The New York Times faced intense backlash over the weekend after the newspaper's international edition published a vehemently anti-Semitic cartoon last week. Over the weekend, an Israeli cartoonist hit back with a drawing of his own.
The cartoon, published in the Thursday's international edition, featured the face of Benjamin Netanyahu on a dog with a Star of David collar leading a fat, blind President Donald Trump, who was wearing a yarmulke, the traditional head-covering worn by Orthodox Jews.
After the cartoon generated outrage, and obvious accusations of anti-Semitism, New York Times editors released a statement Saturday that announced the cartoon's retraction. The editors said a syndicate was responsible for the drawing, not a staff cartoonist.
The statement said:
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.
But as many quickly pointed out, something important was missing from the statement: a formal apology.
How did the Israeli cartoonist respond?
Israeli cartoonist Shay Charka, who works for Israeli publication Makor Rishon, published a cartoon of his own mocking The New York Times.
The cartoon features The Times as the blind one being led by a dog whose head is the book of "The Protocols," an infamous anti-Semitic book that describes an alleged Jewish plan for world domination. The book was widely disseminated in the early 20th century, and was even used as propaganda by the Nazi regime.
Meanwhile, Charka gave his dog a collar with "BDS" on it, a reference to Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions, a deeply anti-Semitic movement that seeks to undermine Israel's economy.
Did the Times ever apologize?
By Sunday afternoon, the Times finally issued a formal apology for publishing the cartoon, explaining a single editor had made the decision to publish it.
The statement said:
We are deeply sorry for the publication of an anti-Semitic political cartoon last Thursday in the print edition of The New York Times that circulates outside of 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 make 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.
However, the Times' apology did not come before Bret Stephens, a staff columnist at the newspaper, rebuked the paper in his Sunday column for its obvious promotion of anti-Semitism.
"As prejudices go, anti-Semitism can sometimes be hard to pin down, but on Thursday the opinion pages of The New York Times international edition provided a textbook illustration of it," Stephens wrote. "Except that The Times wasn't explaining anti-Semitism. It was purveying it.
"But the publication of the cartoon isn't just an 'error of judgment,' either. The paper owes the Israeli prime minister an apology. It owes itself some serious reflection as to how it came to publish that cartoon — and how its publication came, to many longtime readers, as a shock but not a surprise," Stephens said.