The Portuguese artist behind an anti-Semitic cartoon published in The New York Times International Edition on April 25 believes that the controversy around his drawing is the result of “the Jewish propaganda machine.”
António Moreira Antunes, who has been a professional cartoonist for 45 years, told CNN that the outrage around the cartoon is overblown.
“The Jewish right doesn’t want to be criticized, and therefore, when criticized they say ‘We are a persecuted people, we suffered a lot… this is anti-Semitism,’” Antunes said. He also noted that he has the “utmost respect” for Jewish history.
The cartoon in question showed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s face on the body of a dachshund dog, with a Star of David collar, leading President Donald Trump, depicted wearing a skullcap. Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt told CNN that the cartoon promoted “stereotypes that suggest Jewish control.”
This cartoon, which appeared in The New York Times’ international edition yesterday, is vile and inexcusable, especially at a time when attacks against Jews around the world are reaching levels not seen in decades. pic.twitter.com/pFGgrwtBPu— Melissa Weiss (@melissaeweiss) April 27, 2019
The New York Times publicly apologized for the cartoon, and publisher A.G. Sulzberger stated the Times would be “updating our unconscious bias training to ensure it includes a direct focus on anti-Semitism.” The Times has also ended their relationship with the syndicate from whom they purchased the cartoon and disciplined the production editor who approved the cartoon for publication.
Antunes refused to apologize for the cartoon. The Times, he said, “should see that here it’s a political issue and not religious,” and that people should not submit to the formulation that “any criticism of Israel is anti-Semitism.”
The Times cartoon is not the first time Antunes’s work has come under fire for anti-Semitism. In 1983 he drew a cartoon that showed Israeli soldiers holding Lebanese women and children at gunpoint, the Jerusalem Post reported, mimicking a well-known image from the Holocaust of Nazis tormenting Jews. That cartoon went on to win the top prize at that year’s Salon of Cartoons in Montreal.
PJ Grisar is the Forward’s culture intern. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org