Anti-Netanyahu Cartoon Is Called ‘Blood Libel’

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An editorial cartoon published in London’s Sunday Times showing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu building a wall on the bodies of Palestinians and using their blood as cement has drawn condemnation from as far away as the United States and Israel.

The cartoon, which was published onInternational Holocaust Memorial Day, carries the caption “Israeli Elections … Will Cementing Peace Continue?”

The European Jewish Congress in a statement called the cartoon “sickening” and “offensive,” and said the paper and cartoonist Gerald Scarfe should apologize.

“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 mind-set,” EJC President Moshe Kantor said in the 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.”

Israel would seek an apology for the caricature, Israeli ambassador to London Daniel Taub told The Times of Israel on Monday. “We’re not going to let this stand as it is. We genuinely think that a red line has been crossed and the obligation on the newspaper is to correct that.”

For its part, The Sunday Times issued a statement denying that the cartoon, while “robust,” was anti-Semitic.

“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.”

Rupert Murdoch, whose News Corp. owns The Sunday Times through a subsidiary, tweeted that the paper should apologize for printing what he called a “grotesque, offensive” cartoon.

The ADL said the cartoon had “a blatantly anti-Semitic theme and motif which is a modern-day evocation of the ancient ‘blood libel’ charge leveled at Jews,” Michael A. Salberg, ADL international affairs director, told The Algemeiner. “There is nothing subtle about the caricatured image of Prime Minister Netanyahu using Palestinians and their blood to build a wall to ‘protect’ Israelis.”

HonestReporting agreed the cartoon was “a blood libel on a day when the millions of victims of the Holocaust are remembered.

“On any day, this cartoon’s imagery is an assault on the real victims of genocide, demeans their suffering and insults their memory,” said HonestReporting CEO Joe Hyams in a statement issued Sunday by the organization. “The Sunday Times should be mindful that what started as cartoons in the 1930s ultimately led to violence and unspeakable tragedy.”

Not everyone saw a potential Holocaust in the cartoon. Writing in Haaretz, Anshel Pfeffer said Scarfe’s drawing was “grossly offensive,” but not anti-Semitic. It used neither Jewish symbols nor Holocaust imagery, he pointed out.

Israeli caricaturist Nissim “Nusko” Hezkiyahu said Scarfe routinely skewers politicians, according to The Times of Israel. “If you look at the other caricatures, Bibi [Netanyahu] came off easy.”

Scarfe also drew the cover illustration for Pink Floyd’s 1979 album The Wall. Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters has been a critic of Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians.