It’s a perfect Halloween Trifecta! My Hebrew birthday is today, I just got my 6,666th follower on twitter and Eli Valley, the Forward’s Artist in Residence brings us yet another one of his masterful cartoons! Just in time for Halloween and inspired by DC Comics’ “Tales From The Crypt” series, it features a zombie Herzl as the narrator. The title, “Never Miss an Opportunity” refers to a statement made by Israeli statesman Abba Evan at the Geneva Peace in 1973 when he said “The Arabs never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.” Often misquoted as “The Palestinians never miss…” the phrase has become a standard talking point in certain circles. In what can be alternatively titled “No. You Never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity…” Valley chides what he perceives as the many Israeli and Jewish communal missed opportunities to foster peace between Israel and the Palestinians. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, a one page comic is hardly the place one ought to go to for incisive and well thought out political discourse and in that respect, Valley does not disappoint. Those who view any statement defending Israeli actions as mere Hasbarah/Propaganda will of course be fully down with the comic, despite its relative brevity. Those who scream anti-Semitism at any criticism of Israel will totally hate the comic even though it at the very least reflects the fact that Israel isn’t, can’t, always be perfect.
But again, it’s a comic! It’s not meant to be an exhaustive and accurate description of the Israel/Palestine conflict. It’s meant to be thought provoking – and here I am writing a post about it so there you go. The fact is that there are a lot of well meaning people who reflexively defend Israel without really having a deep understanding of the conflict. Gaining a deep understanding requires lots of research and reading and time consuming stuff like that. It’s much easier to just rely on pre-packaged talking points and emotional appeals that lack much substance. That having been said, the accusation of employing Hasbarah is the greatest and most vacuous talking point used by those critical of Israel. They don’t need clever phrases or substantive counter-arguments at all. All they need to do is dismiss any statement that contradicts or questions their vision of the conflict as “Hasbarah” and any productive discourse is effectively and immediately squelched.
See, the thing is that not everyone that refuses to subscribe to a one-sided view of the conflict that paints the Palestinians as hapless victims and the Israelis as colonialist ogres, is a uni-dimensional Hasbarist. Some have been deeply immersed in the situation for a long time, and have nuanced, relatively well thought out opinions and a pretty sharp command of the facts. But throw that Hasbarah word out there and they all become troglodytes.
Anyhow, check out Valley’s cartoon at the Forward as well as the accompanying video below where you will see Valley talk about the cartoon while he works on it. Don’t worry, there are no scenes of him in an undershirt with a bowl of Cheetos – Valley draws whilst wearing a dashing blazer apparently!
Note: I colored in Zombie Herzl, I hope Valley doesn’t mind…. I wouldn’t have to do it if the Forward just paid someone to colorize the comics! I did it in honor of Erev Halloween. Now gimme some candy, it’s Halloween AND my birthday…