By our entertainment editors
Nov 10, 2023 at 4:38 PM Update: 23 minutes ago
De Volkskrant editor-in-chief Pieter Klok refutes the criticism of Jos Collignon’s cartoon about anti-Semitism, published on Thursday. Klok approved the cartoon in advance and believes that he cannot “withdraw it afterwards”, he said on Friday in the Media Forum on NPO Radio 1.
The cartoon shows two people sitting together on the couch watching news coverage about Gaza on TV. One of them holds a Palestinian flag and the TV shows the death toll in Gaza.
Next to them you see a long arm with a Star of David on the sleeve and a hand with a thick thumb. “Anti-Semitism resurgent everywhere,” reads a speech bubble. “Oh dear, sorry. Forgot to condemn Hamas first,” can also be read.
According to Klok, Collignon wants to make the point that “anti-Semitism is talked about too quickly when in fact there is criticism of Israel,” he explains. The editor-in-chief would have intervened if he had found the cartoon “purely anti-Semitic”.
According to him, it must be possible that Collignon says that he considers some accusations of anti-Semitism to be a “fabrication”. “I also think it is good that there is a debate about this. I also think it is good that Lodewijk Asscher responds to this. I think it is very important that everything can be said within the limits of the law.”
Criticism from Asscher and De Jonge
Former PvdA leader Lodewijk Asscher and outgoing minister Hugo de Jonge (Home Affairs), among others, condemned the cartoon.
Asscher writes in a column on Friday how anti-Semitism has played a role in his life and how he has tried not to be burdened by it. “In any case, I do not want to fall prey to the old fear. But if my newspaper, the Volkskrant, places a cartoon on the day of the Kristallnacht commemoration with the message that the Jews invent anti-Semitism themselves as part of the so-called ‘long arm’ of Israel, then a limit has been reached,” he writes.
According to De Jonge, it is “not appropriate to downplay anti-Semitism”. He calls the right to freedom of expression a great asset, “but there is a great responsibility to use that right in a responsible manner. And if that does not happen, then it is also up to politicians to standardize and disapprove. “
It is difficult enough for all well-intentioned people to condemn Hamas, to adhere to principles of humanitarian law, to show solidarity with the civilian population in Gaza and to calm emotions here in the Netherlands – Never again is now. pic.twitter.com/jt1pJmPy77
— Lodewijk Asscher (@LodewijkA) November 10, 2023
Volkskrant previously removed the cartoon due to stereotyping
De Volkskrant removed a cartoon by Collignon at the end of last year after criticism because, according to Klok, it was also “stereotypical” of Moroccans. Klok had not seen that illustration beforehand, but since then he has wanted to check cartoons on “sensitive topics” for publication. “Then we adjusted the guidelines.”
Although Klok briefly considered withdrawing this cartoon and finds it annoying that people found it painful, the drawing will not be removed. “Freedom of expression is also a very important asset in our newspaper and I want to honor that.”