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A Cartoonist Has Been Fired For A Controversial Image Of Netanyahu

Avi Katz lost his staff position after the drawing was published.

Posted on July 27, 2018, at 7:42 a.m. ET

Avi Katz is a well-known cartoonist in Israel. Until recently his work was featured in one of the country's best-known fortnightly magazines, the Jerusalem Report.

Avi Katz / Facebook

But on Tuesday he was fired for drawing this cartoon, Israeli newspapers Haaretz and the Times of Israel reported.

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It depicted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Likud (Israel's Parliament) politicians as pigs taking a selfie — with George Orwell's infamous Animal Farm slogan above them.

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It was posted in response to Parliament passing the hugely controversial "nation state" law — although much watered down — that states that Jews have a right to national self-determination and puts Hebrew above Arabic as the official language.

Netanyahu said the passing of the bill was a "defining moment," but the law has been interpreted by Israel's Arab community as a sign that the country is downgrading their status.

Initially, people called the cartoon out for being anti-Semitic and in bad taste.

"Not worthy of my eyes. I am not a fan of Netanyahu, and certainly not Hazan, but the use of the pig, with all its symbolism, crosses the borders of good taste."
Guy Segal / Facebook

"Not worthy of my eyes. I am not a fan of Netanyahu, and certainly not Hazan, but the use of the pig, with all its symbolism, crosses the borders of good taste."

"And who said there's no anti-Semitism in Israel?"
Sagy Karp / Facebook

"And who said there's no anti-Semitism in Israel?"

However, when the Jerusalem Report editor made the decision to fire Katz, people were not happy.

Ben Hartman / Twitter
Molly Hunter / Twitter
Edo Konrad / Twitter
Loretta J Krause / Twitter

Staff writer Haim Watzman resigned Wednesday in protest. "I cannot be associated with a publication that dumps a staff member simply because his work has upset some readers," he wrote.

Watzmann / Facebook

Katz, in a brief comment to BuzzFeed News, said, "I’ve been completely overwhelmed by responses from Israel and the whole world."

In further remarks to the Guardian, he commented that he had "thought the cartoon was relatively mild and my firing was idiotic, but I’m delighted to see the enormous support I’ve received over the last couple of days."

A crowdfunder set up in the days since his firing has already raised 78,000 shekels ($21,000).

Responding to the first round of criticism, the Jerusalem Post, which owns the Jerusalem Report, said, "Avi Katz is a cartoonist who worked as a freelancer at the Jerusalem Post and in accordance with editorial considerations, it was decided not to continue the relationship with him."

However, as of July 26 — two full days after Katz was let go — the cartoon was still up on the Jerusalem Report.
The Jerusalem Report

However, as of July 26 — two full days after Katz was let go — the cartoon was still up on the Jerusalem Report.

BuzzFeed News has contacted the Jerusalem Report and Avi Katz for further comment.

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