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Times Deletes Controversial Cartoon, Apologizes

'We are deeply sorry for the publication of an anti-Semitic political cartoon'
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 29, 2019 7:51 AM CDT

(Newser) – The New York Times is apologizing for a political cartoon critical of Benjamin Netanyahu and President Trump widely seen as anti-Semitic. In fact, the newspaper itself agrees with that description. "We are deeply sorry for the publication of an anti-Semitic political cartoon last Thursday in the print edition of The New York Times that circulates outside of the United States, and we are committed to making sure nothing like this happens again," the newspaper tweeted. Details:

  • The cartoon: It has been deleted online, but you can see it here via a critical tweet from David Harris, CEO of the American Jewish Committee. The cartoon depicts Netanyahu as a guide dog, wearing the Star of David, leading a blind Trump, who is wearing a skullcap. Harris writes that he's "appalled."
  • Two statements: The Times' first statement said the cartoon had "anti-Semitic tropes" and was "offensive," adding that it was an "error in judgment to publish it." The second statement went further, including the apology mentioned above. "Such imagery is always dangerous, and at a time when anti-Semitism is on the rise worldwide, it's all the more unacceptable," said the statement of the image, which ran in international editions. "[B]ecause of a faulty process, a single editor working without adequate oversight downloaded the syndicated cartoon," said the Times. "We anticipate significant changes."

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  • The anger: "Apology not accepted," tweeted the AJC. "How many New York Times editors looked at a cartoon that would not have looked out of place on a white supremacist website and thought it met the paper's editorial standards? What does this say about your processes or your decision makers?"
  • The anger, II: “The Nazis also depicted us as animals,” writes Seth Frantzman in the Jerusalem Post. "They also put Stars of David on us. Antisemites have compared us to dogs, pigs and monkeys before. It used to be that it was on the far-Right that Jews were depicted as controlling the world, like an octopus or a spider.”
  • Counter-view: In the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, Zeev Engelmayer writes that the cartoon is not anti-Semitic. "A cartoon is by definition an exaggeration that looks for weak points," he writes. "Sometimes it’s a warning sign: It provides strong, exaggerated images to shock and awaken. That was the case this time, a moment before this duo drags us along with them on a leash on a nighttime stroll."
  • Unaware: CNN reports that most Times staffers in the US had no idea about the cartoon until they saw the initial editor's note, and were dismayed that the note didn't go far enough. On the network Sunday, White House adviser Kellyanne Conway made the same point after describing the cartoon as "odious and offensive."
  • Internal critic: Times columnist Bret Stephens was among those blasting the newspaper. "The almost 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," he writes in an op-ed.
(Read more New York Times stories.)

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