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Daily Briefing: Cartoon Backlash Continues (May 3, 2019)

Source: Adam Jones/Flickr


How an Antisemitic Cartoon Ended Up in The New York Times:  Brian Stelter, Hadas Gold, and Oliver Darcy, CNN Business, May 1, 2019 — Reporters in The New York Times (NYT) newsroom could hear the protesters outside on Monday. “Shame on you!” they shouted. Some held signs that accused the newspaper of being anti-Semitic. Others waved American and Israeli flags.
Dershowitz: Antisemitic Cartoons, Antisemitic Synagogue Shootings: Alan Dershowitz, The Hill, Apr. 29, 2019 — One of the weapons of hate against Jews deployed by Nazi Germany were cartoons and caricatures that depicted Jews as subhuman animals, often as dogs or spiders.
A Hatred of Israel Is the One Thing All Antisemites Have in Common:  David Harsanyi, The Federalist, Apr. 29, 2019 — “The past few days provide a useful case study,” The New York Times’ Bari Weiss wrote this weekend. “Thursday: an anti-Zionist cartoon is published in the Times. Saturday: a white nationalist guns down Jews in a synagogue. Sunday: Javad Zarif appears on Fox. The three strands of modern antisemitism: far-left, far-right and Islamist.”
“Socialism”, Antisemitism, and America’s Democratic Party:  Frederick Krantz, Israfax, Apr. 2019 — The United States is witnessing today several linked phenomena of profound importance and danger for both Israel and the world. The Democratic Party risks being taken over by a faction calling itself “progressive” or “democratic socialist” and distancing itself from Jews and from the Party’s traditional support for the State of Israel. In doing so, this faction is following a well-trodden, and dangerous, historical-political path.


On Topic Links


Cartoon Scandal: New York Times Keeps Digging:  Simon Plosker, Honest Reporting, Apr. 30, 2019 — When HonestReporting first addressed the publication of a blatantly antisemitic cartoon in The New York Times International Edition, it was only the beginning of a wave of revulsion to hit the newspaper.
Rafi Eitan, 92, Israeli Spymaster Who Caught Eichmann, Is Dead: Joseph Berger, NYT, Mar. 23, 2019 — Rafi Eitan, the canny Israeli spymaster who commanded the Nazi-hunting team that captured Adolf Eichmann in Argentina and many years later was unmasked as the handler of Jonathan Jay Pollard, the American Navy intelligence analyst who pleaded guilty to passing on more than 1,000 secret documents to the Israelis, died on Saturday in Tel Aviv. He was 92.
Robert Fulford: The Spies Who Helped Make Israel:  Robert Fulford, National Post, Mar. 30, 2019 — Before Israel existed, when it was more aspiration than reality, it had spies investigating the Arab militia and the British troops, reporting back to Palmach, the underground force that eventually developed into a part of the Israel Defence Forces.
Egon Balas, Jailed and Tortured in Romania, Found Salvation in Math: James R. Hagerty, WSJ, March 30, 2019 — As a Jewish teenager in Romania in the 1930s, Egon Balas was curious about math, physics and girls.



Brian Stelter, Hadas Gold, and Oliver Darcy
CNN Business, May 1, 2019

Reporters in The New York Times (NYT) newsroom could hear the protesters outside on Monday. “Shame on you!” they shouted. Some held signs that accused the newspaper of being antisemitic. Others waved American and Israeli flags. The demonstrators packed Eighth Avenue in New York City in response to a recent cartoon that was baldly antisemitic. The image appeared in international editions of The Times last Thursday. It called to mind “a very dark time in Jewish history,” lawyer Alan Dershowitz said at the protest. “I ask myself, how could it have happened?”

That’s what staffers at The Times wanted to know too. In interviews this week, 16 Times staffers described a short-staffed international publication; an opinion section prone to self-inflicted wounds; and an ongoing debate about the newspaper’s biases and blind spots. They said the episode has prompted embarrassment inside the newspaper. But several staffers said they were impressed by a set of changes that Times publisher A.G. Sulzberger announced on Wednesday.

Still, the discussions continue. Some of the paper’s critics say it has a deep-rooted cultural problem when it comes to Israel and anti-Semitism. Others reject that charge completely, saying the publication of the offensive cartoon was simply the result of an overworked editor. “I don’t think anyone in our office believes for one second there is an issue with institutionalized antisemitism at the NYT,” one staffer in an international bureau said. “But as with all newsrooms that have gone through radical restructuring in recent years, that so many checks and balances have been removed and that this could go up without being seen by a second pair of eyes makes reporters and editors alike concerned.”

Like most of the others interviewed for this story, the staffer insisted on anonymity to speak candidly about their employer.

James Bennet, the editor in charge of the Opinion section, declined to be interviewed. But on Wednesday he published an editorial criticizing, in effect, his own department. “Apologies are important,” the editorial board said, “but the deeper obligation of The Times is to focus on leading through unblinking journalism and the clear editorial expression of its values.”

Later in the day, Sulzberger spoke out about the cartoon for the first time. He wrote in an internal memo that “we are taking disciplinary steps” with the editor involved and making a series of procedural changes to “ensure adequate oversight.” For one thing, there will be no more syndicated cartoons. “Our journalists work hard every day to help people understand a vast and diverse world and ensure prejudices of any kind do not make it into our report,” he said in the memo. “Though I’ve been assured there was no malice involved in this mistake, we fell far short of our standards and values in this case.” Those are much stronger words than the newspaper originally used to address the controversy.

Portuguese artist António Moreira Antunes has been drawing political cartoons for 45 years. He recently decided to take on the relationship between U.S. President Donald Trump and recently re-elected Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The result was an image of a Netanyahu as a dog on a leash, Star of David around his neck, held by a blind Trump wearing sunglasses and a yarmulke… [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.]



Alan Dershowitz
The Hill, Apr. 29, 2019


One of the weapons of hate against Jews deployed by Nazi Germany were cartoons and caricatures that depicted Jews as subhuman animals, often as dogs or spiders. So, when The New York Times international edition published a cartoon over the weekend portraying Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as a dog wearing a Star of David, its editors should not have been surprised at the outraged reaction to the controversy.

The New York Times is not some marginal newspaper that traditionally peddles bigoted cartoons. It is known for its careful editing and sensitivity concerning race and ethnicity. Its international edition is the American newspaper of record around the world, and particularly in Europe. So, when it published a cartoon employing antisemitic tropes at a time of increasing anti-Semitism in Europe, that decision became newsworthy.

To be sure, the Times has now acknowledged that the decision was wrong and has apologized. But that is not enough. Its editors must explain how this bigoted cartoon made it into the print edition. Which editors approved its publication? What was their reasoning? Has there been accountability for what the Times acknowledges was a mistake? What steps have been taken to prevent a recurrence of this?

The reason this a big deal is not only that this was published in the Times. It is also because the cartoon is a sign of the times. Both in Europe and the United States, but especially in Europe, we see a dangerous phenomenon of increasing tolerance, especially on the left, of anti-Semitic tropes, images, and stereotypes so long as they are directed against Israel.

Even some left-wing Jewish publications are not exempt from this virus. The Forward published an opinion piece justifying a crude cartoon that ran in the official University of California at Berkeley newspaper, depicting me as a predatory spider stomping on innocent Palestinians. The headline on the Forward column was “No, that Alan Dershowitz cartoon wasn’t anti-Semitic.” The reason its editors gave is the cartoon is “true” because Israel does kill Palestinians and defenders of Israel, like me, are “deceptive.”

I am sure the editors of Der Sturmer, a Nazi propaganda tabloid published in Germany during World War II, offered similar justifications that there are some deceptive and violent Jews. The real issue, avoided by the Forward and by the Times editors who authorized publishing the cartoon, is the use of Der Sturmer type imagery dehumanizing Jews by depicting them as dogs and spiders that control the world by deception and violence.

Context is critically important. In Europe and in Berkeley, the context is increasing anti-Semitism that is deemed acceptable by many on the left as long as it is directed at the nation state of the Jewish people and its leaders and defenders. Today, Israel is the Jew among nations and has increasingly become the object of historic anti-Jewish stereotyping.

The distance between the offices of The New York Times international edition and the Chabad synagogue in San Diego, which a gunman attacked on Saturday, is growing smaller as the reach of the internet is growing larger… [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.]



David Harsanyi
The Federalist, Apr. 29, 2019


“The past few days provide a useful case study,” The New York Times’ Bari Weiss wrote this weekend. “Thursday: an anti-Zionist cartoon is published in the Times. Saturday: a white nationalist guns down Jews in synagogue. Sunday: Javad Zarif appears on Fox. The three strands of modern antisemitism: far-left, far-right and Islamist.”

Although Weiss correctly identifies the three strands of contemporary Jew-hatred, none of them are truly modern. To various degrees, Islamic antisemitism has been prevalent for a long time. Left-wing antisemitism is old as Marx (and, really, even older.) And right-wing nationalist antisemitism has been with us since the concept was birthed in Europe.

The only truly modern component found in all three strands is Israel. Anti-Israel sentiment is already the predominant justification for violence, murder, and hatred against Jews in the Middle East and Europe. Now it’s coming here. Sometimes it’s merely a transparent excuse for animosity, other times it’s the spark for that hatred. But almost always a part of it.

The Passover shooting at the Poway Chabad synagogue in suburban San Diego was perpetrated by a 19-year-old gunman who seems to have acted alone. The man hadn’t cooked up his ugly ideas reading “Mein Kampf” in a cabin in the deep wilderness of Red America, but in a comfortable home in Southern California using the internet. The shooter wasn’t raised under the shadow of a Robert E. Lee statue or a Confederate flag, but in a substantially diverse area in a deeply liberal state.

As far as we know, he didn’t grow up in poverty, nor had any Jewish person done anything to personally undermine him. In fact, the shooter almost surely interacted with all types of races, ethnicities, and faiths on a daily basis. If reports are correct, the murderer of Lori Gilbert Kaye was from a churchgoing family and good student at Cal State University San Marcos, a university that earns an “A” in diversity.

The shooter’s manifesto makes clear that he didn’t kill because of Donald Trump or some alleged dog whistle or a New York Times cartoon or any concerted ideological cause other than hatred. Although we shouldn’t put too much thought into his vile rantings, the man was clearly a racist who detested Jews and “Zionists” because he saw them as the enemies of white people.

Now, we can “confront” these xenophobic murderers all day long, but they don’t really care about your emotional condemnations or your rallies or your PSAs. It’s unlikely that we can shame them. The shooter’s rhetoric, thankfully, is already unacceptable in mainstream American discourse.

The only antisemitism still widely used in public discourse is the kind masquerading as “anti-Zionism.” That is why there was warranted outrage when The New York Times’s international edition publishes a Der Sturmer-style cartoon and when members of Congress protect a woman who has persistently smeared Americans Jews as money-grubbing interlopers and when progressive activists march behind those who embrace the most noxious anti-Semitic notions imaginable.

Now, a Jew-baiting cartoon or an ugly tweet isn’t going to shoot you. But anti-Israel rhetoric doesn’t just hurt feelings, it leads to policy that puts people in danger. It is why, whatever the intentions were behind the Iran deal, many Jews were rightly disturbed when the antagonist Obama administration made a sweetheart agreement and sent pallets of cash to a Holocaust-denying terror state that openly threatens to throw six million Jews into an “inferno.” It’s a bit on-the-nose.

Since Israel is increasingly detested by the American left—often for the very same reasons the United States is detested—progressives have also been increasingly comfortable attacking Jews or defending those who do. And no, these people aren’t merely being “critical of Israel.” The New York Times cartoon depicting Trump as a blind man being led by the Star of David-bedecked Benjamin Netanyahu was a pictorial interpretation of a paranoid grievance that many anti-Israel progressives and paleocons have been peddling for years: that Jews control the U.S. government… [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.]



Israfax, Apr. 2019


The United States is witnessing today several linked phenomena of profound importance and danger for both Israel and the world. The Democratic Party risks being taken over by a faction calling itself “progressive” or “democratic socialist” and distancing itself from Jews and from the Party’s traditional support for the State of Israel. In doing so, this faction is following a well-trodden, and dangerous, historical-political path.

We are by now familiar with the anti-Israel and antisemitic positions of the new Democratic Party Congresswomen Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib, echoed by the self-proclaimed socialist Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. We are aware of the ongoing refusal of members of this Party to dissociate themselves from the likes of the “Black Muslim” anti-Semite Louis Farrakhan and the “Reverends” Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, and have witnessed Party leader Nancy Pelosi’s ignominious inability explicitly to condemn Omar’s antisemitism, instead lumping it together with “homophobia”, “Islamophobia”, and “white nationalism” in a vacuous statement disingenuously condemning a vague and fuzzy “racism”.

And we have watched as five of the leading declared Democratic Presidential candidates refused to attend the annual AIPAC meeting in D.C. They did so for politically-correct reasons, to avoid a negative association with an organization attacked by pro-Palestinian “progressives” and anti- “Jewish lobby” leftists because it supports democratic Jewish Israel. This in the Party of Harry Truman, who first recognized the Jewish State in 1948 and which once boasted such strong pro-Israel figures as Presidents Lyndon B. Johnson and Bill Clinton, and Senators Hubert Humphrey, Henry Jackson, and Daniel Moynihan.

The hallmark of this “new antisemitism” is a replacement of the Jew as the focus of religious or racial hatred by political hatred of Israel, the Jewish state. To be “anti-Zionist” is not antisemitic because, supposedly, one no longer hates Jews, but only their self-evidently illegitimate political expression, the State of Israel. We are asked to believe that seeking the genocidal destruction of the only Jewish state in existence (the functional Endziel or goal of the BDS campaign), is not antisemitic, but an act of righteous political virtue.

Precisely this nauseating high moral dudgeon on the part of the same old low and vulgar hatred describes the not-so-new “new” antisemitism, and its socialist proponents. The latter, wrapped in political amnesia and willful historical unknowing, ignore the long, sad, vicious and failed history of all formerly known forms of “socialism” and communism, from the early 19th c. “utopian” socialists (Fourier and St. Simon), to Marx and Engels later, through Lenin, Stalin, and Bolshevism-Communism, to Venezuela’s Maduro today.

Despite its proclaimed idealistic egalitarianism, socialism-communism everywhere has ended in unfreedom, poverty, and dictatorship. Everywhere, it has entailed human suffering, murder, and millions upon millions of Gulag victims. And everywhere it has empowered antisemitism and the repression of Judaism.

These incontrovertible facts, and the incontrovertible socialism-antisemitism nexus, are mirrored in the resurgent American avatars of progressive “democratic socialism”.

How, in the most powerful democracy in the world at the height of its material and political power, many (including advantaged campus young people) have come to this ugly pass is worth examining. But for now, let’s cut to the chase and ask a key question: Who in 2020 will seek to be the American version of Britain’s anti-Semitic radical socialist Labour Party leader, Jeremy Corbyn?

Who will try to take over a once-great political party, vaunting the new antisemitic anti-Israelism as a sign of his (or her) egalitarian commitment? Who — dangling before a dazzled people the utopian plums of a “Green Industrial Revolution”, a guaranteed income and cheap medicine for all, abolition of the Electoral College, and a restored, virginal planet Earth — will try to lead America to the promised socialist land?

And who, ignoring the American Founding Fathers’ emphasis on freedom and liberty, and their insistence on checked and balanced government, will try to ride a distorted “progressive” emphasis on exclusionary “diversity” and abstract equality to plebiscitary power? Will it be the millionaire socialist, Bernie Sanders? The populist “Pocahontas”, Elizabeth Warren? “Spartacus” Booker? Bouncing Beto O’Rourke? Or some other, as yet, unheralded rough beast, already slouching to D.C.?

Whoever it is, concerned Democrats, and Americans generally, must call out and oppose this threatening “new” antisemitism and its “democratic socialist” carapace. Above all, it is crucial to remember history and to reaffirm the “old”, and at once classical-liberal and conservative, democratic vision. It is rooted in Biblical Israel’s Judaic insistence on justice, due process, and each person’s God-given rights, and responsibilities, this vision, tested and adapted across millennia of Western history. And it came to underlay the unique American Republic, founded not upon blood and soil but on ideas and values. America is dedicated to embodying the inalienable rights and well-being not of the State or Party, but of the individual.

As we celebrate this Passover season of liberation from slavery into freedom, reborn, democratic Jewish Israel in its dangerous neighborhood successfully held an open and free election. America, Israel’s sister democracy and only reliable ally, must fight the new “progressive” socialism-antisemitism with all its intellectual, moral, and political strength. In doing so, we should all remember the title of repentant Italian communist Ignazio Silone’s eloquent 1949 collection, one of the great works of post-World War II modernity: The God That Failed.

(Prof. Frederick Krantz, Director of the Canadian Institute for Jewish Research, is Editor of its ISRAFAX quarterly)

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