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Screenshot from the cartoon by Dieter Hanitzsch

German cartoonist fired after unflattering drawing of Israeli PM

A leading German daily fired a cartoonist over "anti-semitic" views last week because he drew a caricature of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Published: May 24, 2018, 7:49 am

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    Cartoonist Dieter Hanitzsch showed Netanyahu dressed up as Israeli Eurovision song contest winner and ex-IDF soldier, Netta Barzilai saying: “Next year in Jerusalem.”

    Suddeutsche Zeitung’s Editor-in-Chief Wolfgang Krach quickly apologised for the caricature, but Hanitzsch refused. The 85-year-old told local German outlets said he wanted to criticise Netanyahu’s exploitation of the Eurovision contest for his own purposes.

    “Immediately after the event, he [Netanyahu] expressed his congratulations and announced: ‘Next time in Jerusalem.’ I find that problematic because it is currently simmering over there and it really does not have to be.” He said the Israeli premier only “poured oil onto the fire” with his remark.

    Hanitzsch said a newspaper should never fire its cartoonist over a drawing. “You can reprimand him, warn him, but firing is not a good way to go,” he said.

    When he drew cartoons showing Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in a negative light, he was defended on the basis of freedom of the press and expression by the same newspaper.

    Hanitzsch drew Netanyahu with oversized nose, ears and lips. The Jewish star on the rocket he is holding suggests that “behind every war, Jewish interests are hiding,” Jonas Mueller-Töwe commented in an article for t-online.de news. But Hanitzsch dismissed these claims.

    The Zionist Organisation of America has meanwhile compelled Al Jazeera to cancel an investigation into pro-Israel lobbies. The media network had to scrap a yet-to-be broadcast investigation into the activities of pro-Israel advocacy groups in the United States.

    A UK edition of The Lobby, was broadcast in January 2017. This series documented a campaign by Israel to influence domestic politics in the UK, which included covert operations. In one case, it revealed a plot to “take down” a government minister who was critical of Jewish-only settlements in the West Bank.

    The Israeli ambassador to the UK was forced to apologise to the foreign office and the diplomat involved was fired. The investigation also triggered a parliamentary inquiry into foreign interference in British politics.

    Pro-Israel advocacy groups in the UK lodged several complaints to the Office of Communications (Ofcom), the quasi-government regulator that ensures fairness and accuracy on British television. Al Jazeera is a signatory of Ofcom’s codes of practice.

    The complainants levelled charges of anti-Semitism, bias, unfair editing and infringement of privacy. After an eight-month investigation, Ofcom’s detailed, 60-page ruling rejected each complaint in full.

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