Cartoonist’s Cynical Take on Murdered Teens’ Funerals

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Guardian Cartoonist Steve Bell, winner of one of HR’s Dishonest Reporting Awards in 2012, is no stranger to anti-Israel bias. Even so, his latest “commentary” about the funeral of the three Israeli teens murdered by Hamas terrorists pushes the envelope on cynicism and a lack of compassion.

The cartoon shows a giant scale with the flag-covered bodies of three Israeli teens outweighing a larger number of flag-covered Palestinian bodies. The implication is that people care too much about “just” three Israelis when so many Palestinians have died in the conflict.

Bell’s cartoon is typical of the mindset that grants the Palestinians moral points simply because more of them have died, regardless of the circumstances. In this case, three Israeli teens were kidnapped and murdered in cold blood. Two of them were 16-years –old. They were killed heading home from school.

A number of Palestinians were killed in the subsequent Israeli effort to locate the teens, and the sweep against Hamas, which is responsible for the premeditated murder. Those Palestinians died when they made themselves active combatants against the superior power of the Israeli army.

It would be an immoral equivalence to place innocent teens traveling home from school on a par with active combatants who put themselves in conflict with an army. But Bell’s cartoon goes even beyond equivalence, suggesting that the numbers are the real issue.

As long as Bell’s perspective remains a lens through which people see the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, there will be more Palestinian “martyrs” and more violence against innocent Israelis. After all, if the moral high ground is determined not by behavior or efforts towards peaceful co-existance but by the numbers of dead on either side, the Palestinians could only gain from more violence.


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[sc:graybox ]Cherryl Smith, PhD, is professor emerita in rhetoric and composition at California State University, Sacramento. Her blog is Framing ...