On Thursday, the international version of The New York Times published a horrifically anti-Semitic political cartoon, depicting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as a dachsund with a blue Star of David dog tag, leading President Donald Trump, who is wearing a kippa. The New York Times pulled the cartoon and apologized, but the cartoonist insisted his work was not anti-Semitic and at least one Jewish leader is not accepting the Times‘s apology.
“A political cartoon in the international print edition of The New York Times on Thursday included anti-Semitic tropes, depicting the prime minister of Israel as a guide dog with a Star of David collar leading the president of the United States, shown wearing a skullcap. The image was offensive, and it was an error of judgment to publish it. It was provided by The New York Times News Service and Syndicate, which has since deleted it,” The New York Times said in a statement on Saturday.
An Editors' Note to appear in Monday’s international edition. pic.twitter.com/1rl2vXoTB3
— New York Times Opinion (@nytopinion) April 27, 2019
The American Jewish Committee (AJC) responded shortly afterwards.
“Apology not accepted. 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? How are you fixing it?” the organization asked.
Apology not accepted. How many @nytimes 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? How are you fixing it? https://t.co/HD5LdeZ9z3
— American Jewish Committee (@AJCGlobal) April 27, 2019
“The ‘cartoon’ is beyond shocking. Antisemitic in the extreme. No, ‘apology’ isn’t adequate,” David Harris, CEO of AJC, tweeted. “Rather, [The New York Times] owes readers an explanation of how this happened — after all, decision to print it involved more than one person — & what it says about the paper’s view of Israel & Jews.”
The “cartoon” is beyond shocking. Antisemitic in the extreme.
No, “apology” isn’t adequate. Rather, @nytimes owes readers an explanation of how this happened — after all, decision to print it involved more than one person — & what it says about the paper’s view of Israel & Jews. https://t.co/O0bDBv1gJm
— David Harris (@DavidHarrisAJC) April 27, 2019
Harris decided to tweet out the image in order to show just how horrific it was. “The more I think about the [New York Times] ‘cartoon,’ the more appalled I am,” he tweeted. “While [anti-Semitism] is rising…synagogues are attacked & Jews killed…democratic [Israel] is demonized…& Jewish institutions are forced to bolster security… The ‘paper of record’ pours oil on the fire.”
The more I think about the @nytimes “cartoon,” the more appalled I am.
The “paper of record” pours oil on the fire. pic.twitter.com/8FUAEKCagK
— David Harris (@DavidHarrisAJC) April 27, 2019
Harris continued pressing the paper on Sunday. “Dear [New York Times], Please allow me 3 questions: Has the full chain of command for approving this incendiary, antisemitic cartoon been identified? Will there be any serious consequences for those involved in the decision? Have steps been taken to ensure this won’t happen again?”
Please allow me 3 questions:
Has the full chain of command for approving this incendiary, antisemitic cartoon been identified?
Will there be any serious consequences for those involved in the decision?
Have steps been taken to ensure this won’t happen again? https://t.co/BfNoAnDL7O
— David Harris (@DavidHarrisAJC) April 28, 2019
The Jerusalem Post‘s Seth Frantzman agreed with Harris. “An apology after the fact isn’t enough,” he wrote. “So this cartoon wasn’t just mildly antisemitic. It wasn’t like ‘whoops.’ It was deeply antisemitic.”
Ira Stoll, a former North American editor at The Jerusalem Post, argued that the cartoon is merely one of many examples of anti-Semitism in The New York Times:
I’d respectfully suggest that anyone shocked or surprised by the publication of this cartoon in the Times hasn’t been paying close attention to the pattern of anti-Israel and anti-Jewish themes and images that I’ve documented for more than three years now in the Algemeiner. Among a few of the more egregious problems: the Timespublished and awarded a gold “NYT Pick” ribbon to a reader commentdescribing Netanyahu as a “parasitic thug” who “likes to control the US Congress.” The Times later deleted the comment and claimed the publication had been a mistake — the same strategy it is now trying again with this dog cartoon. The Times published an op-ed that falsely accused Jewish billionaires of trying to drag America into a war with Iran. The Times has also been blaming religious Jews and Jewish schools for spreading measles while simultaneously ignoring mumps outbreaks at non-Jewish institutions such as Temple University and Indiana University. The Times also devoted vast space and investigative resources to promoting an unsubstantiated accusation that Israeli soldiers had committed a war crime. And the newspaper has been cheering on the effort by Israel’s enemies to impose a boycott on Israel.
Worse, Antonio Moreira Antunes, the cartoonist behind the anti-Semitic image, told The Jerusalem Post that he does not see anti-Semitism in it. Antunes, a long-time cartoonist for the Portuguese newspaper Expresso, defended the cartoon as a political attack on Trump.
“Trump’s erratic, destructive and often blind politics encouraged the expansionist radicalism of Netanyahu,” Antunes told The Jerusalem Post. “To illustrate this situation, an analogy occurred to me with a blind man (Trump) led by a guide dog (Netanyahu) and, to help identify him, little known in Portugal, I added the Star of David, symbol of the State of Israel and central element of its flag.”
Antunes did not address the kippa on Trump’s head. “I do not seek controversy,” he insisted. “I try to make critical cartoons of situations that seem to me wrong, unfair and undemocratic. I have already made drawings on the politics of my country, Spain, France, Russia, Italy, Iran, China, Saudi Arabia, USA, Brazil, United Kingdom, North Korea, etc.”
“What will be the reason why I cannot do a critique of Israeli policy without being immediately categorized as antisemitic?” the cartoonist asked. “I have nothing against the Jews but I have many things against the politics of Israel.”
In the 1980s, Antunes published a caricature depicting IDF soldiers as Nazis. That cartoon won him an international prize in 1983, despite loud outcry from the Jewish community.
Follow Tyler O’Neil, the author of this article, on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.