Thursday, January 23, 2014

B’nai B’rith Canada Condemns Montreal Gazette Editorial Cartoon

From the Algemeiner.

Frank Dimant, CEO of B’nai Brith Canada, who traveled with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper this week to Israel, on Wednesday condemned an editorial cartoon by Aislin published on Tuesday in the Montreal Gazette, showing the prime minister defaced with an Israeli flag.

“The cartoon is vile, grotesque and simply offensive,” Dimant said.“It is therefore inexcusable that the Gazette would deem it appropriate to publish.”

On Monday, Harper addressed Israel’s Knesset, the first time ever for a Canadian leader, saying that Canada would stand by Israel “through fire and water.”

“It is disrespectful, not only to the Prime Minister, but everyone who supports the democratic principles highlighted in his speech in the Knesset,” Dimant said.

“It is all too similar to perverted images vilifying Harper which we have seen during his trip to the Middle East. It treads close to borrowing the age old canard that Jews wield undue influence to silence critics of Israel. The broader spectrum of Canadians supporting Israel, and the Jewish community in particular, deserve an immediate and unqualified apology.”

Aislin's response:

One of the most exasperating aspects of being a political cartoonist is the predictable, knee-jerk reaction from some readers whenever Israel is referred to in a cartoon. It is an issue worth addressing. Below, for example, is a letter from a Gazette reader – and my response to it. (Out of courtesy, I have not included the reader's name.)


I was horrified upon opening up the Gazette this morning and seeing your insulting and clearly anit-jewish-Israel caricature of Stephen Harper. I cannot believe my eyes nor your audacity to have this in public view. You will be reminding people of caricatures of jews depicted in Nazi propaganda that were debased and ridiculed. How dare you. Disgusting and disappointing. My subscription with the Gazette ends today.


We are all welcome to our own opinions and are entitled to express them. That is why I rarely respond to any criticism of my cartoons. In your letter below, though, I feel I must answer to your reaction to today's Stephen Harper cartoon. Your outrage is quite frankly – a bit much.
It is no secret that Stephen Harper is a big fan of Israel. Fans tend to wrap themselves in flags – or paint their faces with sports or patriotic symbols. Thus today's cartoon. And for some of us who do genuinely care about Israel, but would prefer to see more balanced sympathies on the part of Canada towards all peoples in the Middle East, Harper's love affair does seem – a bit much (as stated in the cartoon). This is a legitimate point of view that is as you surely must know held by many, many Canadians.
Therefore, for you to compare my cartoon to Nazi depiction of Jews is absolutely ridiculous! Better, the cartoon was drawn in the same spirit as the good political cartooning that is being done today in Israel itself. Freedom of the press there allows for highly critical inward looking at Israeli society and its politicians – as is the case here in Canada.

Below is part of an article from The Jerusalem Post on local cartooning there:

"For a tiny country like Israel, some 30 working political cartoonists may seem a disproportionately high number compared to other countries, but this wasn't always the case. In the state's early years and through the 1960s, the Israeli press was largely nationalistic. Despite a few cartoonists like Arieh Navon, who developed charming or funny Israeli characters; there were not many critical political cartoons or even a lot of satire in the media itself. But soon enough, and with great ferocity, Israelis learned to let their hair down. By the 1970s, it was fair game to take your best shots at just about anyone through cartoons. This trend was partially inspired by the first television satire program, Nikui Rosh, which pioneered anti-establishment humour."

Terry Mosher (Aislin)

More from Aislin:

Regarding the reaction to today's cartoon of Stephen Harper in The Gazette, sensitivity about anything at all having to do with Israel is nothing new. Here is a cartoon from 22 years ago that my editors at that time declined to publish (even if they all loved it)…

No comments:

Post a Comment