Last week Daphne Anson highlighted an antisemitic cartoon and article in the Sydney Morning Herald
Seems to me that these two with a history of antisemitism conspired to put this article together.
The ECAJ – Executive Council of Australian Jewry wrote to the Editor Darren Goodsir.
The cartoon unambiguously portrays an ugly stereotype of a Jew. He is identified with hook nose, kippah (religious head covering) and Magen David (Star of David), sitting in an arm chair and using a remote control device to blow up houses and people, presumably in Gaza in the context of the current fighting. The cartoon thus portrays Jews as a group as collectively guilty of acting outside the norms of civilization and the laws of war, intentionally causing civilian deaths in Gaza.
In our view this is racial vilification not only in the sense of offending, insulting, humiliating and intimidating Jews as a group but also in the sense of inciting third parties to hatred of Jews.
Holocaust survivors in our community have compared the cartoon to those which they saw regularly appear in the 1930′s and 1940′s in the Nazi newspapers, ‘Der Stürmer’ and ‘Völkischer Beobachter’. Whether or not one accepts that analogy, the cartoon is, on any measure, crudely antisemitic.
We are extremely disappointed at this significant and gratuitous lapse in the Herald’s editorial standards. Its publication demands an unreserved apology.’
The ECAJ being for once showing some guts replied.
The figure in the cartoon is not simply identified as an elderly man, as you emphasise in your letter, or even as an elderly Israeli. He is unambiguously identified as a Jew. The symbols are unmistakeable. He is depicted with a hook nose (which is a traditional antisemitic stereotype), and is further ‘branded’ with a kippah (religious head covering, which is not an Israeli national symbol) and Magen David (Star of David, which appears on the Israeli flag but is shown in the cartoon in its generic Jewish form). Indeed the combination of these three symbols is almost certainly intended to ensure that the reader identifies the figure not simply as an elderly man, or even as an Israeli, but as a Jew.
As is often the case with racial stereotypes about Jews, the identification of the figure as a Jew in the cartoon is a device for conveying a message about Jews generally. The message is a deeply derogatory one. It is no answer for you to rely on Mr Le Lievre’s direct modelling based on a number of photographs of men seated in armchairs “observing the shelling of Gaza from the hills of Sderot”. The figure in the cartoon is not merely a passive observer of the fighting, as is the case in the photos to which you refer. He is shown activating a remote control device which is blowing up people and buildings.
Whether the cartoonist intended it or not, or is even conscious of it, the cartoon thus attributes to Jews generally a collective blood guilt for the deaths and suffering in Gaza. This is the calumny of Jewish people which your letter simply fails to address.
We therefore cannot accept your explanation, nor your failure to publish our letter, or to publicly apologise for what has clearly been a descent into racism in your newspaper.
In the circumstances, we feel we have no alternative but to seek redress by legal means. You will be hearing from us or one of our constituent organisations in this regard shortly.’