Cartoon Scandal: New York Times Keeps Digging

When HonestReporting first addressed the publication of a blatantly antisemitic cartoon in the New York Times International Edition, it was only the beginning of a wave of revulsion to hit the newspaper.

There was disgust at the cartoon itself (drawn by Portuguese cartoonist Antonio Moreira Antunes, of the Lisbon weekly paper, Expresso) and the fact that it had been published at all. But there was also criticism aimed at the initial response of NY Times editors who tweeted that an Editors’ Note would appear in Monday’s international edition. The note acknowledged how offensive the cartoon was and admitted to an “error of judgment.” It did not, however, apologize.

Eventually, some level of contrition was expressed in an actual apology.

The New York Times’ own columnist Bret Stephens was also given the platform to castigate his own newspaper, saying:

The paper owes the Israeli prime minister an apology. It owes itself some serious reflection as to how it came to publish that cartoon — and how its publication came, to many longtime readers, as a shock but not a surprise.

Responding to the Stephens, I asked whether, despite his excellent article, events would lead to any meaningful action on the part of the NY Times or whether it would be soon back to business as usual.

The answer came quicker than anyone could have believed. Given the firestorm of anger raging around the newspaper, you’d think that publishing another Jewish-themed cartoon would be the last thing that any NY Times editor would even consider.

Think again.

Despite already releasing the Editors’ Note over the first cartoon, this is what appeared in the weekend’s international edition:

The message and imagery of this cartoon by Roar Hagen, that originally appeared in a Norwegian publication, may be open to interpretation but the subject material and the timing of its publication are astonishing in light of the situation the New York Times was already in.

Who on earth would approve another cartoon featuring Benjamin Netanyahu and Jewish or Israeli themes?!

Are the senior staff at the NY Times head office really that incompetent that they could have thrown oversight to the wind yet again? Someone at the international edition clearly has an unhealthy obsession that nobody higher up is dealing with.

Either way, this latest incident is the equivalent of giving the Jewish community the proverbial finger even while the NY Times apologizes for its other cartoon.

The NY Times has reportedly severed its links with the syndication service that supplied the first antisemitic cartoon and has come to the decision not to use syndicated cartoons anymore. While it’s a start, this only deals with cutting off a compromised third party and fails to address the glaring failures within the New York Times itself.

HonestReporting’s many examples of NY Times bias against and utter disdain towards Israel demonstrate that the paper’s problem is institutional and deep rooted.  The past few days’ events were not isolated incidents that the NY Times can apologize for, move on and forget about.

Bret Stephens asks:

How have even the most blatant expressions of anti-Semitism become almost undetectable to editors who think it’s part of their job to stand up to bigotry?

The reason is the almost torrential criticism of Israel and the mainstreaming of anti-Zionism, including by this paper, which has become so common that people have been desensitized to its inherent bigotry.

Some serious self-reflection is most definitely required and someone needs to be held responsible. Heads should roll but some much-needed education is also vital. A good place to start would be for the New York Times to adopt the internationally recognized working definition of antisemitism, as produced by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance.

We’ve been calling on mainstream media to do just that. Please sign our petition – the New York Times will be the first place we send it to. For the paper to ignore it would be pure folly.

Source material can be found at this site.

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