News Corp. Denies Anti-Semitism in Sunday Times Cartoon (Updated)

News Corp. Denies Anti-Semitism in Sunday Times Cartoon (Updated)

The Sunday Times defended a cartoon by Gerald Scarfe depicting Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu cementing a brick wall with Palestinians' blood after it was criticized by Jewish groups in the U.K. and United States as being anti-Semitic.

The Anti-Defamation League said the cartoon, published on Holocaust Memorial Day, featured classic themes used to evoke "the ancient 'blood libel' charge leveled at Jews."

"The Sunday Times has clearly lost its moral bearings publishing a cartoon with a blatantly anti-Semitic theme and motif which is a modern day evocation of the ancient 'blood libel' charge leveled at Jews," Michael A. Salberg, ADL international affairs director, said in a statement on Sunday.

Salberg told TheWrap on Monday that the Times' initial apologies were "woefully inadequate."

"The statement issued by the Sunday Times yesterday showed an appalling indifference to the criticism that was leveled against the cartoon," he told TheWrap. "This is about the need for the leadership of the Sunday Times to acknowledge the manifest anti-Semitic content and publicly apologize for it."

The Board of Deputies of British Jews said in a statement that it complained to the Press Complaints Commission, an independent organization that deals with the public's issues with media depictions and the press.The Times, News Corporation's flagship broadsheet in Britain, said the cartoon criticized the conservative prime minister and his policies and did not make a broad statement about Jews or Israel.

"It is aimed squarely at Mr Netanyahu and his policies, not at Israel, let alone at Jewish people. It appeared yesterday because Mr Netanyahu won the Israeli election last week," the paper said in a public statement on Monday. "The Sunday Times condemns antisemitism, as is clear in the excellent article in yesterday's magazine which exposes the Holocaust-denying tours of concentration camps organised by David Irving.

Later on Monday, News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch apologized for the Sunday weekly's cartoon, saying the illustrator's views did not reflect those of the newspaper.

"Gerald Scarfe has never reflected the opinions of the Sunday Times," Murdoch tweeted. "Nevertheless, we owe major apology for grotesque, offensive cartoon."

It's not the first time in recent months that the News Corp. chief has had to defend itself against charges of anti-Semitism.

Last November, Murdoch asked on Twitter, "Why Is Jewish owned press so consistently anti-Israel in every crisis?"

The tweet played into the old anti-Semitic charge that Jews control the media. Many of the media mogul's 400,000 followers immediately called him out for it, spurring his apology.

"'Jewish owned press' have been sternly criticised, suggesting link to Jewish reporters," Murdoch tweeted. "Don't see this, but apologise unreservedly."

Updated at 11:02 a.m. PT with a tweet from Rupert Murdoch.

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