Forward Thinking

Scarlett Johansson Stars in 'SodaStream'

By Eli Valley

Hollywood starlet Scarlett Johansson is taking heat for her decision to represent SodaStream, an Israeli home beverage company that operates in the occupied West Bank. Cartoonist Eli Valley offers his own unique graphic take on the controversy.

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A Portrait of Ariel Sharon

By Eli Valley

This week, all of Israel and not a few world leaders gathered to mark the passing of former prime minister Ariel Sharon. Cartoonist Eli Valley offers his own unique graphic take on the much-memorialized man.

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More on Eli Valley's Controversial Comic

By Jane Eisner

Eli Valley’s provocative comic about the controversy caused by Bnai Jeshurun’s rabbis continues to garner controversy of its own. I’ve been reading comments and posts like this one that are sympathetic to Eli’s scathing look at the rabbis and their stand on Palestinian statehood, and try to grapple with the larger issue of when and how rabbis should speak their minds.

But there are other readers who continue to be dismayed by Eli’s message. Here is another one of those letters.

The point of the Eli Valley cartoon is that Rabbi Rolando Matalon, the main target, planned a groveling apology as he drafted his original statement. In other words, the point of the cartoon is that Roly is a hypocrite and a liar. There is no other reading of the text of the cartoon. The Forward would never run an op-ed saying, “Rabbi Matalon is a liar and a hypocrite” because the Forward knows that is not true. So why publish an editorial cartoon saying the same thing? Even if blog standards are lower than print, they cannot be that low. This cartoon should not have been run. Kathleen Peratis

And a second:

I was shocked and dismayed to see the Forward pile on to denigrate the BJ rabbis in this awful cartoon. With friends like you, progressive Jews, trying to love both Israel and express their Jewish social justice values. certainly need no enemies which as you know are not in short supply. With sadness and disappointment. Deborah Sagner

More thoughts? Send them to us.

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Responding to Eli Valley's Comic

By Jane Eisner

Eli Valley’s satirical drawings often elicit critical comments, but they usually come from the political right, his frequent target of ridicule. His latest comic, published on this blog the past Thursday, has drawn the ire of the political left. A basic journalistic calculation would say that Eli is just doing his job, with no fear or favor to any ideological or political cause, and I agree.

I also feel that basic journalistic fairness requires us to air those criticisms, and respond to them.

Some of the critics strongly objected to Eli’s characterization of the rabbis of B’nai Jeshurun, who stirred up controversy with a letter to the congregants of their progressive Upper West Side synagogue supportive of the Palestinian bid for statehood at the United Nations. After the New York Times ran a story about the controversy on Page One (which I, for one, thought was over-hyped and overblown), and an outcry from some of their members, the rabbis issued a partial retraction.

This is what caught Eli’s scathing eye.

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