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Guardian Apologises to BBC Chairman and Jewish Community Over ‘Anti-Semitic’ Cartoon

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The Guardian has apologised to the Jewish community and outgoing BBC Chairman Richard Sharp for a cartoon it published that has been described as “anti-Semitic.”

The drawing, by cartoonist Martin Rowson, was published on Saturday after Sharp resigned following a review that found he had broken the rules by failing to disclose his role in securing an £800,000 loan guarantee for former Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

The cartoon featured a depiction of Sharp with a box marked Goldman Sachs, where he used to work, which contained what appears to be a puppet of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, an animal that looks like a squid, and a CV—while a Johnson-like figure sits on money.

The newspaper has since removed it from its website, replacing it with a statement reading: “The cartoon that was posted here today did not meet our editorial standards, and we have decided to remove it from our website.”

The Guardian issued an apology saying: “We understand the concerns that have been raised. This cartoon does not meet our editorial standards, and we have decided to remove it from our website.

“The Guardian apologises to Mr. Sharp, to the Jewish community, and to anyone offended.”


Author David Rich, who has previously criticised antisemitism in left-wing British politics, called the cartoon “appalling.”

He wrote on Twitter: “The depiction of Richard Sharp in today’s Guardian cartoon falls squarely into an anti-Semitic tradition of depicting Jews with outsized, grotesque features, often in conjunction with money and power.”

Lord Austin of Dudley, who was a Labour MP before he quit the party over what he called a “culture of extremism, antisemitism and intolerance” in 2019, described the cartoon as having “anti-Semitic imagery” and said the newspaper should be “ashamed.”

Former chancellor and health secretary Sajid Javid also wrote on Twitter: “Disappointed to see these tropes in today’s Guardian. Disturbing theme—or at best, lessons not learned?”

‘A Failure’

Cartoonist Rowson also issued an apology, but insisted Sharp’s Jewish identity played no role in his drawing.

He said: “I know Richard Sharp is Jewish; actually, while we’re collecting networks of cronyism, I was at school with him, though I doubt he remembers me.

“His Jewishness never crossed my mind as I drew him as it’s wholly irrelevant to the story or his actions, and it played no conscious role in how I twisted his features according to the standard cartooning playbook.”

Rowson added: “The cartoon was a failure and on many levels: I offended the wrong people, Sharp wasn’t the main target of the satire, I rushed at something without allowing enough time to consider things with the depth and care they require, and thereby letting slip in stupid ambiguities that have ended up appearing to be something I never intended.”

Editorial Oversight

The criticisms were not just directed at the artist, but also at the newspaper’s senior editors.

Gideon Falter, chief executive of Campaign Against Antisemitism, pointed out that the cartoon came when people who practise Judaism “observed the Sabbath” and called it a “resignation offence” for editor Katharine Viner.

He added: “Though the cartoon has now been deleted, and the cartoonist has apologetically declared that the catalogue of anti-Jewish imagery … were all a mistake, it was waved through by editors.”

Stephen Pollard, editor-at-large of The Jewish Chronicle, said: “It takes a lot to shock me. And I am well aware of The Guardian’s and especially Rowson’s form. But I still find it genuinely shocking that not a single person looked at this and said, no, we can’t run this. To me that’s the real issue.”

Anti-Semitism Rows

This is the second time in a week The Guardian has been involved in a row over alleged Anti-Semitism.

On April 23, Labour MP Diane Abbott was suspended by her party after she published a letter in The Observer—the Guardian’s sister paper—suggesting Jewish people are not subject to racism “all their lives.”

Epoch Times Photo
Diane Abbott attends a Stand Up to Racism rally outside Downing Street, London, on July 17, 2021. (Hollie Adams/Getty Images)

Abbott, who served as shadow home secretary under the hard-left former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, made the comment in response to a comment which suggested that Irish, Jewish, and Traveller people all suffer from racism in the UK.

She wrote: “It is true that many types of white people with points of difference, such as redheads, can experience this prejudice.

“But they are not all their lives subject to racism. In pre-civil rights America, Irish people, Jewish people, and Travellers were not required to sit at the back of the bus.

“In apartheid South Africa, these groups were allowed to vote. And at the height of slavery, there were no white-seeming people manacled on the slave ships.”

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer condemned Abbott’s comments as Anti-Semitic and said they will never be accepted in the party.

PA Media contributed to this report.

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