Board has ‘positive meeting’ with Guardian over antisemitic cartoon

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Board has ‘positive meeting’ with Guardian over antisemitic cartoon

President Marie van der Zyl among representatives to meet with senior staff, including editor Katharine Viner.

Lee Harpin is the Jewish News's political editor

Martin Rowson shows Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson cartoons as he poses for a photographer in his studio.
Martin Rowson shows Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson cartoons as he poses for a photographer in his studio.

The Board of Deputies had a “positive and constructive” meeting with the Guardian newspaper over the publication of antisemitic cartoons.

President Marie van der Zyl was among the communal representatives to meet with senior Guardian staff, including Katharine Viner, at which the recent Martin Rowson cartoon and earlier antisemitic drawings by Steve Bell in the newspaper were discussed.

Viner had issued an apology after a Rowson cartoon, which was drawn after the exit of BBC chair Richard Sharp with classic antisemitic tropes, provoked widespread fury in the community.

Confirming Monday’s meeting, the Board said: “Following their apology for the Martin Rowson cartoon, we had a positive and constructive meeting with the Guardian where they reiterated the apology. We will be meeting them again in a month for a follow-up on yesterday’s discussion.”

Earlier this month the Board said they had written to the Guardian requesting an “urgent meeting” with Viner to discuss the Rowson cartoon.

“This is far from the first time that the paper has crossed the line in terms of highly questionable content connected to the Jewish community,” their statement said, in reference to cartoons by former staff member Bell.

Viner has promised that editorial standards will have to improve at the Guardian after Rowson, a prominent political cartoonist, drew a dark caricature of Sharp holding a box with the label of Goldman Sachs, his former employer. Inside the box were a squid and a head with an elongated nose.

The editor-in-chief confirmed she was in America on the day the staff in London approved the Rowson cartoon for publication.

In a lengthy statement, Rowson said Sharp’s Jewishness “never crossed my mind as I drew him” but said that “the cartoon was a failure on many levels.” Rowson has sparked criticism before for his depiction of Jewish figures.

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