Guardian sacks own veteran cartoonist after 'antisemitic' picture of Benjamin Netanyahu

​The Guardian

The Guardian has employed Steve Bell for four decades

Dan Falvey

By Dan Falvey

Published: 16/10/2023

- 09:51

The newspaper has not renewed their star illustrator's contract

The Guardian newspaper is parting company with its cartoonist after he spark anger by drawing a picture deemed antisemitic.

Steve Bell caused backlash against the publication after a cartoon he produced following Hamas' attack on Israel 10 days ago.

The published cartoon showed Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wearing boxing gloves and attempting to operate on his own torso, which had been marked up in the shape of the Gaza Strip.

The image was accompanied by a caption which read: "Residents of Gaza, get out now."

WATCH: BBC confronted over Israel-Hamas coverage

Some people had claimed that the cartoon mimicked the Jewish moneylender Shylock in Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice. In the play, Shylock demands a "pound of flesh".

Bell has denied any suggestion of antisemitism.

A Guardian spokesman said: “The decision has been made not to renew Steve Bell’s contract.

"Steve Bell’s cartoons have been an important part of the Guardian over the past 40 years – we thank him and wish him all the best."

\u200bSteve Bell

Steve Bell sparked outrage with his cartoon

The Cartoon Museum

It is not the first time that the cartoonist has been accused of antisemitism, with the ex-Guardian employee having faced former criticisms of his work.

Bell said that it had been increasingly difficult to have creative "freedom" at the Guardian due to processes put in place aimed at stopping offensive images from being created.

He said that "a new process of vetting content, even for undrawn cartoons" had been implemented.

"It’s getting more and more impossible to safeguard the freedom you need to be a cartoonist," he told the Morning Star.

"I’ve worked on this paper for 42 years and these kinds of problems have only come up recently."

The cartoon which has sparked the most recent outrage was published by The Guardian, in spite of the new measures that Bell says have been put in place.

Bell added: "I used to do three editorial cartoons a week.

"They have cut it right back to three a month, and [now] they got rid of it completely.

"I’d have been happy drawing if [I could] for the rest of my life."

You may like