Eli Valley’s Spooky Halloween Hasbarah Special

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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.

Click to see full size (new window)

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…

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6 Comments

  1. Yuvy

    10/31/2011 at 1:03 pm

    “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…” – manipulative. no way I’m watching the vid now.

  2. themiddle

    10/31/2011 at 5:29 pm

    “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. ”

    Precisely.

    Sadly, you’ve just described most pro-Palestinians. You ever visit your friends at 972? They bandy that insult all day long but rarely impress with their point of view or responses.

    Now, if only the Palestinians would come up with a word like “hasbara,” then we could do the same to their defenders. Alas, for now we’re stuck with “Palestinian propagandists” which is a mouthful, isn’t as harsh and takes way too long to type.

  3. themiddle

    10/31/2011 at 8:34 pm

    Okay, I’ve read the comic and viewed the video.

    Alternate reality, indeed. In the video, justifying his cartoon, Valley doesn’t successfully define hasbara. He claims that it’s a product of the “internal Jewish community,” whatever that is, and is a major component of jewish fundraising and advocacy which stands opposed to the great Jewish tradition of having more than one idea in your head without imploding. He claims that hasbara insists that we stop using our brain…

    It’s easy to target an amorphous target. What is hasbara? Apparently anything Valley considers hasbara. He goes a step further by suggesting that this undefined thing called hasbara, which appears to mean to him whatever Israel-related position is in opposition to his, one is engaging in behavior that is antithetical to Jewish values.

    That reminds me of Mearsheimer’s division of Jews into Righteous Jews (Chomsky, Klein, Finkelstein) and Afrikaners (anybody who expresses pro-Israel sentiments). It also reminds me of the recent letter by J Street suggesting that only good Jews support Israel along the lines of J Street’s philosophy.

    As for the cartoon, it appears that Mr. Valley would rather manipulate the facts or omit critical facts to make his case than to engage in a nuanced approach to the history. Perhaps he’s concerned that if he provides a full discussion, then his readers’ heads would implode?

  4. Rabbi Yonah

    10/31/2011 at 11:44 pm

    TM your comments hit the spot.

    Meanwhile …. Hasbara is a word that has been used in israel for… several generations. I remember in 1987 first learning it, and I was not the first American Jew to be educated in the fine art of promoting Israel’s view of the situation. The problem of course then in 1987 as now is that Israel itself has many voices. (say it ain’t so eli!). Yet, there are somethings that 90 percent of Israelis can agree on, and that formed the basis of the Hasbara in the 1980’s, before the first Intifada. I am not even sure what it means anymore. Is it “We make mobile phone chips?” I hope not.

  5. themiddle

    11/1/2011 at 12:26 am

    “Iddo” wrote the following review in the Forward, which echoes my own views, for a different Eli Valley cartoon:

    To the Forward –
    I’m one of your readers from Israel, I was born In Israel and my family have lived in this country for the past 130 years. I consider myself to be a Social-Democrat and a dovish Zionist, and I must say that I find Elly Valley’s cartoons and caricatures undignified, misleading, filled with misrepresentation of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, hurtful, arrogant, dichotomous in view and above all – lacking in humour and unfunny. Valley is simply portraying people who aren’t severely critical of Israel as he is as stupid, racist, brain-washed and ridiculous. That’s not a way to create a good satire.
    I like reading the Forward and I hold it to higher standards than this.

    forward.com/ar...

    Smart comment.

  6. Jessica

    11/1/2011 at 2:39 am

    I appreciate a clever cartoon as much as the next gal, really I do. And this cartoon is plenty clever! Cartoonists are kind of enigmatic don’t you think? They are on the outside looking in, making clever observations about society while holding themselves above it all – and at the same time desperately seeking acceptance from the same people they criticize. And here we have enfant terrible Eli Valley, working well within the organized Jewish community while constantly holding it up to ridicule. He chooses for his targets those that are easy to ridicule – large organizations seeking to fundraise using simplistic messages with a populist appeal, or a right wing Israeli government crafting messages aimed at the lowest common denominator, or well meaning but ill informed Jews repeating talking points. He then goes and smears the entire pro-Israel community in one broad stroke! It’s truly masterful, too bad it completely fails in terms of substance. 1967 was an opportunity squandered by the Zionists? The Arabs had zero interest in coexistence and no one spoke of Palestinian Nationalism. Settlements weren’t built just stam… in 1973 the Arabs were a hair’s breadth away from over running Israel. In his cartoon he seems to blame the failure of the Oslo accords on the same society that negotiated them. The security barrier (only 13% of it is a wall) is removed from the context of the brutal campaign of terrorism aimed at civilians that preceded its construction. American communal support for Israel is reframed as support for colonialism, and current negotiations paint the Israelis as insincere while completely ignoring Palestinian shenanigans. Cute. Valley is using the same tactics that he accuses the Hasbaristas of using. What’s the point then? To show how clever you are?

    You’re only really clever to the choir you’re preaching to.

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