Somewhat surprisingly, this is the first cartoon I’ve ever completed on the subject of Israel/Palestine. I’ve sketched a few other ideas over the years–see the cartoon’s mouseover text for a reference to one of them–but those with the potential for further development always got sidelined by other, more temporary topics, as I figured this one wouldn’t be going anywhere, anytime soon.
The latest conflict in the region has cost the lives of about 1,800 Palestinians and 64 Israelis, but the ratio of casualties–28:1, given those numbers–rises as high as 600:1, when you factor out military casualties. Given the absurdly disproportionate body counts, self-defense claims by Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, seem to represent the polar opposite of reality, akin to a murderer who’s beaten someone to death claiming self-defense because she managed to inflict a small scratch on his leg while fighting back.
The threat-and-response being totally out-of-scale to one another becomes even more clear when you consider the almost cartoonish ineffectiveness of the Qassam rockets wielded by Hamas and other belligerents on the Palestinian side, not to mention Israel’s habitual targeting of homes, schools, hospitals, and refugee shelters, even after being given exact coordinates 33 times by U.N. officials.
People defending this have argued that Israel cannot conduct reasonable military operations against Hamas without harming civilians, because Hamas hides among them, and launches its rockets from the middle of civilian population centers–“using women and children as human shields,” as the typical rhetoric goes. I don’t want to completely absolve Hamas of any responsibility for their part in this lethal interaction, but I have to wonder what other choice they have, at this point, considering the ever-shrinking space into which all the Palestinians have been squeezed.
It sounds to me like the Israeli government’s operating principle, in this matter, is a presumption of guilt by association, like blaming Native Americans who violently opposed the invasion and theft of their land by Europeans for the Trail of Tears.
The role of the bully in this modern scenario can be easily determined by identifying who’s punching up, and who’s punching down. Hamas may be a poorly-trained, extremely aggressive guard dog that keeps attacking mailmen and toddlers who walk by its yard, but that doesn’t exactly give animal control permission to kill its owners, as well as the neighbors next door, just in case they were thinking about getting a dog, too. Especially after animal control has spent the last several weeks antagonizing the dog by constantly throwing rocks at it.
And I really want to say civilians caught in the middle, on both sides, are the victims, but… it’s awfully hard to do that when Netanyahu retains an 80% favorability rating among Jewish Israelis despite (or even because of) this barbarism, while over 98% approve of the current Gaza air strikes specifically.
I normally try to avoid using emoticons in these posts, but… O_O
Even at the height of its patriotic frenzy, with nearly the entire Federal government and all national broadcast media promoting it, the approval rating among Americans for Operation Iraqi “Freedom” never exceeded 76%, according to Gallup, and that number was certainly high enough for me to feel that we, as a people, were responsible for that unmitigated disaster. All of us, all… of us.
The most sympathetic thing I can say about this for Jewish Israelis is the fear which surely underlies their attitude makes sense, even if how they choose to act on it is whacko. After all, their people have been persecuted for over a thousand years for essentially no reason–wouldn’t you be afraid if, after all that, your leaders were seemingly hell-bent on making sure the rest of the world hated you for another thousand, because of “guilt by association”?