Herald apology welcomed

August 5, 2014 by J-Wire Staff
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The Executive Council of Australian Jewry and the NSW Jewish Board Deputies have welcomed the editorial in the Sydney Morning Herald unreservedly apologising for the publication of an antisemitic cartoon on 26 July 2014.

Having considered the matter closely, we are of the view that the public apology issued by the Sydney Morning Herald, as a feature editorial, obviates the necessity for either of our organisations to pursue any formal complaint. In that regard we consider the matter closed.

However, we believe that this matter has highlighted the need for deeper understanding in the wider community of the phenomenon of racism and, in particular, of anti-Jewish racism.

It is a fallacy to suggest that every criticism of Israel is antisemitic. The serious charge of antisemitism should never be falsely made in order to stifle political debate. However, it is equally fallacious to assert that no criticism of Israel is antisemitic.

When criticism of Israel is couched in terms which employ or appeal to negative stereotypes of Jewish people generally; or deny the Jewish people their right to self-determination; or apply double standards by requiring of Israel standards of behaviour not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation; or hold Jews collectively responsible for actions of the state of Israel, then the line has been crossed. This last criterion, exacerbated by the negative stereotyping, was the failing of the cartoon published by the Sydney Morning Herald.

We hope that this regrettable affair will lead to more serious consideration within Fairfax Media, and certain other sections of the media, about contemporary manifestations of antisemitism. In particular, we hope that there will now be better understanding of the way in which antisemitism is capable of mutating and adapting to changed circumstances.

The attempt by the Sydney Morning Herald to explain its “lapse” highlights the need for this. The Sydney Morning Herald’s contention that the cartoon was based on photographs of a group of people observing the fighting in Gaza from a hilltop, and that the figure in the cartoon is “overseeing” the fighting in Gaza like “someone watching their television”, defies credulity. The figure in the cartoon is not merely a passive observer of the fighting, as are the people in the photographs. He is shown activating a remote control device which is blowing up people and buildings. The depicted device is not a mere television remote control.

We sincerely hope that the resolution of this contentious issue will ensure a more considered approach to issues of concern to the Jewish community from Fairfax Media, in particular surrounding stereotyping and vilification.


3 Responses to “Herald apology welcomed”
  1. David Wilson says:

    Like Paul Winter I find it difficult to accept the Editorial in the SMH as a genuine apology.For the anguish and distress, maybe, but not for the act.
    One must assume that every article for publication is vetted by the editorial staff. No gut reaction after checking Carlton’s piece for the Saturday News Review? A phone call
    ” Hey Mike are you serious?” Do you want that cartoon and do really intend to submit your column in that language? Mike, why don’t you cool off and think it through? What you have written is really offensive and dismissive of the genuine and valid criticism from the Jewish community”
    Frankly I was flabbergasted by this article as I enjoy reading Mike Carlton’s contributions which usually take a shot at the conservative sacred cows.
    The Herald did acknowledge that the cartoon was menacing but excused that as the way Lievre draws old men. But this old man was something special. This man was an old Jew who was detonating imaginary bombs on the citizens of Gaza.Oh no, said the Herald he was watching TV and pressing the remote and we now appreciate the Star of David and his kippah made him Jewish and that was an error of judgement but the cartoonist lacked any intent. What Bunkum!
    It is obvious when Lievre read the column he made a picture to suit.

  2. ALAN SLADE says:

    For the record, here is my letter as printed in this morning’s SMH:
    “Congratulations to the Herald for devising an apology rivalling the best of the political “I’m-sorry-if-I-offended-you’s’’. Why ruin what could have been an acceptable apology with “in original form”, whatever that means? And then why further dilute the apology with long-winded lame justifications?”

  3. Paul Winter says:

    The ECAJ and the NSWJBD must have read a different editorial than the one that was in my edition of the SMH. Or, maybe as intellectuals, they just can’t read plain text. Or, maybe as diplomat candidates, they try to smooth things over and thus let all parties pretend that good relations have been restored.

    The editorial that I read apologised after pleading ignorance that an antisemitic cartoon would be offensive. The apology was for the hurt it caused not for the hurting. And not a word about Carlton.

    With more such victories by our leadership, we might as well start paying the jizya. Oh, I forgot, we are already doing so by having to pay for the communal security our leaders failed in making the government provide us as tax payers.

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