Monday, August 4, 2014

Sustained Israel Lobby Barrage Cripples SMH

What I feared has come to pass: a massive Israel lobby barrage of confected outrage has scored a direct hit on the Sydney Morning Herald, completely destroying its slogan, 'Independent. Always.' The sound of popping champagne corks and excited South African accents can be heard from lobby redoubts in Sydney's east even as we speak.

Warning: the following editorial contains instances of extreme grovelling that may cause nausea in some readers:

 "There has been widespread reader and community reaction during the past 10 days over a cartoon that was used to illustrate an opinion piece by columnist Mike Carlton on the conflict in Gaza. Much of that concern was borne out publicly on our letters pages - and there has continued to be commentary and correspondence that has sought to make sense of the conflict. The Herald has drawn opinions from a wide variety of sources to help readers to understand the causes of, and the possible ways to end, the war between Hamas and Israel. Deeply critical exchanges have taken place over the opinions expressed in Mr Carlton's column, and properly so, as we invite debate over any column we publish. But the Herald has also fielded a number of accusations of racism over the cartoon.

"Today, the Herald wishes to apologise for this distress, draw a line under the debate about the cartoon, and return focus back to the events in Israel and Gaza.

"The cartoon showed an elderly man, with a large nose, sitting alone, with a remote control device in his hand, overseeing explosions in Gaza. The armchair in which he was sitting was emblazoned with the Star of David, and the man was wearing a kippah, a religious skullcap. A strong view was expressed that the cartoon, by Glen Le Lievre, closely resembled illustrations that had circulated in Nazi Germany. These are menacing cartoons that continue to haunt and traumatise generations of Jewish people.

"In addressing individual and community concern after the publication of the cartoon on July 26, the Herald looked to the fact that Mr Le Lievre's distinctive drawing style routinely sees old people depicted with large noses and pronounced facial features. It is the way he draws and his visual archive, dating back many years, confirms this. It was also significant that the cartoon had its genesis in news photographs of men seated in chairs and lounges, observing the shelling of Gaza from the hills of Sderot. One of those photos depicted an old man, wearing a kippah, reclining casually as part of a group - with Mr Le Lievre seeing comparisons between this and someone watching their television; hence the remote control. Another photo portrayed a lone man on a large couch - and thus the cartoon blended these two images.

"The Herald deeply regretted the upset the image had caused, but felt - not least because the cartoonist lacked any intent and that actual photographs influenced the setting and physical depiction of the character in the cartoon - that no racial vilification had occurred.

"However, this newspaper accepts that this position was too simplistic and ignored the use of religious symbols. The Herald now appreciates that, in using the Star of David and the kippah in the cartoon, the newspaper invoked an inappropriate element of religion, rather than nationhood, and made a serious error of judgment. It was wrong to publish the cartoon in its original form. We apologise unreservedly for this lapse, and the anguish and distress that has been caused.

"Our commitment remains to reporting in a fair and balanced way on the appalling events in Israel and Gaza, where our correspondent, Ruth Pollard, is currently based, witnessing daily the horrors of war. The devastation being inflicted on innocent men, women and children, on livestock and property, has shocked a world that has become all too comfortable with its own indifference - with all sides in the conflict being condemned by the United Nations for unconscionable practices. All the while, the world earnestly hopes and waits, so far in vain, for a lasting ceasefire and a sustainable peace - a resolution that will stay the blood and the tears." (We apologise: publishing cartoon in original form was wrong, 4/8/14)

You can read my posts on this issue, beginning with Carlton & Le Lievre Get Gaza (27/7/14), by simply clicking on the 'Mike Carlton' label below. Note that the Herald has been subjected to threats of legal action and a boycott by the usual suspects.

Israel lobby 1, Free Speech 0.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

I assume that the cartoonists association will be making a statement any time soon defending Glen Le Lievre.

A simple case of art imitating life or in this case art imitating death.

What is worse, the cartoon or the murdering rampage itself?

Mannie De Saxe said...

Not all South Africans are sitting around and laughing and drinking champagne.
Some South Africans are so appalled by what Jews in Israel (actually Palestine) are doing to Palestinians in Palestine, and so appalled by The Age and the SMH saying they are Independent. Always. which continues to be a blatant lie, that one is ashamed of main-stream media in Australia - and other places around the world, and relieved that we can still use independent media online, until TPP and other means bar these sources to us too.
As for the cartoons with people having big noses and being stereotypical Jews, people like Michael Leuning and other cartoonists have been doing this for eternity - and have you noticed, in any event, how many people who are not Jewish have also got big noses?
Until the USA stops supporting Israel and Egypt, these horrors will continue. And just because the ex-editor of the Australian Jewish News, aka Israeli Zionist Times is a well-known South African zionist doesn't mean all South African Jews have the same politics - thank goodness!
Fairfax is a disgrace!
Mannie De Saxe, Jewish, South African, Gay - and waiting for the trolls to attack!

MERC said...

Good onya, Mannie!

Anonymous said...

Can't wait for the Jewish groups to demand that the Star of David be removed from the Israeli flag, to stop the conflation of race and nation.

Anonymous said...

I suspect the outrage was not really about perceived racial stereotyping but rather the ugly scene the cartoon drew attention to. That is the significant number of Israelis who were gathered on the hills overlooking Gaza gleefully celebrating the artillery and missile attack on Palestinians packed into a densely populated urban area.

Anonymous said...

Of course it was .

Mark said...

Reminds me of the way, Malcolm Evans, a leading, award-winning editorial cartoonist on New Zealand's largest circulation newspaper (NZ Herald) was given no option but to resign after Israel Lobby complaints over his cartoons back in 2003.

Like Le Lievre , Evans had used Israel's national symbol - the Star of David - to critique Sharon's war crimes in the West Bank. The editor gave him an ultimatum - desist from critiquing Israel or resign. It seems a great deal of financial pressure was put on The Herald as well as an orchestrated letter-writing campaign, a lot of behind-the-scenes-stuff and harsh criticism by one or two leading Israeli apologists in the NZ MSM. Here's one of the cartoons.... carttonisyhttp://thedailyblog.co.nz/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/evans-cartoon-300x216.jpg

New Zealand's Israel Lobby is much smaller than Australia's and more loosely organised, but still employs the same sort of tactics and hasbara techniques (no doubt aided by the Israeli Embassy)