No Lines in Sand for Eli Valley

Forward Artist-in-Residence Pushes the Envelope, With Flair

Artist Provocateur Cartoonist Eli Valley likes to get his audience thinking.
nate lavey
Artist Provocateur Cartoonist Eli Valley likes to get his audience thinking.

By Haaretz

Published February 17, 2012.
  • Print
  • Share Share

When New York satirist and cartoonist Eli Valley heard about the Israeli anti-Semitic cartoon contest six years ago, he sent in the following cartoon: a grotesque Jew with two penises simultaneously sodomizing a Muslim woman and a Christian woman who are crying out to Allah and Jesus to save them. With one hand the Jew is creating massive tsunami waves and with the other he is launching a plane at the Twin Towers. On his head is a skullcap, and his testicles emit an odor of garlic, borscht and the tears of virgins.

The Israeli contest was launched in the aftermath of the uproar in Denmark surrounding a cartoon depiction of the prophet Mohammed, and after an Iranian newspaper announced a cartoon competition on the Holocaust. In response, playwright and actor Eyal Zusman approached Israeli cartoonist Amitai Sandy with an idea for an Israeli anti-Semitic cartoon contest to freshen up the world’s store of anti-Semitic images and to prove to everyone that Jews do it best. And it worked. Dozens of Jews from all over the world sent in cartoons − and Valley was one of them. At the time he was a young writer and had never planned on reviving his career as a comic book artist, which he had set aside.

“I got interested in comics when I was a kid, but it never had a Jewish dimension to it,” he recalled during a recent visit to Israel. “I drew cartoons in college, more political stuff, but I stopped after graduating. I got tired of the format of the single-panel response to current events − cartoons that relied on and reacted to the news.”

And then you heard about the contest?

Valley: “Yes, and it was the first time I’d done any comics in 10 years. Not that I didn’t doodle here and there, but I didn’t do any real art; it was just for fun. I hadn’t used brush and ink in years. For the contest I drew on cheap paper and used a copy machine and Wite-Out to fix the mistakes. It was very primitive − I had to do it fast, there was a tight deadline − but it was also visceral, and the result and the response made it worth it.”

And then you said: “Great, I’ve found a new career!”?

Valley: “It wasn’t quite like that. You don’t make a career out of drawing a Jew with two penises. At around that time a new website called Jewcy was looking for different voices, young and fresh takes on Jewish culture, and they liked what I had to say. Suddenly I had a readership. I started drawing more complicated comics. What I do today, even though it’s reactive and angry in a sense, allows me to work in a much more creative dynamic than I could with just the single panel, because I can tell a story. That’s what I love about comics: They allow a much broader form of expression than the single-panel political cartoon, despite the glorious past and tradition of political cartoons.”

For more, go to Haaretz.com


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • "I’ve never bought illegal drugs, but I imagine a small-time drug deal to feel a bit like buying hummus underground in Brooklyn."
  • We try to show things that get less exposed to the public here. We don’t look to document things that are nice or that people would like. We don’t try to show this place as a beautiful place.”
  • A new Gallup poll shows that only 25% of Americans under 35 support the war in #Gaza. Does this statistic worry you?
  • “You will stomp us into the dirt,” is how her mother responded to Anya Ulinich’s new tragicomic graphic novel. Paul Berger has a more open view of ‘Lena Finkle’s Magic Barrel." What do you think?
  • PHOTOS: Hundreds of protesters marched through lower Manhattan yesterday demanding an end to American support for Israel’s operation in #Gaza.
  • Does #Hamas have to lose for there to be peace? Read the latest analysis by J.J. Goldberg.
  • This is what the rockets over Israel and Gaza look like from space:
  • "Israel should not let captives languish or corpses rot. It should do everything in its power to recover people and bodies. Jewish law places a premium on pidyon shvuyim, “the redemption of captives,” and proper burial. But not when the price will lead to more death and more kidnappings." Do you agree?
  • Slate.com's Allison Benedikt wrote that Taglit-Birthright Israel is partly to blame for the death of American IDF volunteer Max Steinberg. This is why she's wrong:
  • Israeli soldiers want you to buy them socks. And snacks. And backpacks. And underwear. And pizza. So claim dozens of fundraising campaigns launched by American Jewish and Israeli charities since the start of the current wave of crisis and conflict in Israel and Gaza.
  • The sign reads: “Dogs are allowed in this establishment but Zionists are not under any circumstances.”
  • Is Twitter Israel's new worst enemy?
  • More than 50 former Israeli soldiers have refused to serve in the current ground operation in #Gaza.
  • "My wife and I are both half-Jewish. Both of us very much felt and feel American first and Jewish second. We are currently debating whether we should send our daughter to a Jewish pre-K and kindergarten program or to a public one. Pros? Give her a Jewish community and identity that she could build on throughout her life. Cons? Costs a lot of money; She will enter school with the idea that being Jewish makes her different somehow instead of something that you do after or in addition to regular school. Maybe a Shabbat sing-along would be enough?"
  • Undeterred by the conflict, 24 Jews participated in the first ever Jewish National Fund— JDate singles trip to Israel. Translation: Jews age 30 to 45 travelled to Israel to get it on in the sun, with a side of hummus.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.