Israel’s Ambassador condemns ’anti-Semitic‘ German cartoon

Hadas-Handelsman describes the "anti-semitic" cartoon as going beyond the "limits of acceptable journalistic presentation".

By JERUSALEM POST CORRESPONDENT
July 3, 2013 23:14
4 minute read.
German paper publishes 'anti-Semitic' cartoon attacking Israel, July 2, 2013.

Süddeutsche Zeitung publishes anti-semetic cartoon 370. (photo credit: Süddeutsche Zeitung)

BERLIN – The largest German daily broadsheet – the Munichbased Süddeutsche Zeitung – published a cartoon on Tuesday depicting Israel as a wild, hungry, monster, with fangs and horns, set to devour food with a fork and knife.

It was placed on a book review page that featured two reviews criticizing the Jewish state.

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The cartoon sparked sharp rebukes from Israel’s Ambassador Yakov Hadas-Handelsman and Jewish organizations in Germany. Hadas-Handelsman wrote the cartoon is marked by a “severe tastelessness and misleading” representation of Israel.

In a letter to Kurt Kister, the editor-in-chief of the leftist liberal Süddeutsche Zeitung, the ambassador wrote that the paper went beyond the “limits of acceptable journalistic presentation” and criticized the motive and text of the illustration before stating that “one hopes in Germany for a special sensitivity” toward the Jewish state.

The “special sensitivity” phrase is in the expectation that German-Israeli relations are different than those  other European countries specifically because of the Nazi orchestration of the Holocaust.

The Bavarian daily, which reaches over one million daily readers, published a photo of the monster being served by a woman with  a text under the cartoon stating, “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 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 the two book reviews about Israel – one of which covered American Jewish author Peter Beinart’s book The Crisis of Zionism. His cartoon, which was not intended to be connected with an attack on Israel, was used by the Süddeutsche editors to turn Israel into a wild animal.

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 headline on the book review pages read: “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 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-Semites and Israel-haters. 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.

Critics at the time accused Grass, a former member of the Nazi Waffen-SS, of stoking anti- Semitism with his one-sided bashing of Israel.

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.”

The paper’s cartoon triggered criticism from one of Germany’s leading commentators on modern anti-Semitism.

Writing in the right-of-center daily Die Welt on Tuesday, Henryk M. Broder, said the Süddeutsche Zeitung is acting like Der Stürmer and is carrying forward the tradition of the anti- Semitic paper from the Nazi-era into the present. He wrote that no mainstream German newspaper has dared, since the Holocaust, to publish such a cartoon. He said that Süddeutsche replaced classical Jewhatred with loathing of Israel.

Broder has argued that the Nazi depiction of Jews has now been replaced with the Jewish state as the new expression of modern anti-Semitism.


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