B'nai Brith: La Presse Cartoon Anti-Semitic Propaganda
CJC disagrees. Says cartoonist is a friend of the Jewish community.
B’nai Brith has asked a Quebec newspaper to remove a political cartoon from its website that appears to have a Star of David drawn on the Parliament Buildings in Ottawa.
The cartoon originally ran in the print edition of La Presse newspaper Le Droit that serves the Gatineau area and was also viewable at cyberpresse.ca. It depicts the front of Parliament Hill. What looks like a Star of David can clearly be seen on the clock of the Peace Tower. A yellow slippery road ahead sign stands near the entrance gates.
B’nai Brith said that it is appalled by the cartoon, calling it outrageous and an offensive insinuation that Jews control Canada’s federal government.
“The caricature plays into vicious and baseless age-old stereotypes of a Jewish conspiracy of control,” said Moïse Moghrabi, Quebec Chair of The League for Human Rights of B’nai Brith Canada.
Moghrabi added that the cartoon does not raise any significant political issue. Rather, its purpose seems to be to create public resentment against the Jewish community.
“We find it regrettable and shameful that a respectable newspaper would promote such harmful canards,” he said. “This cartoon is an attack on the Jewish community in Canada.”
Guy Badeaux, a veteran cartoonist who goes by the alias Bado, told the CBC that his intention with the cartoon was not to offend. He also said that it was not his intention to draw a Star of David, but to instead recreate a simplified version of the Peace Tower’s complex clock face.
The detailed pattern on the clock includes two triangles that form a Star of David when the rest of the lines are removed.
In a CBC interview, the editor of Le Droit said that the newspaper is taking a look at the situation and may take action late Tuesday.
Badeaux, who has been with Le Droit since 1981, was given an award in 2009 by the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages.
B’nai Brith has charged La Presse in the past with printing what it calls cartoons “laced with anti-Jewish connotations.” In 2007, it criticized award-winning Montreal cartoonist Serge Chapleau for his portrayal of Action Democratique du Quebec leader Mario Dumont as a stereotyped Hasidic Jew with payot and a black fur hat. At the time, Dumont was attempting to gain the support of Montreal’s Ultra-Orthodox community.
“We are appalled by La Presse’s repeated publication of such shameful cartoons,” said Moghrabi. “We call on La Presse to remove the cartoon from its website immediately, issue an apology for publishing such blatantly anti-Semitic propaganda, and to undertake to re-examine editorial policies that have allowed dissemination of such vile material.”
However, Canadian Jewish Congress CEO Bernie Farber rejected the idea that Badeaux’s cartoon is anti-Semitic.
“The cartoonist in question is a friend of the Jewish community,” Farber told Shalom Life. “He has, in fact, been part of a program that we sponsored a year or so ago called ‘Cartoons for Peace’ that had cartoonists involved in doing editorial cartoons showing the way for peace in the Middle East. He has spoken extensively at synagogues, [and is] very much a friend of the community.”
He added that Badeaux has worked in the past with both Quebec Jewish Congress and Quebec-Israel Committee.
Farber, who was born in Ottawa and happened to be visiting the capital when the cartoon was published, added that “as it happens, there happens to be a Star of David on the Peace Tower. It’s there. All you have to do is look at the face of the clock and you’ll see it.”
While he agrees that there are time when cartoons can be anti-Semitic, Farber said that this incident is not of one those times. “In past cartoons when [Badeaux] has caricaturized Parliament he has also used that same image. So this has nothing to do with a man who is anti-Semitic. It’s got to do with a cartoonist who just uses that image. That’s it.
Farber explained that the idea behind the cartoon was simply the return to Parliament and said that “it would be wrong to call somebody an anti-Semite who isn’t.
“People who know Canadian Jewish Congress know that we do not shy away from targeting anti-Semites, but we will speak out and we will defend those that are not anti-Semites. This is just something that we have to be very clear about,” said Farber.