NY Times Columnist Calls Out Paper Over ‘Despicable’ Anti-Semitic Cartoon

“How have even the most blatant expressions of anti-Semitism become almost undetectable to editors?” Bret Stephens asks

Last Updated: April 29, 2019 @ 6:17 AM

New York Times columnist Bret Stephens issued a forceful denunciation of his own paper on Sunday, calling out their decision to publish an anti-semitic cartoon in their international edition last Thursday.

“How have even the most blatant expressions of anti-Semitism become almost undetectable to editors who think it’s part of their job to stand up to bigotry?” Stephens asked in his piece “A Despicable Cartoon in The Times.” “The reason is the almost torrential criticism of Israel and the mainstreaming of anti-Zionism, including by this paper, which has become so common that people have been desensitized to its inherent bigotry.”

The columnist said he was particularly concerned by how the cartoon could have slipped by editors at the paper which is “otherwise hyper-alert to nearly every conceivable expression of prejudice, from mansplaining to racial microaggressions to transphobia.”

The original cartoon showed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as a dog with a Star of David collar leading around a blind President Trump, wearing a yarmulke. The image prompted swift outcry on social media after it was published, with a broad swath of critics saying the image played into long-running anti-semitic stereotypes.

“We stand with Israel and we condemn antisemitism in ALL its forms, including @nytimes political cartoons,” vice president Mike Pence said in a tweeted statement.

Though the Times ultimately issued an apology, Stephens said it was not enough and called on the paper to offer one explicitly to Netanyahu himself.

“The publication of the cartoon isn’t just an ‘error of judgment,’ either. The paper owes the Israeli Prime Minister an apology,” Stephens said. “It owes itself some serious reflection as to how it came to publish that cartoon.”

Reps for the Times did not immediately respond to request for comment from TheWrap over the matter. In an initial statement the paper called the cartoon an “error of judgement” — but notably included no apology. A second statement hours later offered more profuse contrition and blamed the cartoon on “a single editor working without adequate oversight.”

“We are deeply sorry for the publication of an anti-Semitic political cartoon last Thursday in the print edition of The New York Times that circulates outside of the United States, and we are committed to making sure nothing like this happens again,” the paper said Sunday. “The matter remains under review, and we are evaluating our internal processes and training. We anticipate significant changes.”