German newspaper apologizes over ‘anti-Semitic’ Netanyahu Eurovision cartoon

German newspaper apologizes over ‘anti-Semitic’ Netanyahu Eurovision cartoon
A German daily newspaper has fired a cartoonist over an ‘anti-Semitic’ illustration of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, following Israel’s victory in the Eurovision song contest and the deaths of Palestinians in Gaza.

Süddeutsche Zeitung (SZ) published the cartoon of Netanyahu, mocked up as Eurovision winner Netta Barzilai, holding a missile marked with the Star of David on Tuesday. In the background, the Star of David can also be seen in place of the ‘V’ in a banner reading ‘Eurovision Song Contest.’ A speech bubble coming out of Netanyahu’s mouth reads: “Next year in Jerusalem.”

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The newspaper later apologized for the work of cartoonist Dieter Hanitzsch, with editor-in-chief Wolfgang Krach saying the illustration used anti-Semitic cliches.

“The cartoonist said he merely wanted to point out that next year’s contest will be held in Israel,” Krach said in a statement. “But one can also see it differently, and it could be considered anti-Semitic. Thus it was a mistake to publish it, and we apologize.”

Speaking to ‘Jüdische Allgemeine,’ a German-based Jewish newspaper, Hanitzsch refused to echo the newspaper’s apology.

"That the editors have apologized is their business. I do not apologize," he said. "I can criticize the Netanyahu policy, even as a German."

The 85-year-old cartoonist, who had been the centre of another incident of supposed anti-Semitism in 2016 after he depicted US foreign policy as an octopus holding a globe, was fired following his remarks. The German Press Council have now launched an inquiry into the cartoon.

One Twitter user claimed the depiction of Israel’s premier with “big ears” and holding a rocket is indicative of its anti-Semitic intent. Another social media user said the cartoon showed how “casually” anti-Semitism is being dealt with in 2018.  

Writing for the portal t-online, Jonas Mueller-Töwe said he believed the Star of David on the rocket could suggest that Jews are behind all wars.

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The cartoon controversy comes following the relocation of the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem on May 14. The move, which was celebrated by Netanyahu and his supporters, resulted in the deaths of at least 60 Palestinians after Israeli forces used live ammunition during protests along the fence separating Gaza and Israel.

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