The Israeli Embassy in Norway has demanded an apology from Dagbladet for its “anti-Semitic” depiction of the country’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and that it be removed.
In the polarizing caricature, Netanyahu, whose body is shaped like a swastika, is punching a member of Israel’s Druze minority off a bench, reading “whites only.” This was Dagbladet’s reaction toward a recent law adopted by Israel, which evoked a lot of controversy both inside the country and on the international arena, with many arguing that it made non-Jews (including the sizable, 150,000 strong, Druze community) second-class citizens.
“We demand that Dagbladet remove the anti-Semitic drawing and issue a public apology to Israel and the Jewish people in Norway and around the world,” Dan Poraz of the Israeli embassy said.”
He also ventured that while anti-Semitism was a disease of the far-right in the 20th century, it has shifted toward the radical left in the 21st century, arguing that “anti-Semitism dressed as free speech was still anti-Semitism.”
The Simon Wiesenthal Center slammed the caricature as “contemptuous Jew-hatred” and “slander.”
Ervin Kohn, the head of Norway’s Mosaic community, slammed the caricature as “grossly anti-Semitic” calling for Dagbladet to “wake up” and stop being an “anti-Semitic newspaper.”
Dagbladet itself defended the drawing as satire, claiming that it traditionally plays a much larger role in the Norwegian press. The newspaper also stressed that no comparisons between Israeli politicians and Nazis were made in the text of the article.
“It is in the nature of satire to push the ceiling higher. Satire is deliberate exaggeration by definition,” Dagbladet’s political editor, Geir Ramnefjell, told national broadcaster NRK, arguing that the drawing “belongs to the borderland,” as intended by the author.”
Speaking of the author, Finn Graff argued that the caricature was merely “anti-Netanyahu,” but not “anti-Semitic.”
Kjersti Løken Stavrum, the deputy head of Norwegian PEN, defended the Norwegian cartoon tradition as such.
“I’m glad we have cartoonists who dare to venture into difficult areas, knowing that they are sparking debate and are controversial,” Stavrum told NRK, arguing that the whole point of a caricature is to overstress.
“We chose to publish it because it falls fully within the press ethics,” Ramnefjell explained, stressing that Dagbladet has been a strong voice against anti-Semitism since before World War II.”
Previously, Dagbladet, one of Norway’s most popular tabloids, drew the ire of Israelis by comparing Israel to Nazi Germany and North Korea and equating circumcision with maiming and pedophilia.
In 2005, Dagbladet also published the notorious caricatures of Prophet Mohammed, as did other Norwegian media.