Israeli magazine fires cartoonist for depicting PM, lawmakers as pigs
An Israeli news magazine has sacked a veteran cartoonist for depicting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and lawmakers with his Likud party as pig characters from George Orwell’s Animal Farm to criticize the regime over the adoption of a highly discriminatory law.
Cartoonist Avi Katz of the Jerusalem Report took a selfie taken by the Likud lawmakers with the premier after the Israeli parliament (Knesset) passed the “Jewish nation-state” law last week, drawing the politicians in the photo with pigs’ heads.
The law defines Israel as a “state” exclusively for the Jews, ignoring the rights of its other minority groups, especially the Arabs who account for around 21 percent of Israel’s population.
The blatantly racist law has raised controversy even inside the Israeli-occupied territories, with critics saying that it puts “Jewish” and democratic values on an equal footing, while marginalizing the Arab minority group.
Katz’s sketch is captioned with a line by Orwell, which says, “All animals are equal but some are more equal than others.”
The line echoes a key phrase from the leader of the revolutionary pigs who in the novel overthrow their human owners, and then start to oppress their fellow farm animals.
The Jerusalem Report – which is owned by the Jerusalem Post newspaper group – told Israeli media that the cartoonist’s contract was terminated “in accordance with editorial considerations.”
The Jerusalem Post also said in a statement that Katz’s latest sketch was particularly offensive.
“It was decided to stop publishing these cartoons, after a number of them in recent months sparked angry reactions,” it wrote, adding, “A cartoon showing Israeli leaders with pigs’ heads causes harm and incitement and has no place in any of our publications.”
Press Freedom activists, however, criticized the decision to sack the cartoonist, arguing that the illustration had the approval of Jerusalem Report editors for publication.
According a report by The Guardian, Israel’s Union of Journalists blasted the decision to dismiss the cartoonist as an “unacceptable step,” calling on the magazine to reverse it.
The report said one of Katz’s colleagues had resigned in a show of protest, saying the cartoonist had been fired “simply because his work has upset some readers.”
“Journalism, when done well, always angers some readers and it is the duty of the newspaper or magazine’s editors and managers to stand by writers and other members of the staff when readers complain about the analyses and opinions expressed by its staff,” he said.