United Kingdom

Cartoon of Keir Starmer and Jeremy Corbyn branded 'anti-Semitic'

A cartoon in the left-leaning Guardian newspaper of Keir Starmer offering Jeremy Corbyn’s decapitated head on a platter has been reported as race hate – amid a storm of anti-semitism claims.

The picture, drawn by regular artist Steve Bell, was likened to Italian painter Caravaggio’s Salome with the Head of John the Baptist.

It portrays a story in the New Testament where Salome, the Jewish daughter of King Herod, asks for the head of John - seen as a forerunner of Christ - and is later presented with it.

But its publication has sparked a backlash among readers, with many decrying it as anti-Semitic and insensitive after the French beheading terror attack yesterday.

Some who had seen it on Twitter had said they had reported it to the social media platform as 'race hate'.

Labour peer Lord Andrew Adonis said: 'Today’s Guardian cartoon by Steve Bell is repellent.

The picture printed in the Guardian today as drawn by their regular cartoonist Steve Bell

Labour peer Lord Andrew Adonis said the Guardian's cartoon was 'repellent' and 'appalling'

Joanne Bell and Mark Paine both took to social media site Twitter to express disgust

Another internet user said a cartoon posting fun at a heading after a terror attack was not OK

Pat Harkin said that the cartoon was 'seriously misjudged' and the Guardian should apologise

'It portrays Corbyn as victim of a sinister and murderously violent plot, which may be how the anti-semitic far left see yesterday’s events but is appalling to the rest of us.

His thoughts were echoed by other on Twitter who noticed Bell had written 'After Caravaggio' at the side of the picture.

Mark Paine wrote: 'I reported Steve Bell’s cartoon as race hate. He knew exactly what he was doing as did they when they published it.

'I used to be a Guardian reader but I won’t be purchasing that rag again.'

Joanne Bell, who describes herself as a feminist and foodie, said: 'The Guardian is the paper of record for LabourAntisemitism. How better to portray the issue of Corbyn's expulsion than in a classically Christian antisemitic reworking of the Jewish Salome slaying the pure Christian, John the Baptist? Make no mistake, this is no mere mistake.

'Salome has traditionally been a symbol of the carnal, bloodthirsty Jew, compared to the spiritual transcendent nature of Christianity. I can think of little more telling of Steve Bell & Kath Viner's paper than this pathetic cartoon. A thin veneer, indeed.'

Salome receives the Head of John the Baptist in the original painting by Caravaggio

Sir Keir Starmer and Jeremy Corbyn were depicted in the cartoon in The Guardian

Salome and John the Baptist explained

Salome receives the Head of John the Baptist is by Italian artist Caravaggio and is in the National Gallery in London.

It was created in 1609 in the Palacio Real, in Madrid, and was sent to the Grand Master of the Knights of Malta, to try and win them over after they expelled him the previous year. 

It depicts the story of the death of John the Baptist for condemning Herod's marriage to Herodias, the divorced wife of his half brother Herod Philip. 

Salome danced before Herod and his guests at a festival and he promised to give her whatever she asked.

On suggestion from her mother Herodias, the girl demanded the head of John the Baptist on a platter.

Others were critical of the cartoon depicting someone being beheaded after the terror attacks in France yesterday.

One of the three victims in yesterday's terror attack on a Catholic church in Nice was a Brazilian mother whose final words were: 'Tell my children that I love them.'

Simone Barreto Silva, 44, had lived in France for 30 years and had three children, the Brazilian Consulate in Paris confirmed last night.

The mother was stabbed by Tunisian migrant Brahim Aoussaoui, who also hacked 54-year-old sacristan Vincent Loques to death as he prepared for Mass.

The third victim, described by French authorities as an elderly woman, was butchered near the church's holy water in a beheading attempt.

Director of think tank British Future Sunder Katwala said: 'The Guardian has published a cartoon of a beheading, in which Jeremy Corbyn is portrayed as the martyr St John the Baptist at the court of King Herod.

'There are at least two big reasons to question the editorial judgement, in terms of the content and the timing - France - too.'

Twitter user FemmeLoves added: 'I would say that for obvious reasons, the Guardian, a national paper, publishing fun beheading cartoons on the same day as an actual beheading is not OK. If that isn't obvious to you, there's not much point in trying to convince you.'

Pat Harkin said: 'On a day a young French girl is beheaded I really find this cartoon seriously misjudged.' 

A spokesperson for Guardian News and Media defended the published image.

They told MailOnline: 'The Steve Bell cartoon published today portrays his observation on the recent events in the Labour party.'

This is not the first time Bell has found himself under fire for one of his cartoons,

In 2018 the Guardian rejected one of his drawings, showing a dead Palestinian nurse burning in a fireplace.

He emailed staff: 'I cannot begin to understand criticism of the cartoon that begins by dragging in "wood-burning stoves", "ovens", "holocaust", or any other Nazi-related nonsense.'

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