Perhaps you’ve seen the Pat Oliphant cartoon that ran in several print newspapers and Web sites this week.
Jewish rights groups have cried foul and demanded newspapers, including The New York Times, remove the cartoon from their Web sites. They’re calling it ant-Semitic.
But is it? Is this cartoon anti-Semitic or anti-Israel? And is there a difference?
I think Oliphant, a Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist, walked a fine line here. The cartoon does criticize the nation of Israel, but it also offends the Jewish religion. Oliphant denigrated a religious symbol—the Star of David—and dragged Nazi imagery—goose stepping—into the picture; that’s guaranteed controversy. He knew it, and so did the papers that ran it.
That said, I don’t think any newspaper should remove it. Doing so would continue a disturbing trend of censorship in cartoons. (See police shooting chimp/stimulus bill cartoon.)