Taking on the rabid


Back in 2002, cartoonist Michael Leunig submitted this cartoon to the Age newspaper but was rejected by then editor Michael Gawenda. I thought the work was provocative, and probably offensive to many Jews, but nonetheless an important perspective on the Israel/Palestine conflict. After all, international law condemns Israel’s brutal occupation.

Leunig is currently embroiled in controversy surrounding his anti-war stance and critics who believe that questioning the “war on terror” is tantamount to treason. Long may he prosper.

Australian Jewry, as reported by the Australian, have little sympathy for Leunig, and accuse him of stirring up racial hatred. Journalist Cameron Stewart interviews Zionist lobbyists AIJAC and implies that this group is representative of the whole community.

It should be noted that Cameron recently travelled to Israel on a trip sponsored by AIJAC. Upon his return, he told the Australian Jewish News (January 6):

There is nothing like seeing and getting a better understanding of the geography of Israel and its borders. It took all of three minutes to fly [by helicopter] to the security border and I think it gives a very good example of the security issues that Israel faces. It was a really fascinating time to be there because there were so many changes. While we were there, there were lots of political defections. There was a suicide bombing in Netanya and some rocket attacks.”

Cameron sounded like a little kid, close to the military hardware and convinced that Israel’s “security” – rather than the Palestinians right to self-determination – was the key to the conflict. A number of other journalists joined Cameron, including reporters from the Sydney Morning Herald, Australian Financial Review, Courier-Mail, Herald Sun and Network Ten.

The Murdoch broadsheet today editorialises about the current Leunig controversy and seems to believe that the cartoonist has nobody to blame but himself. After all, the Age readership is of the “hard left”. In the Australian’s worldview, little more is needed to justify ridicule.

Leunig’s work is often controversial, sweet and innocent. Leunig has chosen to portray Israeli brutality against the Palestinians and many Zionists would rather see him fired from the Age for this “crime” alone.

UPDATE: Michael Leunig offers his perspective on “resisting the rise of fascism.”

Text and images ©2024 Antony Loewenstein. All rights reserved.

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