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UPDATED It’s On: Israel Demands Times Apologize for Blood Libel

The Sunday Times has so far denied that the cartoon was anti-Semitic.

Gerald Scarfe

Photo Credit: Yori Yanover

Israel is demanding an apology from London’s The Sunday Times for publishing a cartoon showing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu building a wall cemented with Palestinian blood.

Daniel Taub, Israel’s ambassador in London told The Times of Israel that “We generally think that a red line has been crossed and the obligation on the newspaper is to correct that.”

Jon Benjamin, Chief Executive of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, stated: “The cartoon is shockingly reminiscent of the blood libel imagery more usually found in parts of the virulently anti-Semitic Arab press. Its use is all the more disgusting on Holocaust Memorial Day, given the similar tropes leveled against Jews by the Nazis.”

The cartoon by Gerald Scarfe was published Sunday, which also happened to be International Holocaust Remembrance Day. It shows Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu building a wall with the blood and bodies of Palestinian women and children who are screaming in pain.

The Sunday Times has so far denied that the cartoon was anti-Semitic. In a statement, the News International title described Scarfe’s imagery as “typically robust,” and added: “It is aimed squarely at Mr. Netanyahu and his policies, not at Israel, let alone at Jewish people. It appeared yesterday because Mr. Netanyahu won the Israeli election last week.

“The Sunday Times condemns anti-Semitism, as is clear in the excellent article in yesterday’s magazine which exposes the Holocaust-denying tours of concentration camps organized by David Irving.”

Martin Ivens, the newspaper’s incoming editor in chief, said: “The last thing I or anyone connected with the Sunday Times would countenance would be insulting the memory of the Shoah or invoking the blood libel. The paper has long written strongly in defense of Israel and its security concerns, as have I as a columnist. We are, however, reminded of the sensitivities in this area by the reaction to the cartoon and I will of course bear them very carefully in mind in future.”

Middle East envoy Tony Blair, a former British prime minister, met with Netanyahu on Monday and said he deplored the caricature, a statement from the prime minister’s office said.

Rupert Murdoch whose News Corp. company owns the British newspaper, said via Twitter that the newspaper owes “a major apology for the grotesque, offensive cartoon,” The Jerusalem Post said.

British Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks condemned the cartoon, saying “Whatever the intention, the danger of such images is that they reinforce a great slander of our time: that Jews, victims of the Holocaust, are now perpetrators of a similar crime against the Palestinians. Not only is this manifestly untrue, it is also inflammatory and deeply dangerous.”

 

UPDATE: According to a BBC Report, on Tuesday, January 29, the acting editor of the Sunday Times apologized for the grotesque cartoon published in his paper.  Martin Ivens told a group of British Jewish leadership and community members who met with him to express their outrage over the cartoon, “On behalf of the paper I’d like to apologize unreservedly for the offense we clearly caused. This was a terrible mistake.”

Ivens went on to say “You will know that the Sunday Times abhors anti-Semitism and would never set out to cause offence to the Jewish people – or any other ethnic or religious group. That was not the intention last Sunday.”

In addition, Ivens castigated the cartoonist, who was not present at the meeting.  He said, “Everyone knows that Gerald Scarfe is consistently brutal and bloody in his depictions, but last weekend – by his own admission – he crossed a line.”

Scarfe put up his own response on his website, apologizing abjectly for the timing of the publication of his cartoon, and insisting that he was harpooning Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, but not the Jewish people.

His message stated that he was “stupidly completely unaware that it would be printed on Holocaust Day, and I apologise for the very unfortunate timing.”

The British Jewish communal leadership accepted the apologies and suggested it was time to “move on.”

 

Yori Yanover

About the Author: Yori Yanover has been a working journalist since age 17, before he enlisted and worked for Ba'Machane Nachal. Since then he has worked for Israel Shelanu, the US supplement of Yedioth, JCN18.com, USAJewish.com, Lubavitch News Service, Arutz 7 (as DJ on the high seas), and the Grand Street News. He has published Dancing and Crying, a colorful and intimate portrait of the last two years in the life of the late Lubavitch Rebbe, (in Hebrew), and two fun books in English: The Cabalist's Daughter: A Novel of Practical Messianic Redemption, and How Would God REALLY Vote.


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