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(photo credit: Screenshot)
The Anti-Defamation League has castigated a "hideously anti-Semitic" syndicated cartoon by Pat Oliphant published in newspapers across the US on Wednesday.
Oliphant employed Nazi-like imagery and depicted the Star of David in a hateful manner, the ADL said.
The Simon Wiesenthal Center similarly denounced the cartoon and has urged news Web sites to remove it.
The cartoon, a comment on Israel's recent offensive against Hamas in Gaza, depicts a uniformed figure marching in goose step, swinging a sword in one hand and pushing a Star of David on a wheel with the other. The star is adorned with fangs and chases after a tiny woman carrying a child labeled "Gaza."
"This is absolutely disgusting. God Almighty! This is a classic example of criticism of Israel carried out in a pernicious, anti-Semitic fashion," said Efraim Zuroff, director of the Wiesenthal Center's Jerusalem office.
"There is no context. It is an insidious portrayal and a total distortion of reality, simply an implication that brute Jewish strength goes after the hopelessly helpless Gaza residents," Zuroff added.
"Pat Oliphant's outlandish and offensive use of the Star of David in combination with Nazi-like imagery is hideously anti-Semitic," said Abe Foxman, ADL national director. "It employs Nazi imagery by portraying Israel as a jack-booted, goose-stepping headless apparition. The implication is of an Israeli policy without a head or a heart."
"Israel's defensive military operation to protect the lives of its men, women and children who are being continuously bombarded by Hamas rocket attacks has been turned on its head to show the victims as heartless, headless aggressors," Foxman said.
"The imagery in this cartoon mimics the venomous anti-Semitic propaganda of the Nazi and Soviet eras. It is cartoons like this that inspired millions of people to hate in the 1930s and help set the stage for the Nazi genocide," said Rabbi Marvin Hier, the Wiesenthal Center's dean, and Rabbi Abraham Cooper, its associate dean.
Most alarming, said Zuroff, was that "this image, unambiguous in its anti-Semitic intent, has reached millions of people across the United States. Oliphant is simply an anti-Semite for disseminating this message."
Oliphant, a Pulitzer Prize winner for Editorial Cartooning in 1967, has been called "the most influential cartoonist now working" by The New York Times. Oliphant's body of work, often employing stereotypical caricatures, has been known to spark controversy.
In 2001, the Asian American Journalists Association said Oliphant "cross[ed] the line from acerbic depiction to racial caricature," and in 2005, the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee made public its concerns that a number of Oliphant's cartoons were racist and misleading.