Haaretz, often described as Israel’s New York Times, didn’t do itself any favors Thursday when it published this cartoon featuring Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu flying a plane into the World Trade Center:
The cartoon struck many as tone deaf, akin to depicting Netanyahu as Hitler.
It also inspired this cartoon retort:
— Mike Doran (@Doranimated) October 30, 2014
Interestingly, Haaretz has stood by the cartoonist, Amos Biderman, uncritically publishing an article Thursday night in which he defended the cartoon :
“It was certainly not my intention to insult or upset anyone,” Biderman told Haaretz on Thursday. “I wasn’t sufficiently aware of the great sensitivity that 9/11 holds for Americans.”
According to Biderman, his cartoon contained criticism of Netanyahu.
“I was mocking Bibi,” he said. “He’s been acting like a bull in a china shop with the United States, which is Israel’s most important strategic asset.”
There has been criticism in many quarters of Netanyahu’s handling of Israel’s relationship with the United States. Critics have accused the prime minister of timing announcements about new construction projects in the West Bank and East Jerusalem to cause maximum embarrassment to the administration of President Barack Obama, with whom Netanyahu has a famously strained relationship.
Biderman also told Haaretz that he has never censored his cartoons, which have grappled with many controversial issues.
“I have drawn cartoons depicting every war that Israel has fought, including the Yom Kippur War – which I was involved in – where we suffered thousands of casualties. I have used some of Israel’s greatest tragedies as the background for my cartoon. In one of my recent cartoons, which poked fun at the so-called Milky protest, I even referenced the Gestapo. I never imagined that by using an image that evoked 9/11 I would cause such a storm.”