A cartoon published by the Sunday Times depicting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu building a wall with the blood and bodies of Palestinians as cement led Monday to accusations of anti-Semitism against the London newspaper.
Underneath the image, which shows Netanyahu as a muscular, angry figure with a large, bulbous red nose, the caption reads, “Will cementing peace continue?”
The cartoon was published on International Holocaust Remembrance Day, which marks the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp by Soviet troops on January 27,1945.
Several organizations condemned the cartoon as “shocking” and showing “insensitivity.”
European Jewish Congress President, Moshe Kantor, urged an apology from from the Sunday Times.“This cartoon would be offensive at any time of the year, but to publish it on International Holocaust Remembrance Day is sickening and expresses a deeply troubling mindset,” he deplored in a statement.
“This insensitivity demands an immediate apology from both the cartoonist and the paper’s editors.”
“Amazingly, as this cartoon was published days after the only democracy in the Middle East, Israel, underwent fully democratic elections, as others in the Middle East were being butchered by the tens of thousands, the Sunday Times focuses its imagination solely on the Jewish State,”Kantor said.
Efraim Zuroff, director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Israel office, called the picture “absolutely disgusting.”
The picture “makes all the talk of fighting anti-Semitism seem irrelevant,” Zuroff said, adding that The Sunday Times represents “mainline British society.”
Michael Salberg, the Anti-Defamation League’s director of international affairs, also slammed the cartoon, calling also on the newspaper to apologize.
“The Sunday Times has clearly lost its moral bearings, publishing a cartoon with a blatantly anti-Semitic theme and motif which is a modern day evocation of the ancient ‘blood libel’ charge leveled at Jews,” he said in an emailed statement.
“This is the stuff which historically justified hatred of Jews and led to the wholesale slaughter of Jews.”
A spokesperson for the paper said it was staunchly against anti-Semitism, as evidenced by its reporting.
“This is a typically robust cartoon by Gerald Scarfe. The Sunday Times firmly believes that it is not anti-Semitic,” a spokesperson said. “It is aimed squarely at Mr. Netanyahu and his policies, not at Israel, let alone at Jewish people. It appears today because Mr. Netanyahu won the Israeli election last week. The Sunday Times condemns anti-Semitism, as is clear in the excellent article in today’s Magazine which exposes the Holocaust-denying tours of concentration camps organised by David Irving.”
For Moshe Kantor, the cartoon « contravenes many of the criteria laid out in EUMC’s Working Definition of Antisemitism and is part of a worrying trend to legitimize the growing assault on Israel by opinion-shapers.”
According to The Jewish Chronicle in London, this is the second incident in the past week from Britain to raise allegations of anti-Semitism.
A Liberal Democrat MP, David Ward, came under fire last week when he claimed to be “saddened that the Jews, who suffered unbelievable levels of persecution during the Holocaust, could within a few years of liberation from the death camps be inflicting atrocities on Palestinians in the new State of Israel and continue to do so on a daily basis in the West Bank and Gaza.”
On Saturday, Ward apologized, saying that he “never for a moment intended to criticize or offend the Jewish people as a whole, either as a race or as a people of faith.”
He claimed, he was “trying to make clear that everybody needs to learn the lessons of the Holocaust.”
His party condemned the MP’s comments, saying in a statement that “this is a matter we take extremely seriously. The Liberal Democrats deeply regret and condemn the statement issued by David Ward and his use of language which is unacceptable.”