Robust debate? Murdoch apologizes for London ‘Times’ cartoon of Netanyahu as bloody obstructionist

Gerald Scarfe cartoon Jan. 27, 2013 Sunday Times

After The Sunday Times of London published a cartoon of a scowling Netanyahu making peace by building a wall with bricks, blood, and bodies writhing in anguish on January 27, International Holocaust Remembrance Day, all hell broke loose. The cartoon by Gerald Scarfe carries the caption ‘Israeli Election–Will Cementing Peace Continue?

Today Rupert Murdoch “took the unusual step of apologizing personally,” says the New York Times, for the cartoon, calling it “grotesque and offensive.”
While Scarfe himself says he “very much regrets” the timing of the cartoon. He didn’t realize Sunday was Holocaust Memorial Day.

Jewish groups had reacted with condemnation and outrage. The European Jewish Congress demanded The Sunday Times apologize. The Anti-Defamation League called it a blood libel and The Times of Israel reported Israel was going to demand an apology. The Board of Deputies of British Jews complained to the Press Complaints Commission.

Initially, The Sunday Times defended publication of the cartoon. Responding to an inquiry from the website The Algemeiner:

“This is a typically robust cartoon by Gerald Scarfe,” said a spokesperson for The Sunday Times, adding, “The Sunday Times firmly believes that it is not anti-Semitic. It is aimed squarely at Mr Netanyahu and his policies, not at Israel, let alone at Jewish people.”

Israeli Ambassador to London Daniel Taub had this to say:

“The newspaper should apologize for this. We’re not going to let this stand as it is,” Israeli Ambassador to London Daniel Taub told The Times of Israel in a telephone interview. “We genuinely think that a red line has been crossed and the obligation on the newspaper is to correct that.”

Taub added that he was going to meet with the newspaper’s editor “at the earliest opportunity, perhaps already today,” to express the government’s concern about a cartoon that draws “on classical anti-Semitic themes.”

In a meeting Monday with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Tony Blair, the representative of the Middle East quartet who’s also a former British premier, deplored the caricature….

Responding to an outcry from Jewish groups — Efraim Zuroff, director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Israel office, called the cartoon “absolutely disgusting” and said it “makes all the talk of fighting anti-Semitism seem irrelevant,” and Michael Salberg of the Anti-Defamation League said “The Sunday Times has clearly lost its moral bearings — a spokesman for the newspaper told The Times of Israel Sunday the cartoon was not anti-Semitic but critical of the prime minister’s policies, as it was “aimed squarely at Mr. Netanyahu and his policies, not at Israel, let alone at Jewish people.”

For those offended by Scarfe’s cartoon of Netanyahu, check this out. How soon can we expect an apology?

“I Saw A Baby Die Today” Gerald Scarfe depicts Assad

Oh and the double standard for Everything Israel is even embarrassing folks in Israel. Anshel Pfeffer in Haaretz says, “Pillorying Scarfe and his cartoon cheapens a noble cause, as this was not anti-Semitic by any standard.” 

(Hat tip Mondoweiss commenters Krauss, justicewillprevail and ritzl)

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