November 17, 2012

Why bark when you have two dogs?

Steve Bell 16.12.2012

This is a Steve Bell cartoon from The Guardian. The picture appears to be saying that William Hague and Tony Blair are saying exactly what Netanyahu is saying even though Israel's latest assault on Gaza seems to be a typical Israeli election stunt.  But for Telegraph hasbara blogger, Brendan O'Neill, it is saying that "Jews [are] still running the world".

Elsewhere in the Telegraph there's a report on how the BBC apologised to Chief Rabbi, Jonathan Sacks, for catching him on the back foot with a question about Gaza.
Lord Sacks sighed, before replying: “I think it has got to do with Iran, actually.” Mr Davis’s co-presenter, Sarah Montague, was clearly concerned that Lord Sacks did not seem to know his remarks were still being broadcast and could be heard to whisper: “We, we’re live.”

Lord Sacks then swiftly adopted a more formal broadcasting manner and suggested the crisis demanded “a continued prayer for peace, not only in Gaza but for the whole region”.

“No-one gains from violence. Not the Palestinians, not the Israelis. This is an issue here where we must all pray for peace and work for it,” he said.

Mr Davis thanked his guest and announced that the programme would “move on” to the next item.

In a statement the BBC apologised for catching the Chief Rabbi off-guard.

A spokesman said: “The Chief Rabbi hadn’t realised he was still on-air and as soon as this became apparent, we interjected. Evan likes to be spontaneous with guests but he accepts that in this case it was inappropriate and he has apologised to Lord Sacks. The BBC would reiterate that apology.”
Hard to see what there was to apologise for here except that, when he thought he was off air, the Chief Rabbi responded like a politician and when he knew he was on air he returned to religion mode. Anyway, perhaps I should change the headline above to "why bark when you have three dogs?"

UPDATE at 5:20 am 9/12/2012: I just had an interesting chat with a chap called Dave Zeglen on the Fat Man on a Keyboard blog where he (Dave Zeglen) says why he thinks the Steve Bell cartoon is antisemitic:
Levi9909,

I don't think criticism of Israel is a priori anti-Semitic, and I also accept that there are certainly some people who respond to legitimate criticism of Israel with the charge that the accuser is being anti-Semitic. However, in this particular case of Steve Bell's cartoon, it is an anti-Semitic cartoon because it invokes an anti-Semitic stereotype for a man who is Jewish. Even if Steve Bell did not intend the cartoon to be racist, the symbolism is clearly racist given how the trope of the Jewish puppet master has been historically used to marginalize Jewish people. Netanyahu should rightly be criticized, but this was not the way to do it. Bell defended his cartoon with the same argument you put forward, that because it depicts a specific individual at a specific moment, it isn't anti-Semitic, but how can you ignore the fact that the person depicted is also a Jew? It's not the same when you invoke a puppeteer trope for a leader who isn't Jewish because there may not be that historical association with a non-Jewish leader. As a corollary, it might be acceptable to draw George W. Bush as a monkey to mock his incompetence, but it would surely be racist to do the same with Obama because of the historical use of such imagery regarding black people, right?
I did respond but I don't want to be ungracious by giving myself the last word here. If you want to see my response, go there. Ta.

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