The New York Times has printed a second apology for running an anti-Semitic cartoon, and confessed to falling prey to an insidious resurgence of such bigotry in public discourse.
The paper’s editorial board on Tuesday apologized for publishing what it said was an “appalling” political cartoon, and characterized its own actions as “evidence of a profound danger — not only of anti-Semitism but of numbness to its creep.”
That “ancient, enduring prejudice is once again working itself into public view and common conversation,” the editors said, adding, “History teaches that the rise of extremism requires the acquiescence of broader society.”
The April 25 caricature, the work of Portuguese political cartoonist António Moreira Antunes, shows a blind, kippa-wearing Donald Trump being led by a dog version of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu with a Star of David collar around his neck.
“The cartoon was chosen from a syndication service by a production editor who did not recognize its anti-Semitism,” the editorial said.
The Times’ mea culpa included criticism of the paper’s failure to take a stand against Nazi anti-Semitism. “In the 1930s and the 1940s, The Times was largely silent as anti-Semitism rose up and bathed the world in blood. That failure still haunts this newspaper,” the editorial said.
The cartoon touched off a torrent of outrage. While the newspaper has long been critical of Israel and charged with biased reporting on the conflict with the Palestinians in particular, the cartoon shocked readers with its blatant anti-Semitism, far beyond any journalistic bias, as the Times itself has recognized.
One of the most striking responses came from an Israeli diplomat. In a speech on Monday marking Holocaust Remembrance Day, Israel’s ambassador to the U.S., Ron Dermer, declared that the Times, “one of the world’s most prestigious newspapers,” had become “a cesspool of hostility towards Israel that goes well beyond any legitimate criticism of a fellow, imperfect democracy.
“The same New York Times that a century ago mostly hid from their readers the Holocaust of the Jewish people has today made its pages a safe-space for those who hate the Jewish state. Through biased coverage, slanderous columns and anti-Semitic cartoons, its editors shamefully choose week after week to cast the Jewish state as a force for evil,” Dermer said.
Dozens of people gathered to protest the Times descent into anti-Semitism outside its midtown Manhattan headquarters on Monday night.
The demonstrators chanted “shame on you” and carried signs reading “Anti-Israel, Anti-Semitic, NYT Guilty” and “NYT guilty of 120 years of hatred,” as well as a sign with a yellow Star of David that read “NYT, should I be wearing this too?” the Jewish Telegraphic Agency reported.
Law professor and pro-Israel advocate Alan Dershowitz was among the protesters.
Dershowitz addressed the crowd and said the cartoon “is very painful for me.”
“I have written many, many dozens articles for The New York Times. … I’ve been a strong supporter of The New York Times,” he said. “But when I saw that cartoon yesterday, it just put me in mind of a very dark time in Jewish history. And I asked myself, ‘How could it have happened?’”
He added: “The only good thing The New York Times has ever done for the Jewish people is that it put a lie to the notion that the Jews control the media and use it to support their own interests.”