Cartoonist fired for cartoon critical of Netanyahu’s nation-state law

 
 
Dibujante despedido por una viñeta crítica con la ley del Estado Nación de Netanyahu

On Tuesday 17 July, The Jerusalem Report, a fortnightly magazine published by the Israeli daily The Jerusalem Post, announced that it was dropping cartoonist Avi Katz (1949) over a cartoon, published in the magazine the same day, that caricatured Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Likud lawmakers as pigs.

The cartoon is a parody of this AP group photo showing Netanyahu with a group of Likud lawmakers after the passage of the new Nation State Law that officially defines Israel as the “Nation State of the Jewish people”.

Cartoonist fired for cartoon critical of Netanyahu's nation-state law

Katz’s illustration makes an obvious reference/homage to George Orwell’s Animal Farm, even adding the well-known phrase “All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others”. Katz also called this law shameful on his Facebook page.

Many took to social media to accuse the author of anti-Semitism for a change, and The Jerusalem Post decided that it would no longer publish any more of Katz’s work.

The paper declined to qualify its decision and announced it without explanation:

“Avi Katz is a cartoonist who worked as a freelancer at the Jerusalem Post and according to editorial considerations, it was decided not to continue the relationship with him.” (Source)

Later, the paper continued to ambiguously defend the dismissal of the political cartoonist by arguing that the decision to stop using his work was because he “blatantly crossed” the boundaries of its editorial standards.

The publisher said:

“This was not an easy decision to make. On the one hand, we believe strongly in freedom of expression, and especially in the right of our opinion writers and cartoonists to express themselves without pressure or intimidation from outside forces. On the other hand, all freedoms, including freedom of expression, have their limits”.

The Jerusalem Post said that “this cartoon should not have been published”.(Source)

Avi Katz, born in Philadelphia (USA) in 1949, worked for The Jerusalem Report for nearly three decades. He travelled to Israel in 1970 and has lived there ever since. In 1990 he began working for the magazine that fired him this week.

The daily Haaretz came out in response to those who consider caricaturing Israeli politicians as pigs to be anti-Semitic he recalled that in 1980 it published a very similar cartoon.

“Haaretz published a cartoon 38 years ago depicting Israeli leaders as pigs. No one was fired.

Cartoonist fired for cartoon critical of Netanyahu's nation-state law

Zeev’s cartoon published on 15 May 1980 in Haaretz which also used the symbolism of Animal Farm.

Zeev’s cartoons depicted cabinet ministers, former Prime Minister Menachem Begin and then Defence Minister Ariel Sharon as pigs, and opposition leaders Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres as horses and donkeys. Zeev did not lose his job.

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