New York Times to cease political cartoons after anti-Semitism row

Editor James Bennet said the paper had planned for a year to cease running political cartoons in the international print version of the Times, in line with the US edition. (File/AFP)
Updated 11 June 2019
0

New York Times to cease political cartoons after anti-Semitism row

  • The cartoon, published in April, depicted Netanyahu as a guide dog wearing a Star of David collar and leading a blind Donald Trump
  • It prompted an uproar within the Jewish community

NEW YORK: The New York Times has announced it will no longer include daily political cartoons in its international edition, weeks after apologizing for publishing a caricature of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu deemed anti-Semitic.
The cartoon, published in April, depicted Netanyahu as a guide dog wearing a Star of David collar and leading a blind Donald Trump — who was wearing a kippah, or a Jewish skullcap.
It prompted an uproar within the Jewish community, with Israel’s ambassador to the UN likening the drawing to the content of Nazi propaganda tabloid Der Sturmer.
Editor James Bennet said the paper had planned for a year to cease running political cartoons in the international print version of the Times, in line with the US edition.
The decision will come into effect on July 1, Bennet said in a Monday statement.
Patrick Chappatte, one of the paper’s leading cartoonists, said the decision was directly related to the Netanyahu cartoon.
He condemned the publication of the caricature at the center of the controversy but said he was concerned that media outlets were increasingly buckling under political pressure and criticism from “moralistic mobs” on social media.
“Over the last years, some of the very best cartoonists... lost their positions because their publishers found their work too critical of Trump. Maybe we should start worrying,” Chappatte wrote on his personal website.
Bennet said the newspaper hoped to keep working with Chappatte and fellow contributor Heng Kim Song on other projects.
New York Times publisher A.G. Sulzberger announced in May that the editor who published the cartoon would be disciplined.


US Congress leaders demand probe into Al Jazeera’s status

Updated 25 June 2019
0

US Congress leaders demand probe into Al Jazeera’s status

  • Legitimate questions are raised about whether the news outlet should register as a foreign agent

CHICAGO: Six Republican leaders of the House and Senate called for the expulsion of the Qatari-owned satellite television news network Al Jazeera accusing it of violating the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA).

Six GOP US senators including Charles Grassley of Iowa, Ted Cruz of Texas and Marco Rubio of Florida are demanding an investigation into why Al Jazeera is permitted to operate on American territory while two major Chinese government-controlled news agencies, Xinhua News Agency and China Global Television Network, are required to register under FARA.

The senators and representatives are calling for the Department of Justice to open hearings into Al Jazeera’s work in the US, accusing the government-owned Arabic and English-language news outlet of being an “agent” of the government of Qatar, which has been criticized as a safe haven and sponsor of the Muslim Brotherhood and other religious extremist groups. Qatar is also accused of being an ally of Iran.

“News articles have reported activities in which Al Jazeera Media Network (Al Jazeera) is engaged that raise legitimate questions about whether it should register as a foreign agent,” the letter addressed to US Attorney General William Barr argues.

“Al Jazeera is a global organization spanning dozens of countries, including the United States, and reaches hundreds of millions of people worldwide. In 2016, its offshoot, Al Jazeera America, closed. However, Al Jazeera expanded its digital presence via Al Jazeera Plus (AJ+), its online news channel which is headquartered in the United States.”

HIGHLIGHT

The senators and representatives are calling for the Department of Justice to open hearings into Al Jazeera’s work in the US, accusing it of being an ‘agent’ of the government of Qatar.

The letter, dated June 18, 2019, argues that Al Jazeera, founded in 1996, is owned and operated by members of the Qatari royal family.

“Al Jazeera’s videos on YouTube are stamped with the disclaimer, ‘Al Jazeera is funded in whole or in part by the Qatari government.’ Thus, Al Jazeera is not only a foreign principal, but it is also owned by a foreign principal – the government of Qatar,” the Congressional and Senate leaders claim.

“Several members of the ruling family of Qatar have held senior positions at Al Jazeera: Sheikh Hamad bin Thamer Al-Thani, a member of the ruling family of Qatar, is the chairman of Al Jazeera; Sheikh Abdulrahman bin Hamad bin Jassim bin Hamad Al-Thani is the CEO of Qatar Media Corporation and a board member of Al Jazeera;  Sheikh Ahmed bin Jassim Al-Thani served as the director general of Al Jazeera from 2011 until June 2013.

“Given that members of the ruling family are in charge of managing the media network, it is more likely than not that the government can and will assert editorial control over media content.”

All of the signatories of the letter are outspoken critics of the Palestinian cause, and champions of Israel, and are among the largest recipients of campaign contributions from Israel’s American-based lobbying umbrella network, AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee). AIPAC, whose network donates hundreds of millions to the election campaigns of thousands of elected officials from senators all the way down to local legislators, is also not registered under FARA.

The letter comes as Qatari officials are launching a “charm offensive” to woo the administration of President Donald Trump. Trump is expected to meet in July with Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani at the White House.

Critics, predominantly pro-Israel, have argued that Al Jazeera exploits its Arabic and English-language dual roles, embracing extremist and often anti-Semitic rhetoric in its Arabic broadcasts while softening language in its English online platforms.

In response to the criticism, Al Jazeera announced it was suspending two of its reporters for accusing Israel of being “the biggest winner from the Holocaust.”

Since its foundation, Al Jazeera has drifted further and further to the extreme. After its launch, it was banned from being broadcast or carried by many American-based cable TV systems that routinely carry news broadcasts from most other foreign countries including Israel. That changed after September 11, 2001, and Al Jazeera began to spend millions on opening offices in 12 American cities including in New York City in 2013.

Al Jazeera responded in a statement released to several US news outlets that it “is not owned by Qatar” and that “its reporting is not directed or controlled by the Qatari government nor does it reflect any government viewpoint.”