Israeli comic car­toonist Uri Fink and Pales­tinian edi­to­rial car­toonist Khalil Abu Arafeh, sat at a table together in the pri­vate dining room in Inter­na­tional Vil­lage Wednesday after­noon, intently drawing car­i­ca­tures. Of each other.

Fink looked up from the blue rec­tangle of drawing paper in front of him, where he was shading in an exag­ger­ated ver­sion of Khalil’s long nose. “You look more Jewish than I do,” he observed, smiling.

Ah, but I don’t eat kosher,” said Abu Arafeh with a chuckle.

That’s okay, nei­ther do I,” Fink replied, laughing now.

It was a small moment near the end of a three-​​day visit to North­eastern Uni­ver­sity by mem­bers of the inter­na­tional edi­to­rial car­toon­ists group, Car­tooning for Peace/​Dessins pour la Paix, but it cap­tured the essence of their mes­sage: Car­toons, even those that address sen­si­tive polit­ical and cul­tural issues, can break through barriers.

Ear­lier Wednesday, Fink, a Tel Aviv-​​based artist who mixes cul­tural and polit­ical car­tooning, and Abu Arafeh, the edi­to­rial car­toonist for the leading Pales­tinian news­paper Al-​​Quds, spoke at a sym­po­sium on free expres­sion, respon­si­bility and tol­er­ance held in Blackman Auditorium.

Joining them were Plantu, the renowned edi­to­rial car­toonist for Le Monde and cofounder of Car­tooning for Peace, and Amer­ican edi­to­rial car­toon­ists Daryl Cagle, of MSNBC​.com; Jeff Danziger, an inde­pen­dent car­toonist with the New York Times syn­di­cate; and Daniel Wasserman, of the Boston Globe.

The six car­toon­ists were also the fea­tured guests on Monday at a recep­tion hosted by North­eastern Pres­i­dent Joseph Aoun to mark the opening of the Car­tooning for Peace exhi­bi­tion in Gallery 360. The dis­play of 86 car­toons cre­ated by a cross-​​section of the group’s mem­bers will con­tinue through to May 12.

Opening the sym­po­sium, mod­er­ator and North­eastern polit­ical sci­ence pro­fessor William F. Miles started by noting, “Car­tooning is serious busi­ness.” In 2006, car­i­ca­tures of Muhammad drawn by car­toon­ists in Den­mark and Sweden sparked deadly riots in the Middle East and Africa, the attempted murder of a Danish car­toonist, and the bombing of the Danish embassy in Pakistan.

How­ever, there is a coun­terof­fen­sive taking place, qui­etly but no less remark­able,” said Miles, in the 2007 for­ma­tion of Car­tooning for Peace, which now includes 80 of the world’s leading edi­to­rial car­toon­ists. The orga­ni­za­tion has held numerous sym­posia and exhi­bi­tions around the world to defend freedom of expres­sion and pro­mote the idea that edi­to­rial car­toons that are “respectful in dis­re­specting,” in Plantu’s phrase, can lead to peace.

Con­trasting with the super­heated rhetoric and vio­lence sur­rounding the Israeli-​​Palestinian con­flict, Fink and Abu Arafeh dis­played exam­ples of their car­toons that deliv­ered a nuanced view­point. In one, Fink depicted Hamas leader Khaled Mashal dressed as Santa Claus with a car­i­ca­ture of a child-​​sized Jewish set­tler on his knee, “because Hamas gives the set­tle­ment move­ment in Israel every­thing they want in polit­ical cover to con­tinue building.”

Khalil, who works under the lim­i­ta­tions imposed by Israeli cen­sor­ship and implied pres­sure from the Pales­tinian National Authority to censor him­self in the other direc­tion, said “I find myself not making a car­toon so much, but an edi­to­rial” that seeks to help the “peaceful power of people.”

But even in soci­eties where overt cen­sor­ship or threats are not an issue, edi­to­rial car­toon­ists need to be aware of the line between freedom and respect for com­peting values. For example, in response to a ques­tion from the audi­ence, Danziger said there are two topics he’s learned to stay away from in his car­toons: sex and race, the latter because “it’s still too close to the sur­face” in Amer­ican life.

The sym­po­sium was the cul­mi­nating public Car­tooning for Peace event at North­eastern. The week com­menced on Monday with Plantu, Fink, Abu Arafeh and Danziger engaging with stu­dents in a class, “Inter­na­tional Con­flict and Nego­ti­a­tion,” as well as sim­ilar dis­cus­sion ses­sions in cul­ture and visual art classes.

The uni­ver­sity col­lab­o­rated with the French Con­sulate in Boston and with sponsor Accors Ser­vices to make the Car­tooning for Peace events possible.