A leading German newspaper has been accused of crossing a “red line” with a caricature of Benjamin Netanyahu portraying the Israeli Prime Minister with outsized lips, ears and nose.
Felix Klein, Germany’s new anti-Semitism commissioner who was appointed this year amid concerns over rising anti-Semitism, told the Bild newspaper that Tuesday’s cartoon in Munich’s Sueddeutsche Zeitung recalled “the intolerable depictions of Nazi propaganda.”
His intervention Thursday followed a vigorous debate on social media calling the cartoon into question:
This @SZ caricature is not only antisemitic in its symbolism. It’s also unfair towards @NettaBarzilai. Why should the artist stand proxy for the politics of her country? That’s like holding #EltonJohn responsible for Brexit. https://t.co/SeFRwyLeqI
— (((k schnurbein))) (@kschnurbein) May 16, 2018
In the best “Stürmer“ manner – Süddeutsche- Newspaper (SZ) with their caricature of the Jewish destroyer of the world with a big nose and ears. It is unbelievable that such a thing will be possible again in Germany in 2018.@IsraelinGermany @realDonaldTrump
— Aletheia156 (@Aletheia156) May 15, 2018
— Ralf Reski (@ReskiLab) May 15, 2018
One critic, Malca Goldstein Wolf, accused the newspaper and the 85-year-old cartoonist of crossing a line.
“Can Israel enjoy its successful participation in a music competition without being demonized?” she wrote in an open later published on Facebook.
The image was published in the aftermath of the U.S. decision to move its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem and the riots that followed along the Gaza border.
The drawing by veteran caricaturist Dieter Hanitzsch appeared in the newspaper’s opinion section. It depicts Netanyahu dressed as Israeli singer Netta Barzilai, who won this year’s Eurovision song contest. The heart that forms the “v″ in Eurovision is replaced with a Star of David and Netanyahu is hoisting a missile in his hand, saying “next year in Jerusalem.”
Wolfgang Krach, editor in chief of the Süddeutsche Zeitung, conceded it could be seen as anti-Semitic and apologized.
He specifically pointed to the use of the Star of David in place of the “v” as a source of controversy.
“Despite the caricaturist’s intention, one can understand the drawing differently and take it as anti-Semitic,” Krach wrote. “Its release was therefore a mistake for which we apologize.”
Follow Simon Kent on Twitter: Follow @SunSimonKent or e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org