Scarfe: Cartoon 'not anti-semitic' but sorry for 'very unfortunate timing'

The artist behind a Sunday Times cartoon criticised as “anti-semitic” has apologised for the “very unfortunate timing” of the sketch, which was published on Holocaust Memorial Day.

Gerald Scarfe, who has drawn for the newspaper for 46 years, insisted, though, that he is not anti-semitic and did not intend to insult Jewish people.

The cartoon, published on Sunday 27 January, created an uproar this week, prompting a complaint to the Press Complaints Commission and a “major apology” from Rupert Murdoch.

He tweeted last night: "Gerald Scarfe has never reflected the opinions of the Sunday Times.

"Nevertheless, we owe major apology for grotesque, offensive cartoon."

Scarfe told Press Gazette today: “Firstly of all I am not, and never have been, anti-semitic.

“The Sunday Times has given me the freedom of speech over the last 46 years to criticize world leaders for what I see as their wrong-doings.

“This drawing was a criticism of Netanhayu, and not of the Jewish people: there was no slight whatsoever intended against him.

“I was, however, stupidly completely unaware that it would be printed on Holocaust day, and I apologise for the very unfortunate timing.”

Earlier today, Scarfe received support from the Dr Tim Benson, president of the Political Cartoon Society (himself Jewish), who described the media uproar surrounding the cartoon as a “storm in a teacup”.

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