New York Times Cartoonist Says Outrage Over Anti-Semitic Cartoon From ‘Jewish Propaganda Machine’

By Zachary Stieber

The cartoonist whose anti-Semitic cartoon sparked international outrage said that the criticism stemmed from a “Jewish propaganda machine.”

António Moreira Antunes, a Portuguese national, drew President Donald Trump as a blind man wearing a yarmulke and being led by his “service dog,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is a Trump ally.

Antunes told CNN that he was surprised by the outrage, claiming to have the “utmost respect” for the Jewish peoples’ past, but said that doesn’t mean they can be “above criticism.”

Antunes then claimed that people saying the cartoon was anti-Semitic are misunderstanding his intent, and that the allegations were “made through the Jewish propaganda machine, which is, anytime there’s criticism it’s because there’s someone anti-Semitic on the other side, and that’s not the case.”

He used a common defense of anti-Semitic tropes, arguing that people shouldn’t believe that “any criticism of Israel is anti-Semitism.”

“The Jewish right doesn’t want to be criticized, and therefore, when criticized they say ‘We are a persecuted people, we suffered a lot… this is anti-Semitism.'”

The cartoon ended up in the New York Times international edition through a syndication service, Cartoon Arts. The New York Times distributes cartoons from the service to other outlets through its own website. It was chosen by a production editor who has still not been identified and was not reviewed by any other employees, according to the left-leaning outlet.

Four aspects of the cartoon disturbed readers, noted Seth Frantzman, editor at the Jerusalem Post. “1. Putting a yarmulke on the US President in negative way 2. Putting the face of the PM of the Jewish state on a dog 3. Using a Star of David on the collar 4. Implying the US is ‘blindly’ led by Jews and/or Israel,” he wrote.

António Moreira Antunes of Portugal, third from left, poses with other illustrators during the opening of an exhibition of cartoons in a 2010 file photo in France. (KENZO TRIBOUILLARD/AFP/Getty Images)

The New York Times opinion section issued a statement admitting that the cartoon “included anti-Semitic tropes, depicting the prime minister of Israel as a guide dog with a Star of David collar leading the president of the United States, shown wearing a skullcap.”

“The image was offensive, and it was an error of judgment to publish it. It was provided by The New York Times News Service and Syndicate, which has since deleted it,” the statement added. It did not include an apology to readers or Jews.

After more backlash over the missing apology, the paper released a second statement: “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.”

“Such imagery is always dangerous, and at a time when anti-Semitism is on the rise worldwide, it’s all the more unacceptable. The matter remains under review, and we are evaluating our internal processes and training. We anticipate significant changes,” it added.

Just days after the anti-semitic cartoon was published, the paper printed a second cartoon that appeared to denigrate the faith of Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister.

The new image depicts Netanyahu dressed as Moses standing on the side of a mountain while holding a stone tablet with the Star of David engraved on it and taking a photo of himself using a selfie stick.

While the meaning of the image is open to interpretation, the central message seems to suggest that the leader of Israel’s faith in Judaism is not sincere. Stripped of any interpretation, the image debases Judaism’s prophet and image.

It wasn’t clear if the evaluation of “internal processes and training” had started by the time the newspaper published the second cartoon and the paper didn’t respond to a request for comment.