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UK: Murdoch apologises for Netanyahu cartoon
Media mogul Rupert Murdoch apologized Monday for a cartoon published in The Sunday Times that depicted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu building a wall in a white tank top and buttering Palestinian blood between concrete blocks.
Palestinians are shown to be in agony and bricked into the structure.
Murdoch apologized for the cartoon and called it “grotesque” and “offensive” on Twitter.
“Will cementing the peace continue?" the cartoon caption read. The cartoon was published in response to Netanyahu’s recent reelection, and was a commentary on the stalled peace process, as Israelis continue to build “barriers” under the pretense of security while expanding their occupation of Palestinian land.
Murdoch has not previously apologized for cartoons that depicted leaders in a negative light.
Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair was often vilified by the same cartoonist, Gerald Scarfe. He once depicted him raising his bloodied hand and swearing an oath, “I solemnly swear to tell the self-serving truth, the partial truth, and everything but the truth, so help me George.”
The cartoonist had been referring to Blair disinforming the British population about the United States war on Iraq and his decision to support the United States in its invasion of the Arab country.
In the cartoon, his hands were meant to be covered with the blood of those that had died in the war.
Scarfe also once depicted Syrian President Bashar al-Assad drinking children’s blood.
Israeli Yedioth Ahronoth online said Jewish leaders were upset because it invoked the myth that Jews secretly use human blood as part of their rituals. They were also angered because it was published on the Holocaust memorial day.
Martin Ivens, made The Sunday Times’s acting editor last week, said that no one at the newspaper wanted to invoke “blood libel” or insult the memory of the holocaust.
“The paper has long written strongly in defense of Israel and its security concerns, as have I as a columnist," he said. "We are, however, reminded of the sensitivities in this area by the reaction to the cartoon, and I will of course bear them very carefully in mind in future.”
The Independent’s Ian Burrell cited the possible implications of Murdoch’s apology and involvement in the newspaper’s editorial line.
“One is that all of the editors in Murdoch’s News Corp media empire have been made aware of the danger that when they next find themselves mired in a controversy and fighting to protect their editorial reputation the boss might use his favorite social media network to cut them down at the knees,” Burrell said.
He also indicated that covering the Middle East would now be more difficult than it already is.
“The episode also gives an indication of the power of the Israel lobby in challenging critical media coverage of its politicians,” he said.
“Some might call that an abdication of journalistic responsibility while others would recognize the business sense of avoiding a live hand grenade of a topic which brings no obvious commercial benefit to the publisher,” he continued.
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