On May 22, 2021 the Boston Globe published a crude, inflammatory cartoon titled “Love letter from Netanyahu” by Christopher Weyant that inverted facts and spread falsehoods about Israel (it appeared online May 21). At a time when Jews are being attacked on American streets in the context of wildly distorted charges against Israel about the conflict with Gaza, often relayed in distorted media coverage, New England’s leading newspaper published and then declined to remove or apologize for the hateful image.
As of this writing, it remains online.
Cartoonists have latitude to mock and exaggerate in presenting commentary on events, but responsible publications apply journalistic standards of adherence to truth, decency and fair play in choosing what to print and when to retract. A drawing that conveys virulent lies and fuels bigotry against Jews, Israel and pro-Zionist voices, needless to say, violates the fundamentals of responsible coverage.
Among Weyant’s lies is the primary cartoon image – a massive, invading tank crushing a Palestinian whose frail arm is all that can be seen, waving a small PLO flag from under the war machine. But there was no invasion and no Palestinians were killed by tanks. Likewise, contrary to the cartoon there was no carpet-bombing of Gaza such that entire neighborhoods were leveled; there was highly targeted, precision bombing of Hamas military tunnels used against Israel. The entire operation by Israel came in response to massive Hamas missile and rocket assault on the Israeli population – which is entirely absent from the drawing.
The inclusion in the cartoon of a downcast Arab woman reading a leaflet is a particularly abhorrent inversion of truth. The leaflet states: “It’s from Prime Minister Netanyahu: Please respect the right for the state of Israel to exist. We appreciate your cooperation while we build it on top of you. XO, Bibi”
Israel drops leaflets during military conflict as a humanitarian action to protect civilians, not to proclaim dominance. As the cartoonist undoubtedly knows, they’re used in Gaza to warn civilians to move away from Hamas military facilities that are used to launch assaults on Israel and are hence targeted by the IDF. In taking this measure, Israel also sacrifices the element of surprise — alerting Hamas terrorists to the impending military action as well — but gives the warning despite this disadvantage.
Hamas, on the contrary, deliberately places rockets in civilian areas, which is a war crime, risking lives and entirely aware that Israel seeks to avoid civilian casualties. Hamas pursues this cynical policy, knowing full well that much of the media will focus without context on civilians inadvertently hurt or killed and will ignore Hamas’s use of its own people as human shields.
The facts about Israel’s efforts to avoid harm to civilians are widely known. Indeed, Colonel Richard Kemp, former Commander of British forces in Afghanistan with a 30-year military career, has repeatedly said Israel is the most humane army in the history of warfare when it comes to safeguarding enemy civilians.
Weyant’s message suggesting Israel aims to “build [the state of Israel] on top of” Gazans is equally malicious, inverted and false.
Israel pulled out of Gaza in 2005, removing every Jewish man, woman and child – and the dead from their graves. Hamas then quickly overthrew the Palestinian Authority in the territory and established a terrorist mini-state supported by Iran. Since then, in 2009 and 2014 Israel has had to fight major conflicts in response to Hamas-initiated bombardments with rockets and missiles acquired from Iran.
It is, of course, Hamas that seeks to destroy Israel and build an Islamic state on its ruins – not the reverse. The US/EU-designated terrorist group announces its intentions daily. The Hamas charter, Hamas leadership and the manifest policies of Hamas from its years of murdering Jews on buses and in cafes during the so-called Second Intifada to its recent aggression in 2009 and 2014 all focus on annihilating Israel.
The cartoon is an obscene inversion – attributing to Israel the genocidal aggression and hatred in reality directed by Hamas against the Jewish state.
Publications routinely issue corrections of opinion columns and at times rescind and repudiate, false, bigoted cartoons – as the New York Times did, for instance, in April 2019 when it ran an antisemitic image.
The Globe brings shame on itself and promotes hatred and misunderstanding in allowing this ugly cartoon to remain on its website and failing to issue a full, straightforward apology.