A cartoon depicting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu building a wall with the blood and bodies of Palestinians, published on International Holocaust Remembrance Day, led to accusations of anti-Semitism against London’s Sunday Times newspaper.
Underneath the image, which shows the prime minister as a muscular, angry figure with a large, bulbous red nose, the caption reads, “Will cementing peace continue?”
The Sunday Times said the cartoon was not anti-Semitic but critical of Netanyahu’s policies.
But Efraim Zuroff, director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Israel office, called the picture “absolutely disgusting.”
Zuroff told The Times of Israel that it is “shocking” that The Sunday Times “has the incredible gall to publish such an anti-Semitic caricature of Netanyahu,” specifically on International Holocaust Remembrance Day, which is observed in Britain.
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 on The Sunday Times 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.”
On its Facebook page, the World Zionist Organization-Israel said that the cartoon crossed “all lines of decency and morality.”
In a statement to the Times of Israel, 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 in an emailed statement. “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.”
The cartoon, which appears behind a paywall on The Sunday Times website, was drawn by illustrator Scarfe, and is the second incident in the past week from Great Britain to raise allegations of anti-Semitism.
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.”
Rather, Ward claimed, he was “trying to make clear that everybody needs to learn the lessons of the Holocaust.”
On Friday, Ward’s Liberal Democrat party condemned his comments. In a statement cited in the Guido Fawkes blog, the party said 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.”