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Just in: Gerald Scarfe apologises for the timing of his cartoon

The artist has posted the following message on his website¬†about the furore over Sunday’s cartoon:

First of all I am not, and never have been, anti-Semitic. The Sunday Times has given me the freedom of speech over the last 46 years to criticise world leaders for what I see as their wrong-doings. This drawing was a criticism of Netanyahu, and not of the Jewish people: there was no slight whatsoever intended against them. I was, however, stupidly completely unaware that it would be printed on Holocaust Day, and I apologise for the very unfortunate timing.

And here‘s an account of a meeting between Jewish community leaders and the acting editor of the Sunday Times.

I think that draws a line under the unfortunate drawing.


A Scarfe design for the Los Angeles Opera production of The Magic Flute, to be revived in November

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  1. This should be called ‘the scarfe defence’ from now on. I’m talking about the defence that says that of course you don’t hate Jews: you simple believe that they have no right to defend themselves against atrocity, no right to a country they can call their own, no latitude for mistakes of any nature in military operations (as compared with the extraordinary latitude granted their Arab neighbours), in fact no right to anywhere or anything, now or ever. But remember, you don’t hate them……….

    • Robt. Switzer says:

      Well stated! And, if I may add, no one seems to want to remember the fact that Israel never sought to occupy Palestinian territory and be responsible for those living there. It was an unintended consequence of the Israeli army’s successful defense of the nation against an unprovoked attack by the Arab nations that surround it. Before that, from 1947 to 1967, when the Palestinians’ land was under Arab control, nothing was done by the oil-rich Arab nations to alleviate the abject poverty in which they lived. At the same time, Jews were prohibited from accessing their religious sites in Jerusalem, including the holiest site of all, the Western Wall. Moreover, the Arabs seized the Jewish quarter of the old city and, what else?, destroyed the synagogues.

      I fully support the concept of a two-state solution. I freely admit that Israel’s expansion of settlements in Palestinian areas is unhelpful to achieving peace (to put it mildly), but at the same time when Israel has returned land to Palestinian or Arab control, it has not received in return any similar gesture. As long as the Palestinians continue to reject recognition of Israel’s right to exist, I can’t seriously accept that they want peace with Israel. It seems evident from their leaders’ own words that they still seek to drive Israel into the sea. Israel can’t make peace unilaterally. Those who think Israel’s defensive wall or settlements are the real impediments to peace are either naive or, and as much as it pains me to say, anti-Semitic, regardless of their public denials.

    • Graf Nugent says:

      Bravo. Well said.

  2. Whatever you may think of the Israeli/Palestinian issue, you must acknowledge that the drawing is a representation of an INDIVIDUAL (namely PM Netanyahu), not of a PEOPLE. True, it is a caricature of Netanyahu AND a political statement about the politics of Israel. But none of this shows any intent to insult Jews. I mean, I can make a caricature of David Cameron (thus disapproving his politics) without being offensive to the British people. At least I hope so.

    I see NOTHING antisemitic in this drawing. I do not find it very funny either. But it is another problem (and somewhat more important for a caricaturist).

  3. Yes, Kevin, I definitely, concur. If Scarfe, honestly, believes what he drew is not anti-Semitic,
    then, he is too ignorant to produce anything with Jewish content. He has [redacted] shouted his lack of ethics and concern in researching a topic prior to commenting on it. What he has done is despicable- as well as completely inaccurate in the handling of the
    material he is attempting to satirize. Robt. ‘s reply addresses some of it.
    Rupert Murdoch, also, came out with an apology, and Scarfe has drawn his publisher’s notice on a topic
    about which he, Murdoch, cares deeply as his periodic writings reveal.

    • WTF is “something with Jewish content” ? So if I want to make a caricature of, say, Bernie Madoff, I am being antisemitc ? The Scarfe drawing does not criticize Netanyahu qua Jewish, but qua Prime minister of a country. It has as little “Jewish content” as a drawing about David Cameron’s politics has “British content”. Enough with fallacies!

    • Critizing or disliking an individual is never a proof of racism. Unjustified claims in this direction cause nothing postitiv. Except personal satisfaction (and maybe profit) of degrading someone unfairly.

      I feel ashamed for the abusive claims of antisemitism, whenever someone speaks up against an individual who happens to be Jewish or a country who happens to be representing “the hime of Jewish people”.

  4. Stephen Carpenter says:

    2 sticky bits for me.
    1. Images and those who make them (artists) have always held a fearful power. Just look at how many statues of rulers have had eyes gouged and noses smashed or features removed. More recently, why, in the 20th century have the despots and totalitarian rulers gone after artists first? (in this case artists, musicians, writers) they know full well the power that resides there and how it must be contained at all costs. Even societies and cultures not known for despotism try to corral and dismantle the power of the arts. Witness the late 20th century machinations in the halls of the US government.

    This should not be construed as a defense of the cartoon or its creator.

    2. Unintended consequences are always present in any action. It’s what you do with them that counts and it’s what everyone remembers whether its bad publisher timing, an overly successful ,military action, the creation of unemployment, poverty and hunger, or dismantling of cultural apparatus like regional symphony orchestras at the hands of selective fiscal restraint.

    It’s the actions you take going forward that count.

  5. Without getting into the details, one could argue that the discussion which this cartoon has provoked – proves the necessity for “art” which seeks to be both provocative and controversial. Certainly I for one have learned quite a bit about the background behind the issue – from both sides of the argument, simply by reading the various comments made on this website.

    I’m not going to comment on whether the points made have changed my own personal opinion of the issue as a whole, but they have made me think deeply about it and surely that has to be a good thing, something which I do not believe would have happened without that original thread initiated by the cartoon.

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