Cartoonist Steve Bell denies accusations of anti-Semitism in cartoon rejected by The Guardian newspaper

 
Cartoonist Steve Bell denies accusations of anti-Semitism in cartoon rejected by The Guardian newspaper

The Guardian newspaper refused to publish this cartoon by Steve Bell, dated Wednesday 7 June, which criticised the killing of Palestinian volunteer nurse Razan al-Najar by an Israeli army sniper on 1 June.

The cartoon shows Theresa May sitting next to Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu in front of a fireplace, inside of which Razan al-Najar is burning. This scene corresponds to a recent meeting between the two leaders.

According to leaked emails, the cartoon was censored by the Guardian, which reportedly refused to speak to Steve Bell, using the usual accusations of 'anti-Semitism'.

In two emails to journalists, reproduced by HuffPost UK, Bell claimed he had been "unfairly betrayed". Following criticism from the paper's editor Katharine Viner, the cartoonist denied the use of anti-Semitic messages.

"I can't understand the criticism of the cartoon where you start talking about 'wood cookers', 'ovens', 'holocaust' or any other Nazi-related nonsense. That was the last thing on my mind when I drew it, I had no intention of combining the themes of the mass murder of European Jews and Gaza.

It is a fireplace in front of which VIP visitors to Downing Street are always portrayed (see page 12 of today's Times), and the figure of Razan al-Najar is burning in the fireplace. It is a well-known photograph of her, which is becoming iconic throughout the Arab world and the burning is, of course, symbolic. She is dead, she was shot and killed by the IDF while doing her job as a doctor.

The cartoon is sensitive, not tasteless, not disrespectful, and certainly does not contain anti-Semitic tropes. It should have been published as is, but if you are still adamant that it should not be published, then I feel obliged to try to salvage something from this fiasco".

Steve Bell (1951) has been drawing for The Guardian since 1981.

Anti-Semitism has always been the catch-all to try to silence any criticism, satire or opinion, even if there is no intention to spread prejudice or messages of hatred towards Jews.

On 15 May, a German newspaper fired its cartoonist, accusing him of "using anti-Semitic stereotypes in a cartoon".

Thanks to Samuel for the warning.

Related, more than 100 cases worldwide:

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