Shlomoh and Friends

Correspondence from the YAHOO group New46 referencing a cartoon which appeared in the Los Angeles Times in October, 2000

To: new46@yahoogroups.com
From:  "AmyJo Daley" <amyjodaley@yahoo.com>  
Date: Wed, 21 Aug 2002 05:59:36 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Re: [new46] L.A. Times

From the page:
The editorial cartoon shown above, "Worshipping Their God" by Michael Ramirez, originally appeared in the print and web editions of the Los Angeles Times in October 2000 and was also syndicated to other newspapers throughout the USA. The Times (and other newspapers) soon found themselves on the receiving end of a barrage of complaints from readers who felt the cartoon was an insensitive, one-sided condemnation of Jews and Israel's actions in the Middle Eastern conflict.

Most of the complainants interpreted the drawing as a depiction of the Western Wall (also known as the "Wailing Wall"), one of the most sacred locations in Jewish religious and national tradition, and therefore assumed the two men pictured praying before the wall labelled "HATE" were both Jews. But the artist, Michael Ramirez, said he intended the wall in the cartoon to represent not the Western Wall but rather "an unspecified wall of hate," he had aimed his political commentary at "elements that are trying to undermine the peace process" (both Israeli and Palestinian), and he would not apologize for the cartoon.

In a public response to the furor created by his editorial cartoon, Ramirez stated:

There seems to be a misperception by some that my cartoon depicts the Western Wall and that I blamed the Israelis solely for the hatred and violence in the Middle East. Actually, the metaphor depicts BOTH Israelis AND Palestinians worshipping "hate."

Ramirez also maintained that the second man in the cartoon (the one sprawled on the ground) was supposed to represent a Muslim praying, but the kaffiyeh (an Arab headdress) that identified him as such was difficult to distinguish in the published version.

Anti-Defamation League: Fighting Anti-Semitism, Bigotry and Extremism Since 1913
The URL for this page is http://www.snopes.com/inboxer/outrage/hate.htm

Message About LA Times Cartoon Outdated  
ADL has received complaints about an editorial cartoon, "Worshipping Their God" by Michael Ramirez of the Los Angeles Times, which portrayed two men worshipping at a wall labeled "hate." The complaints are based on an e-mail message that has recently circulated on the Internet. This e-mail message contains information long outdated.

This Ramirez cartoon appeared in the Times and in other newspapers in October of 2000. The cartoon depicted a Jew and an Arab (not two Jews) praying before a wall labeled "Hate." The wall was not intended to be the Western Wall, though many in the Jewish community assumed it was.

Although the subject of controversy at the time, the matter has long since been put to rest.

Shortly after the cartoon appeared, ADL produced a survey of editorial cartoons, which explained the incident as follows:

The Ramirez cartoon, "Worshipping Their God," which appeared in the Los Angeles Times on Oct. 6, 2000 after surfacing on the Times Internet site three days earlier, was syndicated to newspapers across the country and also widely disseminated across the Internet. After a barrage of complaints, including from major Arab and Jewish organizations, that the cartoon was unfair and insensitive, the cartoonist himself issued a public response: "There seems to be a misperception by some that my cartoon depicts the Western Wall and that I blamed the Israelis solely for the hatred and violence in the Middle East. Actually, the metaphor depicts BOTH Israelis AND Palestinians worshipping "hate."

The Los Angeles Times published a letter from ADL criticizing the cartoon the following day. This was followed on October 15 by a lengthy commentary by the newspaper´s ombudsman, Times Associate Editor Narda Zacchino, who described the public outcry as "unprecedented." She stated: "Obviously, the cartoon failed to communicate his (Ramirez´s) message. In addition, virtually no one saw the image as anything but the Western Wall, the use of which in the cartoon was careless and insensitive."

To: new46@yahoogroups.com
From: "Deke Barker" <deke@andbar.com>  
Date: Wed, 21 Aug 2002 07:54:55 -0700
Subject: RE: [new46] L.A. Times
Amy et al:

I have a lot -- a *LOT* -- of trouble with the explanation about the
kneeling "Muslim" with the supposedly-indistinct kaffiya, and an even
greater problem with the supposedly-generic "wall".

Cartoonists and editors, especially at a newspaper like the LATimes,
have a pretty good idea of how photos and drawings reproduce in their
newspaper (far better than they did just two decades ago). It is
something they learn in HIGH SCHOOL journalism classes. It is not
credible for a cartoonist to state that he didn't know that the alleged
kaffiya wouldn't be recognizable as such.

Anyone looking at the cartoon would recognize it as the Western
(Wailing) Wall. It sure as hell isn't the Berlin Wall, or the Great Wall
of China, or the Vietnam Memorial. What else could it be but the Western
Wall? Was it just an unfortunate coincidence that the cartoonist chose a
wall for his statement? Get real!

My own guess is that the cartoonist and/or his editors -- to their
everlasting shame -- couldn't take the heat and came up with some lame
excuses. It is also possible that the original design was for a Jew and
a Muslim and it was later altered.

But NO WAY would a cartoonist and his editors make the kinds of
judgments and mistakes they claim to have made, not at this time on this


BTW: There would be nothing wrong with either version of the cartoon,
although I'm not sure how relevant it would be in most people's eyes to
have a Muslim praying at the Wall.

To: new46@yahoogroups.com
From: "Deke Barker" <deke@andbar.com>  
Date: Wed, 21 Aug 2002 10:06:58 -0700
Subject: RE: [new46] bowing down
I just looked at the cartoon again at normal size and blown up to
1600x1200 resolution on a graphics monitor.

The cartoonist and/or his editors CLEARLY LIED when he/they said it was
intended to be a Jew and a Muslim rather than two Jews, and when he/they
claimed it wasn't intended to represent the Western Wall.

The generic wall explanation is the giveaway. One could stretch
credulity enough to allow that gross incompetence up and down the line
allowed a poorly-drawn cartoon on a controversial subject to get through
in a form that "unfortunately" distorted the cartoon's intent, but NO
WAY can anyone seriously believe that the use of a wall was merely an
unforeseen coincidence.

Other observations:

If one is portraying antagonists, one does NOT have them praying closely
together like brethren. The two people were a small part of the image,
so separating them would have been no problem and might have made some
(limited) sense IF the kneeling person was obviously a Muslim.

Given the size of the people in the (smallish) cartoon, it is virtually
IMPOSSIBLE that the cartoonist could have intended to show a kaffiya.
Even a carefully-drawn checkered one would not have shown up; the detail
of both people was too raw. At 1600x1200, there is NO sign of a kaffiya;
if anything, there are some pixels in the shape of a Xian cross at the
man's head.

The kneeling/bowing person just happens to be wearing what appears to be
a long black coat and brogues, just like the standing person. To portray
a clearly-identifiable Muslim IN THIS CONTEXT, the cartoonist would not
have used a business suit or overcoat and brogues; maybe casual clothes
and shoes or a robe and sandals along with a kaffiya, but no overcoat or
suit, with or without a kaffiya.

To the best of my knowledge, Muslims do not pray at walls, even the
Western Wall. They especially do not prostrate themselves at the Western
Wall next to ultra-Orthodox Jews.

IMO, the cartoon and subsequent controversy say a lot more about the
state of newspaper publishing in America (most newspapers are owned by
conglomerates) than they do about the Middle East.

FWIW: I believe the LATimes is now owned by the Tribune Company, a
conglomerate (I think they own the Chicago White Sox or Cubs, maybe the
Bulls) that ran into serious problems of journalistic ethics at the
Times last year under the new editor and publisher. Like so many other
media outlets, one must assume that all editorial decisions are now
based upon what is best for the Tribune's short-term stock price. The
cartoon apparently caused too much controversy in these days of rampant
American and Jewish xenophobia and anti-Muslim attitudes, so the editors
bailed out.

That's the ONLY explanation I can think of that fits the facts.

To: new46@yahoogroups.com
From: "jamie" <mjwm@cox-internet.com>
Date: Wed, 21 Aug 2002 12:19:47 -0500
Subject: Re: [new46] L.A. Times
The jpg is a fairly poor resolution, even the larger one at snopes.com
It's very possible that the headdress or turban was much more
distinguishable in the original, just as the printing in the upper left
corner that is barely distinguishable as even being print in the small
jpg and not readable in the larger one at Snopes, would be readable
in the actual paper.

(and I thought while Jews may bow, I thought Jews don't kneel, ever.)

Building the hate word into the wall was in very poor taste, IMO.
There aren't too many walls known for being prayed at.

  jamie (mjwm@cox-internet.com)

To: new46@yahoogroups.com
From: "Howard Karten" <practicalinfo@earthlink.net>  
Date: Wed, 21 Aug 2002 19:26:47 -0700
Subject: [new46] Re: Cartoon
Below is the comment of a friend of mine who's a priest in the Orthodox church; I thought others might be interested in this.

Just saw the cartoon.  Looks to me like a generalized and generic Orthodox Jew and a Muslim Arab, both praying.  The wall is obviously based on the Western Wall, but the words make it something else: Hate is as clear as day as the message conveyed by the cartoonist.  All the other nuances by those in the know (i.e. Arabs don't prostrate in front of walls, or Jews don't bow that low, etc etc ) were not taken into consideration by the cartoonist. I believe his exlanation. The kaffiyah looks like one to me, altho the Arab is in a business suit (also not all that unusual.)  To have them praying side-by-side is part of the impact of the image (intended, I think) since they represent people living in the same land. Like it or not, theirs is a shared destiny, at least in one point of view.   It is true that Muslims don't bow to a wall. But they do prostrate toward Mecca, in fact toward the Kabba (Great Black Stone) which if one looks at from one side, could very well look like the side of an enormous "wall."with similar large blocks (atho it is usualy covered by n enormous cloth, raised ocsionaly to view the wall-like rough-hewn stones.) It is also true that they walk in circles around it. But I think that if the Muslim in the cartoon is prayng toward his own sacred wall, it's certainly right up to his face, only this time it is a wall of hate.

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