Widespread condemnation of the New York Times International continues
as people react to the cartoon it published earlier this week.
Some of the disapproval is honest, heartfelt, and personal;
some is just blatantly political using it as an opportunity to blast “the other side.”
The Jerusalem Post and Townhall report on reactions, mostly avoiding the fanatics.
There is a problem with the cartoonist António Moreira Antunes though.
Naturally when this cartoon issue came up reporters and zealots alike started to dig through past cartoons by Antunes to find similar samples of what they consider anti-Semitism. And this is not some young guy just starting a career:
[António] began his professional career as a cartoonist on the Lisbon daily newspaper Republica in 1974, the same year in which he began a regular collaboration with the weekly newspaper, Expresso which continues to publish his cartoons every week.
Many were destined to be disappointed.
The Jerusalem Post did some digging. Its report is headlined:
Cartoonist behind ‘NYT’ caricature has history of controversy
Now just what political cartoonist, with a 45 year career, doesn’t have controversy in their past?
But The Post did find an anti-Semitic cartoon and touted it in their sub-head:
António Moreira Antunes drew ire with 1983 award-winning depiction of Israel and Lebanon
That’s right – they had to go back 35 years to find a cartoon that depicted Israel harshly.
According to a JTA report from July 1983, the cartoon depicted “Israeli soldiers tormenting Lebanese women and children” in a depiction reminiscent of a famed photo of Nazis tormenting Jews during the Holocaust.
That cartoon, by the way, “won [António] the top prize at the 20th International Salon of Cartoons in Montreal that year.”
They did find a 2006 cartoon some have decided is anti-Semitic:
but that cartoon, it seems to me, is putting the knock on all sides.
Oh! And another cartoon from 1993 was critical of the Catholic Church.
Pretty slim pickings for those wanting to caricature the cartoonist as an anti-Semitic activist.
The Jerusalem Post article about the cartoonist who has
a “history of divisive caricatures – including several on Israel.”
From António in 2015 after the Charlie Hebdo attack:
“The profession of cartoonist is a profession of risk, we make risks and take risks. There is always fear there, but there is no other option but to defend freedom of expression.”
So far António has not responded to the current controversy.
April 29 UPDATE:
“It is a critique of Israeli policy, which has a criminal conduct in Palestine, at the expense of the UN, and not the Jews,” said António Moreira Antunes.
“The reading I made is that Benjamin Netanyahu’s politics, whether by the approach of elections or by being protected by Donald Trump, who changed the embassy to Jerusalem by recognizing the city as capital, and which first allowed the annexation of the Golan Heights and after the West Bank and more annexations in the Gaza Strip, which means a burial of the Oslo Accord, it represents an increase in verbal, physical and political violence,” he continued. “It is a blind policy that ignores the interests of the Palestinians. And Donald Trump is a blind man The Star of David [Jewish symbol] is an aid to identify a figure [Netanyahu] that is not very well known in Portugal.”
Meanwhile cartoonists with opposing viewpoints are countering: