Cartoonist axed for ‘Animal Farm’ pigs drawing of Netanyahu and colleagues

Cartoon by Jerusalem Report’s Avi Katz criticizing new Jewish State law draws on selfie showing Likud lawmakers after legislation passed

Avi Katz (Facebook)
Avi Katz (Facebook)

A veteran Israeli cartoonist was cut loose on Tuesday from the magazine he worked at for nearly three decades over an illustration portraying Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Likud lawmakers as pigs from George Orwell’s “Animal Farm.”

The cartoon by Avi Katz drew on a photo of Netanyahu and members of his Likud party snapping a selfie at the Knesset following the passage of the so-called Jewish State law last week.

The legislation, which defines Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people, has had a mixed reception, with some critics decrying it as discriminatory toward the country’s non-Jewish citizens.

Alluding to the law, Katz’s drawing — in which all the figures have the heads of pigs — includes Orwell’s quote “All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others.”

My cartoon on Israel's shameful new Nationalism Law

Posted by Avi Katz on Monday, July 23, 2018

“Animal Farm,” which tells the story of a revolt by animals on a farm against their human owners and its aftermath, is seen as an allegory for the Soviet Union following the communist revolution and the totalitarianism that accompanied Joseph Stalin’s subsequent rise to power.

Likud MK Oren Hazan takes a selfie with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, center, and MK David Bitan, right of Netanyahu, after the passage of the so-called Jewish State law at the Knesset on July 19, 2018. (AP Photo/Olivier Fitoussi)

The publication of the cartoon on Tuesday in the Jerusalem Report, a biweekly magazine published by the Jerusalem Post, was met with praise by some and anger by other social media users, with many objecting to his portrayal of the Likud politicians as pigs, which are perceived as among the most ritually impure animals in Judaism.

Following the uproar, the Jerusalem Post announced it would no longer work with Katz.

“Avi Katz is a cartoonist who worked as a freelancer at the Jerusalem Post and in accordance with editorial considerations, it was decided not to continue the relationship with him,” it said in a Hebrew-language statement.

Katz did not immediately comment. He had worked for the Jerusalem Report since 1990.

After he was fired, the non-profit Brit Yisraelit launched a fundraising drive on the fundraising platform Drove to raise money to employ Katz until he lands another job.

The Animix festival, which is a partner in the fundraising campaign, said in a Facebook post that while it found the cartoon “shocking,” the drawing does not go against the principle of freedom of expression and contains only “matter-of-fact” criticism of the government.

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