… or Freedom of Artistic Expression?
Source: cartoonbox.slate.com. Image may be subject to copyright.
LOS ANGELES (AP) – A Jewish “human rights group” has denounced Pat Oliphant’s latest political cartoon as anti-Semitic, comparing it to Nazi imagery of the 1930s that led up to the Holocaust.
The syndicated cartoon published Wednesday in newspapers across the country depicts a goose-stepping uniformed figure wheeling a fanged Star of David that menaces a small female figure labeled “Gaza.”
The Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Center, a Jewish rights group with more than 400,000 members in the United States, said the cartoon is meant to denigrate and demonize Israel.
“The imagery in this cartoon mimics the venomous anti-Semitic propaganda of the Nazi and Soviet eras,” Wiesenthal Center officials said in a statement. “It is cartoons like this that inspired millions of people to hate in the 1930s and help set the stage for the Nazi genocide.”
The center called on the New York Times and other online outlets to remove the cartoon from their Web sites.
Universal Press Syndicate, which distributes Oliphant’s cartoons, did not immediately return messages left late Wednesday night.
A New York Times spokeswoman didn’t immediately respond to a phone or e-mail message left after office hours.
Oliphant, who won a Pulitzer Prize in 1967, is one of the most widely syndicated editorial cartoonists in the world, receiving a mix of praise and criticism for his work through the years.
His latest cartoon alludes to Israel’s aggression on the Gaza Strip, where its troops launched an offensive in December to halt rocket fire and weaken the territory’s Hamas rulers.
More than 1,400 Palestinians, including more than 900 civilians, were killed, according to a Palestinian human rights group [and subsequently confirmed by various international agencies.]
Oliphant’s cartoon is his latest to draw backlash.
In 2001 and 2007, the Asian American Journalists Association objected to what they called offensive racial caricatures in cartoons about trade with China and concerns about international food safety.
In 2005, the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee criticized one of his cartoons because it drew on false stereotypes and reinforces negative views of Arabs.
A native of Australia, Oliphant came to the U.S. in 1964 to work for The Denver Post.
His work has been syndicated internationally since 1965, and by Universal since 1980.
His work is on permanent display at the Library of Congress.
On its Web site, Universal declares that “no one is safe from the acid brush of Pat Oliphant.”
Oliphant’s latest work is the second editorial cartoon in as many months to provoke anger. Last month, New York Post Chairman Rupert Murdoch apologized for a cartoon in his paper that critics said likened a violent chimpanzee shot dead by police to President Barack Obama.