If you go to the Middle East section of the BBC news site, then you’ll find coverage of the most dramatic recent stories in the region: the demonstrations in Egypt (30 dead, hundreds injured), a piece about mourners gathering in the Iraqi city of Fallujah after protestors were shot by army troops and a report of clashes involving anti-government protestors in Bahrain. There are two stories relating to Israel. One is a low key piece about Yair Lapid’s refusal to join an anti-Netanyahu block – and the other is, not surprisingly, about David Ward.
Given that there have been no widely reported significant moves relating to the peace process, or its absence, in recent days it seems slightly odd that Gerald Scarfe chose this issue, of all others, as the focus of today’s cartoon. Netanyahu is presented cementing the heads of both Palestinians and other figures (including Obama) into a wall where cement has been replaced with blood. Blood is dripping from the brick he holds in his hand, apparently aimed directly at the head of his next victim rather than the wall itself. It also drips from the torn white flag of peace he carries in the other. The caption reads ‘Will cementing peace continue?’ Raheem Kassam thinks it crosses the fine line between criticism and antisemitism/the blood libel. Some commenters (politely) disagree. Even if you think it wins that particular game of brinkmanship, its publication on Holocaust Memorial Day, given that it is not responding to an urgent news story, seems gratuitous and offensive.
Returning to the David Ward story on the BBC site – the headline reads ‘David Ward ‘sorry’ over Israel Criticism’. This is not very accurate. Whether or not Ward is sorry, he most certainly isn’t sorry for criticizing Israel – he has declared quite clearly that he will continue doing this ‘in the strongest possible terms’. And, whatever his defenders persist in saying, neither was that the reason why so many were outraged by his words in the first place.
Hat Tip: The Commentator