I was alerted to The Cartoon by this tweet from Bari Weiss, a Jewish op-ed columnist for the NYT, and someone I much admire. However, in this case I don’t agree with her.
How does a cartoon worthy of Der Stürmer get published in the paper of record? @BretStephensNYT explains how: https://t.co/9mpYjcBv9f
— Bari Weiss (@bariweiss) April 28, 2019
She’s referring to this cartoon, and to the op-ed by NYT columnist Bret Stephens below it. The political cartoon appeared in the print version of the NYT’s international edition, not in the U.S. edition or online.
Stephens has no doubt that the cartoon’s publication was ignorant, playing into the hands of anti-Semites:
Here was an image that, in another age, might have been published in the pages of Der Stürmer. The Jew in the form of a dog. The small but wily Jew leading the dumb and trusting American. The hated Trump being Judaized with a skullcap. The nominal servant acting as the true master. The cartoon checked so many anti-Semitic boxes that the only thing missing was a dollar sign.
Wily? I don’t see that. Dumb and overly trusting of Israel? Well, that is Trump, isn’t it? Bibi, regardless of what you think of him, is certainly smarter and savvier than Trump. In fact, had the cartoon had depicted Kim Jong-un as a dachshund leading a blind trump waving a DPRK flag, nobody would have batted an eyelash. The point would have been similar.
The image also had an obvious political message: Namely, that in the current administration, the United States follows wherever Israel wants to go. This is false — consider Israel’s horrified reaction to Trump’s announcement last year that he intended to withdraw U.S. forces from Syria — but it’s beside the point. There are legitimate ways to criticize Trump’s approach to Israel, in pictures as well as words. But there was nothing legitimate about this cartoon.
. . .The problem with the cartoon isn’t that its publication was a willful act of anti-Semitism. It wasn’t. The problem is that its publication was an astonishing act of ignorance of anti-Semitism — and that, at a publication that is otherwise hyper-alert to nearly every conceivable expression of prejudice, from mansplaining to racial microaggressions to transphobia.
Imagine, for instance, if the dog on a leash in the image hadn’t been the Israeli prime minister but instead a prominent woman such as Nancy Pelosi, a person of color such as John Lewis, or a Muslim such as Ilhan Omar. Would that have gone unnoticed by either the wire service that provides the Times with images or the editor who, even if he were working in haste, selected it?
The question answers itself. And it raises a follow-on: How have even the most blatant expressions of anti-Semitism become almost undetectable to editors who think it’s part of their job to stand up to bigotry?
The Times of Israel adds this:
The cartoon was drawn by António Moreira Antunes, 66, a well-known and sometimes controversial Portuguese political cartoonist for the Lisbon-based Expresso weekly who has published caricatures critical of Israel in the past.
. . . The cartoon, carried in the paper’s international edition, showed Netanyahu as a guide dog wearing a Star of David on his collar leading a blind US President Donald Trump seen wearing a skullcap.
“The anti-Semitic caricature published by the New York Times is shocking and reminiscent of Nazi propaganda during the Holocaust,” Erdan said. [Gilad Erdan is Public Security Minister and a member of the Likud]
But now there has been an explicit apology by the NYT:
An Editors' Note to appear in Monday’s international edition. pic.twitter.com/1rl2vXoTB3
— New York Times Opinion (@nytopinion) April 27, 2019
My take? Although I’m often accused of being reflexively pro-Israel and too quick to call out anti-Semitism (I maintain, for instance, that anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism, and that the BDS movement is almost overtly anti-Semitic), I am not as quick as Weiss, Stephens and others to claim that this is a blatantly anti-Semitic cartoon. In fact, when I first saw it—and I like to think I’m as sensitive as anyone to Der Stürmer-like tropes—I didn’t see it as anti-Semitic. I saw it as anti-Trump and anti-Netanyahu: the point was that Netanyahu, like a guide dog for the blind, was leading around a blind Trump, getting the President on board with all of Bibi’s policies. It seems in line with how many political cartoons are drawn.
Now there are aspects of the cartoon that could be seen as anti-Semitic if you squint hard, like the Star of David and Netanyahu’s big nose, as well as Trump’s yarmulke. But the Star of David could be taken to show that this was indeed Netanyahu, the nose may be simply part of the normal caricature of such cartoons (let’s face it: Bibi’s proboscis isn’t small), and the yarmulke represents Trump’s claimed unthinking support of Israel. In short, while I find the cartoon misguided and somewhat offensive, I don’t see it as explicitly anti-Semitic. Had I been an editor, I’m not sure I would have approved its publication. Yet now that it’s published, I can’t really join the offense brigade on this one.
That said, I do think that the New York Times has bent over backwards to criticize Israel and extol the Palestinians, and that this cartoon is part of the paper’s growing Wokeness and Authoritarian Leftism. Its long and tendentious article from last year dissecting the errant path of a bullet that killed a Palestinian medic seemed a gratuitous way to demonize Israel by implying it was deliberately killing civilians. In my view, the article didn’t show that, but its length and the amount of money spent on the research bespoke the paper’s animus against Israel. So if the cartoon shows anything, it’s the Times‘s (or rather, an overseas editor’s) annoying and kneejerk dislike of Israel, which goes along with the Time’s history of biased and laudatory articles on Palestine.
Offensive, yes, and certainly biased. But not anti-Semitic. Or so I think, and I already know that some people will disagree with me vehemently. But if an editor didn’t spot it as anti-Semitic, and I didn’t either, does that make me, a secular Jew, blind to one of the “most blatant expressions of anti-Semitism”?
For opinions opposed to mine, arguing that the cartoon was indeed blatantly anti-Semitic, see The Jerusalem Post, CAMERA, the Spectator, and Elder of Ziyon, which claims that the dog is a dachshund because it has been used as a symbol of Germany.
As always, you’re invited to give your opinion below, whether or not you agree with me.
113 thoughts on “The supposedly anti-Semitic New York Times cartoon”
I agree that the cartoon isn’t antisemitic, but I don’t agree with you that Stephens thinks it’s “blatantly antisemitic,” at least not from what you quoted of him in this post. Stephens clearly states that, while the cartoon itself isn’t antisemitic, it seems like a cartoon that would be made by an antisemite. I do agree with this part of his analysis (emphasis mine):
“The problem with the cartoon isn’t that its publication was a willful act of anti-Semitism. It wasn’t. The problem is that its publication was an astonishing act of ignorance of anti-Semitism — and that, at a publication that is otherwise hyper-alert to nearly every conceivable expression of prejudice, from mansplaining to racial microaggressions to transphobia.”
I think the NYT would never have published a cartoon like this if it involved any of the groups on the oppression hierarchy. They would have immediately found a million ways in which it was “problematic.” Imagine if this was a cartoon of a blind Elizabeth Warren being led by a black, pink-haired dog with multiple piercings and a collar around its neck that said “intersectionalism.”
Still, I do not think the cartoon is antisemitic, although that’s a subjective opinion. Furthermore, there’s one change that really would have helped it: rather than having a star of David (the symbol for Judaism itself) on the dog’s collar, it should be the Israeli flag. The Star of David represents Judaism, not just Israel.
Yes, agreed; I thought that it should have been an Israeli flag, but forgot to put it down.
I can’t see any excuse for the skullcap. That’s an explicitly Jewish item of clothing, not an Israeli one, and there’s no reason that Trump should be wearing it.
I can’t see any excuse for the skullcap. That’s an explicitly Jewish item of clothing, not an Israeli one, and there’s no reason that Trump should be wearing it.
Doesn’t Trump pander to Jews as much, or even more, than pro-Israel folks? Is it even possible to split that hair when it comes to Trump’s policies? I can’t imagine him being that subtle.
You mean by comments like his “fine people on both sides” response to anti-semitic demonstrators in in Charlottesville?
GBJames, I am not sure what you are saying here. Trump’s Charlottesville comments can certainly be taken as anti-semitic but I doubt that Trump made that distinction. I’m guessing he was just thinking “Those guys [white supremacists] vote for me so I like them”.
The point is that he panders to anti-semites. He panders to right wing extremists. He panders to extremist Christians who envision an extreme Israeli government leading to the return of Jesus.
I don’t see much evidence for pandering to Jews.
What evidence is there that he panders to Jewish people?
Can you give any examples of Trump ‘pandering’ to Jews?
This was the first one I found:
So your only piece of evidence is that he threw out some platitudes during a speech to a Jewish group? Politicians regularly give speeches to every kind of group representing demographics, and they throw out these platitudes.
If this was all you could “find,” I have a feeling you know you have nothing here.
What about his speeches in front of Jewish support groups? What about his moving the US embassy to Jerusalem? You don’t really think Trump has a coherent Israel policy do you? As with the Evangelicals, it is simply about appearing to be a powerful politician that is willing to do whatever the interest group wants in exchange for their support. His lack of his own agenda in these areas is key. They know that he will do their bidding because he has no interest in doing anything else.
If I give you a list of all the interest groups he’s spoken in front of, will you say he has pandered to all of them? Because I’ll bet he’s spoken at a black church or two.
With regard to the embassy, you again conflate support for Israel with pandering to Jews.
‘In fact, had the cartoon had depicted Kim Jong-un as a dachshund leading a blind trump waving a DPRK flag, nobody would have batted an eyelash.’
True. But isn’t that the point? It speaks to a stereotype of Jewish people. If you put Kim or Putin in place of Bibi, the context would be different.
I’m not saying that you are wrong in your conclusion about the cartoon. However, the reasoning about replacing Bibi with Kim is flawed.
“I saw it as anti-Trump and anti-Netanyahu”
That was my take as well. The Times seems to be overreacting because some people, always willing to be offended, saw the cartoon as offensive. Ah, well…
I think the cartoon is deeply antisemitic and that only even deeper distaste to Trump and Netanyhau doesn’t allow some people to see it.
Netanyahu (i.e. Israel, i.e. all Jews) is directing the blind leader of the most powerful nation on Earth. Far-right used to depict Jews as controlling the world like octopus or spider. The sentiment here is exactly the same.
A Jew is cunning enough to lead a “naive and blind” Gentile. Far right has a slogan “If only Goim knew…”
Jews were for centuries depicted as diverse animals and the shout “you Jewish dog” is still heard on the streets of Europe and the whole Islamic world.
Just imagine the reactions to such a caricature if the dog was Icchak Rabin and the blind president Bill Clinton.
Your comment forces me to reassess my opinion. Jews have been depicted for centuries as influencing world powers without their puppets’ knowledge, and this also calls to mind Ilhan Omar’s Twitter post about how Israel has “blinded” and “hypnotized” the world and her wish for Allah to open its eyes.
Yes, these are tropes with a history.
I don’t think any cartoonist would be unaware of that history; it’s Political Cartooning 101.
Though I despise Steve Bell, he understood why it was acceptable to portray George W Bush as a chimpanzee but it would not have been acceptable to portray Obama likewise, even if he had been an imbecile like Bush. There are places you just don’t go because people have been there many times before.
Your analysis is correct and I agree that the cartoon is deeply anti-Semitic. For centuries,a common anti-Semitic trope has been that Jews are engaged in a worldwide conspiracy to control finance and press. This cartoon is in that tradition. Now Jews are blamed for manipulating U.S. foreign policy since Trump is now in charge of it.
Ok but isn’t it true that Netanyahu is attempting to manipulate US policy toward Israel? Trump is also pandering to the pro-Israel community as he does any community that he thinks will support him if he does so. By what you suggest here, a cartoonist could not draw attention to this without being anti-semitic. In general, I don’t see how one can call the expression of an idea as bigoted when it is simply a true statement and is a relevant comment on the foreign policy of the two countries. Perhaps it is the choice of showing Netanyahu as a dog. What would be a better choice?
If a cartoon uses old stereotypes and fails to distinguish “Israel” from “Jew” in the iconography, it is much easier to recognize as antisemitic. It shifts from being a comment on international politics and becomes more of the same old bigotry.
You are just reciting the definition of anti-semitism. As a somewhat distant observer of these things, what about this cartoon is anti-semitic in your view? How would you improve the cartoon? It seems to me that the cartoonist was making a legitimate political comment but that there’s simply no way for them to do so without someone calling it anti-semitic. These says, I wonder if anyone can say anything about Israel or Jews without someone calling it anti-semitic. The situation resembles the Ctrl Left’s reaction to everything, something which many on this website, the host included, find disgusting. I am sure anti-semitism exists but I don’t see how it serves any reasonable purpose to declare every statement as anti-semitic. Perhaps someone should decide once and for all which symbols and ideas are off-limits in order to make it easier on the rest of us.
The basic purpose here is to communicate an idea. To do that, you must use language that the audience understands. If one is trying to communicate something to do with Benjamin Netanyahu but not Jewish people in general, then one must draw something that focuses on the person but not the people. Assuming that that was the cartoonist’s intention, then this cartoon missed its mark. If the artist had drawn a more focused cartoon AND some people had found that offensive, then the cartoonist would have communicated the message well at the expense of offending some people — tough.
Paul… as others have pointed out… using the Star of David instead of the Israeli flag is one example. Putting Trump in a yarmulke is another. Neither of these bits enhances a Trump/Israel comment. But they do much to make it anti-Jew instead.
If someone wants to say that Trump is Bibi’s puppet, there are other ways of getting the point across — ways that would not focus on the Jewish people in general, but rather on Benjamin Netanyahu in particular.
My guess is that the cartoonist was aware of the implications. You have to be seriously lacking in education to be completely unaware of this.
I’m probably seriously lacking in education when it comes to this stuff.
I did not mean you! 🙂
I meant that the cartoonist would have known this was going to happen. There are many things I do not consider to be offensive, but I know that other people do.
One way to decide the artist’s culpability is to ask him – although you would have to interpret the answer carefully. Another is to look over his past work and see if you can see elements of violations.
I agree with you, and with Bari Weiss. It is a classic antisemitic trope that “Israel leads the USA by the nose”.
I disagree with Prof. Coyne that Trump is “overly trusting of Israel”. I’d say it is the other way round – I remember how Trump divulged to the Russians some sensitive information provided by Israeli intelligence.
I also find it meaningful that the NYT has shown the cartoon to its international and not US audience, i.e. to the cohort with high prevalence of antisemitism. If there is nothing wrong with the cartoon, why not show it to everyone?
“I also find it meaningful that the NYT has shown the cartoon to its international and not US audience…”
Yes, this forced me to doubt my initial position on the cartoon as well.
“If there is nothing wrong with the cartoon, why not show it to everyone?”
Concur. A reasonable question.
It’s true that every country is trying to influence US policy in its favor.
It’s not the expression of the idea. It’s what idea you think is being expressed and, even if the idea itself turns out not to be an antisemitic one (but rather solely anti-Israeli-influence), how it is expressed.
Doesn’t every leader wishes and works that other countries, especially great forces as the US, will act in their own country interest? This is the nature of politics, this is his job. Bibi is not different from any other leader.
I am an Israeli, not a fan of Bibi, but I just can not see how one can ignore the context here. when the Nazis portrayed the Jews the big noses and a lot of money that wasn’t unrelated to the reality too. so was that fine?
Yes’ if you remove the Jewish symbols from Trump it would look much better if it was more specific about some issue it was fine as it was not the Jews, it was Bibi. But it did relate it to Judaism and it was very general, pointing to the same old/new portrait of the Jews as manipulators of the world.
As an Israeli, I am very worried that something like that can be acceptable in any way.
What you say is true but I am certainly not suggesting that Jews in general are manipulators. I view Bibi’s stance toward the US as similar to Putin’s. They both know Trump has an affinity for strong men and that, lacking any coherent foreign policy of his own, he is open to manipulation or simple advantage-taking. Bibi has an additional carrot to dangle in front of Trump: a segment of US voters that Trump can get on his side by appearing to be pro-Israel. Bibi helps Trump take advantage of that opportunity.
The artist has form:
Israelis as Nazis.
Malgorzata raises some excellent points.
I can see how this could be offensive to Jews.
But as a gentile I didn’t think it was intimating that at all. I saw this simply as anti-Trump cartoon pointing out his blind, pandering allegiance to all things Israel.
In this case the leader happens to be Netanyahu and the patsy happens to be our Moron-in-Chief.
In short, I concur with Prof. Coyne.
Agree on all counts.
Why do you claim this is a Blind pandering? Maybe he thinks that this is the right thing to do?
+ 1. I commented below, actually repeating one of your points, before reading your comment.
Well said. Understanding the many centuries long history of antisemitism is key to understanding the subject cartoon and its obvious antisemetic meaning.
There’s no way I would generalise Netanyahu to “all Jews” or even Israel to “all Jews”.
I also don’t think the choice of a dog has any more significance than it being a guide dog for the blind.
Where I will agree is that anybody who didn’t realise the dog is a caricature of a specific person will see the cartoon as antisemitic. The cartoon is problematic but not deeply antisemitic – at least not deliberately so.
You can certainly argue that you missed all the clues, but it is much harder to argue that they aren’t there.
I don’t think there are any deliberate clues. I think, to an extent, people see what they want to see. If you believe that antisemitism is everywhere, your confirmation bias will make everything look like it’s because of antisemitism.
Maybe it’s my confirmation bias, but I think incompetence is more often the explanation than malice.
If I were a political cartoonist, I would fear being able to draw anything concerning Israel without accidentally including imagery that some will consider anti-semitic.
If you were a raving anti-Semite, and you wanted to deliberately design an anti-Semitic cartoon for a Far Right rag, what would you add to this cartoon that isn’t already present?
Show Bib as a rat instead.
Maybe compromise on a rat terrier?
I suggested ‘rat’ because of the depiction of Jews by the Nazis. (And I’d better make it clear, that was strictly in response to Speaker to Animals query about how to make the cartoon anti-semitic)
It wouldn’t be a specific politician, it would be a generalised caricature of a Jew, not a guide dog and Trump wouldn’t be on a leash, he’d be being lured by bucket loads of gold.
Replace the face of Netanyahu by the face of Vladimir Putin but leave everything else the same. Would you see the cartoon as anti slavic or merely commentary on Trump’s links with Russia?
The Nazis had a pretty low opinion of slavs as well as Jews and I’m sure dog imagery would have come up with them too during the war.
Just to be clear, my description of how the cartoon could be more antisemitic was also just a response to Speaker To Animals’ challenge. I do not endorse any of the imagery.
“The Nazis had a pretty low opinion of slavs as well as Jews and I’m sure dog imagery would have come up with them too during the war.”
Puts me of a mind to look for caricatures of Hermann Goering.
I appreciate your posting the opposing point of view links–almost never happens on any of the other sites I follow. Thanks.
“the yarmulke represents Trump’s claimed unthinking support of Israel”
but Trump is being Judaised, not Zionised. The difference is crucial
The connection between Jews and dogs goes way back. Besides being a commonplace in the Arab world now, it was a common reference in medieval European manuscript illuminations concerning the trial or torture of Jesus. There were usually symbolic dogs skulking around the scene to underline the presence of Jews. Was this cartoonist very ignorant or did he know what tradition he was part of?
I thought about it, but if Trump is blind, as he is, then he needs a guide dog, and that, to me, explained the dog.
A dachshund? All it needed was a swastika on it somewhere, and the thought crossed my mind that the cartoonist considered it but decided that that was overdoing it a bit.
It wouldn’t be the same if he’d used a Bichon Frise. As has been noted, the dachshund has frequently been used as a symbol for Germany and things German.
I’m not Jewish and I engage in non PC satirical expression, sometimes in visual art, but to me, this is unmistakably antisemitic in its iconography; granted, not as crude as Der Sturmer. This is slick, but I take it as antisemitic nonetheless. In a political cartoon, every element must be scrutinized, and any political cartoonist worth his or her salt knows damned well what they’re doing. Others will disagree but the power of images, even cartoons, must not be given short shrift.
In my estimation, Trump is fundamentally meretricious and panders to anybody and anything he can. Equal opportunity. Heck, he even panders to our enemies. It’s goofy and would be laughable if it weren’t so dangerous. He’s indiscriminate and opportunistic in his pandering, just as he is in every other respect. However, I was aghast that he went to the Republican Jewish Coalition and said that Netanyahu was “your prime minister.” Was that just a lapsus lingae (dear me, I almost wrote lapsus lingam) or relfective of something he really thinks? To resurrect that old saw: “Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men?Only the Shadow knows.”
“Was that just a lapsus lingae (dear me, I almost wrote lapsus lingam) or relfective of something he really thinks? To resurrect that old saw:’Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men?Only the Shadow knows.’”
Are you saying I need to ask Alec Baldwin to find out? I don’t want to ask him. I don’t want to get punched.
Ha ha. You needn’t fear Alec Baldwin punching you unless you’re a nun or he wants your parking space.
We don’t have quide cats, but the cartoonist might have invented it. After all, as far as I know there are no Dachshund guide dogs either.
[Dachshunds were selected for hunting badgers (as the name says), although in practice they are used for hunting rats, or just as pets, nowadays.]
Forgive me because this is a serious subject, but thinking about Dachshund guide dogs cracks me up.
Me, too. Love them, but they’d drag you right down a badger hole🐾🐾🤓
I don’t see anything wrong with Trump’s Israel policy. For instance, recognizing Jerusalem as the capital was long overdue. Although I doubt that he did it out of principle, because he doesn’t have any. And he isn’t blind, he believes his policy is politically opportune.
FWIW, I thought the cartoon somewhat anti-semitic because of the yarmulke and Star of David, but not despicably so.
Tasteless and offensive. Should not have been published.
Any further analysis is above my pay grade.
I must also disagree with the host on this. Like others above, the use of the yarmulke for trump sealed it for me that it should be deemed anti-Semitic. As others have argued, an Israeli flag would have connected trump to Israeli politics, but by connecting his with Jews so directly it makes it clear that the cartoonist wishes to emphasise Jewishness.
I assume the cartoonist is also an anti-Semite — usually people who draw such images are; but maybe he is just ignorant of the issues and about anti-Semitism itself.
As for being offensive, I don’t see why that should be a problem in itself, nor why the NYT should apologise for it. Political cartoons are supposed to be offensive. But this one could have achieved that without “coincidentally” hitting so many anti-Semitic tropes in one shot.
I agree with Trump’s yarmulke being offensive. To me, it represents Trump being controlled by the Jews. He leads the “Zionist-occupied government”.
As I read it, the yarmulke represents Trump’s attempt to pander to US Jews.
Agree with Paul Topping.
That was my (gentile) take as well.
Trump is a fraud. He’s pandering to his base.
His public persona confirms that. Hourly.
Remember the trump family at the Western wall? Gag worthy.
His base is very much not Jews. 71% of Jews voted for Clinton. 78% of Jews voted for Democratic nominees in the midterm elections.
It is a credit to Jews that they aren’t all fooled by Trump’s pandering, though he’ll take what he can get.
So he’s pandering (again, something you haven’t provided evidence for) to one of the demographic groups that overwhelmingly opposes him? That doesn’t sound like Trump. Or any politician who has a staff that can do simple math.
Right. His base is decidedly not Jewish.
However, his rabidly loyal evangelical base loves Israel for all the rapture related reasons Jerry Coyne and others have pointed out over the years. So it’s politically expedient for dumb donnie.
Could also be, of course. Maybe I’ve become jaundiced by following the progression of anti-Semitism in the UK Labor Party at the moment. But I think the cartoonist could have presented the same information in a way that distanced it from those several anti-Semitic tropes.
I would not have printed the cartoon at all. It looks offensive even if it can be discussed otherwise. If a journalist wants to point to how this president and the republicans in general fall all over Israel they can do this without offensive cartoons. If anyone thinks that Trump or his son in law are going to find the way to peace in the Middle East I have a couple of bridges to sell. Now, if someone thinks there is a need to take this position and also bother to list all the examples, I could do that too.
Not anti-semitic for any sane observer, but only under the Regressive Left’ insane Rules of Butthurt.
Anyway, a great opportunity for the NYT and SJWs to signal their totally-not-an-antisemite status, while drawing attention away from true, vile anti-semites like Ilhan Omar.
Some people have a need for outrage and virtue signalling. The group pearl-clutch provides a perverse fulfillment.
I didn’t think the cartoon was anti-semitic but when the controversy blew up I began to beat myself up a bit. Was I missing something? No.
I’m not Jewish, but the cartoon struck me as anti-Semitic on its face. I think if I were Jewish, I’d be insulted by the yarmulke on Trump because it represents a conforming Jew – not a pro-Jewish or pro-Israel person, which Trump most definitely is not. We are not talking about Robert Kennedy here. Trump is pro-fascist, pro-dictator, pro-“look at what I can do to screw things up for the Libs” Trump. I did’t think about the Star of David rather than the Israeli flag, but I think your commenter is right there.
It sounds like you simply wish the cartoon had gone further in explaining that Trump’s professed love for Israel is just shallow pandering. To me, a non-Jew, the yarmulke is a reasonable symbol representing exactly that though it does not explain the pandering. It leaves it up to the reader to understand the bigger picture.
This reminds me a bit of some cases recently when at different times soccer players gave Nazi salutes on the field and were variously banned or reprimanded. Wayne Hennessey, who plays for the English team Crystal Palace, claimed that he didn’t know what a Nazi salute was. The Football Association believed him and concluded that he was just breathtakingly ignorant and needed some basic instruction. You might argue that, well, the shoulder joint may raise the arm at numerous angles and you might accidentally choose a certain angle that some terribly sensitive people might find offensive, but, well, it was just one angle of many… But people who recognized it knew what it was.
This might give a little more context as to why the cartoon could be seen in an historically anti-Semitic light. This was literally published in 1940 in Nazi Germany: https://www.bytwerk.com/gpa/images/wc/lb40-44.jpg
That’s a telling image. I went to the website https://www.bytwerk.com/ and found a very interesting paper written by Mr. Bytwerk
on Nazi Visual Anti-Semitic Rhetoric http://www.bytwerk.com/papers/Symbolic-Violence.pdf. It’s long and I haven’t finished it, but disgustingly fascinating.
I believe that the cartoon is antisemetic on its face. The use of specifically Jewish symbols like the yamulke and Star of David is clearly intended to build on the age old tropes of Jewish global control and leading goyim to follow the orders of their Jewish puppet masters. This may be a stretch since I am not a cartoonist, but had a human caricature identified as “Bibi” been pulling along a “blind” Trump by a leash without any symbols, I would have thought it to be accurate and purely political in nature and not antisemetic.
There is a reasonable cartoon to be had with Netanyahu as a guide-dog leading a blind Trump. Since it making fun of Netanyahu and Trump, we can expect it to show them in a bad light. The question is whether this cartoon goes from putting them in a bad light to antisemitism.
1) Star of David – I think this a poor but reasonable prop. A Jewish flag or nothing would have been better.
2) Dachshund – seems like an odd choice of a dog but, unless I am missing something, not anti-semetic.
3) Trump’s yarmulke – I don’t see any reason for this. It turns Trump from being blind to being controlled by the Jews. I think it is anti-semetic but was it intentional?
4) António Moreira Antunes seems to be a older cartoonist with a history of controversy but not explicit antisemitism.
I would give the cartoonist the benefit of the doubt.
This cartoonist has a history of deeply antisemitic cartoons. The worst one was a very well known picture from Warsaw Ghetto with a little boy with his hands in the air in the middle and a group of terified Jews with him surrounded by German soldiers with rifles aiming at them. This cartoonists put kefijas on all Jews and painted Star of David on the helmets of soldiers.
I took a quick look and saw the cartoon that you described plus one other that is called antisemitic. If these three are his worst over a 45 year career as a cartoonist, I do not see it as a “history of deeply antisemitic cartoons.” The three are all questionable but all are defendable.
I would not like my career to described by my three biggest mistakes.
The idea of depicting Israeli soldiers as Nazis, and dead Jews from Warsaw Ghetto as Palestinians is so repugnant, vile and horrid that I even don’t want to hear how it is “defendable”. And he did that 1983, 40 years after Shoah, when many of Nazis who killed 1.5 million Jewish children and 4.5 million Jewish adults were still alive and thriving in Germany, Arab states, Latin America and even in U.S. I just wonder whether they were annoyed that Jews were compared to them or whether they rejoiced that their victims are now seen as the worst scum on Earth.
I also made some sums:
In 70 years of Arab-Israeli conflict Israelis killed 26,500 Palestinians (incidentally, in the same time 37,300 Palestinians were killed by Arabs).
This means that Israel killed approximately 380 Palestinians per year – mainly armed men trying to kill Jews.
In five years of WWII Nazi Germans killed 6,000,000 Jews. This means that Nazis killed 1,200,000 Jews per year – solely civilians.
How anybody can think that calling Israeli Jews “Nazis” is “defendable”?
The cartoon was written not long after the Sabra and Shatila massacre in which 700+ people were killed by Lebanese Christians. Israel allowed the killers to enter the camp and an Israeli commission found the Israeli defense minister responsible “for ignoring the danger of bloodshed and revenge” and “not taking appropriate measures to prevent bloodshed.” The killers were not Israelis but it was a dark day in Israel’s history which deserves extreme condemnation.
IMO, there are enough similarities, that a cartoon evoking the Warsaw Ghetto is a reasonable response.
So because Lebanese Christians killed Palestinians and Jews didn’t fight with Lebanese Christians (who didn’t promise to whipe Jews out to the last one) in order to defend Palestinians (who did promise that) you are willing to compare Israeli Jews (while quite a big part of Jewish population of Israel consist of either survivors or descendants of survivors of Shoah) to Nazis who kille two thirds of Jewish population in Europe? I can only wonder about your moral compass.
My family oral history (backed by DNA) tells of persecution during the Spanish Inquisition and the Russian Pogroms. “Never again” means something to me and the actions of the Israeli army were extremely disturbing to me as a young man.
The Israeli commanders let the murderers into the camp knowing there was a risk of a massacre. They knew the massacre was occurring and did not stop it. (According the Israeli Kahan Commission.) It was an evil act, not as bad as the Lebanese killers or the Nazi, but evil none-the-less.
The history of your family is not really relevant here. What is relevant is the attitude to Israeli Jews, accusing them of being like Nazis for not stopping the massacre of Palestinians by Lebanese Christians. Did you (or somebody else, cartoonists, activists etc.) called or depicted as Nazis actual perpetrators of Sabra and Shatilla massacre or of any of previous massacres in Lebanon: Karantina (Palestinians killed en masse by Lebanese Christians); Damour (Lebanese Christians killed en masse by Palestinians [among the dead was the family of Elie Hobeika who was the leader of Phalangists who later attacked Sabra and Shatilla]); Tel al-Zataar (Palestinians killed en masse by Lebanese Christians); Aishiyeh, Ehden, Safra (Lebanese Christians killed en masse by Palestinians), just to mention a few and not to mention other massacres in Lebanon with other groups involved. The only massacre know to the whole world and used as a justification of calling Israelis ”Nazis” is this one massacre – not perpetrated by Israelis but done in their presence. Had Israelis been in the vicinity of any other of numerous massacres in Lebanon (or anywhere else in the world) the name of place would be as well known as Sabra and Shatilla and the Jews would be blamed. Otherwise with all ”never again” you and the world yawns. The question is: how to call such attitude?
Re your point 1, dogs don’t normally wear flags on their collars but they frequently wear little trinkets. It seems to me quite logical to show Bibi wearing a Star of David rather than a little flag with the exact same device on it. And yes, it is necessary to have something to identify Bibi since not everyone would have recognised him (unlike Trump).
And point 3 (yarmulke), I think the intent is to show that Trump has been captured by the Israeli lobby. How else to do that?
Re point 2, I would have made Netanyahu a Rottweiler or a pit bull, not sure why the dachshund.
Perhaps another issue to be noted here is that trump supporters have also been picking it up and accusing the NYT of anti-Semitism — not because they care a toss about racism of course, but as a way of splitting the left.
The best thing the left can do to present this is stop being anti-Semitic. That won’t happen, and of course, and it will provide exactly the kind of false equivalence that got trump elected last time.
Donald Trump — unlikeliest new Jew since Marilyn Monroe. 🙂
The yarmulke on Trump is one thing that has made me think, thanks to readers pointing it out, that this cartoon was verging on anti-Semitism. But I’ve also gotten emails and comments (which I haven’t posted) calling ME anti-Semitic for my failure to immediately recognize that the cartoon was anti-Semitic. So much for civilized discourse.
I think the yarmulke was necessary to indicate that Trump had been totally captured by the Israeli lobby.
Given the point of the cartoon, I’m not sure it could have been done much differently.
And I agree, being judged guilty of an offence for ‘failing to recognise’ that something else is allegedly offensive, is BS. That comes in the region of purity testing.
I strongly suspect the cartoonist is an anti-Semite and he simply forgot to hide his deeper belief – the Star of David is specifically Jewish, as is the Kippah. The religious icons point directly to Jews and the cartoon itself would fit nicely into the “Protocols of the Elders of Zion”. I am especially surprised that the times would allow the Kippah on Trumps head, a blatant anti-Semitic design.
The thing about cartoons is that they do not actually say anything and leave the interpretation up to the viewer.
This particular cartoon can be seen as Trump is pro Jewish and holds Israel on a lead to do his bidding.
Since when has a Dachshund been a guide dog?
I think that the interpretation is in the eye of the beholder.
That Weiss excoriates the NYT for an anti-Semitic cartoon while PCC doesn’t think so illuminates a real challenge for non-Jewish Americans (like me): how are we to possibly navigate this minefield when Jews are accusing other Jews of anti-Semitism? I guess it’s just another example of “know it when you see it” or perhaps in these times of hair-trigger-warnings (present company excluded), even more cautious walking on eggshells on tiptoe through minefields.
I think the root problem is that it is not a very good cartoon. Take away the star and the yarmulke, and what have you got? Blind Trump walking Bibi as a dog, and not much else to say, except maybe who is leading whom?
So the cartoonist juiced it up a bit by adding the yarmulke and star tropes. Still not funny or insightful, just tacky with a shot of anti-semitism for good measure.
I wonder how one is supposed to represent a *group* in a satire?
Speaking of anti-semitic imagery, this is kind of funny:
Swastika Acres, a neighborhood in Colorado, gets a new name
I have to disagree with you Jerry. I do not think this would be anti-semitic without the star of david and dressing Trump up like an Orthodox Jew, but those two things guide me the other way.
I respectfully suggest you don’t see this as anti-Semitic because you hope to believe the best in others; that you seek an explanation that others are not prejudiced when in fact they are. There are ways to interpret the cartoon that are innocent. I view this as foolish. The use of religious symbols is quite clear, and unnecessary to make the political point. The cartoonist, by report, blamed “the Jews” for the uproar. You can choose to believe this is innocent. I think you are being naïve.
“Respectfully”? What a joke. I looked hard to see if it was anti-Semitic and to overcome any reflexive bias I have in that direction, and I couldn’t see it as anti-Semitic. So don’t call me naive and foolish. And I’d rather be naive than rude, which you are. Apparently you haven’t read the Roolz, as there are ways to express disagreement, but you can’t do so by interpreting my psyche.
I completely agree with Malgorzata (the author). The Star of David “dog chain” was there to positively identify the dog caricature as Benjamin Netanyahu and represent his agenda & policy for Israel: there were no anti-Semitic tropes or clichés here, although the cartoon was in rather poor taste. I think the intended message of the cartoon is perhaps something that we can all agree on: that Trump is a vapid, unread man of no faith (be it Christian, Jew or Zoroastrian) who regularly wraps himself in images of false piety and patriotism, and is then easily manipulated by the Israeli-Right, bigoted Evangelicals, or virtually any global strong-man he admires or hopes to emulate. If anti-Semitism was the first conclusion you drew from this regrettable cartoon, the you are truly missing the forest for the trees.
Your first sentence “I completely agree with Malgorzata (author)” made me wonder what more you misunderstood. I will write it in points – maybe it will be easier to understand:
1. I disagree with the Author and to me this caricature is strikingly antisemitic, and it could easily be taken from “Der Sturmer” or from any antisemitic publications calling for destruction of Israel and killing Jews which are published in Arab and Islamic world.
2. For centuries the tales of Jews ambition to take over the world were circulating through the world. For centuries people believed that all the world’s ills were caused by the Jews. For centuries people were sure that they had a reason to persecute, exile or kill Jews. People of York in 12th century had a reason to kill Jews – they deeply believed that Jews were killing Christian children. People in the rest of Europe in subsequent centuries absolutely believed that Jews not only killed Christian children but also poisoned wells, caused plagues etc. In the 1930s they believed that Jews caused the WWI, the Great Depression, that they stuck the knife in Germany’s back or that they want to take over the world by a Communist revolution. They didn’t wake up every morning and said to themselves: “Today I will spread some more lies about Jews”. No, they were deeply convinced that they had evidence for Jews’ evil doing.
3. After two thirds of European Jews were killed in the Shoah some kind of quilty conscience prevailed in Europe. The world allowed the survivors of Shoah and of pogroms in Arab world to have their own country, though very grudingly. When a day after the birth of this Jewish state five Arab armies invaded Israel, the world enforced arms embargo on the Jewish state. With the exception of Czechoslovakia no nation on world helped Israel – the world was looking with interest whether Arabs will manage to finish the job started a few years earlier by Germans (and was sure Arabs would do it).
4. After 1948 there were not so many Jews in Europe but there was a “collective Jew” – Israel. USRR supported Arabs and when Arabs – contrary to all expectations – lost war after war, Soviet propaganda machine invented the idea of Israel as “colonial”, “imperialist”, “aggressive” etc. power. This propaganda was lapped up in the West and no matter which party was ruling in Israel it was condemned. The opinion about Golda Meir in the Soviet block and on the European left was exactly the same as today’s opinion about Netanyahu (fyi: Golda Meir was from Labour Party). And so Israel took over the role and became “Jew among nations” who is responsible for all the world’s ills. That’s why it doesn’t matter whether Nathanyahu had a Star of David or an Israeli flag in this cartoon. The idea that a tiny but cunning Jewish/Israeli dog can lead wherever it wants a blind and naive/stupid leader of the most powerful country in the world is very, very old.
5. Through all these centuries people didn’t wake in the morning and didn’s say to themselves: “Today I will spread some more lies about Jews”. No. They always deeply believed in every accusation against Jews. And so today people believe in every accusation against Israel. Enlightened people today say that these stories about children’s blood and well poisoning, and causing world wars were the symptoms of prejudices and horrible ignorance. It is possible (though I’m not too optimistic) that in the future people will discover that all stories about Israeli soldiers deliberately killing Palestinian children, about Israel depriving Palestinians of water and Israel leading Donald Trump anywhere will be likewise judged as a result of prejudice and ignorance.