Today there’s been a veritable faeces-storm over Steve Bell’s latest cartoon, which depicts Bibi Netanyahu using laughable “peace envoy” Tony Blair and Foreign Secretary William Hague as puppets, with missiles unleashed behind him. One Times hack went so far as to call Bell a Nazi, although that appears to have been a misunderstanding. Bell defends himself thus.
But anyone who is even vaguely familiar with Bell’s work (and I am a fan) knows he loves this kind of imagery. All sorts of people are depicted, largely legitimately, as puppets in his work. All these works are copyright Bell or the Guardian or both – I couldn’t always find them on the Guardian’s site, but if anyone from the Guardian wants me to take them down, just let me know..
Racist about Russians?
Racist about Americans and Iraqis?
It’s a thing Bell likes. It fits with a certain left understanding of the world, especially international relations. So-and-so is really controlling what’s-his-name. Sure, some people who are antisemitic use it too, so should that make it off-limits as a metaphor? How would you illustrate that idea?
And yes, having a menorah on the podium might seem off. But you know, it’s just how the actual podium Netanyahu uses looks. That same pic has the same furled Israeli flags that Bell drew for today, too. Again, it’s just how a Netanyahu press conference looks. I’m as anti-antisemitic as anyone, but criticising Israeli politicians for bombing civilians, and criticising those who support them in doing so, that has to be allowed. This just looks like another attempt to shout down critics by disingenuously conflating their legitimate criticisms with racism.