Controversial cartoonist Steve Bell to leave the Guardian

Since joining the newspaper in 1981 the cartoonist faced claims that some of his drawings where antisemitic and racist


The controversial Guardian cartoonist Steve Bell is to leave the Guardian after 40 years with the newspaper.

Mr Bell – who has repeatedly faced claims that some of his drawings where antisemitic and racist – has been told that his contract will not be renewed by the media organisation when it expires next year.

Guardian editor Kath Viner announced that the paper was axing 180 jobs earlier this week. But the decision not to renew Mr Bell’s contract is said to be unrelated to the latest round of redundancies.

Mr Bell first joined the Guardian in 1981 and he has frequently sparked controversy with his caricatures.

A  cartoon by Mr  Bell showing the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, as a puppeteer controlling British political leaders William Hague and Tony Blair, was once criticised by the Community Security Trust’s Dave Rich as comparable to those featuring  in Nazi publications.

In March a cartoon of Home Secretary Priti Patel, which depicted her with horns on her head and a ring through her nose, was widely condemned as racist.

The British Tamil Conservatives wrote: “It’s anti-Hindu. It portrays the Home Secretary, of Hindu origin, as a cow. A sacred symbol for Hindus. It’s racist and misogynist. It’s plainly unacceptable! It may constitute a hate crime.”

Last July, Mr Bell attacked his editors' refusal to run a cartoon featuring Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and former Labour deputy leader Tom Watson , suggesting it is due to "some mysterious editorial line" about antisemitism.

In the drawing by Mr Bell,  Mr  Watson was  depicted as an "antisemite finder general" for being critical of Jew-hate in the party.

He was shown to be  encountering the Israeli PM and calling him an "antisemitic trope".

Mr Netanyahu was playing with Donald Trump and Boris Johnson puppets and Mr Watson apologised, saying, "I thought you were members of the Labour Party".

Mr Bell went on to attack the advert taken out by Labour peers attacking Mr Corbyn over antisemitism as "personally insulting" to the Labour leader.

He also questioned why the paper had printed and then removed form online an open letter defending MP Chris Williamson that the Guardian had said was from "prominent members of the Jewish community".

The Board of Deputies complained the paper had been "'misleading and inaccurate' about the signatories and noted one had "called for Zionists to be exterminated".

In June 2018 he emailed all journalists to say he felt "unfairly traduced and censored" after the paper would not run his cartoon depecting Theresa May meeting Mr Netanyahu while Palestinian Razan al-Najjar, who had been shot and killed by an Israeli soldier, burned in the fireplace behind.

He accused Guardian editor Kath Viner of “not really having an argument" for spiking the cartoon.

In November 2012, his cartoon that depicted Mr Netanyahu as a puppeteer prompted many complaints to the press regulator.

The JC has attempted to contact the Guardian for comment on Mr Bell's departure.



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