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
It was placed on a book review page that featured two reviews
criticizing the Jewish state.
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.”
headline on the book review pages read: “The downfall of liberal
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
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
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.”
a December 2012 article with the headline “Netanyahu against the entire world,”
which claimed that Israel was working against the entire international
Feuerherdt said the article reinforced anti-Semitic
stereotypes that Jews were egotistical and only concerned with narrow
In 2012, the paper published Günter Grass’s poem “What
Must Be Said,” which attacks Israel for wanting to wipe out the Islamic Republic
Critics at the time accused Grass, a former member of the Nazi
Waffen-SS, of stoking anti- Semitism with his one-sided bashing of
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
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