ADL Calls for ‘Sincere Apology’ From Photographer Rankin for Anti-Semitic Comments; Blasts ‘Independent’ for ‘Lapse of Editorial Judgment’

February 19, 2014 10:44 pm 4 comments
Scarlett Johansson filming her first SodaStream commercial. Photo: SodaStream.

Scarlett Johansson filming her first SodaStream commercial. Photo: SodaStream.

Jewish human rights group the Anti-Defamation League said an apology issued by British photographer Rankin for anti-Semitic remarks he made didn’t go far enough.

The group also blasted the United Kingdom’s The Independent newspaper for publishing the offensive comments.

“Rankin made a feeble attempt to justify his remarks when what is called for here is an acknowledgement from him that the views he expressed are anti-Semitic,” ADL Director of International Affairs Michael A. Salberg said in an email to The Algemeiner recently. “It is not too late for Rankin to offer a sincere apology.”

“Including Rankin’s quotes in the story was a lapse of editorial judgment by The Independent,” Salberg added. “We have come to expect more of The Independent and believe they also owe their readers an apology.”

Rankin’s comments, published last week, were made in response to a question about Hollywood actress Scarlett Johansson’s recent decision to end ties with global charity Oxfam over “a fundamental difference of opinion in regards to the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement.” Johansson was first criticized by the charity for her endorsement of Israeli company SodaStream because it operates a factory in the West Bank.

“I’ve got a lot of time for her,” Rankin, whose full name is John Rankin Waddell, said about the actress, “but I’ve got a very negative view on SodaStream.”

“The thing is, I think the reason that she’s not backed down is because in America the Jewish zealots are so powerful. Especially in the entertainment industry, what they could do to her career.

“But the main thing in all this for me is that kind of extreme Judaism. That extreme belief that this is their homeland and those people are worthless to them. That’s very powerful in America. They will blacklist you. They will blacklist you. It’s worse than McCarthyism. You are pro-Palestinian? F**king forget it.”

The ADL said, “Rankin’s remarks reek of classical anti-Semitic stereotypes of Jewish control of the media and excessive power. His references to ‘Jewish zealots’ and ‘extreme Judaism’ leading to vengeful retribution for anyone who disagrees with some assumed ‘correct’ position regarding Israeli policy, is just plain ignorant.”

In his subsequent apology Rankin said he regretted the language and offense caused by his statements, but did not address the substance of his claims.

“In an interview that was set up with The Independent about the launch of [a fashion magazine], I regret responding so glibly to off-topic questions on such a difficult and sensitive subject,” he said. “Of course this is not my official position and I apologise wholeheartedly for my use of language and any offence this may have caused.”

Speaking to London’s Telegraph newspaper, a representative of Britain’s Community Security Trust also said that Rankin should go further and repudiate his remarks.

“It’s allegations about Jewish power over the media that distinguishes anti-Semitism from other forms of racism,” he said. “Rankin may well not be an anti-Semite, in which case he should learn not to spread the stink of antisemitic claims about Jews running the media and Hollywood.”

Rankin specializes in portrait and fashion photography. His subjects have included Britney Spears, Madonna, The Rolling Stones, Cate Blanchett, Queen Elizabeth II and Tony Blair.

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