London – Jewish leaders have condemned a cartoon published by The Independent that appears to compare Palestinian militants to Ukrainians fighting the Russian army as “appalling”.
The drawing, published on Wednesday, showed a Palestinian lying on the group below fighter planes with rubble-strewn devastation around him.
On a bullet-hole-ridden sign above him reading “Jenin”, he had used his own blood to write “Ukraine”.
“Can you see me now?” the wounded man is shown as asking.
Reacting furiously, a spokesman for the Jewish Leadership Council said: “It is a clear attempt to deny Israel’s right to defend itself by casting a false equivalence between Ukrainians and armed Palestinian terrorists.”
They added: “This is an appalling cartoon.”
A National Jewish Association (NJA) spokesman said the organisation was “outraged” by the image as it appeared to compare Palestinian terrorists in Jenin to Ukrainians fighting Putin’s invasion.
NJA Chairman Gary Mond told the JC: “Ukrainians are fighting because their territory has been invaded. They do not seek to destroy Russia and kill all Russians.
“Palestinians are fighting to destroy the Jewish state and kill or expel the Jewish population. That is their clearly stated goal.
“That the Independent should publish such a cartoon that appears to draw an equivalence between Palestinian terrorists and Ukrainians is an insult to Ukraine and its people.”
Media watchdog Honest Reporting said: “Publishing satirical cartoons is The Independent’s prerogative.
“However, drawing false parallels and distorting their readers’ views on two very different conflicts is wildly irresponsible and inappropriate.”
Cartoonist Dave Brown, who drew the image, previously earned notoriety for depicting Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon as a deformed monster consuming Palestinian children.
For this visual reference to Goya’s 19th-century painting Saturn Devouring His Son, the artist received numerous complaints and the 2003 Political Cartoon of the Year award.
Lawyer Anthony Julius, who represented Deborah Lipstadt in her battle against Holocaust denier David Irving, described the cartoon as “antisemitic, in a fantastically irresponsible way, at a particularly volatile time”.
The leading solicitor handled a complaint to the Press Complaints Commission on behalf of the Israeli embassy.
The press regulator ruled: “There is nothing inherently antisemitic about the Goya image or about the myth of Saturn devouring his children, which has been used previously to satirise other politicians accused of sacrificing their own ‘children’ for political purposes.”
Simon Kelner, then editor of the Independent, denied the cartoon was racist and said it was purely “anti-Sharon”.
The Independent has been contacted for comment.