Australian newspaper apologizes after backlash over antisemitic cartoon - World Jewish Congress

Australian newspaper apologizes after backlash over antisemitic cartoon

Australian newspaper apologizes after backlash over antisemitic cartoon

Sydney

The Australian Financial Review (AFR) apologized for the “unintended hurt and offense” caused by the publication of an antisemitic caricature of the country’s Jewish treasurer. The cartoon portrayed a group of government officials and a team of explorers, including the treasurer, Josh Frydenberg, who is portrayed as having a hooknose and wearing a head covering while carrying a golden staff in the shape of a dollar sign.

The AFR maintains that the cartoon was not meant to include Jewish references, but it understood how some readers could have interpreted the imagery differently.  An AFR spokesman said, “The Financial Review abhors antisemitism, from whatever part of the political spectrum, and celebrates the contribution of people of Jewish faith and background to modern Australia, especially to modern Australian business.”

The newspaper has since amended the cartoon, removing the head covering and changing the nose. The dollar symbol remains. The artist who created the cartoon, David Rowe, deleted the cartoon from his Twitter account. 

The image drew condemnation from leaders in the Jewish community, including Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ) co-CEO Alex Ryvchin, who asked, “Is that the treasurer depicted with a head covering, hook nose, and a dollar sign? A better way?” Rowe responded to the controversy, writing on Twitter that Frydenberg was “wearing a sailor’s cap as per the E. Phillips Fox painting of Cook’s landing. And yes, he’s carrying a dollar harpoon because he’s the treasurer. As for the nose, it’s just a quick sketch. Apologies if you thought I was suggesting something else.”

In an interview with The Australian Jewish News, Ryvchin reported that ECAJ received a handful of complaints from people who “detected something sinister in that depiction of the treasurer.”

“Cartoons are subjective and often the public will infer meanings that aren’t there or that the artist never intended,” Ryvchin said. This is why I felt it was best to seek a clarification from the cartoonist rather than jumping to conclusions and I’m glad the clarification was issued swiftly.”

“The public can now make up their own minds and I hope that greater caution is exercised in future,” he added. 

New South Wales Jewish Board of Deputies CEO Vic Alhadeff told The AJN that the editor-in-chief of the newspaper had apologized for the incident, saying, “From the outset there has been no doubting the sincerity of his regret at the unintended hurt and offense which was caused by the publication of this unfortunate cartoon.” 

He added, “We acknowledge and accept the apology from the editor-in-chief, the cartoonist, and the newspaper, and trust that greater care will be taken in future in regard to matters of cultural awareness.”