Washington Post apologises, takes down 'racist' Gaza cartoon

Washington Post apologises, takes down 'racist' Gaza cartoon
The Washington Post took down a 'racist' cartoon which appeared to mock civilian casualties of Israel's war on Gaza as the death toll mounted, with over 4,300 children killed.
2 min read
09 November, 2023
The Washington Post have apologised for publishing the cartoon that depicted a suited Hamas member tied with four children and a woman [Oliver Contreras/For The Washington Post via Getty Images]

The Washington Post has taken down a political cartoon on Gaza following a widespread backlash and accusations of racism.

The cartoon, entitled "Human Shields", depicts a suited member of Hamas saying "how dare Israel attack civilians" with four children and a woman tied to him with ropes.

The man is flanked by a Palestinian flag, as well as a picture of Al Aqsa Mosque with an oil lamp beneath it.

The cartoon received scathing criticism from The Washington Post's readership prior to being taken down late on Wednesday.

Egyptian American journalist Mona Eltahawy labelled the cartoon as "racist, Islamophobic, genocide-enabling," whilst British journalist Owen Jones stated that the cartoon is "not even subtle in its racism."

"This racist dehumanisation is always a precondition for mass murder of the sort currently taking place in Gaza," Jones added.

In a note published alongside an opinion piece entitled 'Readers respond to a Hamas cartoon', the newspaper's opinion editor said that it was not his "intent" to publish a racist cartoon.

"I saw the drawing as a caricature of a specific individual, the Hamas spokesperson who celebrated the attacks on unarmed civilians in Israel," Shipley said.

"However, the reaction to the image convinced me that I had missed something profound, and divisive, and I regret that," he added.

One reader wrote in the opinion piece that "there is no topic in reporting in which word choice is as fraught as in reporting on the Gaza Strip. Why does The Post not subject the visual language of its cartoons to the same scrutiny"?

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Michael Ramirez, the cartoonist who drew "Human Shields," has drawn a number of other political cartoons commenting on the Gaza War including one showing a Black Lives Matter supporter protesting against the war with the slogan "terrorist lives matter."

The cartoon was published as the death toll of people killed by Israel's ongoing bombardment and siege of the Gaza Strip reached 10,569 people, including 4,324 children.

The number of child casualties in the bombing has led UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres recently to remark that "Gaza is becoming a graveyard for children."