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Jewish Journal

Why the Sunday Times of London’s cartoon IS anti-Semitic

by Michael Berenbaum

January 30, 2013 | 3:04 pm

This anti-Israel cartoon that appeared in the Sunday Times of London on International Holocaust Remembrance Day was called a 'modern day evocation of the ancient blood libel charge.' (From Sunday Times)

This anti-Israel cartoon that appeared in the Sunday Times of London on International Holocaust Remembrance Day was called a 'modern day evocation of the ancient blood libel charge.' (From Sunday Times)

Gerald Scarfe the British cartoonist who published the sketch of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu building a wall on the bodies of Palestinians and using their blood as cement, has denied that he is or ever was an anti-Semite. Scarfe said: "I am not, and never have been, anti-Semitic." Fair enough.

He apologized for the timing of his cartoon on International Holocaust Remembrance Day, January 27th, the anniversary of the Soviet liberation of the death camp of Auschwitz. Fair enough.

But he has not apologized for its content.

It is important that we examine its content for whether he is or is not anti-Semitic, the content of his cartoon is consistent with many anti-Semitiic cartoons of the past – and dare I say the future. It turns the historical reality on its head and blames Jews for something that they did not do.

Recall who built the wall. It was not built by Netanyahu; it was built by his predecessors Ariel Sharon and Ehud Olmert. Netanyahu can be blamed for many things; the wall is not one of them.

Netanyahu did not build the wall. Falsehood number one.

Recall when the wall was built and why.

The Israelis constructed the wall in response to Intifada II, which in contrast to Intifada  I where protests were held and rocks were thrown, Palestinians resorted to violence, suicide bombings and other means of attack on Israeli lives – Jewish and Arab. Much to the protest of many enlightened people in the world and over the objections of governments, the Israelis built the wall and as a result over the past several years was a significant decrease in the number of attacks on Israeli civilians and a concomitant a decrease in the number of death of Palestinians caught in the crossfire of violence.

So the wall was not built on the bodies of dead Palestinians, but dead Jews. Falsehood number two.

Recall its results.

Lives have been saved on both sides of the wall, so, if anything, it has saved Palestinian lives.

Rudolph Murdoch, whose corporation owns Sunday Times, has tweeted against the grotesque cartoon. The Times’ editor will be meeting with the English Jewish community to whom he has given offense.

Yet the most serious offense of the cartoon is that it is a lie, a big lie. And any respectable newspaper editor should have known it. While Scarfe is entitled to his opinion, however offensive they may be, but he is not entitled to his own set of facts.

Presuming that Scarfe is not an anti-Semite and does want to consider himself as such, he should ask himself how he could get something so wrong?  Presuming that the Times is not an anti-Semitic paper, it might to ask itself the question, why wasn’t such a drawing challenged not only on the basis its “grotesqueness” but its falsehood.

Would that the wall were unnecessary!

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