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Ethan Heitner On The Palestinian Authority Cartoon Post On June 19
posted June 20, 2014
 

I think there are several important points to make in response to your news brief yesterday:

"Palestinian Authority Cartoon Accused Of Glorifying A Recent, Mostly-Condemned Event"

I think it is important to understand the context of the report you linked to, because the report makes a claim, that the Palestinian Authority is "glorifying" the kidnapping, through the publication of a cartoon, which is extremely questionable, and your summary leaves that claim intact.

First of all, the report does not include the full cartoon, which can be found on the webpage of al-Hayat al-Jadida.


The cartoonist, you will note, is Mohammed Saba'aneh, the cartoonist whose arrest and detention by the Israeli military was widely protested by activists and artists internationally, and covered on your site among other media.

I do not think, upon viewing the cartoon, that it "glorifies" the kidnapping, but it's meaning to me was ambiguous.

So I asked Mohammed Saba'aneh, unfortunately with some degree of difficulty because his English is quite limited, as is my Arabic, over email, to clarify.

He said (and gave me permission to send to you) this quote:

"What I did, to mention that the kidnap will be more important to people than the world cup."

And in response to seeing the Australian Jewish News report

"I think they want find reason for some thing."

Your coverage of the cartoon (plus what the AJN report notes as several untraceable cartoons that are vaguely enough on "a Fatah facebook page"-- so therefore very difficult to verify) emphasizes the problematic nature of state media. This is a bit of a misunderstanding of the way newspapers have frequently functioned in the Arab world and indeed-- not to deny censorship or message control, but state- and party-based media are very prolific outside the US, and do not necessarily imply a top-down control of message. If you'll look at the rest of Saba'aneh's work, you can see it reflects on Palestinian prisoners, a topic that is his primary concern, and much of the same work that appears, for example, on his cartoonmovement page:

Finally, I think it is important to note that the sole source of the AJN article is Itamar Marcus, an extreme right-wing settler whose organization exists with the mission of proving Palestinian incitement to violence, but whose credibility as a witness on inflammatory statements in Palestinian media has been dismissed by the Israeli court system entirely (1, 2).

I'm writing this extensive response to your short news article because I genuinely believe that the narrative that exists in the American public of a terrorism-glorifying Palestinian people or state or government is factually wrong, racist, and is instrumentalized by supporters of the Israeli state's colonial policies (Itamar Marcus is an advisor to Israeli PM Netanyahu) to convince the American public to distance themselves from demands for Palestinian rights.