Australian Columnist Resigns Over Expletive-laden Responses to Gaza Piece

Mike Carlton's column was accompanied by a cartoon widely condemned as anti-Semitic by Jewish leaders, who threatened legal action.

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Beit Lahiya, northern Gaza Strip, Aug. 5, 2014.
Beit Lahiya, northern Gaza Strip, Aug. 5, 2014. Credit: AP

Sydney Morning Herald columnist Mike Carlton resigned after he was exposed sending expletive-laden emails and tweets to critics of a piece he wrote on the Israel-Gaza war.

Carlton, a veteran columnist for Saturday’s edition of the Australian daily, resigned “on the spot” Tuesday when management suspended him after he called one reader a “Jewish bigot” and told others to “f*** off.”

“[He] used language just not acceptable in the workplace,” said Sean Aylmer, the company’s news and business publisher. “You just can’t do that.”

He added, “No one has the right to treat readers that way.”

Aylmer said it wasn’t the content of Carlton’s July 26 column, in which he accused Israel of “waging its own war of terror on the entire Gaza population,” but his reaction to readers. Carlton also wrote, “Call it genocide, call it ethnic cleansing: the aim is to kill Arabs.”

The column was accompanied by a cartoon widely condemned as anti-Semitic by Jewish leaders, who threatened legal action.

The backlash prompted the Herald to publish an editorial Monday saying it “unreservedly apologizes” for any hurt caused.

“It was wrong to publish the cartoon in its original form,” the editors wrote, conceding it “closely resembled illustrations that had circulated in Nazi Germany.”

Dr. Danny Lamm, president of the Zionist Federation of Australia, welcomed Carlton’s departure.

“It was an appalling one-sided, offensive article,” he said of the July 26 column.

Danny Ben-Moshe, a Melbourne academic who specializes in studying anti-Semitism, told JTA that the Herald’s statement “is welcome, but it doesn’t mitigate the fact that they published the noxious views that culminated in the email exchange.”

Carlton said his publisher, Fairfax Media, “buckled” to pressure from its rival newspaper, owned by Rupert Murdoch, and the “Likud lobby,” which wages “crushing” campaigns to “get people they don’t agree with.”

Carlton wrote to one critic: “Looking forward to hearing from you after you have joined the IDF and gone off to kill some kids. Reluctantly, of course. Until then, f*** off.”

He told a local website Wednesday, “I’ve been called a bag of Nazi slime, a Jew-hating racist … I suppose, half-a-dozen times, I hit back and told people to get f***ed.”

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