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News and views on Israel, Zionism and the war on terrorism.

June 03, 2003

Two letters to the Chicago Tribune

By Alyssa A. Lappen

This weekend the Chicago Tribune ran a political cartoon worthy of Der Sturmer. In response, I sent the following two letters via email to the paper.

Sunday June 2
Dear Sirs--

As a journalist, I have never been quite so offended or appalled by an American "political" cartoon as by the one that ran two days ago in the Chicago Tribune.

I have realized for some time that anti-Semitism in America is fast-growing. It's easily recognizable in many not-so-subtle ways the Internet renders transparent.

But America is really in trouble when a major daily newspaper runs a cartoon (which could easily double for one in the Nazi Der Sturmer or a state-run Arab "newspaper"), prominently featuring several Medieval stereotypes of Jews. During the Middle Ages, the church regularly published such cartoons of Jews as easily-expendable hooked-nosed money-grubbers, which were routinely followed by murder of Jews. Murder begins, sirs, with just such debasing words, and pictures. So much for the greatly-trumpeted "benefits" of American multi-culturalism.

I'm ashamed that such a cartoon would appear in a major newspaper in the land of the free and the home of the brave. Frankly, if that's how you use freedom of speech, America would be better off if your newspaper didn't have it.

This cartoon proves that the U.S. is not immune to such evil as generated the Holocaust. Perhaps American Jews should realize, despite our major contributions to American society and success, that we are just as vulnerable here as were our forebears in Germany and Europe. Which is precisely why the Jewish people need Israel.

In this cartoon, you have published the absolute worst I have ever seen in American journalism.

Alyssa A. Lappen

Tuesday June 4, 1:30 a.m.
Dear Editors--

In spite of Don Wycliff’s apology for Locher's overtly anti-Semitic cartoon, your staff doesn't get it.

In the first place, you ought not to have run a cartoon that crossed every line. In the second place, you ought to apologize for that, with no ifs, ands or buts.

Who cares if you had editorial discussions about American financial aid to Israel? This does not excuse the cartoon's deeply offensive message, or your staff's gross insensitivity to it. It's hard to reckon how Bruce Dold could think "people misinterpreted Locher's cartoon." We interpreted it right. It was ugly.

In plain fact, America offered no foreign aid to Israel for accepting this disastrous road map. On the contrary, America reportedly threatened Israel with sanctions if it did not accept.

And it seems odd that you have not seriously questioned the President's about-face on terrorism.

Having spent billions and lost several dozen lives to defeat a tyrant in Iraq (which by the way I favored), Bush now insists that Israel negotiate with terrorists who have proved beyond doubt, they never intend to honor agreements. And, Israel must let the anti-Israel EU, UN and Russia dictate if, when and how to defend civilians against terrorist attacks.

That's sweet, considering the UN's unilateral 1967 pullout from Sinai, and hundreds of millions in EU aid to the PA, which clearly uses it to buy weapons to kill Jews.

A suicide attack yesterday murdered three more innocent Israelis and injured tens seriously. The Oslo accords were supposed to end all that, along with institutional Palestinian hatred of Jews and Israel. But the terror, hate and incitement continue unabated.

So, ask this $64 million question: What pressure did the Saudi Kingdom of Hatred apply? Israel's Ma'ariv reported today that Saudi Arabia threatened Bush. If I were your reporter, I'd get tough with the terrorists' financial backers, by way of apology.

And why haven't deputy editor John McCormick and Dodie Hofstetter run "art" like Locher's to lambaste, say, American aid to Europe or to Egypt, whose government-controlled media routinely run anti-American hatred in thanks for our taxpayer dollars. Don't Egypt's arms smuggling tunnels to Gaza (which were also going to stop in exchange for peace and U.S. dollars) warrant a cartoon?

The bottom line is this: Sharon was elected to end a decade of terrorism that followed Oslo. During that time, more than 1,300 Israelis were murdered and more than 7,500 maimed for life, simply for being Jews and daring to live in Israel.

Cartoons like yours make such murders possible, and encourage more of the same. Consider before taking further swipes at Israel or the Jewish people.

Oh, and next time you apologize, lose the lame excuses and extra political digs, or don't bother.

Alyssa A. Lappen