The New York Times Must Show It’s Sorry, Not Just Say It
The New York Times‘ international edition recently published a blatantly antisemitic cartoon, depicting a blind President Trump being led by a dog with the face of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wearing a Star of David collar. Following public outcry denouncing the bigoted and racist nature of this image -– which unquestionably evokes imagery used to dehumanize, marginalize, and ultimately destroy the Jewish people — the Times issued statements apologizing for the publication of the image, and promising to correct what it identified as a simple managerial oversight. The editorial board even admitted that “[b]y publishing a bigoted cartoon, The Times ignored the lessons of history, including its own.”
Much ink has been spilled condemning the antisemitic message of the cartoon and the ignorance of the individuals who permitted this image to be published. But before that ink had even dried, it emerged that the international version of the Times had also published another image at around the same time, depicting a sinister-looking blind Netanyahu taking a selfie while hoisting a tablet, reminiscent of the Ten Commandments, bearing the Star of David.
While it is certainly true that one may legitimately criticize Israeli government policies without necessarily crossing the line of antisemitism, it is deplorable that the Times‘ international edition would be so insensitive as to allow this second image of Netanyahu to be published in such immediate temporal proximity to such a similar — and blatantly bigoted — image of the Israeli Prime Minister.
We call upon The New York Times to “put its money where its mouth is” in terms of denouncing antisemitism in the following manner:
1. Publish content that educates the public about 1940s Nazi propaganda cartoons, such as those printed below, and how the recent Times-published cartoons echo this dark history. This should include an explanation that such images have been used repeatedly throughout history to dehumanize the Jewish people, with the goal sometimes being their eventual elimination.
2. While cutting ties with the syndicate that supplied both the cartoons was a necessary step, the Times should also take appropriate remedial action against the individual(s) responsible for authorizing these two images to be published so close together, as their actions raise, at best, serious questions about their ability to make important discretionary decisions.
3. The Times should offer substantial space for thoughtful pieces concerning the current trend of antisemitism, including how to define and identify antisemitism, where and how it manifests itself, comparisons with historic forms of antisemitism, and the difference between legitimate criticism of Israeli governmental policies and antisemitism. The recent piece by the editorial board is a start, but it should be one of many. After all, if a lack of such education is responsible for the publication of either or both these recent cartoons, imagine the incidents of hate and bigotry that might be avoided if this education were made more widely available to the public.
Carly F. Gammill is the Director & Counsel for Litigation Strategy, Center for Combating Antisemitism for StandWithUs, an international Israel education organization.