- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 26, 2009

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Two Jewish groups have denounced a Pat Oliphant political cartoon on Gaza as anti-Semitic, likening its fanged Star of David to Nazi imagery before the Holocaust.

The syndicated cartoon published Wednesday in newspapers across the country depicts a goose-stepping uniformed figure wheeling the Jewish symbol as it menaces a small female figure labeled “Gaza.”

The Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Center, a Jewish rights group with more than 400,000 members in the United States, said the cartoon is meant to denigrate and demonize Israel.

“The imagery in this cartoon mimics the venomous anti-Semitic propaganda of the Nazi and Soviet eras,” the center said in a statement. “It is cartoons like this that inspired millions of people to hate in the 1930s and help set the stage for the Nazi genocide.”

The center called on media outlets to remove the cartoon from their Web sites.



Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, issued a statement calling the cartoon “hideously anti-Semitic.”

“It employs Nazi imagery by portraying Israel as a jack-booted, goose-stepping headless apparition,” the statement said. “The implication is of an Israeli policy without a head or a heart.”

Universal Press Syndicate, which distributes Oliphant’s cartoons, issued a statement Thursday defending his work.

“That his cartoons sometimes spark intense debate is a testament to his talent,” Assistant Vice President Kathie Kerr said in the statement.

No media outlets have told the distributor that they pulled the cartoon, but Oliphant’s clients are not required to notify it about such decisions, Kerr said.

The Gaza cartoon alludes to Israel’s invasion of the Palestinian territory in December to halt rocket fire from the area and weaken it militant Hamas rulers. More than 1,400 Palestinians, including more than 900 civilians, were killed, according to a Palestinian human rights group.

Oliphant, who won a Pulitzer Prize in 1967, is one of the most widely syndicated editorial cartoonists in the world.

The cartoon is his latest to draw backlash.

In 2001 and 2007, the Asian American Journalists Association objected to what they called offensive racial caricatures in cartoons about trade with China and concerns about international food safety.

In 2005, the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee criticized one of his cartoons on grounds that it drew on false stereotypes and reinforces negative views of Arabs.

A native of Australia, Oliphant came to the U.S. in 1964 to work for The Denver Post. His work has been syndicated internationally since 1965, and by Universal since 1980. His work is on permanent display at the Library of Congress.

On its Web site, Universal declares that “no one is safe from the acid brush of Pat Oliphant.”

___

On the Net:

The cartoon: https://tinyurl.com/dhtg56

Universal Press Syndicate: https://www.amuniversal.com/ups/index.htm

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