The cartoonist who created an anti-Semitic cartoon The New York Times apologized for publishing last week blamed the “Jewish propaganda machine” for the backlash his work generated.
António Moreira Antunes told CNN he was surprised by the outrage, saying his cartoon — which depicted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as a dog leading a blind President Donald Trump wearing a yarmulke — was not meant to be anti-Semitic, but simply a political statement.
The Portuguese artist, who works for the weekly newspaper Expresso, said the charges were “made through the Jewish propaganda machine — which is, anytime there’s criticism it’s because there’s someone anti-Semitic on the other side, and that’s not the case.”
“The Jewish right doesn’t want to be criticized, and therefore, when criticized they say, ‘We are a persecuted people, we suffered a lot… this is anti-Semitism,'” he argued.
The Times apologized for publishing the cartoon on Sunday, saying it was an “error in judgement.”
“We are deeply sorry for the publication of an anti-Semitic political cartoon last Thursday in the print edition of The New York Times that circulates outside of the United States, and we are committed to making sure nothing like this happens again,” the statement read.
“Such imagery is always dangerous, and at a time when anti-Semitism is on the rise worldwide, it’s all the more unacceptable,” it continued.
The Times said one editor, without adequate supervision, made the decision.
“The matter remains under review, and we are evaluating our internal processes and training,” the statement said. “We anticipate significant changes.”
The American Jewish Committee responded to an earlier, shorter statement by The Times, tweeting, “Apology not accepted. How many @nytimes editors looked at a cartoon that would not have looked out of place on a white supremacist website and thought it met the paper’s editorial standards? What does this say about your processes or your decision makers? How are you fixing it?”
Apology not accepted. How many @nytimes editors looked at a cartoon that would not have looked out of place on a white supremacist website and thought it met the paper’s editorial standards? What does this say about your processes or your decision makers? How are you fixing it? https://t.co/HD5LdeZ9z3
— AJC (@AJCGlobal) April 27, 2019
The ACJ added, “Naked antisemitism such as in this image is not ‘an error of judgment.’ We have to wonder if the @nytimes editors would’ve published a similar cartoon depicting any other country or people.”
The group’s CEO David Harris tweeted that he was “appalled” by the cartoon, adding, “While #Antisemitism is rising…synagogues are attacked & Jews killed…democratic #Israel is demonized…& Jewish institutions are forced to bolster security…The “paper of record” pours oil on the fire.”
The more I think about the @nytimes “cartoon,” the more appalled I am.
The “paper of record” pours oil on the fire. pic.twitter.com/8FUAEKCagK
— David Harris (@DavidHarrisAJC) April 27, 2019
Antunes defended and explained the meaning of his cartoon in an email to The Jerusalem Post. “Trump’s erratic, destructive and often blind politics encouraged the expansionist radicalism of Netanyahu,” he wrote.
“To illustrate this situation, an analogy occurred to me with a blind man [Trump] led by a guide dog [Netanyahu] and, to help identify him, little known in Portugal, I added the Star of David, symbol of the State of Israel and central element of its flag.”
Antunes further questioned, “Why I cannot do a critique of Israeli policy without being immediately categorized as antisemitic? I have nothing against the Jews, but I have many things against the politics of Israel.”
In addition to The Times and the ACJ finding the cartoon offensive, so did several members of Congress and media figures, along with Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, according to The Post.
Last week was not the first time that Antunes was accused of producing an anti-Semitic cartoon.
Note that Antonio Antunes Moreira (from NYT antisemitic cartoon fame) was responsible for this cartoon in 1983 comparing #Israeli treatment of #Palestinians to the Nazis’ treatment of Jews – by evoking the iconic Warsaw Ghetto photo
— Adam Levick (@adamlevick) April 28, 2019
According to The Post, in 1983, he drew another work depicting Israeli Defense Forces soldiers as Nazis. The cartoon won him an international prize.
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