The NYT cartoon leaves no doubt: “classic” Antisemitism is back!

May 1, 2019

A photo is worth a 1000 words. This means that it’ll take much more than a plain apology (with probably zero intention behind it) to erase what The New York Times did last week.

In case you missed it, the popular paper’s international print from Thursday included a cartoon showing “blind” Donald Trump holding Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, depicted as a dog on a leash. As you can see, this image contains several, clear, Antisemitic characteristics, most visible is Israeli PM being presented as a dog, having a particularly big nose, and wearing a star of David on his neck. A classic Antisemitic cartoon.

It didn’t take long for the backlash to begin, and on Saturday, NYT posted an editor note that’s said to be printed in Monday’s edition: “A political cartoon in the international print edition of The New York Times on Thursday included anti-Semitic tropes…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.”

The apology was not accepted by a lot of members of the Jewish community. The American Jewish Committee tweeted: “Apology not accepted. How many @nytimes editors looked at a cartoon that would not have looked out of place on a white supremacist website and thought it met the paper’s editorial standards? What does this say about your processes or your decision makers? How are you fixing it?”

Frankly, I’m with them. Apology not accepted, and, if you ask me, not really intended either. The New York Times has been leading an anti-Israel agenda for a long time now, and the line between that and Antisemitism is extremely fine.

This cartoon came out in perfect timing, actually. A week before our national Holocaust Remembrance Day, which is a great opportunity to contemplate on how far we’ve come on the one hand, and how close we are to having history repeat itself.

That NYT cartoon is a clear representation of classic Antisemitism. In comparison, look at this one, from 1940, showing Churchill led by what can be described as a classic anti- Semitic representation of a Jew. Can you spot the similarities?

This “classic” Antisemitism has been hidden for 7 decades almost. People were embarrassed to express their hateful, awful opinions, from the fear of being criticized and shut out from their communities. Those opinions, of the Jews running the world and being the reason for all the ills of society, were automatically compared to the ones held by the Nazis and their followers before and during WWII, and those who held them kept them tucked in, only letting them crawl out in the shadows.

But something has changed, and that’s a lot thanks to the “new” Antisemitism. The one that uses the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to legitimize Antisemitic opinions and ideas being expressed out loud. It hides behind the legitimate criticism over Israel’s way to handle the conflict, but if a discussion begins, it somehow always ends with “but the Jews…”

The New Antisemitism is not direct and straight forward. It does not compare Jews to vermin or directly ask people to carry on Hitler’s legacy. Instead, it uses an innocent and peaceful rhetoric to gradually delegitimize the state of Israel and the right of the Jewish people to their own country. By using the same method many anti-Israelis often use, the new anti-Semites create hatred toward the Jewish people as a group modernly turning us into a villain of some sort. With a fair share of lies and that peaceful rhetoric, “the Jew” becomes a person to blame for all the world’s suffering, and the Holocaust turns into an event that is only second to what the Palestinians are going through nowadays.

Instead of denying the Holocaust, this rhetoric wisely connects it with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict thus incites hatred toward “The Jews” for surviving the Holocaust and later forming an independent state. It is very important to remember that while the State of Israel often makes the connection between the Holocaust and the state (משואה לתקומה, From Holocaust to Heroism), it is not an actual narrative. Many of the Jews who founded the state of Israel lived there many years before the Holocaust took place.

The Holocaust has no direct relation with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The Genocide of the Jewish people did not directly cause the ongoing dispute over the small, strategic piece of land at the heart of the Middle East, and the survival of a few 70 years ago is heroism, not an attempt to bring suffering into the world. But with enough free time, malicious intentions and viral activity, any story can be believed to be the objective truth.

This “new” Antisemitism still exists, and The New York Times, even if not pushing is directly, takes part in helping those who do by taking a very imbalanced, anti-Israel agenda, that’s not always being pointed out in a way to allow people to activate their own judgement, but in the form of “fact framing.”

Therefore it’s hard for me to believe the sincerity of their apology. All they did was allowing themselves a bit more liberty, joining the new wave of the old, “classic” Antisemitism.

It didn’t happen overnight. It took some time. But slowly, they all stepped out of the shadows, not fearing to let their dark opinions be heard. They enjoyed the “new” Antisemitism and watched how it’s becoming legitimate to, basically, blame the Jews for stuff, and sought the opportunity to go all the way.

The problem? In the age of the interned, it has become very hard to stop them. And seeing that people who hold such dark, scary opinions are our next door neighbors (and not only tattooed skinheads,) makes it seem almost okay…

The “new” Antisemitism was very hard to stop, because it was hidden. We failed to stop it, and the old one kicked back in. We cannot allow cartoons such as the one published on NYT be published again! We cannot and should not rest until it becomes very clear that Hitler’s legacy has no place in today’s society. History CAN repeat itself. You can see it happening already in the form of businesses not allowing  Jews in, or in the form of Antisemitic cartoons being published in popular papers.

This is out chance to take a stand, without even leaving the comfort of our homes. We must take a sand behind our keyboards, and fight for the sanity of this society, before it will devour itself again.


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