Murdoch sorry for 'offensive' Scarfe cartoon

Jan 29, 2013

Jewish groups say depiction of Israeli PM is 'shockingly' anti-Semitic but not everyone agrees

Getty Images

Gerard Scarfe

RUPERT MURDOCH has apologised for a "grotesque, offensive cartoon" printed in the Sunday Times depicting the newly re-elected Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu using a trowel to build a wall from the blood and limbs of Palestinians. The caption reads, "Will cementing the peace continue?"

Murdoch's apology came after the Board of Deputies of British Jews complained that the cartoon by the distinguished British illustrator Gerald Scarfe was "shockingly reminiscent of the blood libel imagery more usually found in parts of the virulently anti-Semitic Arab press".

To make matters worse, it was published on Holocaust Memorial Day, although Scarfe insists he was unaware of the fact and says he "very much regrets" the timing.

The Independent says it is rare for Murdoch to make a "disparaging comment on the editorial content of one his newspapers", so his intervention means he considers the cartoon particularly egregious. Murdoch tweeted that Scarfe – who has worked for the paper since the late 1960s – has "never reflected the opinions of the Sunday Times". But the media mogul said a "major apology" was still appropriate.

Not everyone has condemned the cartoon. The Israeli newspaper Haaretz republished it above an article headlined: "Four reasons why UK cartoon of Netanyahu isn't anti-Semitic in any way". The paper argues that the drawing is not directed at Jews, does not use Holocaust imagery and is representative of Scarfe's acerbic work."Netanyahu's depiction is grossly offensive and unfair, but that is only par for the course for any politician when Scarfe is at his drawing-board," says Haaretz.

The Guardian points out that the 76-year-old artist – best-known for his work with Pink Floyd on the movie version of The Wall – often depicts blood in his work. A recent cartoon of Bashar al-Assad showed the Syrian leader as a "green, wraith-like creature drinking greedily from an oversized cup labelled 'Children's Blood'".

Even so, the incident and Murdoch's rapid intervention, are both "highly embarrassing" for Martin Ivens, who was appointed acting editor of the Sunday Times only last week. Ivens spent much of yesterday trying to defend the cartoon, saying it was aimed "squarely" at the newly re-elected Israeli PM not the Jewish people.

Ivens changed his tune today and issued a lengthy apology, leading the Independent to speculate he was "clearly not expecting Mr Murdoch to enter into the argument". In a statement, Ivens said insulting the memory of Holocaust victims was "the last thing I or anyone connected with the Sunday Times would countenance". He will meet representatives of the Jewish community today to discuss the cartoon and its repercussions.

Sign up for our daily newsletter

Read more:

Disqus - noscript

Good piece, and well done to Haaretz for blowing the whistle on this depressing use of the "Anti-Semite !" card. It's always heartening when people belonging to minorities speak out against knee-jerk responses like this.

It's the old 'criticise Israel and you're being anti-Semitic' trick. Just look at how the state of Israel treats Palestinians, and you'll see that the cartoon is justified. Murdoch has lost his touch...or perhaps just thinking with his business head...

Israelis does not oppress the Palestinians, who have benefited from some of the highest rises in GDP and lowest child mortality ratios in the Middle East.

Nor are the Israelis behaving inhumanely; it is the Palestinians who are committing crimes against humanity by targeting Israeli innocents for mass murder without remission, both from Gaza and from the West Bank. It is the Palestinians, in the West Bank as well as Gaza, who are brainwashed from the cradle to hate Jews and to believe that murdering Israelis is their highest glory. Which they have been doing in Israel and before that in Palestine for more than a century – despite the fact that, as the international community laid down in binding treaty in 1920, the Jews alone had the inalienable and historic right to settle throughout Palestine, including not just present-day Israel but also the West Bank and Gaza.

Moreover, while the Jews accepted proposals for a Palestinian state first made in the 1930s and then in 1947, and while the Israelis offered them more than 95 per cent of the possible land for a state in 2000 and 2008, the Palestinians responded merely by murdering more Jews.

Despite all this, Israel behaves towards its genocidal Palestinian attackers with a humanity that is seen in no other conflict on the planet. Despite the rocket attacks and constant smuggling of ever more fearsome weapons to be aimed at its civilians, it allows humanitarian supplies into Gaza; despite the constant plotting in the West Bank to kill more Israelis, it allows Palestinians to work in Israel, and treats Palestinians from both the West Bank and Gaza alongside Israelis in Israeli hospitals. Yes of course there is Palestinian hardship caused by the checkpoints and security barrier. But the only reason these exist is to prevent Palestinians killing yet more Israelis. If the Palestinians and their Arab and Iranian backers stopped trying to wipe Israel off the map, there would be peace tomorrow. (in an article by Melanie Philips)

It is The Jewish Israelis who have moved into Palestinian land; forcibly.

I agree Sandy - the Israelis always come up with the old and much tarnished reaction that it is the Palestinians fault. What absolute nonsense of course. I say to Netanyahu return ALL the stolen land and the buildings to Palestine and then we MIGHT begin to talk to you.

Initially, the land was bought fair and square by Jewish settlers. In 1948, Israel was attacked by its neighbours. It fought for - and earned - its right to be called an independent country. Haj Amin el-Husseini, the Arab Palestinian leader, wanted to drive the Jews into the sea. It all went so terribly wrong...

BTW - Britain built concrete walls in Northern Ireland to keep Catholics and Protestants separate in the early 1970s. The walls are still there - where is the condemnation?

so there you have it. anti-muslim cartoons are justifiably published under the guise of "Western" values of freedom of speech, whereas, heaven forbid, cannot use the same freedom of speech to justify anti-jewish cartoons. since when is this glaring disparity enshrined as a basic human right?

Netanyahu IS building the wall on the blood of Palestinians. Why are the cartoonist and the newspaper backing down

Dear Mr Scarfe

Please continue this brave stand. It is appalling that the Zionist international lobby insists on using the suffering of victims of Nazi crimes simply as a diplomatic and publicity resource. This is a vile further abuse of these tragic people's suffering.

Its not justifiable to publish anti-Jewish cartoons or anti-Muslim cartoons. Although when anti Jewish cartoons are published there are no Jewish riots or fatwas.

All falling over themselves to apologize to the chosen ones but they barely paid lip service to the victims of Murdoch's Phone Tapping scandal.. Whats up ? Jews more sacred than Gentiles ?

Israel was born out of terrorism.. King David Hotel bombing, Folke Bernadotte assassination1948(TEL' AVIV, May 24, (A.A.P.). —Israel will pay an indemnity of £19 300 sterling to the family Count Folke Bernadotte. who was assassinated in Jerusalem whilst on a UN mission). and too many massacres to list .. Ben Gurion even threatened Britain with War; An economic War which they were going to fight without mercy. They attempted to assassinate a British MP in London all because Britain refused to tear up the British Mandate or the White paper as it was called.

They say the holocaust gifted Palestine to the Jews but there were people who held a different view. This was written in 1951; 20 years before the holocaust was named the "holocaust of Jews"

Murder of Jews Sir,-Recently, in a letter to "The Examiner," I described the oft-plugged propaganda story about the murder of six million Jews by Hitler as an "appalling lie." Your correspondent, "H.B.C.," challenged me on this point, and it has been stated that I acted very unfairly in avoiding the challenge in a subsequent letter The truth is that I had something else to say in the space available. There are somethings against which one should not have to argue in detail, as that the moon is made of green cheese, or the earth is flat,or that the Germans could take time out from a world war on two fronts to organize the murder and disposal of about 5000 Jews a day, seven days a week, for more than three years. Equal to the murder of nearly all Australians, less Queensland. The thing is not feasible, but for those for whom common sense is not enough here is some evidence. "Aufbau," a Jewish weekly published in German in New York, in its column "Anti-Anti," written by Kurt Heller (December 24, 1950), admits that the whole story of Hitler killing six million Jews is pure fabrication. The "Jewish Chronicle," August, 1945, estimated that of 825,000 Jews in Germany and Austria at the time of Hitler's accession to power, nearly half a million found asylum elsewhere, and that about 20,000 were left in the two countries in 1945. Deducting from the residue at least 30,000 deaths from natural causes- and Allied bombing (in excess of births) it is seen that not more than about 300,000 Jews could have been murdered by the Nazis in Germany and Austria. Puzzle:Find the other 5,700,000. Now, no one ever knows the total number of Jews in the world, or any part of it, except perhaps in Israel. The numbers are pretty well what the Jews like to say they are. The census re turns of religions gives some indication in some countries, but many Jews to-day admit to no religion, and in countries like Russia there is no census return of religions. Consequently such a table as that in "Whittaker's Almanac" of the numbers of Jews throughout the world before and after Hitler, on which the "six million Jews murdered by Hitler myth is based, is largely false. The number of Jews in Russia and Romania, for in stance, is grossly understated. In 1948 the Chief Rabbi of Berlin, as reported in the Australian press, estimated the number of Jews in Russia as about the same as the number in the U.S.A., five and a half million. This figure would include many Polish Jews, supposed to have been murdered by the Nazis, who fled or were taken from Poland to Russia. Add to this 11 million Jews in Russia and U.S.A., about three million else where in the world, and we have a total net far short of the total number of Jews estimated to have been in the world in 1938. The Nazis murdered many hundreds of thousands of Jews, and no doubt hundreds of thousands more died from the effects of starvation and exposure, caused partly by the Allied blockade and mass-bombing, as well as through Russian cruelty and neglect, but both common sense and vital statistics support each other against the wild and dishonest story of six million Jews murder ed by Hitler."-J.W.R.

That would be considered anti semitic hate speech today but i believe it was an opinion based on research and if that is so wouldn't shooting the messenger be a serious crime ?

Maybe if the Jews had a God to insult things might be different .. Didn't you know most Jews are Atheists ?

10.000 Jews moved to Berlin in 1938 Hard to believe but true and 300 businesses to the irritation of the Berliners. If they feared for their lives why would they move to Berlin ? In Aufbau a Jewish newspaper in New York and Germany Jewish composers were booked to perform in Berlin by the Jews in 1938. The publication carried the booking. The Aufbau archives up to 1950 are held in Germany and are not available for public view but the publications from 1951 onward there is no problem accessing the archives. "Anti-Anti," written by Kurt Heller (December 24, 1950), admits that the whole story of Hitler killing six million Jews is pure fabrication. That might be why the earlier copies of Aufbau are off limits.