After seeing this cartoon in the Israeli news publication Haaretz, I sent a letter to the publisher Amos Schocken. The following are his responses to me as well as my subsequent replies. The initial letter to him can be found by clicking here. OPEN LETTER TO AMOS SCHOCKEN
Dear Mr. Groen,
What Amos Biderman is saying in this cartoon is very simple: Netanyahu is piloting the plane of Israel in a way dangerous for Israel and for the United States, and if he continues, he will cause Israel an irreparable damage.
This is a clear message. I am not sure I can see how this shows disrespect to the innocent (I assume you refer to the 9/11 victims).
Was it worth it? Worth in what sense? In an ideal world you would expect people how followed, with admiration, for the 30 years he is with us, Amos Biderman’s world class cartoons, to be receptive even if there is one they don’t like.
Well, I understand the world is not ideal. I still think we should let Biderman do his excellent work.
Dear Mr. Groen,
“The implication that there is a moral equivalency between Netanyahu and Al-Qaeda” is totally your own, and is absolutely not a necessary conclusion of the cartoon. I also disagree that the cartoon “mocks the events of 9/11 or diminishes the evil image of those who committed them”.
I think I understand what you say about being Jewish in the world today. I think I understand the importance of Israel for Jews around the world, but I think, also, maybe Biderman should have added another tower to his cartoon, that of the wellbeing of Jews in the diaspora. I think Netanyahu’s careless and dangerous policies, endanger Jews not only on Israel, but also around the world.
And yes, you are free to share my e-mails with your readers (with one correction: the spelling is Schocken, not Shocken – I don’t want to shock anyone).
Dear Mr. Schocken,
We clearly will agree to disagree on this issue and unlike the sentiment held by many of my readers, beyond the acceptable business practice of wanting to sell papers, I believe your intentions are to help Israel, not hurt it. I learned a long time ago that when making a new acquaintance with an Israeli citizen you never know the personal efforts or sacrifices they have made in defense of Israel and the Jewish people. Therefore one needs to be very careful before making any personal attacks or accusations. I also believe in theory that a Jewish ideological adversary would be prepared to die for me as I would for him or her.
The one thing that did strike me about your last response and therefore leads me to another question was when you said “but I think, also, maybe Biderman should have added another tower to his cartoon, that of the wellbeing of Jews in the diaspora.” Were you mocking my comparison to the 9/11 attacks or are you just standing firm on your belief that the cartoon does not draw that comparison and could have made the point even stronger by adding a tower?
For the record Mr. Schocken, after this cartoon I think it is safe to say it will be hard for Haaretz to shock anyone ever again. I guess in media that might be referred to as a challenge.
All the best,
Dear Mr. Groen,
But always remember that before being a Jew, one is a human being, a Mentsch.
I mentioned the “second tower” because of your saying that Jews are offended around the world, more easily than others. I understood this comment as referring to antisemitism and attacks on Jews. We know there is latent antisemitism, but Israeli policies and actions cause criticism in the world, and awakens antisemitism. I said that Bibi does not consider this, when he espouses Apartheid policies towards the Palestinians, and when he devastates Gaza. He causes damage to world Jews within their societies.
And we always aspire for new records.
And there you have it. This is my interaction with Amos Schocken, publisher of Haaretz. My feeling is that to continue the debate is pointless. Or is it? What do you think?