Another putatively anti-Semitic cartoon in the NYT?

April 30, 2019 • 1:30 pm

Just one day after I reported that the international New York Times published anti-Israeli/Trump cartoon that many have seen as anti-Semitic, they’ve published yet another dubious cartoon. And while I still can’t flat-out declare that yesterday’s cartoon was anti-Semitic, this one, reported in the Jerusalem Post and Fox News (of course this appears only on Jewish or right-wing sites) is also on the borderline. Have a gander:

As the Jerusalem Post says:

The cartoon depicts Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with dark spectacles in place of his eyes, holding a tablet marked with a Star of David and taking a selfie, likely referencing that Netanyahu views himself as a modern-day Moses.

. . . The recent cartoon follows one in which US President Donald Trump was shown as a blind man being led by a dog marked with a Star of David and the face of Netanyahu.

Israeli cartoonist Zeev Engelmayer was one of the few people to publicly defend the cartoon, citing other cartoons who presented world leaders as dogs with an American collar (British former Prime Minister Tony Blair) and even biting (former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad) in an opinion piece published in Haaretz. 

From Fox:

Jonathan Greenblatt, the CEO and national director of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) called on the Times to take “immediate action” over the new cartoon.

“This is insensitive, inappropriate, and offensive. It shows once again that the @NYTimes needs to educate its staff about #antiSemitism. We call on them to take immediate action,” Jonathan Greenblatt tweeted Monday.

It’s the Star of David that makes me think this cartoon is verging on anti-Semitism, as it’s a symbol not of Israel but of Judaism. (Yesterday I revised my opinion a bit when it was pointed out that the Israeli “dachshund” had a Star of David rather than an Israeli flag on it.)  Regardless, the cartoon isn’t every a very good political cartoon: it’s not at all subtle, and how can a blind man take a selfie anyway? And it’s kind of dumb to publish this one in the same place after the NYT apologized for its earlier cartoon.

I’m calling this one ambiguous with regard to anti-Semitism. But you be the judge.

As for yesterday’s cartoon, here’s one commenter who did find it anti-Semitic:

26 thoughts on “Another putatively anti-Semitic cartoon in the NYT?

  1. “how can a blind man take a selfie anyway?”

    My Wells Fargo drive-up ATM has a Braille keypad, so if a blind man is able to drive up and use it I suppose he might also be able to take a selfie!

    1. That is because the manufacturer makes all of the ATMs the same. And, it is possible to walk up to, and use, a “drive-up” ATM.

  2. I found yesterday’s to contain enough anti-Semitic references to qualify. This one, not so much. Not that is is a very good cartoon anyway. He looks like a monk to me, especially if you imagine a stein of beer in place of the tablet.

  3. The bars above and below the star of David are elements of the Israeli flag, so it seems more like it’s a reference specifically to the State of Israel, rather than a generic reference to Judaism.

  4. The two horizontal border lines indicates to me that it is the Israeli flag on the tablet. I do not see this as anti-semitic at all. I see it as a legitimate criticism of Netanyahu who uses right-wing Orthodox Judaism in Israel for his political ends.

  5. … Netanyahu views himself as a modern-day Moses.

    Except that Bibi spends his days down at the foot of Mount Sinai dancing around the altar of the golden calf (or orange president, as the case may be).

    Not sure what to make of these cartoons. I have no tolerance at all for anti-Semitism. On the other hand, I have a high tolerance for political cartoonists, whatever their stripe, having a free hand to ply their trade, even if they sometimes pull a boner.

    For the most part, they provide a great service, I think, often expressing the otherwise ineffable.

    1. I guess everyone just needs to comply with the limits you’re going to enforce. That should make everything peaceful.

  6. Borderline anti-Semitic, just like the one yesterday, and the day before and tomorrow and the next day…

    Meanwhile leftists who are fine with identifying the Israeli right wing with Jews in general, still assume that the rest of the world agrees with them that Trump is not their president.

    1. My attempt to subscription failed so I can as well write what I think. I don’t think it’s antisemitic, it just shows a bit unhinged hatred of Netanyahu and an astonishing insensitivity – after the first, really awful cartoon and their own apology, NYT saw it fit to post another cartoon of Netanyahu. Or the animosity to Netanyahu, Israel and Jews is so strong among NYT’s staff that, out of spite, they decided to run this one now.

  7. Trump, ever the opportunistic (expletive deleted) used the NYT apology for the first cartoon simply as a springboard to demand that the Times apologizes to him.

    He’s obsessed with getting the NYT to “get down on its knees and beg for forgiveness”; this prior to the publication of the cartoon.

    After the publication of the cartoon and the NYT apology, Trump tweeted “The New York Times has apologised for the terrible Anti-Semitic Cartoon, but they haven’t apologised to me for this or all of the Fake and Corrupt news they print on a daily basis. They have reached the lowest level of ‘journalism,’ and certainly a low point in @nytimes history!”

    Once again, it’s all about him. His only loyalty is to himself.

    1. In this case does it matter where the “only” is placed. I think it works both ways, but perhaps not.

  8. I accept that my opinion is worth about as much as a wooden nickel (if one accounts for inflation) but I feel like it is difficult to do political cartoons that involve a non-white, non-western person without the question of potential racism or anti-semitism, or some other offense. Reason being that cartoons are reliant on simplistic communication with little to no text which can veer easily from caricature into stereotype. Sometimes it’s obvious, like drawing Obama as an ape, sometimes, it’s less so, like the cartoons shared here. So, i don’t know. The cartoonist and their history might fill in the blanks. If someone who travels in the faux news circles, then yeah, probably a bigot, but if they draw for Charlie Hebdo? I’d tend towards satire. Tricky business, for sure, and I’m glad I’m not in charge of these decisions or of making the cartoons.

  9. It’s the Star of David that makes me think this cartoon is verging on anti-Semitism, as it’s a symbol not of Israel but of Judaism.

    It’s both. The national flag features the Star of David, and the insignia of the Israeli Air Force, appearing on all aircraft, is also the Star of David.

  10. Can you be anti prime minister and his policies without being anti-Semitic? If you can then the cartoon is not anti-se metic. If you cannot, then it is anti-semetic.

    I can’t decide. I can see points both ways.

  11. I think the Star of David (or Israeli flag, you choose) on the tablets is useful to identify who it’s about. Since the likeness to Netanyahu is not unmistakeable. Sans that, it could just be some blind guy waving a tombstone. With it, it says to me that Netenyahu has a Moses complex.


  12. The question for me is, does Israel = Judaism?
    Is it a secular state that does not privilege a particular religion? Many countries – e.g. the U.K., have a peculiar relationship with a particular religion that has historically been closely associated with the state & with nationalism.

  13. The conflation of the Jewish religion with the State of Israel is such that any criticism of the State can be construed as anti-Semitic. I didn’t find either of the cartoons anti-Semitic. Surely one can criticize a right-wing government leader (and his government) without being seen to criticize an entire religion.

    The trouble arises because you get Netanyahu proclaiming that Israel is a “Jewish nation,” rendering any commentary on the state a commentary on the religion, and thereby rendering criticism of the state automatically anti-Semitic. It’s an interesting defense strategy.

    1. The proclamation also immediately works towards disenfranchising minorities, too, which isn’t helping any.

      (I for one find it as bothersome as our [Canadian] declaration that our country’s political power comes from god.)

  14. This is not really about this post but Quadrival repeated something which is not true and should be corrected. The Nation Law in Israel was not “proclaimed” by Netanyahu but by Knesset after it was proposed by a member of a party from Israeli Left. The proclamation stating that Israel is a Jewish state is not a proclamation about a religion. It means that it’s a Jewish state like Spain is a Spanish state, Poland Polish state, etc. Because “Jewish” can describe both religon and ethnicity (which doesn’t happen often in today’s world) people often misunderstand Israeli law(or exploit this duality for their ends).
    Shoah was not against Jews as adherents of Jewish religon but against Jewish nation (their individual religion – whatever it was – didn’t save anyone).

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