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Daily Show references Palestinian cartoonist Mohammad Saba’aneh in story on free speech hypocrisy

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Jon Stewart’s coverage of “March of the Parisians” on the Daily Show the other night was fantastic. His guest was Jimmy Carter, who was his fabulous self, but for an episode packed with multiple hysterically executed clips (Hassan, the ‘denounciest’ Muslim ever! – see below ), for me at least – Mohammad Saba’aneh‘s flash appearance stole the show. Did you recognize him?

After a brief introduction a mini montage of the crowd pencil-photos appeared with Stewart claiming “the march gave Parisians a chance to introduce a new icon of liberty”, that pencils were “the new symbol of freedom of expression was everywhere.”

"Bow before new Graphite King, be not afraid" Screenshot (2:41)

“Bow before new Graphite King, be not afraid” Screenshot (2:41)

Immediately I thought of Saba’aneh’s timeless 2011 Freedom of Expression cartoon we featured in our first article about Saba’aneh when he was detained by Israel back in February 2013.

Stewart emphasized the flagrant hypocrisy of world leaders attending the march, whose regimes are complicit in gross violations of human rights pertaining to the suppression of free speech. Ticking off the names countries — Russia, Egypt, Turkey, blogger-flogging Saudi Arabia, he referenced Israel (renowned for the arrests, imprisonment, and murder of journalists) with a quote “Palestinian cartoonist…work landed him in an Israeli Prison for five months” .. all of the sudden the image jumped off my screen, of the very person on my mind just seconds before; Mohammad Saba’aneh.

Screen shot: The Daily Show January 12, 2015

Screen shot: The Daily Show January 12, 2015

Certainly I am not the only person reminded of Saba’aneh in the wake of the attack. However, I wonder if Stewart even knows his name or what an incredibly prolific and versatile artist he is. I wondered if he had ever seen any of Saba’aneh’s cartoons?

Perhaps John Stewart could interview Mohammad Saba’aneh on the Daily Show! Or make a movie about just one of the thousands of Palestinian political prisoners locked away in Israeli jails as we speak. Saba’aneh was returning from Jordan when he was picked up by Israel, for the crime of contacting a publisher about a book on Palestinian prisoners. He is a threat to Israel’s security because his ideas, like his cartoons, are dangerous precisely because his mind is unleashed, in Free Reign.

Don’t miss this episode. Jimmy Carter talks about Palestinians, and Stewart along with his team of comedians, Jason, Hassan and Jessica do a mock up on the ridiculous requirement – no, the demand – of moderate Muslims to “unequivocally condemn” the Hebdo massacre that’s worthy of its own coverage. Which reminds me, someone ask Saba’aneh to condemn the recent attack, graciously, he complied.

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Annie Robbins

Annie Robbins is Editor at Large for Mondoweiss, a human rights activist and a ceramic artist. She lives in the SF bay area. Follow her on Twitter @anniefofani

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21 Responses

  1. JWalters on January 14, 2015, 5:27 pm

    I have the impression that there are many in the U.S. media who would like to bring up the facts about the radical, extremist Jewish supremacists who run Israel, but who are afraid to do so. This would make sense since they simply cannot all be so blind to this glaring reality. But the megaphones go to the Joe Scarboroughs and Bill Mahers who are hammering the focus on Islam’s radicals.

    Here and there however, cracks on this monolithic control of America’s and Europe’s press are occurring. Lawrence O’Donnell last night mentioned the existence of extremist Jews. He did not go into the implications, but it was a crack. Comedians like John Stewart get a bit of leeway since, by definition, comedians are not to be taken seriously.

    The squashing of so many glaring facts in this central discussion is itself evidence of the tremendous power wielded by the financial forces behind the Jewish supremacists of Israel. The blanket of fear covering Americans and Europeans, the suppression of honest discussion, and the attendant destruction of democracy (which depends on free speech) are the huge, unspoken collateral damage of the “Zionist project”.

    The tragedy of the Nazi Holocaust, which also targeted many millions beyond Jews, is NO justification for the massive injustice and cruelty perpetrated by these radical, extremist Jewish supremacists. Their actions were planned before the Nazis came to power, during a time when Jews were assimilating successfully across Europe.

    • JeffB on January 14, 2015, 5:59 pm


      2 days ago Phil did a review on a book Contested Land, Contested Memory: Israel’s Jews and Arabs and the Ghosts of Catastrophe

      He didn’t cover the parts of her book on the holocaust refugees but she does an excellent job on covering what they were facing. Their homes were gone. The economy of their home country in ruins. Their neighbors had been poisoned by years of Nazi propaganda. They were not successfully assimilating. If you want to demonize then I can’t stop you. But if you want to deal with reality you need to get a grasp on what the reality was, and for many is.

    • Kay24 on January 14, 2015, 8:16 pm

      What is disgusting about Bill Maher, is that he is tarring ALL Muslims with the same brush, does not bother to differentiate them, and makes the religion look bad. His anti Muslim stance always shows when he talks this way.

      During Israel’s last massacre in Gaza, one Australian publication put up this cartoon, and there was immediate outrage from around the world, and an immediate apology from those responsible. It seems the Muslims don’t have the ability to get that kind of immediate response, when they show outrage. I think the Jews around the world have a better outrage system!,7340,L-4554657,00.html

  2. Blownaway on January 14, 2015, 9:57 pm

    The Israelis have no sense of irony. Today they demanded an apology from a British cartoonist for drawinga pic of Netanyahu bulding a wall out of palestinians and blood. Isn’t freedom of speech the reason Netanyahu went to France? Media baron Rupert Murdoch has apologized for a Sunday Times cartoon depicting Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu building a wall using blood-red mortar, an image Jewish leaders said was reminiscent of anti-Semitic propaganda. You can offend Muslims but not Jews

    • oldgeezer on January 15, 2015, 12:12 am

      I’m sure they can do irony. The racism inherent in Israeli and zionist society is so deep that they demand to be special and anything less than being special makes them victims of racism.

      One look no further than the cry for special laws to be enacted to enable them to be armed while other citizens are denied the same right. They feel it is their due and the heck with the rest of us.

      Not a single Israeli tear over the muslims who died trying to protect everyone’s right to live in peace Not a single thank you for those that did save lives.

      No… They must be special. And unless you accord them the right to be special then you must be antisemitic.

      • DoyDoy on January 15, 2015, 11:32 am

        You said it perfect ! I cant add any more to what you say. I am in agreement.

      • Bornajoo on January 16, 2015, 5:57 am

        “No… They must be special. And unless you accord them the right to be special then you must be antisemitic”

        Spot on comment in my opinion Oldgeezer

      • JeffB on January 16, 2015, 7:53 am


        Not a single Israeli tear over the muslims who died trying to protect everyone’s right to live in peace Not a single thank you for those that did save lives.

        No they didn’t share a tear for the Malian who saved people’s lives in the freezer. The Jews of France did better than that. They used their political influence and France granted him immediate French citizenship. Plus he’s getting money.

    • Kay24 on January 15, 2015, 1:04 am

      To your point, the above link on my previous comments supports exactly what you say.

      No one can dare make fun or draw cartoons about God’s chosen, stereotype them, or draw them with big noses. Only Muslims and Islam are acceptable targets of the pencil. In fact, they have mastered the act of acting incredulous, when some Muslims react to anti Islamic cartoons, as if they are above such reactions. Facts show otherwise. They must be too thick to recognize that irony.

      • annie on January 15, 2015, 3:46 am

        glen greenwald wrote an excellent article about this, and showed some radically offensive cartoons, against both muslims and jews. one set, no msm would dare publish today, the others? charlie did.

        it’s challenging to immediately grasp the full offense of some of these cartoons in french because it requires typing out the captions and placing them in google translate.

  3. CigarGod on January 15, 2015, 9:13 am

    I wonder if zionists tune out stewart, just like i do FOX.

    • DoyDoy on January 15, 2015, 11:34 am

      They probably do. I spell Fox News different than some.

  4. Susan A on January 15, 2015, 8:08 pm

    Hey Annie, I too thought of Mohammed Saba’aneh very recently and wondered what had happened to him. I follow him on twitter but don’t see him there so thanks for the links as I’ve now seen his most recent work. I hope he doesn’t mind, but I use his ‘Dreaming of Freedom’ for my Facebook and Twitter, plus another one of his for the banner: the first one ever since they incarcerated him. I used to love watching The Daily Show, but unfortunately, we can’t get it in England anymore, and I’m not allowed to watch it online either. I remember when Anna Baltzer was on with Mustafa Barghouti trying my hardest to find it on the internet; I was finally able to when an American living in the UK and an obvious internet ‘whizkid’ posted it. Thanks Annie for easing my mind on this one.

    • Susan A on January 15, 2015, 8:11 pm

      PS. What happened to Asif Mandvi? I used to love him too. I remember one of their Christian versus Muslim versus Jew sketches which was absolutely hilarious! :)

      • annie on January 15, 2015, 8:37 pm

        Hi Susan, a friend who watches the daily show regularly sent me this video (which reminds me i forgot to hat tip her!) with a note about jimmy carter and the reference to israel. i don’t think she’s aware i am a huge mohammad saba’aneh fan or if she even recognized the reference to him. adam also heard of the skit in the middle (which is really fantastic). i hope you get a chance to see it. i don’t have a tv and what i do watch is over the internet.

        btw, i make sure to visit @sabaaneh every few days and often retweet his cartoons. i was tempted to include many more in this draft but had to reel myself in. as i mentioned, he’s extremely prolific.

  5. Susan A on January 15, 2015, 8:16 pm

    PPS. I’ve just realised that I think I can get it but have to pay more! I’ll look into it.

  6. Arik on January 16, 2015, 7:36 am

    Hi, I couldn’t believe it and did a bit of a research and found this

    “According to his lawyer, Mohammad is accused of accepting money in Jordan for his brother Tamer, a member of Hamas who is currently in an Israeli prison. Mohammad denies this, and claims he handed the money to another person while still in Jordan, because he suspected the funds were linked to Hamas.”

    Again – according to his lawyer – how hard is actually to find this?
    To say he was arrested because of his sketches?? That’s insulting.. You can do better than that.

    Intresting story (unlike the one covered here) is about Tatiana Soskin who got 2 years in the Israeli jail but this time for something else:


    • annie on January 18, 2015, 12:39 pm

      hi arik, yes, he denied it.

      In the end, the focus of the interrogation became a book about Palestinian political prisoners that Saba’aneh’s brother — a member of Hamas — wrote and published. Because several of Saba’aneh’s cartoons were published in his brother’s book, “I was charged with collaboration with Hamas.”

      “I told them that the collaboration was with my brother, not with Hamas. Actually Hamas hates me,” Saba’aneh said, explaining that he had angered many Hamas members when he published a cartoon that openly criticized Ismail Haniyeh, a senior member of Hamas who was elected Palestinian Authority prime minister in 2006.

      He stressed that the charges against him were baseless because he frequently publishes cartoons critical of all Palestinian political parties — particularly Fatah, Hamas and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

      Saba’aneh said he had expected to be arrested for a long time because he had been under attack by pro-Israel media outlets and websites since 2011.

      For instance, the rightwing group Palestinian Media Watch accused the cartoonist of calling for “the complete dismantling of Israel and its replacement by a Palestinian state” (“Palestinians will never give up any part of ‘Palestine’,” 25 August 2011).

      and i posted embeds to several examples of those cartoons (from the hate site Palestinian Media Watch) in another response after you accused the site of promoting lies.


  7. Whizdom on January 18, 2015, 12:50 pm

    It is sad, really. Recently the Newseum installed a memorial to journalists killed in the course of their profession. They were pressured to remove the names of two Palestinians killed in Gaza. The Newseum fought back, but eventually caved.

    “The Newseum reversed its decision after acknowledging Friday that several prominent organizations, including the Committee to Protect Journalists, Reporters Without Borders and The World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers “all consider these men journalists killed in the line of duty.””

    Josh Block, at the Israel Project took credit for the pressure that resulted in the reversal.

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