Here’s the cartoon published by Steve Bell, Guardian on Nov. 15, titled: Tony Blair and William Hague’s role in Israel-Gaza clash.
As we noted in a post the day after the cartoon was published (a graphic depiction of the puppet-like control Bibi had over Blair and Hague in the context of the two British leaders’ expressions of support for Israel’s recent war in Gaza) the cartoon evoked the antisemitic canard of Jewish control over non-Jewish British politicians. Further, Bell’s cartoon was almost indistinguishable from what is routinely published in the Arab media (in cartoons and in prose) alleging unimaginable Jewish control over world leaders.
Bell defended the cartoon, arguing thus:
“I can’t be held responsible for whatever cultural precepts and misapprehensions people choose to bring to my cartoon.”
Today, February 4th, evidently in response to an apology by Sunday Times’ owner Rupert Murdoch – over the controversial Gerald Scarfe cartoon (published on Holocaust Memorial Day), which depicted mangled, tortured bodies being buried over with bricks laid by the bloody trowel of a murderous Netanyahu – Bell published the following, titled: Steve Bell’s If … on Rupert Murdoch’s apology to Israel.
(Note: the second frame is a reference to a comment by Murdoch in November, complaining that the Jewish owned press is consistently anti-Israel. The final frame is a reference to Sooty, a popular glove bear and TV character back in the 50s.)
Is Bell mocking Murdoch’s complaint that media companies with Jewish owners are anti-Israel by noting that indeed the opposite is the case – that powerful Zionist Jews in fact exercise too much control over the media?
Admittedly, such graphic depictions inevitably leave a lot open to interpretation.
However, after the row following Bell’s cartoon in November, Chris Elliott – the Guardian’s readers editor – responded to complaints, noting that the image of Jews having a disproportionate influence over the US and British governments has often been replicated by anti-Jewish cartoonists in the Middle East since the end of the second world war, and concluded thus:
“While journalists and cartoonists…should not use the language – including the visual language – of antisemitic stereotypes.”
Given Bell’s reaction to the row over the Scarfe cartoon – where he mocked the notion that the cartoon was antisemitic during a BBC debate with Stephen Pollard and refused to answer Pollard’s question as to whether he was even aware of the history of antisemitic cartoons in the Arab media – it seems clear that the Guardian cartoonist remains, at the very least, breezily unconcerned with the damage caused by “using visual language” which evokes “antisemitic stereotypes”.
- A place where Guardian cartoonist Steve Bell can find “real” antisemitism (cifwatch.com)
- How one British paper decided to depict living Jews on Holocaust Memorial Day (cifwatch.com)
- The BBC, Bell and the blood libel (bbcwatch.org)
- More than a cartoon: What Jews are talking about when they talk about antisemitism (cifwatch.com)
- Matt Seaton’s caricature of courage (cifwatch.com)
- Guardian fails to take home top prize at 2012 Dishonest Reporting Awards (cifwatch.com)
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