BERLIN-Facing isolation and growing criticism for its publication of a cartoon termed as anti-Semitic by NGOs and commentators, the Münich-based daily Süddeutsche Zeitung stated on its website on Wednesday that it was a mistake to have printed the illustration.

The Bavarian daily wrote, “readers found the illustration of a Moloch with horns waiting for breakfast in bed as anti-Semitic.”The Süddeutsche Zeitung added that it regrets the misunderstandings surrounding the publication of the cartoon and it was a mistake to have published the drawing in this context.

The paper had flatly denied on Tuesday that the cartoon was anti-Semitic and alluded to misunderstandings, which triggered criticism from many quarters about its inadequate response.

Rabbi Abraham Cooper, the associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, told the Jerusalem Post, "As the debate over Jakob Augstein exposed, many Germans do not acknowledge anti-Semitism unless it emanates from the extreme right. The refusal of the paper to admit it crossed the pale both with the visual of a devil like creature and a caption comparing Israel to a children-devouring monster is another such example of a refusal to deal with the reality of mainstream classic anti-Semitism wrapped with criticism of alleged Israeli crimes. Their mealy mouthed ‘explanation’ is as shocking as the original incident.”

Jakob Augstein, a columnist for Der Spiegel, faced rebukes for his columns attacking Israel, including the use of alleged anti-Semitic language. The Wiesenthal Center included Augstein in its list of top ten anti-Semitic and anti-Israel slurs for the year 2012.

Cooper continued that the “second point is perhaps some who harbor such anti-Semitism may not have noticed but the Jewish people have learned a painful lesson from the Nazi Holocaust. We will never again sit idly by when demeaned and demonized.”

The media watchdog group Honest Reporting, which aims to debunk bias against Israel in the press, wrote,”How can Süddeutsche Zeitung claim that there has been a misunderstanding? There is no disguising the hateful attitude towards Israel.”
The Berlin-based office of the American Jewish Committee filed a formal complaint against the Süddeutsche with the German press council.

The illustrator of the cartoon Ernst Kahl strongly objected to the use of his drawing by the Süddeutsche.  The cartoon was originally designed for a gourmet cook magazine called “Der Feinschmecker.” He said if he were told in advance of the use of his illustration, he would not have green-lighted the publication of his cartoon for the Süddeutsche’s book page. The paper reviewed two books slamming Israel, including a book by the American Jewish author Peter Beinart.

Beinart objected to the cartoon on his twitter feed, writing “Dumbest part of nasty cartoon accompanying review of my book is that I strongly support military aid to Israel.”

Under the cartoon ,the caption read,”Germany is serving. For decades now, Israel has been given weapons, and partly free of charge. Israel’s enemies think it is a ravenous Moloch. Peter Beinart deplores this situation.”

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