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Why Israeli cartoonists don't draw Muhammad

The massacre at the French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo hasn’t changed the practice of Israeli cartoonists of refraining from insulting Islam, picking political targets instead.

“Now people have started to understand the importance of cartoons; that they’re more powerful than a column; that a good and apt drawing could express much more than words. Visuality is engraved upon the mind and that’s what we intend. There are some peaks, though sad, thanks to which we understand the power of a drawing,” says Internet cartoonist Or Reichert, who has drawn cartoons for major Israeli newspapers in the past and today runs a popular Facebook page.

The distribution of the first issue of Charlie Hebdo after the Jan. 7 massacre in Paris at the publication's office was accompanied in Israel by a small scandal Jan. 25, when the retail bookseller Steimatzky wanted to hold a sales event for several hundred copies. This brought a vocal protest from Muslim elements in Israel, in response to which Avigdor Liberman, the foreign minister and chairman of Yisrael Beitenu Party, called on his activists to purchase “thousands of copies” and distribute them for free, as an act of support of freedom of speech. In the end, Steimatzky canceled the event, and sold the issue only online. The limited number of issues sold out within minutes.

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