The Guardian was last night accused of “shocking” antisemitism after publishing an offensive cartoon of ex-BBC chairman Richard Sharp featuring Jewish stereotypes. The Mail on Sunday has more.
The controversial image by Martin Rowson showed a grinning caricature of Sharp, who is Jewish, with what experts described as a string of antisemitic tropes.
Sharp dramatically quit as BBC chairman on Friday after a report found that he broke the rules by failing to disclose his role in helping Boris Johnson secure an £800,000 loan.
The cartoon, published yesterday, depicted the former Goldman Sachs banker carrying a box from the bank stuffed with a squid and what appeared to be gold coins.
Stephen Pollard, former editor of the Jewish Chronicle, described the illustration as “unambiguously antisemitic”, adding: “It takes a lot to shock me. But I still find it genuinely shocking that not a single person looked at this and said, ‘No, we can’t run this.’”
Boris Johnson last night suggested those responsible at the Guardian for publishing the image should resign. “Frankly whoever commissioned and printed this has made a far worse mistake than Richard Sharp,” he said. “They should take his lead.”
Writing on Twitter, award-winning screenwriter Lee Kern said: “The Guardian is antisemitic. If a paper can be institutionally racist, it’s them.”
While the squid seemed to be a reference to Goldman Sachs – once described by Rolling Stone magazine as “a great vampire squid” – it is also a “common antisemitic motif” used to depict a supposed Jewish conspiracy, according to Dave Rich, an author who specialises in antisemitism.
He added: “You might argue that outsized facial features and tentacles are common to other topics too, so it’s just a cartoon thing. Except where something has a long and familiar antisemitic history, it takes on a different meaning when you apply it to Jews.”
Critics also highlighted that the cartoon appeared to feature a bloodied pig’s head and Rishi Sunak portrayed as a puppet. Alex Hearn, co-director of Labour Against Antisemitism, said: “It is extraordinary that so many classic anti-Jewish motifs were squeezed into one cartoon, without the Guardian editors objecting.” …
A spokesman for the Guardian yesterday said: “We understand the concerns that have been raised. This cartoon does not meet our editorial standards, and we have decided to remove it from our website.
“The Guardian apologises to Mr Sharp, to the Jewish community and to anyone offended.”
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