Israel's Ambassador to Portugal condemned the publication of antisemitic cartoons by Portuguese cartoon artist Vasco Gargalo in the weekly Portuguese news magazine Sábado, in a letter to the director of the magazine.
Raphael Gamzou, the ambassador, pointed out that he saw Gargalo's cartoon shortly after returning to Portugal with Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa after the 5th World Holocaust Forum in Jerusalem.
The cartoons do "perversely, an excellent service in the fight against antisemitism, contrary, most likely, to the artist's intention," wrote Gamzou.
The cartoon in question, The Crematorium, depicts Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wearing an armband like that of the Nazis but with a Star of David rather than a swastika on it. In the image, Netanyahu is pushing a coffin draped in a Palestinian Authority flag into an oven. Above the oven is the infamous gate of Auschwitz with the German phrase “Arbeit macht frei,” meaning “work sets you free.”
On #HolocaustRemembranceDay, this cartoon appeared by Portuguese cartoonist, #VascoGargalo.This cartoon does not inspire #peace.— Center Against Anti-Semitism (@CTRAntisemitism) January 30, 2020
It insults #Holocaust victims by using it as a tool of #hate.
Palestinians were offered peace.
This was their response.#Antisemitism @vascogargalo pic.twitter.com/P4agmzgWJE
The ambassador warned that while democratic societies like Portugal have the right to creative freedom and expression, he is "also fully aware of the impact and power of racist and antisemitic cartoons like those of Der Sturmer, who contributed so much to the promotion of the Final Solution."
Gamzou appealed to Sábado and other platforms to not "grant the Gargalo's of this world the immunity and impunity that arise from the distortion of the concept of freedom of expression."
The magazine had claimed that the cartoon had not been published in the magazine and the Gargalo was not an employee of Sábado. The embassy found Gargalo on a list with other employees on the magazine's website.
In a letter to the magazine sent last week, B'Tsalmo (In His Image), a right-wing, Israel-based human-rights organization, called out Sábado for giving "false information" to the Israeli Embassy, pointing out that Gargalo is listed as an illustrator on the magazine's website and that his cartoons appear on the website as well.
"We strongly demand that you stop employing Mr. Gargalo either as employee of the magazine or as a freelancer, and stop publishing his cartoons altogether," wrote B'Tsalmo CEO Shai Glick in the letter.
Gamzou added that if Gargalo's cartoon was turned into a textual piece, it would reveal a "shamelessly antisemitic article that trivializes the greatest tragedy in the history of mankind, through the use of all the stereotypes that promote hatred towards Jews."
The ambassador concluded the letter by asking the director of Sábado, "does the creative freedom, which you so rightly defend, include the freedom to hate and incite hatred?"Hannah Hepner contributed to this report.