German Netanyahu cartoon triggers ‘anti-Semitism’ row

Illustration depicts PM as poisoning peace process; Israel embassy in Berlin sends protest letter to daily that printed drawing.

Cartoon of Netanyahu poisoning peace process 370 (photo credit: 'Stuttgarter Zeitung'.)
Cartoon of Netanyahu poisoning peace process 370
(photo credit: 'Stuttgarter Zeitung'.)
A cartoon in a regional German paper on Tuesday depicted Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu as poisoning the Middle East peace process, sparking accusations that the daily Stuttgarter Zeitung (StZ) stokes anti- Semitism and stereotypes of Jews and Israel.
The cartoon shows Netanyahu seated on a park bench with a bottle of poison labeled “Settlement construction” that he pours onto a piece of bread. An olive-branch-bearing dove marked “Middle East peace” appears next to Netanyahu apparently waiting to be fed the contaminated bread.
The Israeli Embassy in Berlin on Wednesday told The Jerusalem Post that it sent a letter “protesting the drawing” to Joachim Dorfs, the editor-in-chief of StZ, located in the southwestern state of Baden-Württemberg.
Critics in Germany argue that the cartoon conjures up the medieval anti-Semitic myth that Jews were to blame for plagues in Europe because they intentionally poisoned wells.
Dr. Elvira Grözinger, a member of the German branch of Scholars for Peace in Middle East, accused the editors of StZ, by email, of replicating the content of the Nazi-era paper Der Stürmer, adding, “Earlier one murdered and persecuted Jews because they were poisoners of wells. Shame on you! The world is burning around Israel, but for you, once again, the Jews are to blame for everything.”
Dr. Efraim Zuroff, director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center‘s Israel office and coordinator for the organization’s Nazi war crimes research worldwide, told the Post on Wednesday that “Once again, a respected German newspaper singles out Israel for criticism, in this case, in connection with the peace talks. A much more accurate presentation of the situation, would portray Abu Mazen [Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas] honoring terrorist murderers, while posing as an ostensibly serious partner for the current peace negotiations.”
Speaking from Stuttgart with the Post on Wednesday, StZ’s deputy editor, Michael Maurer, said the paper “rejects the accusation of anti-Semitism.”
He added that the paper “regrets that feelings were offended” and said that the news outlet would not print the cartoon again.
Maurer said the embassy’s letter accused the paper of employing “stereotypes,” but did not charge the StZ with anti-Semitism. He called the embassy’s letter “moderate, reasonable and understandable.”
StZ plans to answer the embassy’s letter, Maurer added.
The controversial anti- Israel cartoon prompted criticism from the daughter of late Austrian-Jewish composer and singer Georg Franz Kreisler. The caption under the cartoon refers to Kreisler’s song “Poisoning Pigeons,” which has no connection to Israel.
Kreisler’s daughter, Sandra, expressed outrage on her Facebook page.
She called those responsible at the StZ for the cartoon “a-- holes” for using her father’s name in connection with a cartoon that is not her father’s opinion and has no relation to the quoted song.
She wrote that the presentation of the cartoon was “anti- Semitic and the content false.”
Kreisler said she expects a clarification and apology from the StZ cartoonist for dishonoring her father.
She wrote that Israel has worked over the years for a peaceful solution, but the Arab countries have no interest in solving the conflict.
She blasted the EU for funneling millions in cash to the “millionaire Abbas” so long as the conflict continues unsolved.
Maurer told the Post that the paper plans to publish a statement in Thursday’s edition.
The StZ row follows an alleged anti-Semitic cartoon scandal last month in the Munich-based Süddeutsche Zeitung depicting Israel as a ravenous monster.