Top German newspaper apologizes for cartoon using anti-Semitic stereotypes

One of Germany’s top daily newspapers has pulled a cartoon and apologized for its use of anti-Semitic stereotypes.

Wolfgang Krach, editor in chief of the Süddeutsche Zeitung, issued a statement Tuesday saying he had pulled the cartoon, which depicted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu dressed as the Israeli Eurovision winner Netta Barzilai, holding up a rocket marked with a Star of David. The artist, Dieter Hanitzsch, had also replaced the “V” in Eurovision with the six-pointed star.

“This led to discussions both within and outside the SZ editorial offices,” Krach’s statement read. “The cartoonist… said he merely wanted to point out that next year’s contest will be held in Israel. But… one can also see it differently, and it could be considered anti-Semitic. Thus it was a mistake to publish it, and we apologize.”

In 2013, the paper pulled another cartoon that purportedly showed Israel as the greedy ancient god Moloch, and apologized. The artist, Ernst Kahl, said he was shocked to learn that SZ had used his drawing of a greenish, horned monster being served breakfast in bed by a pale, plump maid – originally created for a German gourmet magazine – to illustrate a review of two new books on Israel.

The latest brouhaha is not the first to focus on Hanitzsch, who in 2016 was criticized for a cartoon in which an octopus strangling the earth represents U.S. economic foreign policy. For critics, the image was far too close for comfort to anti-Semitic illustrations in the Nazi-era propaganda tabloid “Der Sturmer.” Hanitzsch vehemently denied that his intent was anti-Semitic and insisted that the octopus symbol was not limited to “Der Sturmer.”

This time, say critics, Hanitzsch endowed Netanyahu with oversized nose, ears and lips. The Jewish star on the rocket suggests that “behind every war, Jewish interests are hiding,” Jonas Mueller-Töwe commented in an article for t-online.de news, which broke the story and reprinted the offending cartoon.

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