Chief Rabbi weighs into Sunday Times Scarfe cartoon row

Lord Sacks

Lord Sacks

The chief rabbi has warned of the dangers of "inflammatory" images such as Gerald Scarfe's Sunday Times cartoon about Benjamin Netanyahu.

Lord Sacks did not go so far as calling Mr Scarfe's drawing antisemitic. It shows the Israeli leader wielding a weapon over a wall cemented together with the blood of Palestinians. Others have labelled it reminiscent of historic blood libels against the Jews.

But the chief rabbi said that regardless of the intention, the danger of publishing this type of cartoon on Holocaust Memorial Day in a respected national newspaper was that such images "reinforce a great slander of our time: that Jews, victims of the Holocaust, are now perpetrators of a similar crime.

"Not only is this manifestly untrue, it is also inflammatory and deeply dangerous."

Describing the image as deplorable, he criticised it for causing "immense pain to the Jewish community in the UK and around the world".

Lord Sacks referred to the photographs of the Nazi concentration camps and other imagery of genocides, noting the "positive power of images: to leave an imprint in our minds, to teach us lessons of how humanity fell so that we may not sink to such depths again".

Martin Ivens, acting editor of the Sunday Times, is to meet representatives of the Board of Deputies of British Jews to discuss the controversy over the cartoon. Last night News International owner Rupert Murdoch admitted his company owed a "major apology for grotesque, offensive cartoon".

Last updated: 12:11pm, January 29 2013