German Press Council to Munich paper: Wrong to publish 'discriminatory' cartoon

Cartoon shows Israel as monster; pro-Israel groups in Germany filed a joint complaint to the Press Council after publication.

September 15, 2013 22:17
1 minute read.
German paper publishes 'anti-Semitic' cartoon attacking Israel, July 2, 2013.

Süddeutsche Zeitung publishes anti-semetic cartoon 370. (photo credit: Süddeutsche Zeitung)

BERLIN – Germany’s Press Council issued a ruling last week asserting the Munich based newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung violated the council’s press code against discrimination because of the paper’s publication of an anti-Israel cartoon.

After the SZ published an early July illustration showing Israel as a demonic monster , pro-Israel groups in Germany filed a joint complaint to the Press Council in the same month.

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“This German Press Council ruling is a wake-up call for the media to exercise greater caution in depictions of Israel, which all too easily slide into anti-Semitism,” said American Jewish Committee Berlin director Deidre Berger.

“The ruling reinforces the message that artistic freedom cannot be used as a cloak to disguise anti-Semitism,” she added.

The caricature depicts a young woman serving food to a demonic monster with horns sitting at a table and holding up a carving knife.

The caption under the cartoon reads: “Germany at your service. For decades, Israel has been provided with weapons, partly free of charge. Israel’s enemies consider the country to be a voracious Moloch.”

The Press Council did not formally rebuke the SZ but said the cartoon violated its non-discrimination policy.

The main German Jewish newspaper, Judische Allgemeine, reported that the chairman of the complaints office at the press council, Peter Enno Tiarks, said the application of the cartoon in the SZ context is “discriminatory and contributes to prejudices against Israel and Jews.”

Edda Kremer, an official from the Press Council, wrote that a formal rebuke was withheld because the SZ dealt with the cartoon in a “self-critical” manner.

After reader complaints and charges of anti-Semitism, the paper apologized.

In a separate German media story, the Simon Wiesenthal Center welcomed the decision of the Bauer media group to pull the plug on Der Landser, a military history magazine the center said portrayed Nazi units responsible for numerous atrocities “in a favorable light.”

“This is a major victory,” said Rabbi Marvin Hier, the center’s founder and dean.

“This is also the right decision at a time when anti-Semitism has reached unprecedented levels in many parts of Europe.”

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