Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Sunday Times' Apology Offered and Accepted

The Guardian reports:
 guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 29 January 2013 19.13 GMT
Statement on Sunday Times Gerald Scarfe cartoon

There was a meeting at 4pm today between representatives of the Jewish community and the Sunday Times senior editorial team and News International corporate affairs.

In the meeting the Jewish community organisations present made the following points:

• Jews (and others) throughout the country reacted to this cartoon with a visceral disgust that is unprecedented in recent years. This was due to the gratuitous and offensive nature of the image, made worse by its use of blood and its being published by Britain's leading Sunday newspaper on Holocaust Memorial Day.
• Blood has a long and ugly tradition within the history of antisemitism, premised upon the notorious medieval Blood Libel, with Jews being alleged to steal the blood of others for religious purposes. The use of blood, including on occasion the actual Blood Libel, persists in extreme Arab and Iranian anti-Israel propaganda. It is a profoundly disturbing example of the adaptation of antisemitism for modern day usage.
• These historical and contemporary contexts have racist impacts upon victims and proponents alike. This is why so many Jews were wounded by the cartoon, regardless of the initial motivations of Gerald Scarfe and the Sunday Times.

In response Martin Ivens said: "I'm grateful so many community leaders could come together at such short notice. You will know that the Sunday Times abhors antisemitism and would never set out to cause offence to the Jewish people – or any other ethnic or religious group. That was not the intention last Sunday. Everyone knows that Gerald Scarfe is consistently brutal and bloody in his depictions, but last weekend – by his own admission – he crossed a line. The timing – on Holocaust Memorial Day – was inexcusable. The associations on this occasion were grotesque and on behalf of the paper I'd like to apologise unreservedly for the offence we clearly caused. This was a terrible mistake."

Mick Davis, chair of the Jewish Leadership Council, said: "We have voiced our concern in response to the strength of the feeling from all sections of the Jewish community. I welcome the genuine apology from the Sunday Times. I appreciate the urgency and respect with which the Sunday Times have treated Jewish communal concerns and now look forward to constructively moving on from this affair."

  UPDATE: If you wish to express your appreciation to the Sunday Times, you can email them at: feedback@thetimes.co.uk

FURTHER UPDATE: The cartoonist, Gerald Scarfe, issued his own apology:

First of all I am not, and never have been, anti-Semitic. The Sunday Times has given me the freedom of speech over the last 46 years to criticise world leaders for what I see as their wrong-doings. This drawing was a criticism of Netanyahu, and not of the Jewish people: there was no slight whatsoever intended against them. I was, however, stupidly completely unaware that it would be printed on Holocaust Day, and I apologise for the very unfortunate timing.


JDB said...

This is unsurprising, because it contains zero admission of anti-Semitism, along with some denial of it.

Bilbo said...

As long as you're happy with it, JDB, so am I.

JDB said...

Yet another non-apology consistent with my analysis and inconsistent with yours!

Bilbo said...

The leaders of the British Jewish community are satisfied, so I'll follow their lead and let it alone.

JDB said...

This suggests an interesting strategy for countering asinine public accusations of antisemitism: deny 100% of the charges, then apologize for whatever it was that led people into their groundless hysterics.

Bilbo said...

Interesting indeed.