Last January’s devastation of Gaza compelled me to publish the backstory to my cartoon below. My news source for the Israeli attacks was not the U.S. media (who stayed conveniently on the sidelines), but disturbing reports from Doctors Without Borders, who remained in Gaza trying to help the Palestinian people.
Here is the backstory to the political cartoon above:
In the summer of 2003, the world watched as land, water, and dignity were stolen from the Palestinian people — all with the silent complicity of the US media. To express my growing outrage, I drew this cartoon at my kitchen table in Maine.
After realizing that no newspaper would accept it, I decided to publish the cartoon as an advertisement in the NY Times. I focused on the quarter-page space in the Op-Ed section reserved for opinion ads. Contacting the Times, I learned that pro-Israel organizations had reserved the space for 30 of the next 52 Sundays. I took the first available date.
My cartoon was scheduled to appear on September 21, 2003.
The Times required several changes to the cartoon so that it conformed to the acceptability standards of the newspaper. These changes were made. The Times production staff then asked for and was sent the camera-ready copy.
I paid the cost of the ad in full.
On Friday, September 19 I received notification that the cartoon’s publication was cancelled by order of the Times’ publisher. I recall simply shaking my head at the news – wryly noting that this action by the Times was validating the very point of the cartoon.
I next submitted the cartoon to USAToday, where it was accepted. The morning that the cartoon appeared, I received a call at 8:45am from a USAToday vice president.
He said that in all his years at the paper, he had never had a response like what was happening as a result of the cartoon’s publication. Apparently, American pro-Israel groups are geared up for such “emergencies” and inundated USAToday offices nationwide with telephone calls and emails. But of course it was too late.
1. I received more hate mail/ threats than I did accolades.
2. A year later, senior management at USAToday had been replaced.