La Presse de Montreal withdraws cartoon of Netanyahu over anti-Semitism allegations, apologises


Accusations of anti-Semitism in the face of any criticism of the State of Israel or its prime minister for the ongoing genocide are now a regular occurrence. Rare is the day when we do not encounter one.

Now it is the turn of Canadian cartoonist Serge Chapleau, who has seen his cartoon published on 20 March withdrawn from the Montreal digital newspaper La Presse and the medium apologised for having published it.

The apology is signed by Stéphanie Grammond, editor-in-chief of La Presse since 2021.

No excuses

La Presse apologises for the cartoon entitled"Nosfenyahou, en route to Rafah" published on Wednesday. The cartoon showed Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu contemplating an offensive in the southern Gaza Strip town of Rafah, where many Palestinians have taken refuge.

The drawing was intended as a criticism of Netanyahu's policies. It was directed at the Israeli government, not the Jewish people.

It was unfortunate to depict the Prime Minister as the vampire Nosferatu, as this film character was used by Nazi propaganda during World War II, as readers pointed out to us after publication.

Our cartoonist Serge Chapleau points out that it was never his intention to convey anti-Semitic remarks or harmful stereotypes. La Presse has already denounced the deplorable rise of anti-Semitism since the beginning of the war, both in Quebec and around the world. Today we reiterate the importance of combating hatred against the Jewish people.

The cartoon has been removed from all our platforms. Our apologies to all those who have been offended.

From the Canadian Cartoonists' Association(ACC), the authors say they are disappointed with La Presse for not defending the author of the cartoon and have issued a statement.

In the last 24 hours our Montreal La Presse colleague Serge Chapleau has been accused of anti-Semitism because of his latest cartoon of Benjamin Netanyahu.

Extract from the note on CBC/Radio-Canada:

The following news story contains an image that has been criticised as anti-Semitic.

A political cartoon in a French-language newspaper depicting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as a vampire has sparked accusations of anti-Semitism.

The cartoon appeared in Wednesday's edition of La Presse, a prestigious online newspaper. It shows Netanyahu with long claws, pointed ears and wearing an overcoat, images reminiscent of Count Orlok, a vampire in the 1922 silent film Nosferatu.

In the cartoon, Netanyahu stands on a boat above an inscription that reads "Nosfenyahou, en route to Rafah."

Politicians, including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and Jewish leaders criticised the cartoon, calling it anti-Semitic and reminiscent of Nazi propaganda against Jews.

Serge Chapleau, the cartoonist who drew it, rejected the criticism in an interview with the CBC and said he did not believe it was anti-Semitic.

However, by late morning, the cartoon no longer appeared on La Presse's website and the newspaper issued an apology.

Statement by the Association of Canadian Cartoonists(ACC)

Fellow cartoonist Serge Chapleau of La Presse has had a cartoon of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu censored on the charge of being anti-Semitic.

This is a very sensitive issue for cartoonists, perhaps at the top of the pyramid of cartooning dilemmas.

Caricaturing world leaders as villains or mythical monsters is standard practice almost everywhere, and Netanyahu should be no exception.

As professional cartoonists we are well aware of the grotesque history of abuse of Jewish individuals in graphic works and cartoons, especially by the Nazis as hate propaganda.

In our view, Mr. Chapleau's description of Netanyahu as Nosferatu is not an attack on Israelis or the Jewish people in general, but rather a very strong statement about a controversial world leader during a major conflict.

The cartoonist's task is always to punch upwards and counter abuses of power, regardless of the nation or background of the subject. This cartoon does not punch down.

While this cartoon may be shocking and distasteful to some, we do not consider it anti-Semitic, and to accuse Mr Chapleau, a cartoonist of great sophistication, of this is something we wholeheartedly disagree with.

We are very disappointed with La Presse for not supporting its cartoonist.

Members of the Canadian Cartoonists' Association

Wes Tyrell - Chairman
Sue Dewar
Graeme MacKay
Andy Donato
Dan Murphy
Guy Badeaux

Source of the press release: Bado's Blog by the Canadian cartoonist Guy Badeaux.

La Presse de Montreal withdraws cartoon of Netanyahu over anti-Semitism allegations, apologises

Humour in trouble, a collection of cases
Cases of cartoonists who have had problems of some importance because of their cartoons or satirical illustrations. There are also some stories of other people who, without being cartoonists, have got into trouble for sharing them.

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