Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Canadian Jewish advocacy groups clash over cartoon

Canada's two major Jewish advocacy groups are clashing over a cartoon.

Just as B'nai Brith Canada condemned an editorial cartoon in an Ontario newspaper as anti-Semitic and demanded an apology, the Canadian Jewish Congress came to the cartoonist's defense.

Published in the Sept. 20 issue of Le Droit, an Ottawa-based French-language daily, the cartoon depicts the Peace Tower -- an iconic part of Canada's Parliament buildings -- with what resembles a Star of David in the face of the tower's clock.

The French caption on the cartoon read, "Parliament returns," while a traffic sign in the foreground signifies a slippery road ahead.

In a statement issued the same day as the cartoon, B'nai Brith called the drawing "outrageous" because the Star of David "insinuates the false and offensive allegation that Jews control the government of Canada."

The group called for the cartoon's removal from the paper's website and an apology "for publishing such blatantly anti-Semitic propaganda" and to "re-examine editorial policies that have allowed dissemination of such vile material."

Cartoonist Guy Badeaux, known as Bado, countered that his illustration was misinterpreted. He said he was only trying to depict the geometric design on the clock face, which resembles a star.

The CJC's chief executive officer, Bernie Farber, an Ottawa native, said he believes that explanation.

"There is a Star of David on the face of the Peace Tower clock," Farber told the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. "This has nothing to do with anti-Semitism and everything do with a cartoonist who was trying to depict the Peace Tower. It was very legitimate."

Farber added that Badeaux is a friend of the Jewish community and has addressed synagogues and anti-racism initiatives.

Despite that, B'nai Brith issued another statement two days later saying that Badeaux's explanation was "not acceptable" and repeating calls for the cartoon's removal from the website.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I am a totally objective participant in this discussion. I'm not familiar with the building in the drawing, nor am I a Jew. After looking at the cartoon and googling pictures of the Peace Tower, I think B'nai Brith has a legitimate claim to insult. Yes, I see the outline of the Star of David in the Tower, and I think this is simply a geometric design that enhances the beauty of the clock. It is represented in outlandish proportions on the cartoon and in no way resembles a clock. The insinuation is beyond defense. Badeaux was making a statement which is his right to do, but he needs to man up and stand behind his work. If you want to make a political point, don't wimp out when others call you on it. If your belief has legitimate grounds, you should be able to defend it. If it's not defendable, then don't make it.