In the wake of the Charlie Hebdo massacre in Paris last week Haaretz published a daring cartoon juxtaposing journalists* killed in Gaza by Israel during the brutal summer slaughter with the journalists killed at the office of the satirical magazine in Paris. This set off a chain reaction which ultimately led to calls for murdering Haaretz journalists after Ronen Shoval, founder of the neo-Zionist and proto-fascist Im Tirtzu movement, called for an investigation of the newspaper’s editors.
The offending cartoon by Noa Olchowski was published with a series of cartoons Haaretz ran in their Hebrew edition, a project by the site’s graphic designers to pay tribute to Charlie Hebdo cartoonists gunned down at the magazine’s Paris office. Including the hashtags #JeSuisCharlie and #JeSuisGaza it reads (original Hebrew):
10 journalists killed in attack on Charlie Hebdo in Paris (top), about 13 journalists killed last summer in attack on Gaza (bottom).
Shoval, who is running in the primary election of the religious Zionist Habayit Hayehudi “Jewish Home” political party called for the investigation “on suspicion of ‘defeatist propaganda’ under Statute 103 of Israel’s penal code” on his Facebook page. Users of the social media site weighed in, Haaretz reported several of the threats:
A raft of death threats came in. “We must do what the terrorists did to them in France, but at Haaretz,” wrote Facebook user Chai Aloni. “Why is there no terror attack at Haaretz?” wrote Moni Ponte.
“Let the terrorists eliminate them,” wrote Daniella Peretz. “With God’s help, the journalists at Haaretz will be murdered just like in France,” wrote Miki Dahan. As Danit Hajaj put it, “They should die.”
“Haaretz is where the terrorists should have gone,” wrote Riki Michael. “Death to traitors,” added Moshe Mehager. “I hope that terrorism reaches Haaretz as well,” wrote Tuval Shalom. “With God’s help, [there will be] a Hamas operation that kills all of you, like the journalists in France,” wrote Ruti Hevroni.
Haaretz’s editorial staff said the cartoons published in the project were a personal gesture by the newspaper’s designers, not the editorial board, and this is how they were presented.
After the recent alarming death threats a spokesperson for Haaretz’s editorial staff had this to say:
“It is astonishing that in the framework of the global debate over freedom of expression and freedom of the press, and at a time when journalists have been killed over the existence of this right, Internet users are demanding that Haaretz completely censor a cartoon whose content they do not like.”
Shoval and his Im Tirtzu movement are no strangers to controversial cartoons.
After initiating a smear campaign described as a “witchhunt” against New Israel Fund’s, Naomi Chazan depicting her wearing a horn, a popular fan site for an Army Radio talk show published Im Tirtzu’s caricature of Chazan as the devil being stabbed by Herzl himself.
Im Tirtzu blamed Chazen and NIF for the results of the Goldstone report and the ensuing “deligitimization” of Israel after Operation Cast Lead in 2008: “92 percent of [the] negative references to the IDF in the Goldstone report originating with Israeli sources came from organizations sponsored by NIF [New Israeli Fund].”