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Facebook censors cartoons against racism, capitalism

The comic artist Mysh is one of my favorites in Israel. His work is not only conscious and critical, but also brilliantly drawn and at times, extremely funny. Last year I posted here his “Israeli Machine” video, which captured the hope I saw in the J14 movement more than any 1000-word essay I have written on this issue.

Mysh’s drawings have since turned more critical and dark, reflecting the change in the national mood as the summer of hope turned into an Israeli winter. Yet some of those recent works have been incredibly popular on Facebook, shared and liked by thousands of Israelis; other pieces even got some international attention. That’s when Facebook began to censor Mysh.

“A couple of days ago, I got a message that one of my works, titled The Real Superhero, was removed from the site,” Mysh told +972 over the phone today. “I actually suspected it was the nudity – the drawing is showing a naked Clark Kent, with the S carved on his chest – maybe it was too much for some people. But this morning, I couldn’t get into my Facebook account, and I saw that another one of my sketches, titled A Problem of Self Esteem, was also removed.”

Here is The Real Superhero:

The Real Superhero (by Mysh)

And this is the Problem of Self Esteem, a work inspired by the latest race riot in Tel Aviv.

A Problem of Self Esteem (by Mysh)

The Hebrew on the back of the muscular man has all kinds of popular racist slogans: “A good Arab is a dead Arab;” “Death to the Sudanese,” “Run over the Dosim (degrading name for Orthodox Jews);”Russians to Russia, Ethiopians to Ethiopia,” and more.

Mysh was also warned by Facebook that further flagging of his work would lead to the removal of his page. He was banned from the site for 24 hours.

“When they removed a third work, titled the Green Sabrah, I understood that there was something systematic here, and that I have to take care of it. I wrote a letter to Facebook, but the reply was that the department that dealing with my problem is on leave until June 6th.”

“The Green Sabrah: In control. But not in control of himself” (by Mysh)

“My work is critical and provocative, but I don’t think I am violating any of the house rules. My images are not inciting to violence, pornographic or extremely graphic. I really don’t know what to do now. The irony is that I have been praising Facebook recently as this amazing tool for promoting your art. I don’t have a site and I dread the thought that I will have to be a multi-platform person. I am quite bad with technology. I guess this was a kind of a wake up call for me, that this place I trusted is censored too.”

Mysh is 34, lives in Tel Aviv; he also directs films and animation. If you want to support him, join his Facebook page. We will also be featuring his work here on +972 from time to time. And for those who missed it, here is The Israeli Machine:

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    1. AMIR.BK

      Apologies for the nitpick but “Dimui Azmi” should really be translated to “Self Image”, it is not synonymous with “Haaracha Azmit”.

      Reply to Comment
    2. sh

      Love the Green Sabra.
      Facebook is going to become very bland if it censors cartoons like these. But I don’t believe it does unless it gets complaints. I’ve seen drawings on fb that are at least as nude and provocative and their authors seem to have had no problems so far. Is it possible that there’s a concerted campaign against Mysh from some quarter?

      Reply to Comment
    3. “Run over the Dosim”? I had no idea there was an element like this. What is the origin of the term ‘dos’ and who uses it?

      Reply to Comment
    4. Danny

      Yet another reason to dump Facebook. Apparently, Mark Zuckerberg is pretty chummy with Israel’s fig leaf president, which may be the reason he’s censoring anti-Israel pages. Here’s an idea for Mysh: Try using GOOGLE+ instead (until it too gets overtaken by the pro-Israel bozos).

      Reply to Comment
    5. Kibbutznik

      ” Love the Green Sabra ”
      yeah , we know sh
      we know how much you love us ;

      Reply to Comment
    6. A

      DOS is the ashkenazi-yidish pronunciation of DATI (religious person in Hebrew).

      Reply to Comment
    7. sh

      RB, erudition can never replace feet on the ground. Dat means religion in Hebrew. Dos is the Eastern European or Yemenite (if you pronounce the last letter th) way of pronouncing it. Dosim is the plural form.

      Reply to Comment
    8. sh

      “Who uses it?” Mostly non-religious people. Religious would use dati which means religious, thus the plural datiim.

      Reply to Comment
    9. Ok, thanks for all those answers. Really short words are the hardest to get meaningful web search results on. Now, I am aware of a skinhead tendency in Israel. I know of it from two sources: one, the discussions of Israeli anti-Semitism on the site pogrom.org.il/ ; the other, several really nasty music videos on YouTube by the Dead Rabinz. But I wouldn’t expect these skinheads, who are apparently mainly russian-speaking non-Jews, to adopt the slogan “Russians to Russia.” I think Mysh has created a slightly impossible combination pan-racist skinhead omnibus character here.

      Reply to Comment
    10. Mia

      I think it should “self-image” rather than “self-esteem”

      Reply to Comment
    11. AMIR.BK

      Yemenite inflection changes “T” to “S” many times, How does Rowan “Ask Me About True Judaism” Berkeley not know that? Lot’s of hebrew slang words use the yemenite “T->S”, for instance, the word “Tachles” just means “Tachlit”, but most people don’t know that.

      Anyway, these days only seculars use “Dos” and they use it only as a dismissive insult. example: “Dosim LeUganda” – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ECTdg2TsSA8

      Reply to Comment
    12. Oh, please, Amir: there are enough real trolls around here without you playing baby troll as well. I would never say and have never said “Ask me about true Judaism,” even to a goat.
      By the way, there is something buggy going on in the site script today. I keep getting parse errors and having to reload it. I wonder if someone is hacking it for some silly pol reason.

      Reply to Comment
    13. AMIR.BK

      lol. didn’t you say you’re gonna boycott this site?

      Reply to Comment
    14. What a memory you have, Amir. On Mar 6, I did say something like that, on my own blog, but I have got over it.
      What happened to the term ‘pinguinim’? Did it go out of fashion?

      Reply to Comment
    15. Alan

      His real name is Rowan Berkowitz. I strongly recommend Howard Jacobsen’s award winning novel The Finkler Question to understand the phenomenon of self-hatred among English Jews. For a truly comprehensive understanding of English anti-Semitism and how various strains of it have mutated into anti-Zionism, I also recommend Anthony Julius’ magisterial book Trials of the Diaspora.

      Reply to Comment
    16. This is the second time you’ve told me my real name is Berkowitz. Now you’ve told me why: I’m a self-hating English Jew, of the sort the otherwise talentless Howard Jacobson (your spelling is awry here) supposedly describes so well. Now suppose you bring just the teeniest amount of evidence from wherever it is in the twilight zone you live to support this claim?

      Reply to Comment
    17. Alan


      If Berkowitz wasn’t your real name, I doubt you would be so defensive and ashamed about it.

      Reply to Comment
    18. AMIR.BK

      Rowan: I haven’t heard Penguins used in a very long while, I feel it’s pretty safe to say it was largely phased out of use. The word “Haredim” has become so loaded with subtext that in the ‘secular context’ it has become almost a derogatory term in itself.

      Reply to Comment
    19. dickerson3870

      RE: “Mysh was also warned by Facebook that further flagging of his work would lead to the removal of his page. He was banned from the site for 24 hours.” ~ Noam Sheizaf

      MERELY A COINCIDENCE:”Foxman says Google and Facebook are on his team to combat ‘internet hate’”, by Philip Weiss, Mondoweiss, 5/13/12 EXCERPTS: In a May 10 press release, the staunchly pro-Israel Anti-Defamation League (ADL) announced it “will convene a new working group on cyberhate that will bring together Internet industry leaders and others to probe the roots of the problem and develop new solutions to address it head-on.”
      According to the ADL statement, the establishment of a “Anti-Cyberhate Working Group” was approved by the Task Force on Internet Hate at a May 7 meeting held at the Stanford Center for Internet and Society in Palo Alto, California. The task force was created by the Inter-parliamentary Coalition for Combating Anti-Semitism (ICCA). . .
      . . . The ICCA Task Force is co-chaired by Yuli Edelstein, Israel’s Minister of Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs, who is charged with countering antisemitism. A member of Netanyahu’s ruling Likud party, Edelstein lives in the illegal West Bank settlement of Neve Daniel, which he sees as part of “Greater Israel.” . . .
      . . .According a report in The Electronic Intifada on Edelstein’s anti-Arab racism, he told delegates at a 2009 international conference on ‘combating antisemitism’: “We must repeat again and again these basic facts – TO BE ‘anti-Israel’ IS TO BE ANTI-SEMITIC. . .”

      Reply to Comment
    20. XYZ

      Mysh’s drawings , at the least the first two, remind me of the propaganda drawings used in the Soviet press during the mass terror of the 1930’s to defame the supposed Trotskyite threat, showing them as repulsive monsters. Mysh, with his drawings, shows himself to be a humanist lover of his fellow man just like those cartoonists of yesteryear.

      Reply to Comment
    21. ToivoS

      xyz it is one thing for a powerless person to ridicule the powerful and another for a state power to ridicule an individual. Come on, you can do better than that.

      Reply to Comment
    22. XYZ

      What I see here at this “Progressive” site and others is NOT “love of humanity”, “concern for the welfare of the downtrodden” but simple hate, jealousy and rage. Dehumanizing political opponents may make you feel good, but it ends of dehumanizing the dehumanizer. I find the first two caricatures posted here to be repulsive.
      In the US, there was a long history of pointed political cartooning by people like Herblock, Oliphant and many others going back many decades that did not sink to the level of Mysh’s Stalinistic caricatures.

      Reply to Comment
    23. XYZ

      I meant the first 3 caricatures.

      Reply to Comment
    24. True Leftist


      I agree that the problem isn’t just a matter of politics but hate (and, by extension, egotism) itself. And it can be quite a fine line between fighting against injustice and becoming unjust oneself, between disregard for ideas and disregard for individuals who harbor those ideas.

      However, I just don’t think these cartoons cross that threshold into outright unmitigated hatred. In the final analysis, the point is not over our tastes but freedom of speech.

      Reply to Comment
    25. True Leftist

      BTW, XYZ, there are no doubt leftist bullies too and 972 Mag also engages in its own censorship even as it is here criticizing that of another site.

      Yes, there are hypocrites who mouth leftist platitudes.

      Reply to Comment
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