Edmonton Journal cartoon criticized for antisemitism

(August 8, 2019) – The Jewish Federation of Edmonton (JFEd) sent a formal letter of complaint to the Editorial Manager of the Edmonton Journal with regards to an offensive Jewish stereotypical image that was drawn in a political cartoon and published on August 1, 2019.  The Journal Editorial staff has now agreed to a meeting with JFed leadership to discuss the publishing of the offensive cartoon.

In the letter to Managing Editor Dave Breakenridge, JFed President Steve Shafir wrote, “I am writing to you as the President of the Jewish Federation of Edmonton, and with respect to the cartoon drawn by Malcolm Mayes and published by your paper on August 1, 2019.

“The cartoon depicted an antisemitic caricature of a Jewish man inside a wallet, and somehow was linking the character to the Capital One hacking incident that recently occurred. As has widely been reported, the hacker was a young female. We do not understand the connection Mr. Mayes is trying to make by using antisemitic tropes in his cartoon. We are disgusted with Mr. Mayes’ cartoon, with your tacit approval of it in your willingness to publish it, or, alternatively, we are astonished by your willful blindness if you did not see the harm that this cartoon would cause.

“The cartoon published on August 1, 2019 was rife with antisemitic tropes that were common in 1930s and 1940s Nazi Germany and have no place in the newspapers of liberal democracies such as Canada in 2019. The Edmonton Journal should be ashamed for being used as a platform for hatred and intolerance.

“Part and parcel with their plan to exterminate Europe’s Jews, Nazi propaganda depicted Jews in similar fashion. In 2019, the Edmonton Journal followed suit with a caricature so strikingly similar to those published by Joseph Goebbels. This is unacceptable.

“Mr. Mayes is no stranger to us. We wrote to you on May 15, 2018 regarding a cartoon that Mr. Mayes had drawn that was also antisemitic and anti-Israel. While our letter at that time was published by you, our request to meet with you went unanswered.

“It is unfortunate and sad that the Edmonton Journal, a nationally recognized newspaper, is being used by Mr. Mayes to spread antisemitism. Statistics Canada continually reports that the Jewish community is the most frequently targeted minority community in Canada when it comes to hate crimes. Publication of antisemitic material drawn by Mr. Mayes only perpetuates and allows antisemitism to further flourish.

“When antisemitism occurs, it harms not only the Jewish community, but it attacks Canadian values. For this cartoon to be published in the days leading up to Heritage Day, when we, as Albertans, celebrate our multiculturalism and our diversity, is a slap in the face of what Canadian society holds so dear. Antisemitism hurts everyone, not just Jews.

“In April 2019, the New York Times published an antisemitic cartoon in their paper. In response to that publication, the New York Times met with the Jewish community and issued two public apologies. Further, the New York Times ceased its relationship with the service that provided the cartoon and ultimately decided that it would no longer publish political cartoons of any sort.

“We are strongly advocating for a formal public apology from your paper, and we call for the immediate termination of your relationship with Mr. Mayes. We are also seeking an immediate meeting with you to discuss this matter. If this is not resolved quickly and to our satisfaction, we will be forced to register a formal complaint with the National News Media Council, of which Postmedia is a member.”

Editors Note: The Edmonton Jewish News is not reprinting the cartoon here, nor the cartoons from Nazi Germany. We have elected instead to discuss the nature of the cartoon without the further dissemination of the offensive image. Honest Reporting Canada agreed that the cartoon was very offensive. They stated, “The only thing missing from this cartoon is a Star of David and a yarmulke to play off the age-old antisemitic trope and Jewish conspiracy theory.”

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