A newspaper with close links to Egypt’s government has been slammed by Israel for an “antisemitic” cartoon showing an Israeli flag with a Nazi swastika in the place of the Star of David.
The caricature, in Egyptian daily Al-Watani al-Youm (the National Today) imagines an aid ship headed for Gaza being grabbed by an octopus carrying the vandalised Israeli flag.
Shani Cooper-Zubida, from the Israeli Embassy in Cairo, complained after the cartoon appeared in the paper on June 15.
She said the “comparison between Israel and Nazism” was unacceptable and defamatory.
"There are a lot of antisemitic comments and caricatures in the Egyptian media that we prefer not to comment on. This one didn't present legitimate opposition to Israeli policy.”
She added: "Using the Nazi swastika symbol in the heart of the cartoon, and even the idea of using it, is an insult to humanity and is tantamount to an antisemitic statement.”.
The newspaper editor, Mohammad el-Alfy, defended the picture on the grounds of free speech, while the Brazilian cartoonist who drew it said her allegations were “malicious”.
Carlos Latuff said Israeli criticism would not prevent him from “keeping on making my cartoons on behalf of the brave Palestinian people.”
This latest blow to relations between Israel and Egypt follows the accusation by President Hosni Mubarak that Israel “is trying to shirk its responsibility to Gaza and throw it at Egypt.”