New York Times Caves to Anti-Semitism Police, Censors Cartoon
The NY Times international edition ran a carton on its editorial page that was branded anti-Semitic by Donald Trump Jr., Breitbart and other far-right sites and personalities. It featured a blind Donald Trump wearing a yarmulke and being led by a dachshund-shaped Bibi Netanyahu. Netanyahu’s dog has a Jewish star hanging from its neck.
The cartoon is a highly effective attack on both political figures and, like all good graphic art, examines the hypocrisy and moral bankruptcy at the heart of its subjects’ world-view. Trump’s blindness in the cartoon is a comment on the president’s obliviousness to the history of the Middle East and U.S. policy in the region. It also reflects his blindness to the plight and very existence of the Palestinian people. The yarmulke placed on his head links him to the Orthodox far-right settlers whose views he espouses. Remember also that his closest advisors, Kushner, Greenblatt and Friedman are themselves Orthodox pro-settler fanatics who have richly donated to the movement.
Netanyahu’s dog is reminiscent of the term “Bush’s poodle,” an insult targeting Tony Blair when he became the cheerleader for the Iraq war. There can be no doubt that Bibi is Trump’s poodle.
In discussing the Jewish star around the dog’s neck we must remember that it is not just a Jewish star. It is the national symbol of the State of Israel. In a sense, Israel itself is at fault for conflating its nationhood with Judaism. Not all Jews are Zionists and not all Zionists are Jews. So in the case of the cartoon, the star comments on Netanyahu’s role as prime minister of the State, not on his Jewishness. They are not the same, despite what the far-right Anti-Semitism police claim.
In a satirical critique of the brouhaha over the original cartoon, Israeli cartoonist Eran Wolkowski published this sanitized version that will offend no one because it won’t say anything.
It’s curious that the loudest voices who initiated this campaign were not Jewish. Pro-Israel advocates of course chimed in later. But the earliest complainers were Trump Jr. Breitbart and their ilk. As a Jew, I find it offensive for anti-Semites to tell me what is anti-Semitic and what isn’t. I have been a victim of anti-Semitic jibes. I know what it is. And this isn’t it.
This is yet another example of weaponizing anti-Semitism on behalf of Likudism. It is a feeble attempt to defang just criticism of the sordid alliance between Trump and Netanyahu on behalf of an expansionist, supremacist Greater Israel.
Further, if you think the Times cartoon is anti-Semitic, why barely a whisper of outrage against Eli Valley’s far more explicit cartoon depicting Netanyahu and a swastika-wearing Trump in ecstatic embrace? True, there are no religious symbols in Valley’s cartoon. But portraying an Israeli prime minister embracing a Nazi should be cause for geschreis and gevalts from the pro-Israel Speech Police.
The Times felt under tremendous pressure because it is a constant target of the Trumpist right. So it decided that capitulation was the better part of valor. It isn’t. They’ll come after you whatever you do. And if you raise the flag of surrender, they’ll only redouble their efforts and chortle with glee at your cowardice.
49 thoughts on “New York Times Caves to Anti-Semitism Police, Censors Cartoon – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم”
Comments are published at the sole discretion of the owner.
If the cartoon had ‘Bibi’ written on the dog I would have agreed with you, but until you assumed it was supposed to be Bibi I thought it was just portraying some American Jewish character which as a Brit I did not recognize. To me it looks nothing like Bibi. Bad drawing!
@ Shai: Sorry fella. It was clear to me the dog’s face was Bibi, from the first second I laid eyes on it. YOu may be a little slow on the uptake…
Thank you. I believe you summed the intent of the cartoon and the concern re backing up after the far right raised their voices.
” In a sense, Israel itself is at fault for conflating its nationhood with Judaism. ”
Blaming the victim. Classic.
” The yarmulke placed on his head links him to the Orthodox far-right settlers whose views he espouses.”
Actually, Orthodox far-right settlers wear white and blue knitted kippot, not the traditional black velvet kippa of European Orthodox Jewry. But, it’s Eli Valley’s cartoon, isn’t it?
@ Eunice: Aw, Israel is the victim. Poor innocent Israel. Pure as driven snow. THe victim of the big bad anti-Semit’n. Gimme a break.
As for the yarmulke, I never said it was the same yarmulke. I said that Trump’s yarmulke “links him” to the settlers.
I don’t know what you’re talking about. The Bibi-dog cartoon is certainly not Eli Valley, if that’s what you’re insinuating. If you think it is his, you really haven’t a clue about artistic style.
“There can be no doubt that Bibi is Trump’s poodle.”
Well, actually, the interpretation I would make is of a blind Trump is being led around by his seeing-eye dog Bibi.
So Trump sees the Middle East only through Bibi’s eyes, and goes only where Bibi takes him.
Still, all works of art are open to interpretation, though I agree that it is an attack on a most odious bromance between two appalling men, rather than being an attack on Jews.
But, having said that, I think it was a mistake to draw a .yarmulke on Trump’s head. The dark glasses are enough.
[comment deleted: you will not call a distinguished political cartoonist a “villain” in my blog. Not ever. Try that again and you’ll be banned or moderated.]
One sees what one is looking for.
Hypocrisy and moral bankruptcy for sure.. Machiavellian? With Netanyahu and Trump it is only about them not even the good of the state. Netanyahu uses fear and hate effectively on Jews who have inherited post traumatic fears of the decades and centuries that Netanyahu nurtures. Trump plays to hate and fear here (latent and growing from globalization, climate change) to less effect/affect though enough to have helped get him elected with Russian aid. You could say either way, Trump is blind led by Netanyahu or Netanyahu is Trumps poodle. Both use each other, copy and embolden each other (disgustingly, obnoxiously) to keep themselves in power. But this has been going on in Israel for awhile and Netanyahu has pretty nearly, if not completely irrevocably ruined a moral Israel that many of us could have supported and stuck up for. Many Jews as well as other supporters of conscience are being driven away. I think too so are some Israelis distancing themselves. The rest don’t care. Here, I hope our national nightmare ends.
Potter: “Good toon.”
If it is too ambiguous then it isn’t a good cartoon.
The Star of David on the dog collar should be the Israeli flag.
The yarmulke on Trump’s head has no place being there.
Make those two changes and the cartoon would unambiguously be an attack on the Trump/Netanyahu relationship, and there would be zero grounds for attacking it as anti-Semitic.
But leave them both in and the cartoon is ambiguous, and that’s not good.
[comment deleted: Nope. No anti-Semitism here.]
Yeah Right: Netanyahu represented by the dog, does collar himself ( identify) as acting in the name of the Jewish people, not only Israel. That is his whole schtick.And we complain loudly about that.So Israel is not just a nation, it represents the Jewish people.The flag, though, represents a definite state, accepted by the world community. Netanyahu wants more than what is represented by the flag. He wants expansion (and it seems expulsion of Arabs if possible).
This is very much about the Jewish religion: using it to serve both Netanyahu’s and Trump’s ends. So the toon sows that..
Google “Trump with Yarmulke”. You will see how Trump uses it.
What is anti-Semitic is both Netanyahu and Trump’s use of the Jewish religion for self aggrandizement, to gain power for themselves.
The New York Times walks on raw eggs; it does not want to open up a hornet’s nest ( to use another metaphor) by publishing anything that the super sensitive anti-semitic trope watchdogs can blow up. Already- believe it or not, the NYTimes is labeled anti-Semitic by enough New York Jews ( my family for example).
Richard, yes, it’s an anti-Semitic cartoon. It depicts the relationship between Israel and the US as one where Israel is in charge and the US does what it is told. This is what David Duke means by the US being ZOG – Zionist Occupied Government.
On the FB pages I post on, not a single advocate of BDS defends the cartoon. On the contrary, I blasted the Times for its hypocrisy for opposing the BDS movement on the one hand. while promoting this anti-Semitic imagery.
@ Sheldon Ranz: It has NOTHING to do with David Duke and raising him is a red herring. Trump is being led by the nose by Netanyahu. The cartoon simply describes reality in enhanced fashion, which is what political cartoons do.
And offering personal anecdotal information about your browsing the web doesn’t prove anything. I’ve found a huge amount of support for the notion that the cartoon is NOT anti-Semitic.
Oh and you should feel great that Bret Stephens agrees with you wholeheartedly.
To summery your post, it isn’t anti-Semitic b/c it is true. Bibi and the settlers lead the US government in the path they wish.
How is that different than the the claim Jews control the world when the Rothschild controller banks? For the Star of David to be considered to be considered as Jewish, it is enough that some people will see at such, not that an expert will exam it and then decide.
Progressive hyper-sensitivity for Political Correctness used so skillfully to blame everyone else in islamophobia, racism and what not, all of the sudden disappears? Why?
@ Yoni Levy: The Rothschilds don’t control world banking. But the Likud does currently control U.S. policy toward Israel-Palestine. It’s simply a fact.
Richard – do you see Netanyahu lead Trump in the streets of Jerusalem or Ramallah? No!
Did the Rothschild had huge influence on banks? Yes!
This can easily be seen as a dog-whistle and there isn’t much difference between the two except for, you don’t care for one and care much for the other.
@Yoni: in fact Bibi led Trump by the nose to the Kotel and abd joined him for this quasi religious spectacle there. As for parading through the West Bank with their settler pals, Bibi’s done that many times. There is a video of him in a settlement bragging to his settler interlocutors about how he has America wrapped around his little finger. As for Trump, he doesn’t need to parade through the West Bank, he has his Court Jews Kushner, Greenblatt and Friedman to do that for him. In addition, all 3 have richly supported settlers and settlements with hundreds of thousands of dollars at U.S. taxpayer expense.
There is indeed a “dog whistle.” It’s Bibi the dachshund leading the blind Trump by the nose.
@ Yoni Levy: Of course Netanyahu led Trump through the streets of Jerusalem. He took him to the Kotel for his pious photo op. He led Jared, Ivanka and Hagee to the Jerusalem embassy for another photo op. He’s naming a settlement and a Jerusalem light rail station for Trump. The only question is: is Bibi the dog leading Trump or is Trump leading Bibi.
The Rothschilds have no more influence on banks than any of the scores of other billionaire financiers, most of whom have not been Jewish.
Do NOT publish another comment in this thread.
The term anti-Semitic has been owned, weaponized and used by one side politically very successfully as a cudgel, to instill fear of being so-labeled. Trump, so insincere but always pretending to be, seems to have successfully switched sides but he has been anti-Semitic or supporting of it (the alt-right) when it was politically beneficial. This is a con man par excellence. Netanyahu could be his understudy, or vice versa.
Trump supported those in Charlottesville chanting “Jews will not replace us” for instance. He has a history that is wider and that goes back further. Most people polled thought Trump anti-Semitic not that long ago.Then came his friendship with Netanyahu, the Jerusalem embassy move etc. It’s cringe-worthy to see red yarmulke’s with Trump on them at gatherings. Consequently the orthodox (some) love him.
The cartoon can be labeled anti-Semitic of course. Any criticism of Israel, even of Netanyahu himself now appears to be fodder for the anti-Semitism trope war recently flared up by Trump’s hate mongering and war against political correctness. The NYTimes, true, is running scared from that. Sometimes a cartoon, which can be interpreted in many different ways is very powerful. Words about Trump and Netanyahu and our Israel policy to that effect would have been easier to clear, and have been written at the NYTimes.What is it about a cartoon? Remember the anti-Muslim cartoons in the Danish newspaper?
“Trump is being led by the nose by Netanyahu. The cartoon simply describes reality in enhanced fashion, which is what political cartoons do” No. It is true that Congress’ Israel/Palestine policy is controlled by the pro-Israel lobby, but that’s as far as it goes. That’s why Ilhan Omar’s remarks were not anti-Semitic, but the cartoon is.
And making me out to be best buddies with Bret Stephens? WTF?? Like that’s not a red herring? You need to dial it back, dude.
@Sheldon Ranz: I never said you were best buddies with Stephens. You falsely claimed I did. I said you ought to examine why your position on this aligns with his.
“That’s as far as it goes?” You’re kidding. The Lobby leads U.S. policy on Israel-Palestine by the nose, and you say that’s as far as it goes? In fact, that’s the reason the cartoon is so apt in addressing this issue, while having no anti Jewish connotations at all.
And don’t you dare tell me how to speak or write or address anyone. I’m not your “dude” or anyone’s dude.
The NYT seems to think the cartoon was Anti-Semitic. https://twitter.com/nytopinion/status/1122567972973944832
So does Mehdi Hasan, not known as a far-right personality. https://twitter.com/mehdirhasan/status/1122611771448143875.
Same for Yashar Ali. https://twitter.com/yashar/status/1122164007316725760.
There are many, many more.
They all see obvious anti-semitic tropes that you don’t.
@Chen: so you think the left is a monolith in.lockstep? We take our orders from the Commintern? Got news for you. I’m not led by the nose by anyone left, right or center. I base my views on my studies of Jewish history and my own lived experience. Just because you’re progressive doesn’t make you right 100% of the time. But I will tell you I know helluva lot more about anti-Semitism than Mehdi Hassan or Yashar Ali.
You seem to have neglected this OP ed in Haaretz which argues the opposite from Mehdi Hassan: https://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-that-netanyahu-cartoon-wasn-t-anti-semitic-1.7173253
Yes. Bret Stephens is a “Jew” who shills for Nazis, like NaziYahoo and Trump. The only criticism of the cartoon I might have is that the dachshund should have had the face of Sheldon Adelson, another “Jew” who is Trump’s political pimp banker (In return for hundreds of millions in payoffs.). I’ll stop here, before I get really candid about Stephens, and this whole bunch of Nazi “Jews.”
@Robert Henry Eller: you can make your points without invoking the term “Nazi.” That’s an easy way out of having a substantive argument. I especially object to linking ‘Nazi’ and ‘Jew’ in the same phrase. That goes too far.
As a Jewish Israeli I take no offense whatsoever at this cartoon.
This could easily have appeared in an Israeli newspaper and nobody would have looked twice. It’s an astute observation, and, as many political cartoons, uses caricature and exaggeration to make a point. All the howling from the Trump right wing and Bibi supporters is just cynical pandering.
Bibi and his right wing allies cynically use this for political purposes to demonize the Democrats. This will further polarize and make Israel and Jews a partisan issue.
Criticism of Bibi and/or Likud is NOT equivalent to being anti-Israel or antisemitic.
@DrS: well, I never! Is this the same DrS i have ferocious arguments with? Never thought I’d ever agree with you about anything! Wonders never cease!
Potter – Not only anti-semitism was weaponized but so are Islamophobia, Racism, Apartheid etc’
Somehow both sides, left and right, are super sensitive about what can picture the ‘other side’ as evil. Both extreme are evil and unfortunately the people on these extreme are too busy pretending they are saving the world from the other side while promoting hate and pain.
@ Yoni Levy:
Right-wing nonsense. No one is abusing any of these forms of discrimination in order to gain political power or silence critics as Israel is. And don’t you dare include me in any claim that I, or those who share my political beliefs, “promote hate and pain.” I reject this and even being implicitly included in such a group is repugnant to me.
@Richard Silverstein: I’m not saying that the existence of progressives who deem this cartoon Anti-Semitic proves it is in fact so. I’m saying that, contrary to your post’s focus on far-right and pro-Israel personalities, people of all religious and political persuasions recognized it as such. Whether you agree with them or not, this tends to refute the notion that complaints about the cartoon are simply a “weaponizing [of] anti-Semitism on behalf of Likudism.”
Sure you are. That’s why you offered links to two progressive sources who called it anti-Semitic and offered no links to progressives who say it’s not.
I know of only a few progressive Jews who’ve called it anti-Semitic. I know of progressive non-Jews who have. But just as I’m leery of right wing non Jews who tell me what’s anti-Semitic, I have no obligation to accept at face value progressive non Jews who tell me the same. Also, I tend to suspect the judgment of Israeli Jews in this matter as almost none of them have ever experienced anti-Semitism first hand and personally in their own lives. THey learn about anti-Semitism in school or from their parents or grandparents based on the bogeyman of the Holocaust and other ancient suffering. This is all second-hand experience and tends to skew their understanding of the issue.
Amen! AKA “Awww–mayn!
I recall that a few years ago, I asked you for some help on surveys taken of Palestinian refugees around the time of the Saudi Peace Plan as to how many would want to return to Palestine if the Right of Return were offered to them. You did, and I thanked you. I have always thought highly of your blog and felt we were friendly acquaintances. So, when I refer to you as ‘dude’, it was in that spirit of amity. I have been genuinely concerned that you are reacting disproportionately hostile to anyone who disagrees with you on this cartoon, automatically assigning them to the Bret Stephens camp. And yes, it’s not much of an exaggeration to say that you’re making Bret and me to be BFFS if you think he and I agree on something that you deem so essential to him.
The White House, unlike Congress, has defied the pro-Israel Lobby in the past, especially under Reagan and Bush, Sr. Trump supports Netanyahu because he wants to, not because he is a helpless blind Gentile being led around by a Jewish trickster. So what if Netanyahu now, or Ariel Sharon in the past, brags about owning the US? Do those of us in the Palestine Solidarity movement routinely believe anything they say?
Without the Star of David, this would be a biting political caricature, sure. With the SoD, it goes into bad territories. What was the SoD needed for? A big blingy B or BB (very shiny, in gold) would have been a much more appropriate collar decoration! So yes, even as a very left-wing Israeli Jew, i find this to be not ok.
For goodness sakes- literally. Folks who take offense cannot tolerate political criticism and the truth which this cartoon is about totally:leaders abusing religion for their own need of power and influence. It’s more offensive and detrimental to the cause of fighting anti-Semitism for there to be such almost comical hypersensitivity lead by the anti-Semitism police, self-appointed. Trump and Netanyahu both, imo, foster anti-Semitism by their actions and words. Just who are being led really? This is about public opinion and power. That this cartoon makes for discussion is alone good enough reason to re-print… as the Muslim cartoon did. Cartoonists have such power at times.The NYTimes decision I understand; they do not want to fight this battle, have this ongoing issue with Jews who think they are anti-Semitic versus criticism from the other side for being too critical.
Reading through these messages I can only agree that anti-semitism is being used and abused for political gain by the far right and Bibi and his cronies. It is only a cartoon about Israel that would promote the level of nit picking about “the colour of Trump’s Yarmulke” and other details. The question needs to be asked and clearly defined – what is anti-semitism. Promoting hate speech about Jewish people and conspiracy theories about “jews running the world” is clearly anti-Semitic”. Criticizing Israel as a country for its illegal settlement program and Bibi’s far right policies that are clearly prejudice against Palestinians is not – but is proclaimed as such as a political tool to shut down such criticism of Israeli and U.S. policy in the middle east. Cartoon’s are by their nature ambiguous in terms of the message they are trying to portray. Great cartoons use images and suggestions that appear to say one thing to assert something completely different, and can convey ideas in such a way that the written word cannot. This is not to say we should condone cartoons that are blatantly racist, homophobic, and/or sexist for the sake of art, but this constant barrage of proclaimed anti-semitism against anything that remotely criticizes Israel is wrong, and dangerous in the longer term
Yes Richard, this is the same DrS whose opinions you usually can’t stomach. If we go up high enough on the “tribal” hierarchy, we occasionally find something in common, as thinking human beings.
We WOULD disagree on that both the right and the left have their own forms of “political correctness”. For the right its “antisemitism”, For the Left is is anything that smacks of prejudice, especially involving members of protected or victimized ethnic, religious, national or sex/gender groups. You are called an anti-semite or a racist or homophobe or misogynist and that ends the conversation.
So now the original cartoonist has said that the “Jewish propaganda machine” was responsible for the controversy and that the “Jewish” right was trying to deflect criticism. Doesn’t really jibe with the “he was criticizing Israel, not attacking the Jews” line of defense.
@ Chen: As always, you hasbara propagandists cherry pick what you promote. Here’s a fuller, contextualized representation of what Artunes said, and every word of it is correct and accurate:
Nor has CNN even included the full verbatim interview with him. So we don’t know everything he said in his defense. But clearly he was not talking about a generic Jewish propaganda machine, but a right wing Jewish propaganda machine, which exists for sure. I myself always use the phrase “pro-Israel” instead of Jewish so as to avoid these confusions. But he clearly used the phrase “Jewish right” and noted it was NOT a religious issue.
@ Richard Silverstein: The fuller quote you provided–and to which I linked–adds no missing context. If the cartoon were merely critical of Israel and the Israel-US (or Bibi-Trump) relationship, why even talk about the “Jewish” right or the “Jewish propaganda machine” (which is itself evocative of anti-Semitic concepts)?
You can continue to maintain that only non-Israeli progressive Jews, or only people named Richard Silverstein, can say what is or is not anti-Semitic, but I don”t think the rest of the world accepts this rule–rightly so.
Why not an islamic leader as a pig? Be ashamed!!!!
@ Rita: Don’t be ridiculous. Portraying humans as dogs in cartoons is as old as cartooning itself. The Nazis portrayed Jews as rats in cartoons. Do you see any rats in this cartoon? No? Hmm. What could that mean? That you’re full of self-righteous dreck? Could be.