Sydney Morning Herald apologises for Jewish cartoon likened to Nazi propaganda

The cartoon which ran in the SMH

The cartoon which ran in the SMH

The Sydney Morning Herald has issued an apology for a controversial cartoon showing a Jewish man watching the shelling of Gaza from his armchair which ran alongside a Mike Carlton column condemning the action, admitting “it was wrong to publish the cartoon in its original form”.

Today’s apology comes after accusations of racism over the image drawn by Glen Le Lievre, with sections of the community likening it to Nazi propaganda cartoons from the 1930s. In its apology the SMH accepted in using religious symbolism including showing the man wearing a kippah with the Star of David draped over the back of the seat, it had “invoked an inappropriate element of religion, rather than nationhood, and made a serious error of judgment”.

In its apology the paper noted: “The cartoon showed an elderly man, with a large nose, sitting alone, with a remote control device in his hand, overseeing explosions in Gaza. The armchair in which he was sitting was emblazoned with the Star of David, and the man was wearing a kippah, a religious skullcap. A strong view was expressed that the cartoon, by Glen Le Lievre, closely resembled illustrations that had circulated in Nazi Germany. These are menacing cartoons that continue to haunt and traumatise generations of Jewish people.”

 The Australian’s media section today claims Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull had phoned the editor-in-chief Darren Goodsir to raise concerns about the cartoon, which ran on July 26, to tell him the cartoon was in poor taste, as well as a Diary piece noting how deputy editor Ben Cubby has been engaging with people on Twitter about the cartoons.

In the apology the SMH also defended cartoonist Le Lievre as having always depicted the elderly with exaggerated facial features, adding: “It was also significant that the cartoon had its genesis in news photographs of men seated in chairs and lounges, observing the shelling of Gaza from the hills of Sderot. One of those photos depicted an old man, wearing a kippah, reclining casually as part of a group – with Mr Le Lievre seeing comparisons between this and someone watching their television; hence the remote control. Another photo portrayed a lone man on a large couch – and thus the cartoon blended these two images.

“The Herald deeply regretted the upset the image had caused, but felt – not least because the cartoonist lacked any intent and that actual photographs influenced the setting and physical depiction of the character in the cartoon – that no racial vilification had occurred.”


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