Journalist Quits After Jerusalem Post Fires Cartoonist Over Caricature Mocking Netanyahu

Veteran writer Haim Watzman blasts Jerusalem Post decision to 'dump a staff member simply because his work has upset some readers'

Itay Stern
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Netanyahu and other Likud lawmakers in the Knesset after the passage of the nation-state law.
Netanyahu and other Likud lawmakers taking a selfie in the Knesset after the passage of the nation-state law, July 12, 2018Credit: Olivier Fitoussi
Itay Stern

Journalist Haim Watzman quit his job at a Jerusalem Post-owned publication on Thursday, saying in a letter he was doing so in protest of the dismissal of cartoonist Avi Katz.

Katz was fired this week after having a cartoon published by the Jerusalem Post’s biweekly magazine, The Jerusalem Report, that depicts Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and members of his coalition as pigs.

The caricature was widely criticized on social media, with some critics slamming it as auto-anti-Semitic, seeming to ignore Katz’s clear allusion to the George Orwell novel, "Animal Farm."

Watzman, a veteran journalist who is also published in The New York Times and The Forward, posted his resignation letter to the Report’s editor, Steve Linde, on Facebook:

“In the wake of your dismissal of Avi Katz, I hereby inform you that I will no longer write for The Jerusalem Report.

“I cannot be associated with a publication that dumps a staff member simply because his work has upset some readers. Journalism, when done well, always angers some readers, and it is the duty of the newspaper or magazine’s editors and managers to stand by writers and other members of the staff when readers complain about the analysis and opinions expressed by its staff. This is all the more true in the case of editorial cartoonists, whose very job is satire – and a good satirist never pauses to worry about angering the citizenry.

“In more than a decade writing regularly for The Jerusalem Report, I have no doubt angered and offended some readers."

Watzman wrote that “there has not been a single case in which a story of mine has been vetoed because of the opinions it expresses or the way it portrays Israeli society. I expect Avi Katz, a talented illustrator with a long history of association with the magazine, to be treated in the same way.”

Watzman, a Ohio native born in 1956, is an author and translator, and wrote a column for The Jerusalem Report called “Necessary Stories,” which was published as a book last year.

The Israel Press Council published a statement of concern about Katz’s dismissal and demanded that the owners of The Jerusalem Post group explain the reasons behind the decision. The council added that it condemns any harm to journalists or their livelihoods.

The Jerusalem Post has not as yet responded to Watzman’s letter.