The acting editor of the Sunday Times has echoed News International boss Rupert Murdoch’s apology about a “grotesque” cartoon which appeared in the paper sparking claims of anti-semitism.
Martin Ivens met representatives of the Jewish Community today to express the broadsheet’s regret for publishing the Gerald Scarfe image, which appears to show Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu paving a wall with the blood and limbs of Palestinians.
The political cartoon, which was published on Holocaust Memorial Day, shows Mr Netanyahu holding a trowel and carries the lines: “Israeli elections. Will cementing peace continue?”
The acting editor said: “You will know that the Sunday Times abhors anti-Semitism and would never set out to cause offence to the Jewish people – or any other ethnic or religious group.
“That was not the intention last Sunday. Everyone knows that Gerald Scarfe is consistently brutal and bloody in his depictions, but last weekend – by his own admission – he crossed a line.
“The timing – on Holocaust Memorial Day – was inexcusable. The associations on this occasion were grotesque and on behalf of the paper I’d like to apologise unreservedly for the offence we clearly caused.
“This was a terrible mistake.”
His apology followed that of Mr Murdoch, who said in a tweet: “Gerald Scarfe has never reflected the opinions of the Sunday Times.
“Nevertheless, we owe major apology for grotesque, offensive cartoon.”
Jewish community leaders said they were disturbed by parallels they saw between the red-tinged drawing and historical anti-Semitic propaganda.
In response to today’s meeting, Mick Davis, chair of the Jewish Leadership Council, said: “We have voiced our concern in response to the strength of the feeling from all sections of the Jewish community.
“I welcome the genuine apology from the Sunday Times.
“I appreciate the urgency and respect with which the Sunday Times have treated Jewish communal concerns and now look forward to constructively moving on from this affair.”
The Board of Deputies of British Jews said it had lodged a complaint with the Press Complaints Commission.
The deputies said in a statement that the depiction of a Jewish leader using blood for mortar “is shockingly reminiscent of the blood libel imagery more usually found in parts of the virulently anti-Semitic Arab press”.