Haaretz Cartoonist: I Was Mocking Netanyahu's Handling of U.S.-Israeli Relations

Amos Biderman says image of prime minister flying plane into skyscraper was supposed to be a warning of disastrous relations with Israel's 'most important strategic asset.'

Haaretz's political cartoonist, Amos Biderman, defended the editorial cartoon published on Thursday, following wide-spread criticism on social media.

The cartoon depicted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu piloting an airplane with the word 'Israel' on the side, apparently flying toward a skyscraper, reminiscent of the 2001 attack on the Twin Towers, with an American flag on top.

After receiving several angry tweets, Biderman tweeted the following response (in Hebrew): 'The message is that Bibi is arrogantly and wantonly destroying Israel's ties with the U.S. and leading us to a disaster on the scale of 9/11.'

"It was certainly not my intention to insult or upset anyone," Biderman told Haaretz on Thursday. "I wasn't sufficiently aware of the great sensitivity that 9/11 holds for Americans."

According to Biderman, his cartoon contained criticism of Netanyahu.

"I was mocking Bibi," he said. "He's been acting like a bull in a china shop with the United States, which is Israel's most important strategic asset."

There has been criticism in many quarters of Netanyahu's handling of Israel's relationship with the United States. Critics have accused the prime minister of timing announcements about new construction projects in the West Bank and East Jerusalem to cause maximum embarrassment to the administration of President Barack Obama, with whom Netanyahu has a famously strained relationship.

Biderman also told Haaretz that he has never censored his cartoons, which have grappled with many controversial issues.

"I have drawn cartoons depicting every war that Israel has fought, including the Yom Kippur War – which I was involved in – where we suffered thousands of casualties. I have used some of Israel's greatest tragedies as the background for my cartoon. In one of my recent cartoons, which poked fun at the so-called Milky protest, I even referenced the Gestapo. I never imagined that by using an image that evoked 9/11 I would cause such a storm."