Dov Fedler

Dov Fedler

DOV FEDLER is in his 70th year and has been drawing for more than 50 of those. This is self evident in his cartoons where a skilled hand, an intuitive…>

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© Dov Fedler | Jan 14, 2015 | Independent Newspapers


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How do I feel? I have been asked that all week. Friends phoned my wife, concerned that I may be hiding in a cupboard afraid to confront the world. Suddenly every cartoon I draw is under the most intense scrutiny. I receive angry racist e-mails, cartoons from all over about Muslim terrorism. I hit delete without so much as a glance. 

I’d never heard of Charlie Hebdo until last week. Four cartoonists massacred. How do I feel? Well, it wasn’t like the assassination of John F. Kennedy, Jack Ruby shooting Lee Harvey Oswald, 9/11, Martin Luther King, or Chris Hani and Verwoerd. That is how long I have been around. In those days, each of those events resonated like the tsunami of 10 years ago. 

Now we drown in bad news daily. There is no time for me to accommodate my emotions. I am still there with the death of Pierre Korkie, planes falling out of the sky – lost God knows where. There is the daily Boko Haram outrage, Isis, Ukraine, our own continent, atrocities everywhere, too numerous to mention. Atrocity, outrage are the vocabulary of the media. 

A cartoonist’s day is crammed with horrible events thanks to social media. It is all too much – like working in a mortuary with mutilated bodies; like being a vulture looking for slim pickings after the kill. There, already two tired clichés ready to submit to my editors. It has been an awful week, trying to strike the right tone, recover my sense of humour. 

The event offers a gigantic soapbox on which to stand and now preach peace on earth and welcome to Hunkydoryland. But the soapbox conceals a bear trap. I am weary of these media quicksteps. Whose book will be first on the shelves after the Oscar judgment? Something not quite kosher about it all. It’s a feast for piranhas. Who will draw the definitive Charlie Hebdo cartoon? It’s a race for more fame. And I look up to the hills, wherever they are, from whence cometh my truth, and have this blazing, happy in-sight. I am so happy to live in South Africa, with load shedding, potholes, Julius and Jacob and what have you. 

Jews are leaving France in droves. They should all wear yellow stars on their sleeves. The words contained in the centre should read “Je suis Juif”. 

Xenophobia and poverty will continue to plague our society. Juju will have his day. Aluta continua. And that is a good thing. Give me corruption and Eskom to play with. Darkness and corruption, too, will be led into the light. 

It is a monumental privilege I enjoy, being a commentator in our emerging democracy. My editor, Gasant Abarder, asked me to write this piece after we discussed at length how we both feel. This event is designed to pit Jew against Muslim. We refuse to be nudged. 

Besides, I have something invested in this. You know how we Jews are. I have beaten cancer. The physician who has led me through the Valley of the Shadow of Death, in whose hands I invested my life, is named after The Prophet. 

How do I feel? God, Allah knows. 

Cape Times
January 15 2015