As many Hot Air readers know, I am a fan of editorial cartoons. The best of them can hit to the heart of issues with an image and concise wit that might otherwise elude an army of essayists and talking heads. I’ve admired the work of the late Jeff MacNelly, Michael Ramirez, Tom Toles, Mike Luckovich, and a host of others, even while I’ve disagreed with them on occasion (and sometimes often).
In general, I don’t have much admiration for Pat Oliphant, as I find him to be a hysteric and irrational. In 2004, he published an execrable attack on Navy veterans who opposed John Kerry as resumé padders, apparently unaware of the irony. Now Oliphant finds himself under fire for alleged anti-Semitism for his latest cartoon, a criticism of Israel’s policies towards Gaza:
Another day, another political cartoon controversy! This time the center of attention is Pat Oliphant, the world’s most widely syndicated political cartoonist, and his recent cartoon depicting a goose-stepping soldier pushing a giant Star of David shark into a defenseless woman and child. In case anyone misses the subtle message here, the woman is labeled “Gaza,” and the illustration is tagged “jackboot justice” on the United Press Syndicate site. …
One thing is certain: with over 8 million opinionated New Yorkers, and almost as many media pundits eager to pile on any easily-digested controversy, this one’s sure to keep everyone busy well into next week. Will Oliphant apologize? Where’s Al Sharpton? And why isn’t the baby in the cartoon lobbing a missile? Naturally, Abraham Foxman from the Anti-Defamation League is readily available for television interviews, Op-Ed commissions, county fair appearances, etc. He tells CBS 2, “It is hideous. It is anti-Semitic. It employs Nazi imagery by portraying Israel as a jack-booted, goose-stepping headless apparition. The implication is of an Israeli policy without a head or a heart.”
But is it really anti-Semitic? The Star of David is a symbol for all Jews, but it is also the symbol of the State of Israel. Criticizing Israeli policy for not having a head or a heart doesn’t cross the line into anti-Semitism, either. I strongly disagree with the criticism implied here — for one thing, it completely ignores the provocation of thousands of rockets coming out of Gaza and therefore abandons truth for Oliphant’s bias — but it is Oliphant’s opinion, and not news. It may put Oliphant into the small percentage of people who will always think that Israel is wrong regardless of the circumstance, but that doesn’t qualify as anti-Semitism on its own, either.
Foxman has a point, though, with the jackbooted figure goose-stepping behind the Star of David. That’s an obvious reference to Israelis being Nazis, which in my opinion is an anti-Semitic statement, as well as being completely false. That, combined with the Star of David and the grossly unfair characterization of Gaza being an innocent victim totals to anti-Semitism. After all, editorial cartoons are judged by their totality, and not the sum of their individual components.
What do you think? Take the poll and add your comments:
Update: That should be Pat Oliphant, not Tom Oliphant. The latter is a columnist. My apologies for the error.
Update II: YidwithLid says the problem is stupidity, not hatred.
Update III: Meryl Yourish has a blunt suggestion for Oliphant.