Political Cartoon Raises Ire in Philadelphia

By Andrea Schleider

Published August 15, 2003, issue of August 15, 2003.
  • Print
  • Share Share

A recent cartoon published in the Philadelphia Inquirer criticizing Israel’s security fence is creating a tempest among Philadelphia’s Jewish community and major Jewish organizations.

Tony Auth, a Pulitzer Prize winner and staff editorial cartoonist for the Philadelphia Inquirer since 1971, illustrated a cartoon depicting Arabs cordoned into jail-like sections of a Jewish star. A number of readers and observers inferred a comparison between Israel’s security fence and a concentration camp in the cartoon, with many offended by the use of a giant Star of David as a restrictive symbol — rather than its representation as the national symbol of Israel and the Jewish people.

“Mr. Auth has the First Amendment right to express himself and is entitled to have his views about the Middle East conflict…. however, the imagery used to communicate this message is very problematic, very offensive and highly insensitive,” said Barry Morrison, the regional director of the eastern Pennsylvania and Delaware chapter of the Anti-Defamation League.

A representative from the Zionist Organization of America went further. “Tony Auth took our symbol of our people and turned it into a slur and a distortion and instead of a symbol of freedom, which it is, he was turning it into a symbol of imprisonment, which it is not,” said Steve Feldman, executive director of the Greater Philadelphia district of the ZOA. “Tony Auth has a history of drawing antisemitic cartoons, and the Inquirer has a history of being anti-Israel and distorting the news.”

The ZOA held a news conference on Monday demanding an apology from the paper. “We are hoping the Inquirer will not only apologize for this cartoon, which is deeply offensive to all Jewish people and all supporters of Israel, but will use this opportunity to present balanced and accurate coverage,” Feldman said.

Auth shot back at his critics. “No one who’s familiar with the body of my work can cling to this fantasy that I am an antisemite,” he told the Forward. “The Star of David is the symbol of the Israeli state. The cartoon clearly says that the State of Israel is building a fence in such a way that it separates Palestinians and is an obstacle to peace. That’s all it says. A drawing like that one I did is not done with glee; it’s done with sadness.” Auth added that he has been critical of Yasser Arafat, suicide bombings and both intifadas.

In response to the uproar, Amanda Bennett, the editor of the Philadelphia Inquirer, defended her paper’s actions. “I believe that it’s possible, particularly for a cartoonist, to take a critical position on a matter involving Israel without being labeled as antisemitic,” Bennett told the Forward.






Find us on Facebook!
  • When YA romance becomes "Hasidsploitation":
  • "I am wrapping up the summer with a beach vacation with my non-Jewish in-laws. They’re good people and real leftists who try to live the values they preach. This was a quality I admired, until the latest war in Gaza. Now they are adamant that American Jews need to take more responsibility for the deaths in Gaza. They are educated people who understand the political complexity, but I don’t think they get the emotional complexity of being an American Jew who is capable of criticizing Israel but still feels a deep connection to it. How can I get this across to them?"
  • “'I made a new friend,' my son told his grandfather later that day. 'I don’t know her name, but she was very nice. We met on the bus.' Welcome to Israel."
  • A Jewish female sword swallower. It's as cool as it sounds (and looks)!
  • Why did David Menachem Gordon join the IDF? In his own words: "The Israel Defense Forces is an army that fights for her nation’s survival and the absence of its warriors equals destruction from numerous regional foes. America is not quite under the threat of total annihilation… Simply put, I felt I was needed more in Israel than in the United States."
  • Leonard Fein's most enduring legacy may be his rejection of dualism: the idea that Jews must choose between assertiveness and compassion, between tribalism and universalism. Steven M. Cohen remembers a great Jewish progressive:
  • BREAKING: Missing lone soldier David Menachem Gordon has been found dead in central Israel. The Ohio native was 21 years old.
  • “They think they can slap on an Amish hat and a long black robe, and they’ve created a Hasid." What do you think of Hollywood's portrayal of Hasidic Jews?
  • “I’ve been doing this since I was a teenager. I didn’t think I would have to do it when I was 90.” Hedy Epstein fled Nazi Germany in 1933 on a Kinderstransport.
  • "A few decades ago, it would have been easy to add Jews to that list of disempowered victims. I could throw in Leo Frank, the victim of mob justice; or otherwise privileged Jewish men denied entrance to elite universities. These days, however, we have to search a lot harder." Are you worried about what's going in on #Ferguson?
  • Will you accept the challenge?
  • In the six years since Dothan launched its relocation program, 8 families have made the jump — but will they stay? We went there to find out:
  • "Jewish Israelis and West Bank Palestinians are witnessing — and living — two very different wars." Naomi Zeveloff's first on-the-ground dispatch from Israel:
  • This deserves a whistle: Lauren Bacall's stylish wardrobe is getting its own museum exhibit at Fashion Institute of Technology.
  • How do you make people laugh when they're fighting on the front lines or ducking bombs?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.