BERLIN - The largest German daily broadsheet --the Munich-based Süddeutsche Zeitung-- published a photo of a cartoon on Tuesday depicting Israel as a wild, hungry, ill beast devouring German military weapons. The cartoon sparked criticism from Jewish organizations in Germany and the US.
Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, told The Jerusalem Post by email on Tuesday that his organization "decries the illustration depicting Israel as a monster in a leading German newspaper." He said the cartoon was "grotesquely beyond the pale of legitimate criticism and invokes one of the classic anti-Semitic tools: Animalization is a classic and effective tool in dehumanizing an enemy, something Nazi and Soviet propaganda deployed over and over again."
The cartoon was the work of Ernst Kahl, who told the Jewish newspaper Jüdische Allgemeine Zeitung that had he been asked, he would have rejected the paper's use of his cartoon in conjunction with two book reviews about Israel; one of which covered American Jewish author Peter Beinart's book The Crisis of Zionism.
Under the cartoon, the Süddeutsche wrote, "Germany is serving. Israel has been given weapons for decades and partly free of charge. Israel's enemies think it is a ravenous Moloch.
Peter Beinart deplores that it has come to this." The headline on the book review pages reads, "The downfall of liberal Zionism." Cooper declared that "the characterization of the Jewish state as a 'ravenous Moloch' is a canard. The attempt to deploy a Jewish critic [Beinart] as a fig leaf does not cover up the hate." He urged the newspaper's editors to "apologize to its readers, the Jewish community and the State of Israel," and he expressed hope that "the main protests against this illustration and captions are forthcoming from German NGOs and personalities."
In an interview with Jüdische Allgemeine Zeitung, Dr. Dieter Graumann, head of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, termed the cartoon "almost on the level of Stürmer" - a reference to the anti-Semitic Nazi newspaper Der Stürmer.
He expressed shock that "anti-Semitic associations" were allowed in the paper.
The Süddeutsche employee responsible for the placement of the cartoon was Franziska Augstein the sister of Jakob Augstein, whom the Wiesenthal Center cited in its list of last year's top 10 anti-Semitic and anti-Jewish statements. He writes a column for Der Spiegel.
Alex Feuerherdt, a journalist who has written extensively about modern German anti-Semitism, told the Post that this was not the first time the Süddeutsche had published "incitement articles against Israel." He cited a December 2012 article with the headline "Netanyahu against the entire world," which claimed that Israel was working against the entire international community. Feuerherdt said the article reinforced anti-Semitic stereotypes that Jews were egotistical and only concerned with narrow self-interest.
In 2012, the paper published Günter Grass's poem "What Must Be Said," which attacks Israel for wanting to wipe out the Islamic Republic of Iran.
The Süddeutsche issued a statement on its website Tuesday, under the title, "Is a Horned Monster Anti-Semitic?" The paper wrote that the cartoon had "nothing to do with anti-Semitic clichés," but added that as "the photo led to misunderstandings, it would have been better to have chosen a different photo."