Print | Email Murdoch apologises for 'anti-Semitic' cartoon

Sunday Times rapped over cartoon

by: Caroline Westbrook and Leslie Bunder - Last updated: 2013-01-29

Rupert Murdoch

Rupert Murdoch

News Corporation chairman Rupert Murdoch has apologised after the Sunday Times featured a Gerald Scarfe cartoon which was accused of being anti-Semitic.

Murdoch issued the apology via Twitter after the Board of Deputies complained to the Press Complaints Commission over the image - which appears to show Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu building a wall with the blood and limbs of Palestinians.

The caption of the cartoon, which featured in the paper on Holocaust Memorial Day, read: "Israeli elections. Will cementing peace continue?"

Murdoch said: Gerald Scarfe has never reflected the opinions of the Sunday Times. Nevertheless, we owe major apology for this grotesque, offensive cartoon."

Scarfe - who has drawn satirical images for the paper since 1967 - later added that he "very much regrets" the timing of the sketch, saying that he had not been aware it was Holocaust Memorial Day on January 27.

The Board of Deputies said in a statement that the cartoon was "shockingly reminiscent of the blood libel imagery more usually found in parts of the virulently anti-Semitic Arab press".

"Its use is all the more disgusting on Holocaust Memorial Day, given the similar tropes levelled against Jews by the Nazis," the Board added.

“This far exceeds any fair or reasonable criticism of Israeli policies. Last week's Scarfe cartoon showed Bashir Al Assad, the architect of the killing of over 60,000 Syrians in little over a year, steeped in blood. If Scarfe and the Sunday Times think there is any comparison with Israel's leadership, then they have lost all sense of proportion and reality."

On Tuesday, members of the Jewish community attended a meeting with The Sunday Times' acting editor Martin Ivens.

"I was pleased to a attend a meeting with the acting Editor of the Sunday Times and his colleagues. The meeting showed a unified and effective community and we were gratified to see the positive response from the Sunday Times to our community's concerns," said Board President Vivian Wineman

Acting editor Ivens said: "I'm grateful so many community leaders could come together at such short notice. You will know that the Sunday Times abhors anti-Semitism and would never set out to cause offence to the Jewish people - or any other ethnic or religious group. That was not the intention last Sunday. Everyone knows that Gerald Scarfe is consistently brutal and bloody in his depictions, but last weekend - by his own admission - he crossed a line. The timing - on Holocaust Memorial Day - was inexcusable. The associations on this occasion were grotesque and on behalf of the paper I'd like to apologise unreservedly for the offence we clearly caused. This was a terrible mistake."