Sunday Times set to apolgize for grotesque cartoon of Netanyahu

The Sunday Times cartoon of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu causes backlash from Israeli official.(AFP)

Israel's parliamentary speaker on Monday lashed out at a cartoon published in Britain's Sunday Times showing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu building a wall with Palestinian blood and bodies.

"For the people of Israel, this is a cartoon which recalls the dark journalism from one of humankind's darkest periods," Knesset speaker Reuven Rivlin wrote in a letter to his British counterpart John Bercow.

"As a democrat, I support political criticism but in publishing this cartoon yesterday in London, the boundaries of free speech were crossed," Rivlin wrote, adding, "prejudice had deeply influenced legitimate criticism."

"If a cartoon had been published in Israel showing Britain in a monstrous light and hurting the feelings of the British people in such a mean and nasty way, you wouldn't hesitate to complain to me, and rightly, about crossing the legitimate boundaries of freedom of expression," he said in a direct appeal to Bercow.

Rivlin said Israel was "disappointed" that such images could be published in modern-day Britain, suggesting the cartoon exposed "certain unhealthy undercurrents."

But, writing in the left-leaning Haaretz newspaper, commentator Anshel Pfeffer criticized condemnation of the cartoon, which he said "was not anti-Semitic by any standard."

He pointed out that the cartoon included no Jewish or Holocaust imagery and was not similar to traditional "blood libel" cartoons.

Murdoch Appolgy

Rupert Murdoch has apologized for the "grotesque" cartoon carried in one of his British newspapers.

The acting editor of the Sunday Times newspaper, Martin Ivens, is due to meet with members of the Jewish community in Britain on Tuesday to also apologize in person after they made a formal complaint about the image to media regulators.

"Gerald Scarfe has never reflected the opinions of the Sunday Times. Nevertheless, we owe major apology for grotesque, offensive cartoon," Murdoch, who owns the Sunday Times and its daily sister paper the Times, said on Twitter.

Gerald Scarfe has been a political cartoonist with the Sunday Times since 1967 and has also worked for The New Yorker magazine. He worked on the Disney movie "Hercules" as well as the film of Pink Floyd's rock opera "The Wall".

Murdoch's comments came after the image in the newspaper sparked condemnation in Britain and Israel, particularly because of its timing, appearing on International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

The Board of Deputies of British Jews, a representative body, lodged a complaint with the Press Complaints Commission over what it said was an "appalling" and "disgusting" cartoon.

It said it was "shockingly reminiscent of the blood libel imagery more usually found in parts of the virulently antisemitic Arab press".

In a statement, Sunday Times acting editor Ivens said: "The last thing I or anyone connected with the Sunday Times would countenance would be insulting the memory of the Shoah or invoking the blood libel.

"The paper has long written strongly in defence of Israel and its security concerns, as have I as a columnist.

"We are however reminded of the sensitivities in this area by the reaction to the cartoon and I will of course bear them very carefully in mind in future."

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Last Update: Monday, 11 March 2013 KSA 18:22 - GMT 15:22
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