes out another Hamas official or blows up another smuggling tunnel or government building.

#17 Donald Rex Jr.
November/23/2012
@ 2:03 pm

Terrorism doesn’t spring up without seeds being planted. I would consider a proportional response to be for Israel to open Gaza’s borders.

Fear runs Israeli politics just like our own. I see fear as disfunctional. Reading the above jingoistic responses it seems clear that we can all stand to learn more about the roots of the conflict.

Perhaps you haven’t noticed that countries don’t go to war with other countries any more. Everyone but us realizes it is a losing proposition. Only regional, ethnic and religious insurgencies are effective. It is irrational to think or expect that any country can imprison over a million of it’s own population in dire conditions without consequenses.

I would like to hear Terry Laban or Mark Juhl suggest exactly what the people in Gaza can do in response to their oppression, which predates suicide bombers and rocketry by a decade?

#18 Mike Peterson
November/23/2012
@ 5:16 pm

Mike, if at the next comics convention you attend, they have a session on “sarcasm,” I’d suggest you attend. A lot of cartoonists use it quite effectively and I’m surprised you’ve never come across it before. (THIS IS AN EXAMPLE OF SARCASM)

As for theology, the Just War Theory has been a fundamental pillar of Christian ethics for some 1600 years, albeit one often violated. Dave Stephens was suggesting that Christian ethics is a nonexistent concept. I found that offensive and responded sarcastically by suggesting that — in his world — only stupid people believe Christian teaching.

Under the Just War Theory, most reprisals are considered disproportional and thus unethical — for instance, lining up 10 people and shooting them in reprisal for assassination of a soldier or police officer, firing live rounds into a crowd because someone in the crowd threw a stone or blowing up an entire neighborhood in reprisal for a random and relatively fruitless series of rocket launches.

#19 Mike Peterson
November/23/2012
@ 5:18 pm

By the way, I’m aware that Israel is not a Christian nation.

#20 Mark Juhl
November/23/2012
@ 6:04 pm

Donald the majority of people across the globe, including people in that region, regardless of their hardships as a response don’t resort to terrorism. There is no justification for it, there are no seeds being planted that cause it, you’re either the type of person who will deliberately kill women and children or your not, period.
As for how Israel responds, it’s hard for them to negotiate with groups whose one and only stated goal is to destroy them. Who, everytime they’ve given in to any of their demands is rewarded with yet more attacks.
How should the people in Gaza respond? Quit supporting the terrorist,stop them from doing what they’re doing. Then negotiate with Israel without the precondition that they have to be wiped off the face of the earth and peacefully live up to the conditions of whatever is negotiated. I could argue about what you call their past “oppression”, but it would be pointless and regardless it doesn’t justify terrorism.

You talk about fear, Israel wouldn’t have the fear if they weren’t being attacked if they could be confident of their own safety. But they can’t,that fear is called being realistic.

#21 Donald Rex Jr.
November/23/2012
@ 11:24 pm

Just to come back to Mr. Bell’s cartoon. Israeli politicians use rhetoric such as ‘mowing the grass’, they build walls excluding Palestenian-Israelis from freedom of movement (sometimes even to their own land) and they restrict over a million ersatz free people to a prison-like piece of desert. All by reason of local, political issues motivated by fear largely fabricated by politicians.

The PLO had a catchy bit of rhetoric that Israel has no right to exist. As might makes right this is clearly untrue and completely useless to anyone except to local Arab politicians, or Isreali supporters who use it cynically or ignorently to obstruct any useful negotiations with hostile neighbors.

Mark you seem to prove my point in that of the millions who have greivances, very few have resorted to terrorism. They also indicate a skewed news consumption. I have been avidly seeking news reports on conditions in the middle east for nearly four decades because I’m interested, and I care about all sides of the conflict.

The issues are all human ones, and can only be resolved on a human level. If you care to navigate from this link to my you-tube channel I have a featured video telling my suggestion for reconcilliation entitled ‘A Mosque For Israel.’

#22 Mike Lester
November/24/2012
@ 6:57 am

Mr. #18: (because If you’ll deny what you wrote, you’ll probably deny your own name) here’s a rule of thumb from one cartoonist to a wannabe, when you have to explain in all caps “(THIS IS AN EXAMPLE OF SARCASM)” it’s not. “just kidding, just kidding, just kidding” is not a debate. It’s a Kristen Wiig SNL bit.

Cartoon, theology, land, right to exist aside, my feeling on the nuanced “just war theory” (lower case intended) -if you are sitting behind a man on a bus continually flicking his ear w/ your finger you shouldn’t be shocked when he gets up, turns around and clocks you. Military theory is to take the fight out of your enemy w/ superior response. Tit for tat results in wars w/out end otherwise we’d still be fighting the Japanese.

#23 Mike Peterson
November/24/2012
@ 9:40 am

Mike, the point is that it’s okay to turn your back on Christianity. Lots of people have. Lots of people were never Christians to begin with. That’s fine.

But the Just War Theory is a fundamental pillar of Christian ethics. For Dave to mock it as mythical is not only “wrong” from the point of view of whether or not it’s real, but it’s offensive. So I responded sarcastically, and you accused me, not simply of “bigotry” but of being a “bigot,” which is more insulting than necessary.

And then you get upset because I wasn’t polite in responding. Sigh.

Let me try this without sarcasm: It is not “bigotry” to point out that proportionality is part of the theory and that the theory is part of Christianity any more than it is “bigotry” to point out that the Second Amendment is part of the Constitution and that the Constitution is part of US government.

I’m done. If you’re going to respond, please do it without personal insults, and remember that your quarrel is with St. Augustine, not with me.

#24 Terry LaBan
November/25/2012
@ 9:28 am

@Donald Rex
What can the people of Gaza do to respond to “oppression”, besides randomly fire rockets, which serve no defensive purpose whatsoever, at Israeli civilians? Well, if they actually had a choice in the matter, which they don’t, since Hamas is itself an oppressive entity that holds power by means of force, they could start by recognizing the state of Israel, stop buying weapons to attack it from Iran and negotiating a final settlement in good faith. But they won’t, because a) “defying” Israel is their entire reason for existence and the source of their power and b) any concession that Israel makes is seen not as an opportunity to make Palestinian lives better, but as a sign of weakness and thus actually perpetuates the cycle of violence.
What Mr. Rex and Peterson refuse to understand is that the rationales of the actors in this conflict are completely unlike the moral calculi they make themselves. Christian theories about “just wars”(as if they ever mattered to anyone in the real world anyway) are as irrelevant here as the customs that govern tribal conflicts among the Yamomami Indians. Donald Rex is right–the issues here are human ones. He just doesn’t know as much about humans as he thinks.

#25 John Cole
November/25/2012
@ 12:37 pm

If a picture’s worth a thousand words, then based on this thread alone Steve’s cartoon is one of the year’s best.

#26 Donald Rex Jr.
November/25/2012
@ 2:57 pm

Terry LaBan – Gaza rockets are not intended to be ‘defensive,’ but promotional.

Also Hamas is the elected represention in Gaza. Suck on that Fox News.

What the heck is a ‘final settlement’ supposed to mean? It seems like one might seek information beyond the television or internet before pontificating. I enjoy lectures, but prefer that the professor knows what shes talking about.

Who but a fool would compare 30,000 people (indians) inhabiting 90,000+ square miles of rain forest to over a 1,400,000 people imprisioned in <145 square miles of desert by the sea?

Finally I don't understand how any stripe of theology is remotely relevant to this topic.

#27 Mike Peterson
November/25/2012
@ 4:32 pm

Well, again, it’s ahistoric to claim that theological discussions of morality are not traditionally resorted to in war. But whatever.

Two observations that do not call upon morality for justification:

1. The way to placate people who are, or feel they are, oppressed is to offer them economic opportunity. Whether it is the ghettoes of Northern Ireland or the Gaza strip, people who do not have jobs and opportunities for advancement become cannon fodder for militants. And military/police action tends to do more to increase a community’s solidarity with its militant groups than it does to make them give them up. That’s true everywhere.

Margaret Thatcher showed strength of character and thousands died. Finally, there was a change in government, an uptick in the economy and a respect for the needs of the community and the result was peace in the Six Counties.

2. Proportionality is not a purely theological construct. International law tends to look negatively on reprisals and does not, generally, approve, for instance, of lining up and executing 10 civilians in retaliation for the shooting of one occupying soldier. The idea of “targeting the homes of militants” sounds a lot more like taking reprisals — if we can’t catch the militants, we’ll kill their families — than justifiable military strategy.

And I agree with John Cole.

#28 Donald Rex Jr.
November/25/2012
@ 5:28 pm

This topic is not war, but politics. (see Steve Bell’s cartoon).

#29 Mike Peterson
November/25/2012
@ 7:35 pm

A distinction without a difference.

#30 Donald Rex Jr.
November/25/2012
@ 11:24 pm

On a cold and gray Dublin morn
another little Irish child is born
in the ghetto

That dern Elvis! Another example of popular song changing language.

Personally I would prefer to vacation in the worst part of Ireland than the best part of the Gaza strip.

Hello Mike Peterson— we have politics going on all over without wars attached. I guess there is no distinction if words have no meaning.

I like to think I live in a world where politics can prevent war. Is it World War III yet?

#31 Mike Peterson
November/26/2012
@ 5:04 am

Yes, Donald, that’s it: Death in Gaza is tragic, while death in Ireland is humorous.

#32 Donald Rex Jr.
November/26/2012
@ 9:48 am

Just to be clear, I am making fun of you! What I find humorous is your ludicrous expressions of tautology in addressing the meaning and implications of Steve Bell’s cartoon that this thread began by depicting.

To say a politician standing before an array of arms leads to war is to deny the cold war and our own history of the Ike administration.

#33 Mike Peterson
November/26/2012
@ 10:22 am

Good. I’d hate to think that a thoughtful or even marginally competent reading of my posts had led to such a ridiculous series of responses.

I think we’re done here. Really.

#34 Terry LaBan
November/26/2012
@ 12:13 pm

“Terry LaBan ? Gaza rockets are not intended to be ?defensive,? but promotional.”

All terrorism is “promotional”, Donald. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t kill or otherwise disable the perpetrators to prevent it.

“Also Hamas is the elected represention in Gaza.”

Yeah, and after they were elected, they kicked out their political rivals in a violent coup. And stopped holding elections.

“What the heck is a ?final settlement? supposed to mean?”

Well, I guess that needs to be negotiated. But I’ll bet it won’t include endorsing the right of Hamas to devote every resource it gets from the international community to destroy, or at least undermine, Israel.

“It seems like one might seek information beyond the television or internet before pontificating.”

Ya think?

Who but a fool would compare 30,000 people (indians) inhabiting 90,000+ square miles of rain forest to over a 1,400,000 people imprisioned in <145 square miles of desert by the sea?

I'm not sure. But that's not the comparison I made.

Anyone who discusses the situation in the Middle East without acknowledging what's actually going on, instead making a lot of lofty generalizations intended mainly to make themselves feel morally superior, is just indulging in intellectual self-gratification. There, we're done. And I get the last word.

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