Board seeks apology from Fairfax

July 29, 2014 by Henry Benjamin
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The NSW Jewish Board of Deputies has sought an apology from the Sydney Morning Herald for publishing a cartoon in last Saturday’s edition which they describe as being “crudely antisemitic”.




The cartoon, reminiscent of those of the Hitler era, depicts a stereotyped Jew sitting in a comfortable armchair with a cat by his side on a hilltop overlooking what one can only presume to be Gaza.  He is using a remote control seemingly to blow up buildings. The cartoon sits alongside an article on Gaza written by SMH columnist Mike Carlton.

There is no doubt about his ethnicity. Cartoonist Glenn Le Lievre has drawn him wearing a yarmulke and sitting on a chair with a large Star of David on its back.

The letter to the Sydney Morning Herald’s editor makes it clear that the Board considers the cartoon  to be invoking racial vilification and “inciting third parties to hatred of Jews”.

The Board has made it clear to the newspaper that they have received “a large number of complaints” from the community including many from Holocaust survivors who found the cartoon similar to ones they saw in the 1930s and 1940s in  the Nazi newspapers “Der Sturmer” and Volkscher Beobachter.

The Board has requested that an apology be published in the same location as it appeared last Saturday.

The Board has stated that if the Sydney Morning Herald does not take the desired action it will lodge a formal complaint with the NSW Anti-Discrimination Board.

adcChairman of the Anti-Defamation Commission Dr Dvir Abramovich also commented on the cartoon:

“It’s fine to criticize Israeli policies but we are deeply shocked and  outraged by Le Lievre’s grotesque cartoon.

The classical stereotype of the yarmulke wearing, hooked nose, old Jew, together with the Star of David, has been a persistent theme in virulent anti- Semitic literature through the centuries. This is the venomous propaganda of Der Stumer recycled for a modern-day audience.

The cartoon portrays not just Israelis, but all Jews, as heartless, cold-blooded murderers, sitting at ease and in safety with a sleeping cat by their side, remote controlled detonator in hand, deliberately and indiscriminately bombing Gaza and killing Palestinian civilians. Given that Israel goes to remarkable lengths to avoid harming civilians through a variety of measures and that we are all saddened by the deaths on all sides, to suggest that Jews and Israelis are cavalier and relaxed about the suffering caused by this conflict is so profoundly removed from the truth and is meant to denigrate, vilify and demonize.

Millions of Israeli citizens have been under incessant attack, forced to flee into bomb shelters several times a day to escape rockets targeted at them by Hamas terrorists, whose openly declared goal is the destruction of the Jewish state. In no way can this sickening cartoon be justified as an acceptable and accurate depiction of what is actually occurring in Gaza.   Dredging up images that evoke age-old antisemitic representations, often used to incite hatred against Jews, is clearly indefensible. This was a breathtakingly poor and offensive choice and crossed all lines, and though it will do little to repair and reverse the damage of publishing such an antisemitic image, we urge the editor of the SMH to issue a full apology for publishing such a hurtful cartoon.”





4 Responses to “Board seeks apology from Fairfax”
  1. Liat Nagar says:

    I give up on Fairfax. I’ve been a Melbourne Age reader for years despite their Israel reporting, due to the superior reportage and columnists on many other issues, as well as the terrible standard of Murdoch papers. Their correspondent in the Middle East, Ruth Pollard, is a travesty of journalism with her unprofessional, biassed articles over the last three years and I’ve written many a letter of complaint and critique in regard to them. That’s it. I won’t be buying Fairfax newspapers any more. Good journalism is so important and we just don’t have it in Australia.

  2. Paul Winter says:

    You are of course right David, but two other things should have been done:
    1) calling a demonstration in front of the unFairfax headquarters
    2) calling the state government to account for allowing protesters against Israel self-defence to publicly display antisemitic placards in clear violation of 18C

  3. Gil Solomon says:


    Don’t hold your breath.
    This is that leftist run Board of Deputies that has yet to develop a spine.
    Making waves is something that is not in that organisation’s DNA.

    And in answer to Dr Dvir Abramovich, I for one say it is NOT fine to criticise Israeli policies especially if those criticisms present Israeli policies in a malignant way divorced from reality.

  4. David Adler says:

    Is 18C of any use for such an obscene case?
    There should also be a complaint to the Press Council.
    An apology is not sufficient. Damage has been done.

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