The Guardian, Steve Bell, Bibi and more puppet-like control

Here’s the cartoon published by Steve Bell, Guardian on Nov. 15, titled: Tony Blair and William Hague’s role in Israel-Gaza clash.

Steve Bell 16.12.2012

As we noted in a post the day after the cartoon was published (a graphic depiction of the puppet-like control Bibi had over Blair and Hague in the context of the two British leaders’ expressions of support for Israel’s recent war in Gaza) the cartoon evoked the antisemitic canard of Jewish control over non-Jewish British politicians.  Further, Bell’s cartoon was almost indistinguishable from what is routinely published in the Arab media (in cartoons and in prose) alleging unimaginable Jewish control over world leaders.

Bell defended the cartoon, arguing thus:

“I can’t be held responsible for whatever cultural precepts and misapprehensions people choose to bring to my cartoon.”

Today, February 4th, evidently in response to an apology by Sunday Times’ owner Rupert Murdoch – over the controversial Gerald Scarfe cartoon (published on Holocaust Memorial Day), which depicted mangled, tortured bodies being buried over with bricks laid by the bloody trowel of a murderous Netanyahu – Bell published the following, titled: Steve Bell’s If … on Rupert Murdoch’s apology to Israel.

(Note: the second frame is a reference to a comment by Murdoch in November, complaining that the Jewish owned press is consistently anti-Israel.  The final frame is a reference to Sooty, a popular glove bear and TV character back in the 50s.)


Is Bell mocking Murdoch’s complaint that media companies with Jewish owners are anti-Israel by noting that indeed the opposite is the case – that powerful Zionist Jews in fact exercise too much control over the media?

Admittedly, such graphic depictions inevitably leave a lot open to interpretation.  

However, after the row following Bell’s cartoon in November, Chris Elliott – the Guardian’s readers editor – responded to complaints, noting that the image of Jews having a disproportionate influence over the US and British governments has often been replicated by anti-Jewish cartoonists in the Middle East since the end of the second world war, and concluded thus:

“While journalists and cartoonists…should not use the language – including the visual language – of antisemitic stereotypes.”

Given Bell’s reaction to the row over the Scarfe cartoon – where he mocked the notion that the cartoon was antisemitic during a BBC debate with Stephen Pollard and refused to answer Pollard’s question as to whether he was even aware of the history of antisemitic cartoons in the Arab media – it seems clear that the Guardian cartoonist remains, at the very least, breezily unconcerned with the damage caused by “using visual language” which evokes “antisemitic stereotypes”.

22 replies »

  1. “Is Bell mocking Murdoch’s complaint that media companies with Jewish owners are anti-Israel by noting that indeed the opposite is the case – that powerful Zionist Jews in fact exercise too much control over the media?”

    Don’t jump in too soon, Adam. As ever Steve Bell’s punchline will come on Thursday.

    • In the interests of balance and fair play is steve bell going to do a cartoon of the mullahs in Tehran controlling the likes of hamas and hezbollah…..I wont be putting the £27k in my bank account on it

  2. It appears that the Scarfe controversy has actually spurred Bell/Guardian/BBC on to demonise Israel and its Jewish inhabitants even more. To them both Murdoch and Netanyahu are the evil incarnate. Note again Netanyahu’s nose drawn by Bell and if you discard the nose he looks like Gordon Brown.

    • Note again Netanyahu’s nose drawn by Bell

      Like the nose in the recent Scarfe cartoon, it reminds me of the noses of Roman centurions in the Asterix books.

  3. “To them both Murdoch and Netanyahu are the evil incarnate”

    Well that might be exaggerating a little but both are certainly forces which make the world a worse place. In the US Murdoch has turned Fox News into a right wing propaganda machine whilst in the UK his newspapers have hacked phones by the hundred, manipulated politicians and bribed police. Meanwhile Netanyahu steadily kills more Palestinians and deprives them of the land and resources that are their birthright.

    • Meanwhile Netanyahu steadily kills more Palestinians and deprives them of the land and resources that are their birthright.
      …and poisons their wells, drinks their blood, kills them for their organs…
      Sencar you are a textbook example, you should be displayed in a museum of European Jew-hatred.

      • Please say which of my criticisms of Netanyahu are untrue, Peter.

        Does the IDF not kill Palestinians on a regular basis?

        Is Israel not gradually acquirling Palestinian land, water and minerals for its own use?

        • And of course the mriyads of hamas/fatah/hezbollah/plo rockets and suicide bombers dont kill Israelis

        • You are incapble of making “criticisms”, because that would require intellectual honesty. You are just a pathetic hater.

        • Does the IDF not kill Palestinians on a regular basis?
          Of course it does. What do you think Sencar how we could pay for our luxury villas without selling Palestinian organs? And what other reason the IDF could have to kill them peaceful friendly and innocent Palestinians?
          Is Israel not gradually acquiring Palestinian land, water and minerals for its own use?
          Of course it is. Until now the Jews only took the Palestinian water, now they have started to grab their minerals too. They exploit the rich coal, iron, gold and copper mines on the West-Bank not speaking about the oil wells and the huge gas reservoirs in Jericho and Hebron.

        • “Meanwhile Netanyahu steadily kills more Palestinians and deprives them of the land and resources that are their birthright.”

          Killing and depriving – demonizing as criticism? What nowadays is called criticism.

          Yoav Gelber: This should be seen in the framework of postmodernism, where opinion replaces knowledge in intellectual life. This is at least partly an outcome of the communication revolution. People always had opinions. But who cared and who knew about their opinions? Today everyone has the possibility to express his opinion in blogs, opinion columns, talkbacks, Facebook, social networks and so on. And many of them have hardly any knowledge of facts and reality. This is a process that also has infiltrated history

          Birthright – this displays the blood and soil thinking, right extremism which infiltrated the left extremism decades ago, in the sixties, tiermondism and the maoist continuation of Stalin`s nationalistic turn.

          Let`s think of Godard as example for a critic (an auteur) of bourgeois living, with a maoist background and a deep hate for Israel, already depicting Golda Meir as Hitler, Israel as colonial project of the Imperialist west.

          We should not forget for one moment that the so called peace activists and the peace NGOs use a left extremist terminology of imperialism, zionism, colonialism etc. displaying their rich inheritance by the sovjetcommunist finance, infiltration and indoctrination.

          Why is this remembered?
          Because in some way it forms the pre- and the context, the perspective, spread by mass media and the cultural left: After the Soviet bloc collapsed, China went the capitalistic way, and South Africa underwent reforms in a process, not in revolutions and mass murdering, leaving the ‘left’ left in political disarray till 9/11 and the second intifada when they made a comeback as cultural left, patronising and inventing minorities in the west, fostering Islamic views and values as multicuturalism, defending the ‘victims’ of western Imperialism, the Muslims countries, spreading hate of the USA and of Israel, undermining science and western values by claiming it as whiteness, sexist, rapist, colonialist, biased, ungendered, orientalist, imperialist, obsessed with identity, .. and you know what.
          I`m not sure what reault a queer, a critical whiteness, a postoriental or postcolonial examination of the distance between Earth and the Moon will achieve, but at the moment it remembers me of ‘1984’: 2+2=5.
          And the mass medias depicted themselves as balanced when fostering these critics
          (Maybe there is some research about these networks between medias, universities, interests and persons, maybe it was just the paradoxical effect of Thatcherite ‘ reforms’ and Blairite prolongation which brought the oil dollars, the Arab Emirates and the British universities together uniting in the creation of very interesting institutes)

          And here we are

          This short description forms some of the intellectual limits under which people like Wexler fancy the situation when balancing Israel against PLO/Hamas. This unreal thinking of balance, inventing crimes and demonizing Israel, belittling the Holocaust against the setting of a propaganda of victimology and militants in self defence who live in ghettos and are just short of a ‘Holocaust’ derives from such unreflected bias and imagines itself as the way of solution and peace.

  4. There’s no question that Bell is a sanctimonious left-wing bigot who mistakes his arrogance and ignorance about Israel and the Middle East for superior morality and intellect uber der Juden. But in this case, it is a joke using Sooty. No matter how much of a miserable anti-Zionist bastard Bell is, Sooty does not qualify as an anti-Semitic trope.

    It’s Bell’s way of parading his “heroism” in the face of “Zionist pressure”, while making damned sure he doesn’t get stung again, and have to resort to humiliating himself by screaming like a spoilt child; “it wasn’t a puppet on a string, it was a glove puppet so it can’t be anti-Semitic!”

  5. I shall be reporting CiFWatch to the press complaints commission for an outrageous case of journalistic incompetence – or deliberate misinformation? – contained in this article.

    Sooty was a 1950s phenomenon? No way. I remember him well from my childhood – and neither am I that old nor was I (contrary to what some might believe) born yesterday.

    • I am that old!

      Sooty is a British glove puppet bear and TV character in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand and other countries. The children’s television show which bears his name has continued in various forms since the 1950s and, according to the Guinness Book of Records, is the longest-running children’s programme in the UK. He was 60 years old on 19 July 2008, and will be 65 years old as of 19 July 2013.

      For the record, not that it’s any of your business, I’ll be 64 next month.

    • I’m afraid you can’t report a private blog written by a non-journalist to the press complaints commission.

  6. Further, Bell’s cartoon was almost indistinguishable from what is routinely published in the Arab media …

    But it is completely distinguishable from that horrid cartoon you link to there.