Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Je Suis Le Lievre & Carlton

Remember Glen Le Lievre's powerful cartoon in last year's Sydney MorningHerald, drawn as Israel was 'mowing the grass' in the Gaza Ghetto, and many Israelis - with kippahs (some incorporating the Star of David) and without - were enjoying the spectacle from a nearby hill (some sitting in lounge chairs)?

Remember the knee-jerk allegations of anti-Semitism which followed it?

Remember the equally powerful essay by columnist Mike Carlton which shared the page with it?

Remember how the Herald got the wobbles when the usual suspects began hurling the usual accusations of anti-Semitism at him?

Remember how Carlton ended up resigning from the paper rather than kiss the ring?

Remember the dark threats in Murdoch's Australian about "the organised [Jewish] community getting legal advice and looking closely at its options"?

Well, here's the final (?) chapter in the saga - Press Council Adjudication 1634 of January 15, the subject of which, I note, is exclusively Le Lievre's cartoon. What rubbish it is:

"The Press Council has considered whether its Standards of Practice were breached by a cartoon in the Sydney Morning Herald on 26 July 2014. It was associated with an opinion piece on the conflict in Gaza and depicted an elderly man with a large nose, wearing the distinctively Jewish head covering called a kippah or yarmulke, and sitting in an armchair emblazoned with the Star of David. He was pointing a TV remote control device at an exploding cityscape, implied to be Gaza. Implied to be Gaza!

"The Council asked the publication to comment on whether the cartoon had placed gratuitous emphasis on race or religion. It also asked the publication whether the cartoon could reasonably have expected to cause offence and showed insufficient concern for balancing the sensibilities of some readers with the broader public interest.

"In response, the publication agreed that the cartoon had placed gratuitous emphasis on the Jewishness of its subject and in so doing had inappropriately emphasised religious persuasion rather than Israeli nationality, thereby causing offence. It pointed out that a 650-word apology had been published about a week later."

So the cartoon was thought too Jewish and insufficiently Israeli. The kippah is Jewish, but worn by countless Israelis, including, when it suits him, Netanyahu. The Star of David is Jewish, but is emblazoned on every Israeli flag and death-dealing fighter jet, not to mention on many Israeli kippahs.

If Le Lievre inappropriately emphasised religious persuasion that is because Israel itself, through its appropriation of Jewish religious symbols for its own political ends, inappropriately emphasises religious persuasion.

"The publication also pointed out that the newspaper's Editor in Chief and News Director had subsequently participated in seminars facilitated by the Jewish Board of Deputies to raise awareness about the imagery that could be construed as anti-Semitic. It said further seminars were planned and would be expanded to include the newspaper's senior editorial staff.

"The publication also said that a requirement for extra layers of approval had been introduced for all cartoons prior to publication."

So much for the Herald's slogan "Independent. Always."

"Conclusions: The Council emphasises that cartoons are subject to its Standards of Practice. The application of those standards however, takes account of the fact that readers can reasonably be expected to recognise that cartoons commonly use exaggeration and caricature to a considerable degree and therefore should be interpreted by them with this in mind.

"In this instance, the cartoon's linkage between the Jewish faith and the Israeli rocket attacks on Gaza was reasonably likely to cause great offence to many readers. A linkage with Israeli nationality might have been justifiable in the public interest, despite being likely to cause offence. But the same cannot be said of the implied linkage with the Jewish faith that arose from inclusion of the kippah and the Star of David. Accordingly, the Council's Standards of Practice were breached on the ground of causing greater offence to readers' sensibilities than was justifiable in the public interest.

"The Council welcomes the prominent, extensive and closely-reasoned apology by the publication and its subsequent action to reduce the risk of repetition. The Council commends this approach to other publications."

For the genesis of this complaint to the Press Council see my 7/12/14 post The Whinge Goes On.

As for Mike Carlton, our Human Rights Commissioner Tim Wilson referred in yesterday's Australian to Carlton "facing a complaint under 18C because of his disgraceful anti-Semitic language." (Charlie Hebdo v 18C: no contest)

Mike's tweeted response (18/1): "I used no 'disgraceful anti-Semitic language' and was not pinged by 18C. Tim Wilson is a posturing fuckwit."


Anonymous said...

So some cartoons get special treatment.

Ditto some journalists.

In the case of mike Carlton the 'Human Rights' Commissioner does not believe in basic Natural Justice or procedural fairness. Tim [the posturing fuckwit] Wilson has already confirmed his decision in advance.

Ecrasez l'infame!

Vacy said...

Dubbed the "Freedom Commissioner" ( freedom for the Oz Israel Lobby)TPF wilson is a federal govt appointee..so no surprise he parrots the accusations of antisemitism when there is criticism of Israel. Strange the star of david is indicative of Israel- the jewish state a run by netanyahu self-styled leader of the world's jews

I do remember I so enjoy reading MERC's articles…MERC is an important consistent voice on the the range of hypocrisies by Australian governments and media. Thanks MERC