Tell us how you really feel, Amos Biderman. The Israeli cartoonist is defending his cartoon circulated by Haaretz yesterday that shows Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu grinning as he pilots a plane straight toward a building that looks like one of the WTC towers—in essence comparing Bibi to the 9/11 hijackers, the New York Times reports. Although the image has incited plenty of outrage—Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Paul Hirschson tweeted that the cartoon was "gutter press"—Biderman told the Times of Israel in a phone call yesterday that the cartoon was simply meant to show how Netanyahu may cause "a disaster in Israel-US relations on the scale of 9/11"; he also told Haaretz yesterday that he "was mocking Bibi. … He's been acting like a bull in a china shop with the United States, which is Israel's most important strategic asset."
The image was published just days after an unnamed senior Obama official was quoted in the Atlantic calling the prime minister "a chickens---t" in reference to the deteriorating US-Israeli relationship, which author Jeffrey Goldberg said was another "sign that relations … have moved toward a full-blown crisis." In addition to straightforward outrage, the controversial cartoon has also provoked other reactions: Conspiracy theorists are using the image as ammunition to bolster their idea that 9/11 was carried out by Israeli intelligence agents, while a conservative Israeli magazine posted its own image on Facebook that appears to show, as the NYT notes, "Haaretz, the voice of liberal Zionism, on a similar suicide mission against the prime minister's office." Either way, Biderman tells Haaretz that "it was certainly not my intention to insult or upset anyone. I wasn't sufficiently aware of the great sensitivity that 9/11 holds for Americans."