Tag Archives: Al Jazeera

Facebook Threatens To Ban Work of Israeli Political Cartoonist

The visual art of Israeli cartoonist, “Mysh” has drawn the ire and censorship of social media giant, Facebook, it has emerged today.

According to the artist, three major pieces have been removed, with threats that his page will be completely erased if he continues to post “flagged material” in the future.  Mysh reported that his page had already been suspended for 24 hours by the social network while efforts to contact the relevant department dealing with censorship issues have so far been unsuccessful.

In some of Mysh’s work he draws inspiration from popular comic book superheroes such as Superman, Batman and the Hulk to comment on the political and economic issues of the day.  These have included Israel’s wealth divide, the recent spate of anti-African agitation and violence, and settlement expansion in the territories of the West Bank.

One of  the piece’s reproduced here, which has been banned by Facebook, depicts the Israeli settlement enterprise in the figure of the Hulk.

Text says: “The Green Sabra, control, but not over itself” (Courtesy: Mysh)

Another banned illustration entitled “A Problem of Self-Esteem” is meant to critique the “Holocaust-complex”, the  tendency by Israeli leaders and parts of the general population to view Israel as a permanent victim, due to the trauma of the Holocaust, a self-image which is not always in tune with the current reality.  In response to Facebook’s decision to remove the cartoon, one user reposted the image on Mysh’s page saying, “go ahead Facebook, delete it again”, reflecting an upswell of online support for the Israeli cartoonist.

(Courtesy: Mysh) Various popular prejudiced slogans are tattooed on the figures back, including “death to the Sudanese, a good Arab is a dead Arab, what doesn’t come with force, comes with violence, allow the IDF to mow down”

This third piece, which so far has escaped the Facebook censor, shows far-right national-religious politician, Michael Ben Ari, Shas Minister of Interior Eli Yishai, and Prime Minister working hand-in-hand to distract the Israeli citizen with the recent African immigrant issue in Israel.  Routinely referred to as “infiltrators” by the media and political class, the increasing number of Africans in South Tel Aviv, principally from Sudan and Eritrea has become a hot-button issue in recent weeks.  Religious and right-wing politicians from both extremist and mainstream parties alike have used the issue to stir-up racial hatred and violence among the disenfranchised and impoverished neighborhoods of southern Tel Aviv.  Last Wednesday, Likud Parliamentarian, Miri Regev, former Brigadier General of the IDF’s Spokesperson’s Department told a baying crowd that the African “infiltrators are a cancer in our body”.  Regev subsequently denied making those comments, but her speech was then caught on camera and widely distributed throughout the internet, thus exposing her denials as false.

(Courtesy: Mysh) “Teamwork”: PM Netanyahu says, “make sure that nothing is left in his pocket”

I emailed the Facebook press department several hours before publishing to receive an official explanation for why they opted to censor and threaten Mysh’s work with a ban, but no response has so far been forthcoming.  Mysh has informed me that Facebook will not return his own request for more information until the 6th of June.

The controversy over Mysh’s artwork comes at a time when the whole medium of political cartoons and animation are gaining increasing importance online as users demand more hard-hitting visual content incorporating opinion as well as basic news.  Al Jazeera recently ran a piece for its “Listening Post” programme on this new trend, featuring Mark Fiore,  the first ever online animator to win the Pulitzer Prize in 2010.

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In wide ranging discussion assessing the impact of Peter Beinart on the Israel debate within the US Jewish community, Daniel Levy, Co-Director of Middle East Task Force at New America Foundation says history of anti-Semitism, Holocaust cheapened by influential voices in American Jewish establishment

Israel’s Mako Channel 2 TV station ran a prominent story on their website today (April 8, 2012) covering the recent interview of Saar Szekely, the so-called “radical leftist” Big Brother contestant appearing on Al Jazeera’s “The Stream” program in English.  The interview has been widely reported by many of the major Israeli media outlets including NRG (Maariv newspaper online edition), Nana (Channel 10 TV), Walla and of course Mako-Keshet which produces the Big Brother show in Israel.

The mainstream Israeli media has all led as their main headline: “Szekely says that he would not enlist in the IDF today”.  Although they all mentioned Szekely’s comments on friendship with Arabs as a “political act”, the Israeli press tended to do so right at the end of their articles, as a relatively unimportant footnote.

Saar Szekely entering the Big Brother house

Saar Szekely entering the Big Brother house

This morning, the presenters of the channel 2 morning show, “Yom Hadash” (new day), Dahlia Mazor and Yoaz Limor, expressed disapproval of Szekely’s appearance on Al Jazeera saying that it was wrong for him to criticise Israel on “Arab media,” (even though Szekely actually appeared on the channel’s English version).  However, they agreed that prior to that it was legitimate for him to express his political views on Israeli primetime television.

Another major contributor taking part in “The Stream” program together with Szekely, and completely absent from any Israeli coverage was Daniel Levy, son of controversial member of the British House of Lords, Michael Levy, and in his own right a serious figure in numerous Israeli peace negotiating teams.  Levy was a member of Israeli delegations from Oslo 2 in 1995, to the Taba summit in 2001 and most recently was one of the lead drafters of the Geneva Accords.  Today Levy spends most of his time in Washington D.C. working for the think tank, the New America Foundation, as the co-director of their Middle East Task Force department.

During the course of the Al Jazeera show, Levy made a number of provocative comments challenging the American-Jewish establishment regarding the debate on Israel in the US.  First he said that the accusation of “anti-Semitism” and the use of the Holocaust is “hurled around” too often thus cheapening the term and the history of the Jewish people.  Levy also referenced the response of Atlantic journalist, Jeffrey Goldberg to Peter Beinart’s Zionist BDS arguments as an example of the kind of unhelpful knee-jerk reactions in the Jewish community to deep criticism of Israeli policy.

Daniel Levy, Senior Fellow at the New America Foundation

Daniel Levy, Senior Fellow at the New America Foundation

Later in the program, Levy also heavily criticised Israeli government and military favouring security at all costs while compromising international ethical and legal norms.  He stated that “we’re all better off” in a rule-based society and a world in which rules and rights are not abused.  He also argued that such abuse in the name of security will only, “engender hate, anger and frustration”.  This will result in a “boomerang” effect which will be self-defeating, only serving to undermine our security interests in the long-term, Levy added.

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