Guardian’s Steve Bell attacks editors for being overly sensitive to antisemitism charges (Update)

We’ve been tweeting about cartoons by Guardian cartoonist Steve Bell published over the last two days which are predictably dismissive of charges of antisemitism against the Labour Party, in mocking the party’s deputy leader Tom Watson, an outspoken critic of Jeremy Corbyn’s handling of the crisis.

We observed that such cartoons are “predictable” because Bell has a long history of openly mocking charges of antisemitism, and was responsible for one cartoon in 2012 that evoked nearly Der Sturmer style classic antisemitic imagery in suggesting Jewish control of non-Jewish world leaders.  The cartoon wasn’t removed, even after widespread complaints of antisemitism, but it did elicit a rare rebuke by their then readers’ editor. 

Also, see this Bell cartoon from 1998, which suggests that the Jewish God is vengeful and supremacist.

Since 2015, Bell has consistently defended Jeremy Corbyn from charges of antisemitism, and even came to the defence of Ken Livingstone in 2017 after the former London mayor was expelled from the party for suggesting that Hitler was once a Zionist.

Today, it emerged that Bell sent an email to the Guardian staff complaining that editors allegedly decided not to run his latest attack on Watson – which would be the second time in a year that a Bell cartoon was rejected.


Here’s the cartoon in question (which, as we noted, didn’t run).

It’s hard to know with certainty what Bell’s point is, but we read it as suggesting that the Israeli prime minister himself provokes antisemitism or engages in behavior that is antisemitic.

Though we’re not quite sure why editors nixed this cartoon, the real issue is Bell’s email, which demonstrates just how dismissive he is of those who’ve leveled “specious” charges of antisemitism in Labour, and how he actually seems to think that the Guardian – yes, the Guardian! – is too concerned about offending Jews.  (Note how he also references that letter the paper removed last week from its web site which, as we posted about at the time, defending Chris Williamson, which had been signed by fringe anti-Zionist Jews, and a few non-Jewish anti-Semites.)

His email provides yet more evidence that, even by Guardian standards, Bell is an extremist in his hatred of Israel and what appears to be his utter contempt for the values and concerns of British Jews.

UpdateJuly 18th: Today, Bell published another in his series of cartoons on Tom Watson.  This one, published at his own site, but not at the Guardian, shows Netanyahu as a puppet-master controlling Donald Trump and Boris Johnson.


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11 replies »

  1. I was just searching for a similar cartoon in which Bell is at least somewhat dismissive of similar charges of Islamophobia. I didn’t see any. Gee, I wonder why?

  2. The “antisemite finder general” is a reference to the “witch finders” of centuries ago who traversed Britain, identified suspected witches who were then (to use the modern terminology) judicially murdered – at least for those who survived until trial.

    Bell’s not so subtle point is that antisemites are no more real than witches. They certainly don’t exist today and, implicitly, never exist at any point. That’s not merely dismissive. It imputes a deep level of deliberate malice to anyone with the effrontery to suggest that antisemitism is a real world phenomenon.

    Part of what makes antisemitism unique is that it is the consequence of a warped and, at its essence conspiratorial, view of how the world works. There is no randomness in life, so if I’m a failure, it’s because someone controlled hat outcome. In a perversely narcissistic way, it elevates your self-conception from being one of the faceless billions tossed around by fate to someone worthy of such notice by those really in control as to be a target.

    What makes it even more curious is that you you know it’s all a convenient lie you’re telling yourself because your supposed enemy happens, in real life, to have been a dispersed and weak enemy that had no realistic way to fight back. Perhaps that might explain today’s especial anti-Israel venom: the nation state of the Jewish people has reconstituted itself and so about half of world Jewry can now look to itself for security rather than depend on the whim of the non-Jewish majorities. Maybe Jews will no longer tolerate being the world’s punching back. Now comes the new conspiracy: maybe the seemingly omniscient and omnipotent Mossad will track you down – you know, the way it tracks down terrorists on the run. The fundamental question is, how deep is the antisemite’s cognitive dissonance. As someone once observed, don’t ask me, ask a doctor – but preferably not a Jewish one.

  3. Muslims murder Brits IN the UK

    – London’s 7/7
    – Manchester Arena
    – Pan Am 103
    – beheading of Lee Rigby
    – murder of Yvonne Fletcher

    and cry about RAMPANT, IRRATIONAL “Islamophobia”.

  4. When Corbyn maes his statements about anti-Semitism being unacceptable and having no place in the party, I have the impression that he (genuinely?) doesn’t appreciate that his many own dodgy comments and behaviour re. “Zionists” could be seen as dodgy. Steve Bell, however, is just simply aggressive on that same front.