Hundreds protest New York Times over anti-Semitic cartoon

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Hundreds protest New York Times over anti-Semitic cartoon
Hundreds demonstrated against the New York Times' publication of an anti-Semitic cartoon on Monday. (Photo courtesy of Meredith Weiss)

Hundreds of people protested in front of the New York Times building in Manhattan on Monday evening following the publication of a cartoon widely seen as anti-Semitic, including a handful of people from Great Neck.

The cartoon, published on April 25 in the international edition of The New York Times, depicts a seemingly blind President Donald Trump being led by a dog with the face of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is wearing a collar with the Star of David.

The New York Times has since apologized for “the publication of an anti-Semitic political cartoon” in its international edition, saying it is “committed to making sure nothing like this happens again.”

“Such imagery is always dangerous, and at a time when anti-Semitism is on the rise worldwide, it’s all the more unacceptable,” the New York Times Opinion section posted on Twitter. “We have investigated how this happened and learned that, because of a faulty process, a single editor working without adequate oversight downloaded the syndicated cartoon and made the decision to include it on the opinion page.”

The Times goes on to say it is reviewing the incident, its “internal processes” and anticipates significant changes.

But for many, this wasn’t enough.

Jeffrey Wiesenfeld of Great Neck speaks at a demonstration against the New York Times. (Photo courtesy of Meredith Weiss)
Jeffrey Wiesenfeld of Great Neck speaks at a demonstration against the New York Times. (Photo courtesy of Meredith Weiss)

Jeffrey Weisenfeld, a former New York state official and current Great Neck resident, said the demonstration was both an “indictment” and a call for an independent investigation as to how this happened.

Weisenfeld said The Times has a history of unfairness towards the Jewish people, including “buried news of the Holocaust,” early opposition to creating the state of Israel and providing “no fairness to Israel.”

“There was a recognition that there is a lot of pent up anger against The New York Times,” Weisenfeld said, noting the high turnout and “very good response in Great Neck.”

Meredith Weiss, one of the rally’s organizers, said that the demonstration occupied the whole block between 40th and 41st Street. The location also worked in their favor, she said, with people driving by and shouting in support.

It was also a last minute organization by a conglomerate of grassroots groups – and good turnout considering this, she said.

“We have been coordinating these pro-Israel, pro-American, pro-democracy rallies,” Weiss said. “We only had a few hours to mobilize because the end of the holiday was Saturday night, so we mobilized on Sunday.”

People crowded the space in front of the New York Times building. Some held signs saying the Times newspaper is “guilty” of being anti-Israel and anti-Semitic and waved Israeli flags.

There were also signs comparing a 1940 cartoon published in Nazi Germany, where a Hasidic Jewish man leads British Prime Minister Winston Churchill around the world, with the New York Times cartoon.

Steve Markowitz, the chairman of the Holocaust Memorial and Tolerance Center, said the Times cartoon was something that could have been “out of a far right wing newspaper in Europe.”

Markowitz said the cartoon showing up at a time of rising anti-Semitism and just before a shooting at a San Diego area synagogue was particularly “offensive and hurtful to Jews everywhere, particularly Holocaust survivors who saw this propaganda before the Holocaust.”

“I’ve seen cartoons similar to that, but when I read it in the Times, it blew me away,” Markowitz said, adding that the newspaper moved from “acceptable and legitimate concerns” to something taking on “terrible anti-Semitic tropes.”

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