In a second, lengthy apology by the newspaper, The New York Times editorial board on Tuesday apologized for publishing what it acknowledged was an “appalling” political cartoon, and said its own actions were “evidence of a profound danger — not only of anti-Semitism but of numbness to its creep.”
That “ancient, enduring prejudice is once again working itself into public view and common conversation,” the paper averred, adding, “history teaches that the rise of extremism requires the acquiescence of broader society.”
The April 25 caricature, drawn by Portuguese political cartoonist António Moreira Antunes and published in the Times’ international edition, shows a blind, skullcap-sporting Trump being led by a dog version of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with a Star of David collar around his neck.
“The cartoon was chosen from a syndication service by a production editor who did not recognize its anti-Semitism,” the editorial said.
It added: “Anti-Semitic imagery is particularly dangerous now…. For decades, most American Jews felt safe to practice their religion, but now they pass through metal detectors to enter synagogues and schools. Jews face even greater hostility and danger in Europe, where the cartoon was created.”
And it recalled the Times’ own checkered history with anti-Semitism. “In the 1930s and the 1940s, The Times was largely silent as anti-Semitism rose up and bathed the world in blood. That failure still haunts this newspaper,” the editorial said.
The editorial then lashed US President Donald Trump for failing to condemn anti-Semitism on the right.
“As anti-Semitism has surged from the internet into the streets, President Trump has done too little to rouse the national conscience against it. Though he condemned the cartoon in The Times, he has failed to speak out against anti-Semitic groups like the white nationalists who marched in Charlottesville, Va., in 2017 chanting, ‘Jews will not replace us.’ He has practiced a politics of intolerance for diversity, and attacks on some minority groups threaten the safety of every minority group.”
The mea culpa comes following a torrent of criticism, including from the ADL and Jewish and Israeli leaders, in recent days.
In a speech Monday marking Holocaust Remembrance Day, Israel’s ambassador to the US, Ron Dermer, charged that the Times, “one of the world’s most prestigious newspapers,” had become “a cesspool of hostility towards Israel that goes well beyond any legitimate criticism of a fellow, imperfect democracy.”
He added: “The same New York Times that a century ago mostly hid from their readers the Holocaust of the Jewish people has today made its pages a safe-space for those who hate the Jewish state. Through biased coverage, slanderous columns and anti-Semitic cartoons, its editors shamefully choose week after week to cast the Jewish state as a force for evil.”
Trump on Monday lashed the Times as well, though he appeared to be focused chiefly on the newspaper’s attitude toward him.
“The New York Times has apologized for the terrible Anti-Semitic Cartoon, but they haven’t apologized to me for this or all of the Fake and Corrupt news they print on a daily basis.” he tweeted.
“They have reached the lowest level of ‘journalism,’ and certainly a low point in @nytimes history!”
Trump has often singled out the Times as a target for his ire, repeatedly dubbing its reporting on his presidency “fake news.”
On Sunday, the paper said it was “deeply sorry” for printing the cartoon in its international edition last week. It attributed the misstep to a lack of oversight and vowed to revamp its editorial process to ensure “nothing like this happens again.”
It said, “Such imagery is always dangerous, and at a time when anti-Semitism is on the rise worldwide, it’s all the more unacceptable.
“We have investigated how this happened and learned that, because of a faulty process, a single editor working without adequate oversight downloaded the syndicated cartoon and made the decision to include it on the Opinion page. The matter remains under review, and we are evaluating our internal processes and training. We anticipate significant changes.”
It also published a column by its own columnist Bret Stephens who called the caricature “a textbook illustration” of anti-Semitism and said it “might have been published in the pages of [Nazi propaganda paper] Der Stürmer.”
He acknowledged that the cartoon’s printing was in error, but asserted that such an error could only occur because “torrential criticism of Israel and the mainstreaming of anti-Zionism, including by this paper… has become so common that people have been desensitized to its inherent bigotry.”
Stephens also said the Times “owes the Israeli prime minister an apology,” though he did not say the same of Trump.
The cartoon was previously condemned by US Vice President Mike Pence.
Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan on Sunday said the drawing was “shocking and reminiscent of Nazi propaganda during the Holocaust.”
Israel’s Channel 13 news reported Saturday night that Danny Dayan, Israel’s consul-general in New York, had protested to the newspaper about the cartoon.
ADL chief Jonathan Greenblatt told The Times of Israel on Saturday that the cartoon was “anti-Semitic propaganda of the most vile sort.”
Wait…the @nytimes featured ANOTHER Netanyahu cartoon? This one AFTER the Thursday cartoon depicting Netanyahu as a dog? Am I reading this right? Is the Times obsessed with Israel’s prime minister? pic.twitter.com/r1KsSaYWtw
— Dan Senor (@dansenor) April 29, 2019
In its Saturday-Sunday (April 27-28) print edition, the New York Times International Edition published another cartoon featuring Netanyahu, this time dressed as Moses, descending from Mount Sinai with a selfie stick and a tablet covered by a Star of David, which prompted further criticism in some quarters. Greenblatt told The Daily Beast: “It might not be as blatantly anti-Semitic as the first cartoon, but it was clearly insensitive and absolutely offensive after the first piece of propaganda.”