German city honors antisemitic cartoonist who trashed Netanyahu and Netta Barzilai

The Munich-based newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung’s editor-in-chief Wolfgang Kach said that publishing the cartoon, was a mistake and he apologized to readers.

January 12, 2019 17:31
2 minute read.
German city honors antisemitic cartoonist who trashed Netanyahu and Netta Barzilai

Cartoon shows Netanyahu celebrating the Eurovision song stage in Netta Barzilai's attire while holding a missile with has a Star of David imposed on it. (photo credit: TWITTER SCREENSHOT)


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Munich is slated to present an award to the alleged antisemitic cartoonist Dieter Hanitzsch in January, who was sacked last May for stoking hatred of the Jewish state in a Nazi-like way.

The Munich-based newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung’s editor-in-chief Wolfgang Kach said the cartoon used “antisemitic cliches” when it showed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the attire of Israeli Eurovision entrant Netta Barzilai, who won the 2018 contest. He said that publishing the cartoon in the May 15 issue of the daily was a mistake and he apologized to readers.

As a result, the country’s largest broadsheet dismissed the cartoonist last May.

A who’s who of Munich’s political and cultural elites will honor Hanitzsch in January, including Christian Ude, who served as Munich’s social democratic mayor from 1993 to 2014, and who will deliver a speech praising Hanitzsch. The 85-year-old cartoonist will be awarded the Ernst Hoferichter Prize for “combining originality with world openness and humor.” The prize amount is 5,000 euros.

The cartoon by Hanitzsch shows Netanyahu celebrating on the Eurovision song stage in Netta’s attire while holding a missile with a Star of David imposed on it. He is depicted singing with a speech bubble that says, “Next year in Jerusalem.” Felix Klein, the German federal government’s commissioner charged with combating antisemitism, told the mass-circulation Bild at the time that “here, associations are revived with the intolerable cartoons of National Socialist propaganda.”

The cartoon depicts Netanyahu in military boots and behind him on the stage, the words “Eurovision song contest.” The cartoonist replaced the “v” in “Eurovision” with a Star of David.

Hanitzsch’s use of the Star of David to ridicule Israel’s self-defense measures against Hamas-engineered attempts to enter Israeli territory sparked widespread outrage on social media at the time. Critics also say that the drawing conjures the Nazi antisemitic accusation that Jews are warmongering.

On the website of the city of Munich, a posted statement from the Ernst Hoferichter Prize foundation jury states that Hanitzsch has mastered cartoon illustrations: “Quite excellent... which (almost) everyone appreciates in this country.”

The organization Munich Citizens against Antisemitism and Hatred of Israel launched a letter campaign on January 5 to rescind the award to Hanitzsch. The letter took social democratic politicians to task for hypocrisy.

“And it is even more irritating when such politicians make impressive speeches against antisemitism at official events, such as on November 9, but now participate in this award ceremony,” said the group. November 9 is the date that Germans commemorate the Nazi state-sponsored pogroms against German Jews in 1938.

The Frankfurt-based Anne Frank Educational Center termed the cartoon as “Israel-related antisemitism” on its Twitter feed in 2018.

The cartoonist said he wanted to criticize Netanyahu’s exploitation of the Eurovision contest for his own purposes and accused Netanyahu of abusing the singer’s victory.

Hanitzsch told German online news provider that he had been treated unfairly. He said the newspaper’s editors had approved a draft he submitted before they commissioned the cartoon, and then welcomed the final product.

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