The cartoonist accused of anti-Semitism for a cartoon that ran in the New York Times International Edition and incurred widespread condemnation has now accused the “Jewish propaganda machine” of targeting him.
The Portuguese cartoonist Antonio Moreira Antunes had previously defended his depiction of a blind yarmulke-wearing President Trump being led by a dog with Prime Minister Netanyahu’s face, which has a collar in the shape of a Star of David, as being critical of the U.S.-Israel relationship, but professed not to understand why it was taken as anti-Semitic.
In an interview with CNN he went further, saying that the accusations against him are being “made through the Jewish propaganda machine” and promoted by right-wing Jewish figures, though he did not name any.
“The Jewish right doesn’t want to be criticized, and therefore, when criticized they say ‘We are a persecuted people, we suffered a lot… this is anti-Semitism,’” Antunes said.
Antunes claimed that he has the “utmost respect” for Jews but they’re not “above criticism.”
In a very unusual move, the Times apologized twice for running the cartoon, which it admitted was anti-Semitic, and attributed it to a flaw in the editorial process. The paper removed the cartoon as soon as complaints started coming in. But the cartoonist himself has been unapologetic.
Subsequently, Times publisher A.G. Sulzberger said that “we are taking disciplinary steps with the production editor who selected the cartoon for publication.” The statement was made in a note sent to staff obtained by CNN.
“We are updating our unconscious bias training” to include “direct focus on anti-Semitism,” the note also said.
Nothing has been said, though about whether the newspaper will continue to use Antunes’ work, which came to it through a syndicated group.