An Australian newspaper has apologized for causing “distress” among readers over a cartoon criticized as being anti-Semitic.
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The cartoon, drawn by Glen Le Lievre to illustrate an opinion article in The Sydney Morning Herald, depicts an old man with a large hook nose, sitting on a chair marked with the Star of David, wearing a kippah and holding a remote control in his hand as he watches explosions in Gaza.
The newspaper, published by Fairfax Media, said a “strong view was expressed” that the cartoon “closely resembled illustrations that had circulated in Nazi Germany.”
“The Herald now appreciates that, in using the Star of David and the kippah in the cartoon, the newspaper invoked an inappropriate element of religion, rather than nationhood, and made a serious error of judgment,” its editors wrote in Monday’s edition. “It was wrong to publish the cartoon in its original form. We apologize unreservedly for this lapse, and the anguish and distress that has been caused.”
Jewish leaders had threatened legal action if the daily did not publish an apology for the July 26 cartoon.
Hours before the apology was issued, an estimated 5,000 pro-Israel supporters filled a suburban Sydney park on Sunday, while a “flash mob” of Jewish youth simulated a 15-second siren in the heart of Melbourne.
The park near Bondi Beach was a sea of Israeli and Australian flags mixed with dozens of placards, including “Israel has no choice” and “Stop the rockets.”
Some of the Australian media had failed to guard against “biased, distorted, inaccurate and simply erroneous coverage and commentary,” Robert Goot, president of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, said at the park rally. He also told the crowd that the cartoon was “unquestionably anti-Semitic.”
In Melbourne, up to 500 Jews hit the ground as a siren went off in Federation Square. The protest was inspired by a similar stunt last month in Vienna, according to Asher Kozma, the head of the Betar movement in Melbourne.
“We were trying to give Australian people an idea of what it’s like to live in Israel,” Kozma said.
Also Sunday, several hundred people joined a pro-Israel rally in Brisbane, according to reports.