On Monday, The New York Times severed ties with one of its cartoon syndicates after it distributed two antisemitic cartoons, per The Daily Beast. It should be noted that Times‘ editorial did approve the comic before it appeared in last Thursday’s international print. The newspaper only acted after executive director of the Anti-Defamation League, Jonathan Greenblatt, complained directly to management.
The cartoon in question was drawn by Portuguese artist António Moreira Antunes. It showed a blind Donald Trump wearing a yarmulke and being led by a dachshund with the face of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who wore a Star of David dog collar. The second antisemitic cartoon showed Netanyahu wearing sunglasses, descending a mountain while holding a selfie stick and a stone tablet marked with the Jewish star. In his complaint, Greenblatt rightly pointed out that the depiction propagates antisemitic rhetoric that Jewish men somehow control world leaders.
Greenblatt told The Daily Beast, “In an environment where anti-Semitism is on the rise… where people like the shooter this weekend are taking inspiration from these conspiracy theories that Jews have excessive control, that Jews manipulate events—to then see The New York Times publish a piece of propaganda that clearly communicates that Jews have excessive control, or that Jews manipulate events, is unconscionable.”
Publication of these cartoons took place less than a year after prominent Jewish philanthropist George Soros found a bomb in his home and only days after a gunman attacked a southern California synagogue.
What’s more, the NYT response didn’t initially include an apology. The decision was called “an error of judgement,” until public criticism forced an apology. Apparently, an unidentified editor “working without adequate oversight,” due to a “faulty process,” is to blame for the approval. Though that process is under review, the editor doesn’t seem to have faced any repercussions. A spokeswoman for the Times said, “We are evaluating our internal processes and training. We anticipate significant changes.”
The Times apology ends on an odd note, quoting a 2015 interview with the cartoonist responsible: “The profession of cartoonist is a profession of risk. There is always fear, but there is no other option but to defend freedom of expression.” Having just published antisemitic cartoons, the Times opted to call for journalistic freedom.
Greenblatt puts it best in this interview statement: “I’m strongly encouraging [The New York Times] to do more. It’s overdue frankly. We’re going to continue to apply all that we can… There is a deep problem here, and it needs to be dealt with. Standing up to anti-Semitism isn’t something you should after the fact. It needs to happen before there’s an incident… I think the Times needs to take corrective action in advance to ensure that this never happens again.”
Josh is a writer who likes to enjoy things. While watching or reading, he mumbles “this is so good,” sometimes emphasizing the ‘so.’