Wednesday, August 13, 2014

To Moir or Not to Moir?

While on the subject of political cartoonists, I thought I'd draw your attention to an act of self-plagiarism.

You might remember my 31/7/14 post, Moir: The Herald's Gift to Israel, on the Herald cartoonist's lamentable comment on Operation Protective Edge.

This is what I wrote at the time:

"Moir's cartoon in today's Sydney Morning Herald is an utter disgrace. It incorporates the standard Zionist propaganda line about Palestinian 'militants' using civilians as human shields, with a Hamas fighter aiming an RPG from behind a baby carriage at an incoming missile fired from an Israeli helicopter. Both the Hamas fighter and the helicopter are screaming 'COWARD!' at each other. The piece is irrelevantly titled 'WINNING HEARTS AND MINDS'."

Serendipitously, a cartoon of Moir's from the time of Israel's earlier (08/09) Operation Cast Lead has come into my possession. It shows the exact same Hamas fighter + RPG + baby, only this time in the bottom right hand corner of the cartoon. On the left, instead of an Israeli helicopter, we have an Israeli tank with its gun barrel pointed directly at the Hamas fighter. Both are screaming 'COWARD!' at each other. The piece is titled 'THE PR WAR'. It's dated 15/1/09.

There is, of course, something far more important at stake here than a mere act of intellectual laziness, namely the issue of free speech ( including its corollary, freedom from being smeared for merely exercising freedom of speech).

To return to the case of Moir's cartoonist colleague, Glen Le Lievre. It should be obvious by now that if, like Moir or The Australian's Bill Leak, you're the kind of journalist (I include political cartoonists in this category) who mindlessly recycles Zionist canards, then you're safe from the smear of anti-Semitism. If, on the other hand, like Le Lievre (and Age cartoonist Michael Leunig), you not only understand and feel for the plight of the Palestinian people, but are courageous enough to express it publicly, then expect to be smeared as an anti-Semite.

The smear, of course, has nothing whatever to do with protecting Jews as Jews. It has only one aim: protecting Israel from justified criticism.

The smear works by forcing editors and journalists to always weigh the consequences of speaking out on this important issue. It thus inhibits the telling of inconvenient (to some) but necessary truths.

As Leunig, who has had to weather the smear on behalf of the Palestinians, said in a statement to ABC Television's Media Watch on August 7:

"Every time an editor is forced to back down and make an apology it means the next time a difficult cartoon is put to him he won't take the risk... I think we need to be careful of getting rid of the truth-speakers because that's their job. It's the cartoonists who have traditionally stood up for persecuted minoritis whether they be Jews in the 1930s or Palestinians today."

To adapt Shakespeare's Hamlet, if a political cartoonist has to ask himself every time he feels moved to comment on the genocide in Palestine, To Moir or not to Moir? That is the question.., you know there's definitely something rotten in the state of Denmark.

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