Sunday Times: Netanyahu HMD cartoon 'crossed the line'

The Sunday Times has admitted that the publication of a cartoon attacking Benjamin Netanyahu on Holocaust Memorial Day "detracted from a day that marks one of the greatest evils in human history".

In a statement on the controversy in this week's paper, the Sunday Times described Gerald Scarfe's artwork as "brutal and bloody and his opinions are his own, not those of this newspaper".

Adding that the paper had always "understood and reported" Israel's legitimate security concerns, the editorial continued that while it was legitimate to caricature any leaders, including Israelis, "it is another thing to reflect in a caricature, even unintentionally, historical iconography that is persecutory or antisemitic".

"The image we published of… the Israeli prime minister, which appeared to show him revelling in the blood of Palestinians, crossed a line.

"Publication of the cartoon would have been a mistake on any day but the fact that last Sunday was Holocaust Memorial Day compounded the error," said the editorial.

"The Sunday Times abhors antisemitism and racism of any type and we would never set out to offend the Jewish people - or indeed any other ethnic or religious group. The publication of last week's cartoon was a very serious mistake."

On Tuesday representatives of the Anglo-Jewish community met acting editor Martin Ivens to discuss the incident. The meeting followed an unusual intervention by the paper's owner, Rupert Murdoch, criticising the cartoon.

Last updated: 9:59am, February 4 2013