New York Times editorial board blasts 'appalling' anti-Semitic cartoon in Times International edition

Dylan Stableford
Senior Editor

The New York Times editorial board is taking aim at the Times International edition for running what it calls “an appalling” anti-Semitic cartoon.

The cartoon, which was published on Thursday in the print newspaper, portrayed a blind President Trump, wearing a yarmulke, being led on a leash by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is depicted as a guide dog with a Star of David collar.

“The appearance of such an obviously bigoted cartoon in a mainstream publication is evidence of a profound danger,” the board wrote in a scathing editorial published in Wednesday’s print edition, “not only of anti-Semitism but of numbness to its creep, to the insidious way this ancient, enduring prejudice is once again working itself into public view and common conversation.”

The New York Times Building in New York City. (Photo: Brendan McDermid/Reuters/File)

The cartoon drew condemnation from critics including the Anti-Defamation League, the Times of Israel and President Trump, among others.

The Times International edition is sold in more than 160 countries around the world, but does not circulate in the United States.

According to the paper, the decision to publish the cartoon was made by a lone production editor who selected it from a syndication service and did not recognize its anti-Semitism.

The Times apologized in an editor’s note in Monday’s international edition.

“The image was offensive, and it was an error of judgment to publish it,” the editors’ note read. The paper also said that it will no longer publish syndicated cartoons in its international edition.

“Apologies are important, but the deeper obligation of The Times is to focus on leading through unblinking journalism and the clear editorial expression of its values,” the editorial board wrote. “Society in recent years has shown healthy signs of increased sensitivity to other forms of bigotry, yet somehow anti-Semitism can often still be dismissed as a disease gnawing only at the fringes of society. That is a dangerous mistake.”

The board noted that violent attacks on Jews in the United States more than doubled from 2017 to 2018, according to a report released earlier this week. On Saturday, a gunman opened fire during Passover services at a Southern California synagogue, killing one person and injuring three.

The editorial also criticized Trump for failing to properly condemn white supremacist groups.

“As anti-Semitism has surged from the internet into the streets, President Trump has done too little to rouse the national conscience against it,” the editorial board wrote. “Though he condemned the cartoon in The Times, he has failed to speak out against anti-Semitic groups like the white nationalists who marched in Charlottesville, Va., in 2017 chanting, ‘Jews will not replace us.’ He has practiced a politics of intolerance for diversity, and attacks on some minority groups threaten the safety of every minority group.”

In a separate memo to staff, Times publisher A.G. Sulzberger said that the paper is "taking disciplinary steps with the production editor who selected the cartoon for publication" and "updating our unconscious bias training to ensure it includes a direct focus on anti-Semitism."

"This episode is a reminder that all of us are custodians of our trust and credibility with readers," Sulzberger added. "Our journalists work hard every day to help people understand a vast and diverse world and ensure prejudices of any kind do not make it into our report. Though I’ve been assured there was no malice involved in this mistake, we fell far short of our standards and values in this case."

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