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May 18, 2018 11:54 am

German Newspaper Drops Cartoonist After Netanyahu Drawing

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Photo: Reuters / Amir Cohen.

German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung said it had ended its decades-long collaboration with cartoonist Dieter Hanitzsch after he depicted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu using “antisemitic cliches.”

Editor-in-chief Wolfgang Krach said publishing the cartoon, carried in the May 15 issue of the daily, was a mistake and he apologized to readers.

Krach later said the cartoon used “antisemitic cliches” when it showed Netanyahu in the attire of Israeli Eurovision entrant Netta Barzilai, who won the 2018 contest on Saturday.

Holding a rocket with the Star of David on it in one hand and a microphone in the other, Netanyahu is shown in the cartoon saying: “Next year in Jerusalem.”

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The 85-year-old cartoonist said he wanted to criticize Netanyahu’s exploitation of the Eurovision contest for his own purposes and accused Netanyahu of abusing the singer’s victory.

Netanyahu used the phrase, the toast traditionally given each year during the Jewish festival of Passover, in a congratulatory tweet. “You brought a lot of respect to the State of Israel,” he wrote. “Next year in Jerusalem!”

It attracted even greater attention in the context of the relocation of the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem that weekend. Many of Netanyahu’s supporters celebrated the move as a triumph for the longtime Israeli leader.

Publication of the cartoon also came just a day after IDF troops shot dead dozens of Palestinians who were trying to breach the Israel-Gaza Strip border during a Hamas-orchestrated riot.

Hanitzsch told German broadcaster RND on Thursday that he found Netanyahu’s phrase “problematic … It really does not help to pour even more oil onto the fire.”

But Sueddeutsche Zeitung editor-in-chief Krach told the same broadcaster that he saw the cartoon as anti-Semitic and that the newspaper had ended its relationship with the cartoonist.

The German Press Council launched an inquiry to determine whether the cartoon was antisemitic after readers had complained that the image “reminded them of the antisemitic language of Nazi times,” the council’s spokeswoman told Reuters.

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