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Murdoch tweets 'Sorry' to Jews for bloody Scarfe Sunday Times cartoon

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By Noel Young, Correspondent

January 29, 2013 | 3 min read

Rupert Murdoch has apologised in a tweet for a Sunday Times cartoon showing Israeli leader Binyamin Netanyahu building a wall using blood-red mortar.

Murdoch: apology

The cartoon, published on Holocaust Memorial Day, shows Netanyahu wielding a trowel with Palestinians being bricked into the wall's structure.

It was meant as a comment said the Guardian on elections in which Netanyahu's party narrowly won the most seats in the Israeli parliament.

"Will cementing the peace continue?" the caption read.

Murdoch wrote on Twitter that the cartoonist, Gerald Scarfe – who often depicts blood in his work – did not reflect the paper's editorial line.

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

Jewish community leaders were particularly disturbed, said the Guardian, by parallels they saw between the red-tinged drawing and historical antisemitic propaganda – in particular the theme of "blood libel", the twisted myth that Jews secretly use human blood in their religious rituals.

The Board of Deputies of British Jews has lodged a complaint with the Press Complaints Commission.

The deputies said in a statement that the depiction of a Jewish leader using blood for mortar "is shockingly reminiscent of the blood-libel imagery more usually found in parts of the virulently antisemitic Arab press."

Scarfe in a message to the Jewish Chronicle, denying permission to reproduce the cartoon, said he "very much regretted " the timing of his cartoon. He said that he had not been aware it was Holocaust Memorial Day.

In a statement, the paper's acting editor, Martin Ivens, said that insulting the memory of Holocaust victims or invoking blood libel was "the last thing I or anyone connected with the Sunday Times would countenance".

"The paper has long written strongly in defence of Israel and its security concerns, as have I as a columnist," Ivens said. "We are, however, reminded of the sensitivities in this area by the reaction to the cartoon, and I will of course bear them very carefully in mind in future."

Scarfe often makes use of blood in his cartoons. Recently Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad was pictured drinking greedily from an oversized cup labelled "Children's Blood".

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