BERLIN − A German newspaper has expressed regret after publishing a cartoon that appeared to depict the State of Israel as a ravenous monster. Munich-based Sueddeutsche Zeitung says the picture appeared Tuesday alongside two reviews of books about Israel.
The caption suggested that the Jewish state was seen by its enemies as akin to Moloch − a monstrous deity from the Old Testament to whom followers sacrificed their children.
Israel’s ambassador in Berlin criticized the picture and Jewish groups denounced it as anti-Semitic.
The newspaper said in a brief statement on its website Wednesday that it regretted “misunderstandings” caused by the caption and that publishing the cartoon “was a mistake.” The picture had been taken from a stock library and originally wasn’t intended as a depiction of Israel.
The sketch depicts a sick, hungry monster symbolizing Israel, which, according to accompanying explanation, is fed by German weapons. The caption reads: “Germany presents: Israel received weapons for decades, sometimes for free. Israel’s enemies believe it is a hungry moloch.”
As expected, the leaders of the German Jewish community denounced the newspaper for the publication of the cartoon. Dieter Graumann, head of the Central Council of Jews in Germany said it was “almost in the level of Der Sturmer,” the infamous Nazi party mouthpiece.
The paper reacted at first by publishing a statement in its website asking “Is a hungry monster anti-Semitism?” The paper added that the cartoon had “nothing to do with anti-Semitism,” but agreed that since the cartoon “caused misunderstanding, it would have been better to choose a different one.” Last year the paper published an anti-Israeli poem by Gunter Grass’ leading to accusations that the German author was anti-Semitic.