German newspaper cans cartoonist over Netanyahu caricature

Süddeutsche Zeitung dismissed cartoonist for refusing to apologize for caricature of PM Netanyahu which was blasted as anti-Semitic.

Elad Benari,

Süddeutsche Zeitung headquarters
Süddeutsche Zeitung headquarters

The German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung on Thursday dismissed a cartoonist for refusing to apologize for a caricature of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu which was blasted as anti-Semitic.

The cartoon by Dieter Hanitzsch, which was published on Tuesday, showed Netanyahu celebrating Israel’s Eurovision win while holding a missile with a Star of David.

Netanyahu was shown in the cartoon with oversized ears, nose and lips, and said, “Next year in Jerusalem.”

The caricature was published three days after Israeli singer Netta Barzilai won the Eurovision Song Contest and in the midst of the protests on the Gaza border for which Israel was criticized.

Following the uproar over the cartoon’s anti-Semitic nature, Süddeutsche Zeitung editor Wolfgang Krach apologized and admitted that the cartoon “can be seen as anti-Semitic.”

“Despite the caricaturist’s intention, one can also understand the drawing differently and take it as anti-Semitic,” said Krach. “Its publication was therefore a mistake, for which we apologize.”

Despite Krach’s apologizing for the cartoon, Hanitzsch refused to apologize for it, leading to his dismissal, reported the German news agency dpa.

The newspaper cited “insuperable differences between Mr. Hanitzsch and the editorial board over what constitute anti-Semitic clichés in a cartoon,” according to dpa.

Süddeutsche Zeitung has been previously involved in controversy surrounding Israel. In 2013, the newspaper had to pull another cartoon that was used as illustration for a review on two books on Israel, titled “the downfall of liberal Zionism.” The drawing depicted Israel as the ancient god Moloch, being served breakfast in bed. The caption under the cartoon read: “Germany is serving. Israel has been given weapons for decades and partly free of charge. Israel's enemies think it is a ravenous Moloch.”

The newspaper later expressed regret for publishing the cartoon, saying it regretted "misunderstandings" caused by the caption and that publishing the cartoon "was a mistake."

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