Hebrew daily Haaretz’s political cartoon on Thursday stirred controversy by depicting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu flying a plane into one of the World Trade Center towers attacked by al-Qaeda on September 11, 2001.
The cartoon, by the paper’s Amos Biderman, shows the prime minister flying a plane labeled “Israel” into the building, which is flying an American flag. There is no caption explaining the significance of the caricature.
The cartoon was published in the wake of comments made to The Atlantic by an unnamed American official who called Netanyahu “chickenshit” and cowardly, an interview that strained already tense relations between Washington and Jerusalem. Netanyahu on Wednesday rebuffed the criticism of his foreign policy, saying the unnamed official who issued it didn’t hold Jerusalem’s interests as a top priority.
Biderman explained in a phone interview with The Times of Israel that the cartoon implied that Netanyahu was leading to “a disaster in Israel-US relations on the scale of 9/11,” pointing to the prime minister’s “arrogance” and unchecked settlement construction in retaliation for Palestinian terrorism and diplomacy alike.
Israeli Foreign Ministry official Paul Hirschson remarked on Twitter that the cartoon was “gutter press.”
— Paul Hirschson (@paulhirschson) October 30, 2014
Reached for comment, the US Embassy declined to respond to the cartoon.
Social media users took to Twitter and Facebook to comment on the comic, which some deemed “sick filth,” “provocative” and “loaded.”
— Liam Stack (@liamstack) October 30, 2014
A commenter on the Haaretz Hebrew website said, “It’s simply unbelievable that you don’t have any shame in comparing Netanyahu to the mass murderers of 9/11.”
“You’re allowed to incite against the sitting prime minister in a much worse way than there was before the assassination of [prime minister Yitzhak] Rabin,” a user who went by the name of Gilad wrote.
David Kenner, the Middle East editor for Foreign Policy magazine, simply stated “dislike” in his reaction on Twitter.
— DavidKenner (@DavidKenner) October 30, 2014
One representative Facebook user expressed outrage, asking how Haaretz could “PUBLISH THIS GARBAGE?”