Steve Bell sacked by The Guardian over ‘anti-Semitic’ cartoon of Israeli PM | World News - Hindustan Times
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Cartoonist Steve Bell sacked by The Guardian over ‘anti-Semitic’ caricature of Benjamin Netanyahu amid Israel war

BySumanti Sen
Oct 16, 2023 04:02 PM IST

Steve Bell's cartoon shows Benjamin Netanyahu operating on his own body, bearing a cut in the outline of the Gaza Strip amid the ongoing Israel-Palestine crisis

The Guardian cartoonist Steve Bell has claimed that he has been sacked for drawing a cartoon of Benjamin Netanyahu that the organisation thought was anti-Semitic. Steve has been in the midst of controversies for his previous works too.

A view shows houses and buildings destroyed in Israeli strikes, in Jabalia in the northern Gaza Strip, October 11, 2023 (REUTERS/Anas al-Shareef TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY)(REUTERS)
A view shows houses and buildings destroyed in Israeli strikes, in Jabalia in the northern Gaza Strip, October 11, 2023 (REUTERS/Anas al-Shareef TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY)(REUTERS)

The recent work shows Benjaminoperating on his own body, bearing a cut in the outline of the Gaza Strip amid the ongoing Israel-Palestine crisis. A caption on the cartoon reads, “Residents of Gaza, get out now”. This is a reference to Israel telling residents to flee south as a ground invasion is expected amid the war.

According to critics, the cartoon’s imagery was similar to Shylock, a character from William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice, LBC reported. Shylock was an antagonistic Jewish moneylender who insisted on the "pound of flesh" he was owed.

‘The cartoon is specifically about Benjamin Netanyahu’s disastrous policy failure’

Steve has worked for The Guardian for more than 40 years. He claimed the organisation refuses to print his work now. Defending the cartoon, he said that it was "impossible to draw this subject for The Guardian now without being falsely accused of using ‘anti-Semitic tropes’”. He also said the cartoon was only a reference to a 1960s cartoon about former US president Lyndon B Johnson.

"The cartoon is specifically about Benjamin Netanyahu’s disastrous policy failure which has led directly to the hideous recent atrocities around Gaza, and about his proposed response that he had announced, using his actual words addressing the citizens of Gaza," Steve told the Jewish Chronicle.

“The Guardian has every right not to publish my cartoon if it so chooses, but it should not do so using entirely contrived and false reasons,” he added. "All that does is inhibit discussion of a dreadful but important subject." Steve will reportedly work with the paper until April 2024.

Meanwhile, The Guardian said in a statement, “The decision has been made not to renew Steve Bell's contract. Steve Bell's cartoons have been an important part of the Guardian over the past 40 years – we thank him and wish him all the best."

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