This week the New South Wales Jewish Board of Deputies demanded an apology from Fairfax Media after accusing it of racism and racial vilification for publishing in the Sydney Morning Herald a cartoon which depicted an Israeli man watching the action in Gaza from his armchair. They said that the cartoon presented a “grotesque stereotype” and incited hatred of Jews. No matter that the cartoon was based on an actual photograph, one of several published last week showing Israelis lined up on couches to watch the bombardment, cheering any particularly large explosions.
Today, the Sydney Morning Herald did indeed apologise for what it called a “serious error of judgment” and removed the offending cartoon from its websites. It acknowledged that in showing the man with a big nose and the Star of David, the cartoon introduced an element of religion rather than nationality.
Considering that the Star of David can be taken to represent equally either the Jewish religion or the State of Israel, which has the Star of David as the central feature on its flag, it seems that what really bothered the Jewish Board of Deputies was the big nose.
What I found so offensive about the cartoon – and the photos and stories on which it was based – was not the man’s nose but the shameful circus atmosphere displayed by the Israelis gathered to enjoy the spectacle of mass murder and maiming. That was a grotesque display of callousness from a people whose history should elicit sympathy for populations at the mercy of military machines.
If the Jewish Board of Deputies were really interested in reducing antagonism toward Jews and Israel, it would drop its objection to the man’s nose and instead:
- plead with the Israeli Government and Army to stop the indiscriminate slaughter and destruction, and
- condemn the obscene Israeli thrill-seekers for their shameful behaviour on the hills overlooking Gaza.
Perhaps the people of Gaza can now complain to the Israeli Army about the racial vilification and stereotyping underlying the pitiless bombardment of a whole population for the actions of a relatively few Hamas fighters, and get a retraction of their many thousands of bombs and the nearly two thousand Palestinian deaths? I look forward to seeing that.