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Dominic Green Faith Life Media

The New York Times’s latest error of judgment: this anti-Semitic cartoon

It’s all about the ‘tropes’

April 27, 2019

1:57 PM

27 April 2019

1:57 PM

Easter worshippers who opened Thursday’s copy of the International Edition of the New York Times were treated to a cartoon to warm the cockles of white supremacists, Islamists and lovers of ‘Edelweiss’ everywhere. The cartoon, apparently by a Portuguese artist named Antonio Antunes Moreira of Espresso, depicted a blind Donald Trump, resplendent in the kippah he wears at all times except when the cameras are near, being led by Benjamin Netanyahu in the form of a sausage dog, wearing the Star of David dog collar that all sausage dogs wear.

Some people published something, and now all those over-sensitive Jews are blaming the entire New York Times for it. How thin-skinned they are. I mean, it’s not like this cartoon says that a tiny country on the other side of the world controls the president of the most powerful country in the world.

It’s not like this cartoon implies this alleged manipulation is religious in inspiration, hence the kippah and the Star of David necklace, as if that might be the source of the malignant and magical power that this tiny people exerts over global politics.

It’s not like the image of the ‘Jewish dog’ as manipulator has any resonance in European Christian culture. ‘As the dog Jew did utter in the streets, “My daughter, O my ducats”,’ Salarino says in the line that isn’t in The Merchant of Venice.

It’s not as if the same image of the Jewish dog has any resonance among Muslims, whose holy book promises the transformation of Jews and Christians into apes, pigs and dogs.

It’s not as if this classic European anti-Semitism, combined with what dog breeders would call a novel crossbreeding with themes rampant in the Jew-hating Arab and Muslim world.

It’s not, because none of it is real. This, at least, is the argument of the morally enfeebled non-apology that the Times’s New York office emitted after all the touchy Twitter Jews complained.

‘A political cartoon in the international print edition of The New York Times on Thursday included anti-Semitic tropes, depicting the prime minister of Israel as a guide dog with a Star of David collar, leading the president of the United States, shown wearing a skullcap. The image was offensive, and it was an error of judgment to publish it. It was provided by the New York Times News Service and Syndicate, which has since deleted it.’

So it’s not real. It’s only ‘tropes’, rhetorical devices. Nothing to do with reality, or the disgraceful rise in violence against Jews in both Europe and the United States, let alone the genocidal incitement and conspiracy mongering that runs through the collective life of the Internet like an open sewer.

The image is ‘offensive’, but then, so are those full-color photos of terrorist bombings that the Times puts on its front cover. Atrocity photos are no less offensive for being true. It’s just a matter of taste, isn’t it? Like the moral arbiters of the Times say, you have to use your ‘judgment’. And when you make ‘an error of judgment’, you put the whole non-apology in the passive tense and pass the buck down the chain of command, so it’s clear that whatever happened wasn’t your fault, but that of some unidentified third party.

What the Times should have said was:

‘We ran a blatantly anti-Semitic cartoon. At a time when anti-Jewish violence and incitement is at levels not seen since 1945, we chose to place gutter racism on our pages. We did this because plenty of our editors share the prejudice of this cartoon; if in doubt, look at our unsigned editorials.

‘We’re so soaked in this that none of us thought that it might be an error to publish a cartoon with clear precursors in fascist, communist, Arab nationalist and Islamist propaganda. Rather than explain this away in the passive tense, we’re going to  name the editors who signed off on this cartoon, and fire them.’

Of course, the Times will do none of this. There won’t be a comparative demonstration of why this kind of imagery is so obnoxious, because the Times is histrionically sensitive to giving offense to any group except the groups that it identifies as objects of contempt: Republicans, white Southerners, Easter worshippers, people who like Brexit, and ‘Zionists’, a euphemism which one recent survey counted as 92 percent of American Jews.

Nor will there be any kind of acknowledgment that the publication of this cartoon reflects the unexamined moral rot of the left in Europe and the United States, in which anti-Semitism and conspiracy theories, whether about Jews or Russian ‘collusion’, play so central a role.

‘Anti-Semitism is back, from the Left, Right and Islamist extremes,’ in-house goysplainer Patrick Kingsley wondered in the Times earlier this month. ‘Why?’

The answer, Kingsley insinuated, is that it’s the Jews’ fault. Or rather, the Israelis’ fault, because they keep voting for Netanyahu, and because anti-Zionism is never, never, never to be confused with anti-Semitism. Because depicting the Israeli prime minister as controlling the American president is just a matter of anti-Zionist principle, right?

Wrong. Fortunately, there are voices at the Times who have spoken out bravely on these matters, and can speak out on this episode. I look forward to reading Bret Stephens’s next column after seeing this cartoon, and a discussion of the profound ethical failure that its publication represents in Bari Weiss’s forthcoming book, How to Fight Anti-Semitism.


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