SN&R’s cartoon controversy

A recent Kloss cartoon rubbed lots of people the wrong way

Click here to see the cartoon.

SN&R editorial contributor John Kloss drew a cartoon for our August 3 issue that has had the phones ringing and the e-mails pouring in this past week. (Below find a fraction of the hundred plus e-mails we received, mostly from the Bay Area.) It’s not the first or last time a cartoon about politics was misinterpreted to be about religion. That’s because cartoonists specifically use symbols to get their point across. In this case, Kloss used the Star of David symbol—which is displayed prominently on the flag of the government of Israel—to depict his view that Uncle Sam is locked into a single position in that region. The power of symbols is evident—but beyond that is discussion of the human toll. Kloss writes, “To me it’s not about the religion. It’s the violence.” We at SN&R regret that this cartoon was misinterpreted by so many. But we think such misunderstandings go with the territory. Just the week before, the Kloss cartoon featured the Middle East negotiating table in the shape of a peace sign in the desert. The chairs around the table were empty; the battle raged on in the distance. And so it goes.

—Melinda Welsh

Offensive and distasteful

I found this cartoon depicting Uncle Sam padlocked to a Jewish Star of David to be offensive and distasteful.

Although the cartoon is meant to discuss politics rather than religion, the Star of David is a religious symbol for a large group of people, who don’t even all agree with our nation’s policy regarding Israel or at least have mixed feelings about it. Mixing religious icons with political issues leads people to conflate the religious group with the political statement and can lead to prejudice toward the entire group, not just toward the political entity. I understand that the cartoon meant to depict only the political situation. However, I take issue with the idea that the United States is catering to the Israeli perspective while ignoring its heavy-handed retaliation.

I think that our government thrives on keeping the political situation throughout the Middle East in a constant state of upheaval so we can maintain more control over oil prices. I wouldn’t even put it past the current administration to be trying to provoke the Rapture, as some have suggested. So, why not show Uncle Sam nailed to the cross, then? No, I don’t really condone that idea, either.

Aisha Goodman


I am dismayed at the recent cartoon by John Kloss published in the August 3 edition of the Sacramento News & Review. Whatever Mr. Kloss’ intention, it is a blatant form of anti-Semitism. It is a cartoon worthy of the notorious Nazi paper Der Sturmer. I wonder if your cartoonist has ever considered using a Christian cross in the same repulsive manner, or perhaps drawing an Arab in a burnoose as he teaches his 6-year-old son how to assemble and wear a suicide-bomb belt? I sincerely doubt that the editors at SN&R would permit such a cartoon. The News & Review owes an apology to the Jewish community.

Rabbi Reuven Taff

Nazi rag

First I would like to say that, as one of your readers, I have always had the deepest respect for your paper. Otherwise, I would not waste my time writing to you.

I am an American.

I am a Jew.

Never have I been more shocked, insulted and appalled by a cartoon as I am by the latest one from John Kloss.

It is disgustingly anti-Jewish and looks more like something I might expect to find in a neo-Nazi rag—not a paper of your caliber, certainly not in one I have previously had the highest respect for.

What kind of publication are you becoming?!

Leah Rolnick-Brunstein
via e-mail

The joke’s on you

I assume the meaning of Kloss’ cartoon that portrays Uncle Sam locked in a Star of David stock is that the United States is being held prisoner by the “global Zionist conspiracy,” yada yada yada. If I’m wrong, and it’s supposed to signify something else, please let me know, or at the least publish something that explains the meaning.

However, if I’m not wrong, and if the intention is something akin to my presumption, then I must tell SN&R (and John Kloss) that the joke is really on you. If the United States is being held prisoner of anything regarding the Middle East, it’s oil—which is solely controlled by the Arabs. The only issue that has ever given the United States any reason to stop Israel from retaliating against the Arabs and cleaning up that Islamic mess once and for all is America’s dependency on oil.

Everything about the Middle East issue would normally position the United States directly against the Arabs and on the side of Israel (even if it’s only populated with a bunch of Jews).

Marc J. Rauch


I have read SN&R since it first began. I never thought Kloss was a terribly talented political cartoonist anyhow, but this is too much! He’s always seemed unsophisticated and juvenile. But how did this comic ever get approved for publication? It’s so poorly conceived and so offensive to so many people.

What exactly is he—or SN&R—trying to say here? It’s strange and disturbing, but not in the beneficial way of stimulating the intellect or educating a person.

I think a response to this concern should be published in SN&R. I’m hoping you’ll get lots of messages like this one.

Marie Cerillo

For shame

I’ve never been drawn to write an editor of the newspaper until I saw the highly offensive, despicable, anti-Semitic cartoon recently published in SN&R. It had an Uncle Sam locked in a Star of David. This blatantly racist and one-sided misconception you are publicizing is perpetuating hate right here in California.

Why are you trying to instill such negative views of the Israeli people? Israel has a right to defend its country. The political group Hezbollah has said it will not rest until every Jew is dead and Israel no longer exists. You’re either for terrorism or against it, and I’m very sad to see that SN&R supports terrorism. I’m ashamed of your work, I’m ashamed of your paper, and I’m ashamed of you.

Ann Levin
via e-mail

Hitler would be proud

I am very disappointed in your publication of John Kloss’ anti-Semitic cartoon.

Although I am only 55 years old, I have noted that Jews and the state of Israel are responsible for many of the progressive movements of the past 100 years. This is not to mention the progressive traditions of the 3,500-year-old Jewish religion.

I am a Christian convert to Judaism, and I am deeply offended by this cartoon, which would make Adolf Hitler proud.

Your so-called progressive publication owes an apology to the mainstream Jewish community.

Bill Kennedy Kedem
San Francisco

Locked up

I saw the cartoon by John Kloss that depicts America locked by a Jewish star. It sure is not clear to me how you present the United States’ role in Middle East affairs as being locked by the Jewish people. It is quite clear that the United States chooses what it wills to do on one side, Israel chooses what to do on its side, and the other parties in the Middle East choose what they will to do. To suggest that the United States is trapped by a Jewish lock is not only incorrect, but misrepresents the relationship between two sovereign nations. I am very disappointed in your published rendering.

Peter Ullmann
via e-mail

Sad day in publishing

What a sad day to publish the type of cartoon that would have made Germany smile in the years 1935-1945.

What is this supposed to be saying to the public? That Jews have the United States wrapped around their concerns? What kind of evil message is your publication sending the public? What kind of cartoons did John Kloss create when Kobar Towers was blown up, killing our Marines? Or the Oklahoma City bombing? Or 9/11? Do John Kloss and your publication believe that Jews and Israel should roll over and die?

Isn’t it preferable to protect oneself?

Shame on you and John Kloss.

Judith Brickman

Kloss and Mel (Gibson)

Seems like your cartoonist and Mel Gibson are on the same page, both spreading anti-Semitism, one visually and one through speech.

It is true that in the United States we value freedom of speech, but I thought that your paper was above inciting and spreading hatred. Such cartoons and hateful speech only make anti-Semites think that there is nothing wrong with thinking and spreading hate.

Caryn Fried
Santa Rosa

Pathetically ignorant

If you do not understand that Islamofascism is the most serious and unappeasable threat in the world, to the United States and to all the values that you hold dear, and that Israel is bearing the brunt of that Islamofascism and confronting it for the good of all, then you are pathetically ignorant. Go and learn.

Jason Jungreis
San Francisco

Stalinist propaganda

Your cartoon with a Star of David reminds me of the worst Stalinist propaganda example of anti-Semitism. You start with this “progressive art” and end up inciting hate and violence. Anti-Semitism is the cheapest and easiest way to win the hearts and minds of so-called progressive masses.

Natasha Kats
San Francisco