The Washington Post quickly removed a cartoon of a Hamas terrorist following backlash from some readers calling it “racist.”
The political cartoon, titled “Human Shields,” depicted a broad-nosed Hamas extremist with infants, children and women attached to him, as he asked, “How dare Israel attack civilians.” ..”
The cartoon was published online and in the print edition of the newspaper on Wednesday, November 8.
Drawn by cartoonist Michael Ramirez, the caricature was heavily criticized by some who saw it as a discriminatory portrait of Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, although it is unclear whether Haniyeh was the intended subject.
In response, the outlet’s opinion editor David Shipley apologized for approving the publication in a note to readers on Wednesday.
“The reaction to the image convinced me that I had missed something profound and divisive, and I regret it,” Shipley wrote.
The Washington Post removed and apologized for this cartoon of a Hamas terrorist linked to women and children, saying: “How dare Israel attack civilians? »
The depiction was created by Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist Michael Ramirez, and his future at the Washington Post is not mentioned in the outlet’s apology.
Shipley continued his apology: “Our section is about finding commonalities, understanding the ties that bind us, even in the darkest of times.”
The editor-in-chief said the cartoon was initially intended to satirize a Hamas spokesperson, but the negative reaction led him to believe the cartoon went against the “spirit” of his section.
Several letters of outrage were also included in the apology note, which called the cartoon “grossly misdepicting” and “blatantly mocking” the crisis in the Middle East.
“The cartoons employ offensive and disturbing racial stereotypes. Portraying Arabs with exaggerated features and portraying women in derogatory and stereotypical roles perpetuates racism and gender bias, which is completely unacceptable,” a reader from Fairfax, Virginia, wrote in a letter.
Suzanne van Geuns, a research associate at Princeton University, said in a separate letter: “I am a scholar of religion and media; I recognize a deeply racist depiction of “heathens” and their barbaric cruelty toward women and children when I see it again in Michael Ramirez’s November 8 editorial cartoon.
“It is in no way informative, helpful or thought-provoking to examine this conflict through the lenses of 19th-century colonialists.”
Washington Post Opinion Editor David Shipley apologized for endorsing the cartoon and said the negative reaction to the image “convinced me that I had missed something deep and divisive, and I regret it.”
The Washington Post included furious letters sent by readers as they removed the cartoon, which it called “grossly distorted” and a “blatant mockery” of the Middle East crisis.
Many activists have also spoken out since the cartoon’s publication to condemn the Washington Post’s decision to publish it.
“It’s the Washington Post. This is the kind of anti-Palestinian racism that is acceptable to publish,” said Palestinian-American poet Remi Kanazi.
Left-wing British commentator Owen Jones added on Twitter: “This racist dehumanization is always a precondition for mass murders like those currently taking place in Gaza. »
“It’s not even subtle in its racism,” he said.
Ramirez was also criticized in the days following the cartoon’s release, and some noted that his work is normally published weekly, but this week’s cartoon was his first since late September.
A two-time Pulitzer Prize winner, Ramirez’s future at the Washington Post was not mentioned in the outlet’s apology.
Although he has not published a cartoon for the Washington Post since the October 7 Hamas attacks, the cartoonist has published several for the Review-Journal.
This included another controversial version of the US response to the Israel-Gaza conflict released last week, showing a woman wearing a Black Lives Matter T-shirt holding up a sign reading: “Terrorists’ lives matter” and “Blame Israel.” Support Hamas.
Ramirez sparked controversy again last week with a caricature of a woman wearing a Black Lives Matter T-shirt holding up a sign reading: “Terrorists’ lives matter” and “Blame Israel.” Support Hamas
While some reacted with fury to Ramirez’s latest Hamas cartoon, others saw it as a justified argument when it comes to terrorist groups targeting children.
The Hamas attacks on October 7 killed more than 1,400 people and took around 240 hostages, many of them women and children.
Israeli authorities also report that at least 31 children were killed by Hamas during its attacks and afterwards.
Last week, Jason Lee, Save The Children’s director for the Palestinian territories, told the Washington Post that children account for two out of five civilian deaths in Gaza.
On social media, responses to criticism of Ramirez’s portrayal in “Human Shields” have left many people asking “what’s inaccurate about that?” »
“If this offends you, you REALLY should see some of the cartoons they post in Gaza, especially after October 7,” one Twitter user said.
Another added: “While it’s not subtle, it depicts a very sad reality, which you SHOULD recognize.”