It's in the P-I
Mark Trahant, editorial page editor of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer has lately been using his Sunday column to act humble, apologize to his readers and/or justify the various silly things his editorial page publishes during the rest of the week. In yesterday's column he gives us a howler of a defense for publishing Ted Rall's emetical comic strip.
A number of readers have complained about the P-I's Saturday Spin and syndicated cartoonist Ted Rall.
Rall's humor is biting. It's outrageous satire -- and completely unbelievable. He's drawn Bush as a generalissimo, a dictator and warmonger. He's made fun of terrorists. And, most important for our conversation here, he is a sharp critic of Israel and its policies.
Does he go too far?
Literally, yes. But peel back and look for the point and it's not hard to uncover.
Rall's work suggests that Israel, in order to survive, must change its policies. He's written about this in addition to his cartoons.
"Anyone who has visited the Middle East can't help but be impressed by the energy, intelligence and resolve of the Israeli people. An end to American subsidies would force them to deal with such longstanding structural problems as high unemployment, systemic constitutional tensions and demographic trends that threaten to turn their country into a Jewish state with a Jewish minority," Rall wrote recently. "Independence from Washington doesn't have to lead to Arafat's fantasy of pushing Israel into the sea. A cut in U.S. subsidies could be phased out gradually, perhaps over the next 10 years. More important, the U.S. should sign a mutual defense treaty committing to come to Israel's aid in the event of an invasion. Independence shouldn't equal abandonment, and support shouldn't equal international welfare."
I too look forward to the day when Israel isn't dependent on the largesse of its only friend in the "international community" to
protect it from being annihilated by the 300,000,000 oil-rich Arabs that surround it. But the most serious complaints that the P-I received about Ted Rall and his commentary on Israel were NOT about the words quoted above, but about this cartoon which makes the false and outrageous accusation that Israel's desire is to commit genocide:
See Jim Miller's commentary (here
) where he references the above cartoon and quotes a private e-mail from Trahant that indicates very clearly what the concerns over Rall were about:
Thank you for the note. For the record, folks have noticed. I had a morning meeting last week with a variety of pro-Israel and Jewish community groups specifically to talk about the cartoon because they saw it as offensive.
I learned a lot from the meeting and even there are times we disagreed, I came away with a great deal of respect for their view of the cartoon.
Sorry, Mark, restoring credibility does not come from acting humble while pulling a fast one. It comes from dealing honestly with readers' concerns.
Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at December 01, 2003 01:06 PM
dude, forget rall, his radio shows were cancelled. we have a serious idiotarian day in jimmy carter and his speech to the audience in geneva - you really have to remember that carter believes he lost, not because of inflation, not because of Iran, but because of Ted Kennedy destroying the unity of the dems (read ted white's book in search of america - carter gave three reasons for losing, iran, inflation and kennedy, but really went off on kennedy). now, kennedy's best day in the sun was when andrew young was fired for talking to the plo and kennedy came back to life bigtime due to that event. somehow, carter really thinks that his shitty role in history, basically as a mere steward of the country w/o any redeeming value (even georeg hw bush got his son elected), on the jews and israel - probably cause menachem begin was such a hard bone. anyhow, forget rall, take on jimmy.
Ken J "fail(s) to see how the cartoon you posted regarding this item is satirical." Well, perhaps you need to have satire explained again in more detail. If you fail to see the satire in a satirical work, it's probably because you are too close-minded to comprehend an interpretation different than your own. No one says you have to agree with alternative views of reality, but the job of a satirist is to help you at least become aware of them. In this case, the cartoon shows how Israel's security policies, such as the fence and isolating Arafat in his compound, are not that far away from Arafat's goal of pushing Israel into the sea. The difference being that Israel would try to appear more ethical by including food and air for the Palestineans as they were pushed into the sea. Like I said, you don't need to agree with it, but if you can at least understand that some other people (e.g. potential suicide bombers) see it that way, then you have a better chance at predicting how those people would respond and what would make them more likely to respond in a way you would like.