The New York Times has offered an apology three days after its international edition published a cartoon that has been widely condemned as anti-Semitic.
The cartoon depicts Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as a guide dog, a Star of David dangling from his collar, as he leads an apparently blind President Trump, wearing a yarmulke, around by a leash.
The cartoon, which initially drew little response when it was published on Thursday, appeared in the Times’s global edition, which is published from Hong Kong and sells about 175,000 daily copies outside the United States. It did not appear in the Times’s domestic edition.
Criticism of the cartoon began to gain momentum on social media starting on Saturday. Critics said it evoked hateful images distributed by Germany’s Nazi regime in the 1930s to dehumanize Jews and depict them as evil manipulators of world opinion.
One of the Times’s opinion columnists, Bret Stephens, wrote on Sunday that the cartoon could have been published by the vicious Nazi newspaper Der Stürmer. It “checked so many anti-Semitic boxes that the only thing missing was a dollar sign,” he wrote.
In an interview on CNN on Monday, Jonathan Greenblatt, chief executive of the Anti-Defamation League, called the cartoon “propaganda.” He said, “It would not have surprised me if this had come from Tehran or Damascus, but it does not belong in the New York Times or any other credible news organization. It’s unacceptable anywhere.”
The reaction to the cartoon began to build, including in the Israeli media, as news reports circulated about the shooting of a rabbi and three Jewish worshipers at a synagogue in Poway, Calif., killing one; the suspected gunman is allegedly a self-identified white supremacist and anti-Semite.
The Times initially issued an editor’s note on Saturday that was to appear on Monday in its international edition, which isn’t published on Sunday.
It read, “A political cartoon in the international print edition of The New York Times on Thursday included anti-Semitic tropes, depicting the prime minister of Israel as a guide dog with a Star of David collar leading the president of the United States, shown wearing a skullcap. The image was offensive, and it was an error of judgment to publish it. It was provided by The New York Times News Service and Syndicate, which has since deleted it.”
On Sunday, as more condemnation rolled in, it issued a fuller apology and partial explanation: “We are deeply sorry for the publication of an anti-Semitic political cartoon last Thursday that circulates outside the United States, and we are committed to making sure nothing like this happens again. Such imagery is always dangerous, and at a time when anti-Semitism is on the rise worldwide, it’s all the more unacceptable. We have investigated how this happened and learned that, because of a faulty process, a single editor working without adequate oversight downloaded the syndicated cartoon and made the decision to include it on the Opinion page. The matter remains under review, and we are evaluating our internal processes and training. We anticipate significant changes.”
A Times spokeswoman, Eileen Murphy, said, “We made the decision on Sunday that more forceful language was necessary.”
Murphy declined to identify the artist who created the cartoon or the editor who decided to publish it, pending an internal review.
But the Times itself reported Sunday that it was drawn by a Portuguese cartoonist, António Moreira Antunes, and first published by Expresso, a Lisbon newspaper. It was syndicated by CartoonArts International, the Times said.
On Monday, the Daily Beast reported that the Times cut ties with CartoonArts and that it will stop using syndicated cartoons.
President Trump weighed in on the cartoon on Monday on Twitter, tying it in with his own complaints about the newspaper’s coverage of him.
He tweeted, “The New York Times has apologized for the terrible Anti-Semitic Cartoon, but they haven’t apologized to me for this or all of the Fake and Corrupt news they print on a daily basis. They have reached the lowest level of ‘journalism,’ and certainly a low point in @nytimes history!”