Cartooning for Peace / German cartoonist Dieter Hanitzsch, dismissed from the “Süddeutsche Zeitung” newspaper

German cartoonist Dieter Hanitzsch, dismissed from the “Süddeutsche Zeitung” newspaper

Cartooning for Peace protests against the Süddeutsche Zeitung’s dismissal of the German cartoonist Dieter Hanitzsch because of the following cartoon published in the same newspaper on 15 May 2018.

It represents Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in an outfit and decorum referring to Israeli singer Netta Barzilai’s victory at Eurovision 2018. He pronounces the sentence “Nächstes Jahr in Jerusalem!” (Next year in Jerusalem!), tweeted by the leader of Israel following the victory.

It is up to each person to make his or her own idea and judgement, according to his or her experience, opinions and individual knowledge. Dieter Hanitzsch, who says he made this drawing to criticize current Israeli policy and the exploitation of his compatriot’s victory, explains its aim in an interview with the newspaper Dresdner Neueste Nachrichten .

Kurt Kister, the newspaper’s editor, while acknowledging from the outset that in his view the cartoonist he has known for a long time is neither racist nor anti-Semitic, reacted to the decision in an article published on the newspaper’s website.

While he does not consider the cartoon as being anti-Semitic, he shares the many individual and public criticisms and attacks that detect a series of anti-Semitic stereotypes and clichés in the cartoon that, even if not knowingly used for this purpose, would be likely to be understood as anti-Semitic or feed into such discourse. In this context, the Stürmer is even mentioned, a newspaper pushing the Nazis’ anti-Semitic obsession to its extremes. As for the newspaper’s second editor, Wolfgang Krach, like his colleague, maintains that the drawing could be interpreted as anti-Semitic. He added that this had been the subject of internal and external debate and that the decision to dismiss would be motivated not only by the design but also by subsequent exchanges with its author. He apologized on behalf of the newspaper and promised to review his editorial procedures to avoid further controversy.

In a nutshell: a cartoonist who, more or less, no one considers anti-Semitic, is nevertheless dismissed in dishonourable conditions.

Cartooning for Peace deeply regrets the newspaper’s decision to dismiss the cartoonist for this cartoon as a result of public pressure. Cartooning for Peace also regrets that the newspaper does not take even greater collective and editorial responsibility for the newspaper and disassociates itself from its cartoonist once the storm has started and then proposes to review its editorial approach to the publication of the cartoons and revise it if necessary. Cartooning for Peace deplores what amounts to a reduction in freedom of expression, all the more so as this type of control is likely to become a model.

Cartooning for Peace, which has been fighting against anti-Semitism, Islamophobia and all forms of racism since its creation, deplores an attack on freedom of expression and the abusive dismissal of the cartoonist after a long career with the Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper.

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