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Media Analyses





Evolution of a Cartoon


In recent months, many Americans have been dismayed to see mainstream media outlets publishing cartoons with anti-Israel and anti-Semitic images reminiscent of Nazi-era propaganda. (See CAMERA analysis of Chicago Tribune cartoon.) The latest such drawing is one by syndicated cartoonist Tony Auth of United Press Syndicate in which a Star of David fences off Palestinians. Not only is the message about the purpose and impact of the fence completely inaccurate, its use of a Jewish religious symbol to excoriate the Jewish state evokes anti-Semitic cartoons popular in Nazi Germany and in the Arab press.

Echoing Anti-Semitic Imagery

Immediately below is the cartoon by Tony Auth which appeared in the Seattle Times, Philadelphia Inquirer and online editions of the Washington Post and New York Times on July 31, 2003. Underneath it are Arab press and Nazi-era cartoons it closely resembles. One (left) appeared in Jordan's Al-Rai a year and a half ago on December 4, 2002; the other, uncovered by blogger Mike Silverman and brought to public attention by Charles Johnson (“Echoes of Nazism,” Aug. 4, 2003) was drawn by leading Nazi cartoonist Josef Plank, known as “Seppla” and dates to the mid-1930’s. Seppla frequently depicted Jews as taking over the world.

 Tony Auth
July 31, 2003

 Your Image

 Al-Rai [Jordan]
December 4. 2002
(MEMRI)

 Nazi Propagandist Josef Plank or “Seppla”
Mid-1930's
(LGF, Charles Johnson)

 Your Image

 Your Image

Cartoon False, Biased and Unfair

CAMERA received many complaints about Auth's cartoon and contacted the syndicate, United Press Syndicate, which distributed it, as well as the newspapers that ran it.

While the fence does restrict Palestinian entrance into Israel, such entrance is not a right, anymore than entrance into the U.S. from Mexico is a right. It is wrong to portray the fence as a device to imprison Palestinians, when in fact it was built only after an unprecedented wave of Palestinian terrorism which in less than three years has killed more than 800 Israelis and maimed thousands — some as they slept in their beds, some celebrating Passover, others eating pizza and many riding buses. The bottom line, if there were no Palestinian terror war, there would be no fence. Auth and those who published his cartoon effectively blamed the victim and denied Israel's right to defend itself.

Do they similarly publish cartoons that criticize other nations’ security measures, such as the aforementioned barrier on the U.S.- Mexican border?

In addition, the use of the Jewish Star as a vehicle to assail Israel is especially objectionable. Would these same newspapers publish cartoons that similarly present a Christian Cross to deplore the actions of Christian countries or the Islamic Crescent to fault Muslim countries?  

Many readers were also troubled that Auth's drawing seemed reminiscent of Holocaust images — the herding together of innocent civilians and their confinement in cage-like camps. Such comparison is, of course, outrageous and false, ignoring  the actual conditions of Palestinians as well as the defensive rationale of the fence being built.

UPDATE: United Press Syndicate Brushes Off Criticism, Inquirer Defends Cartoon as Opinion

Lee Salem, editor of the United Press Syndicate distributing the cartoon brushed off concerns about the cartoon. He responded that it is UPS’s job “to distribute editorial columns and cartoons across a broad spectrum of opinion, some of which are sure to antagonize some readers, somewhere.” Referring to Auth as an “opinionist,” he defended the decision by pointing to the “various occasions” on which UPS was “labeled anti-Arab, anti-Muslim, anti-Israel, anti-Semitic, anti-Catholic, anti-Christian, and a whole lot of other anti's.”

A deputy editor of the Philadelphia Inquirer supported the cartoonist's “right to express his opinion” and defended the cartoon as a valid “interpretation of a situation,” one shared by others on the newspaper staff.

The question is why editors cannot distinguish between accurate and fair criticism -- including of the Israeli fence -- and a false cartoon no different from Nazi propaganda?


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