The Guardian newspaper has been criticised for publishing a cartoon employing antisemitic and insensitive motifs.
The cartoon features Labour Leader Sir Keir Starmer presenting the head of former Leader Jeremy Corbyn on a platter in a pose deliberately reminiscent of the Caravaggio painting “Salome with the Head of Saint John the Baptist”, a depiction of the New Testament event of King Herod having Jesus’ mentor, John the Baptist, beheaded at the request of his Jewish stepdaughter Salome.
The drawing, dubbed “After Caravaggio”, was intended to represent the suspension of Mr Corbyn by Sir Keir. However, the implication of the cartoon that Sir Keir has done the bidding of the Jews by suspending and martyring a saintly Mr Corbyn is a deliberate provocation. Mr Corbyn is an antisemite whose Party engaged in unlawful harassment and discrimination against Jews, and the notion that Sir Keir is under the thumb of the Jewish community is an antisemitic conspiracy that has become popular in pro-Corbyn social media groups and on the far-left.
The depiction of Mr Corbyn beheaded was also criticised in view of recent events in France.
The cartoon was drawn by Steve Bell, who has a history of drawing offensive and contentious cartoons, some of which The Guardian has reportedly refused to publish in the past. Mr Bell has reportedly denied using antisemitic tropes in his cartoon when accused in the past.
A spokesperson for The Guardian spokesperson reportedly told the JC: “The Steve Bell cartoon published today portrays his observation on the recent events in the Labour Party.” The Readers’ Editor is reportedly reviewing complaints that the newspaper has received.
The Labour Party was found by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) to have engaged in unlawful discrimination and harassment of Jews. The report followed the EHRC’s investigation of the Labour Party in which Campaign Against Antisemitism was the complainant, submitting hundreds of pages of evidence and legal argument. Sir Keir Starmer called the publication of the report a “day of shame” for the Labour Party.
Campaign Against Antisemitism’s Antisemitism Barometer 2019 showed that antisemitism on the far-left of British politics has surpassed that of the far-right.