Artist Steve Bell claims he has been fired by The Guardian after 40 years for a new cartoon linked to Israel and claims his work was ‘anti-Semitic’.
The veteran artist, who has worked for the newspaper for more than 40 years, claims he has been told by the left-wing publication that they are no longer willing to publish his artwork after he submitted a controversial cartoon of Benjamin Netanyahu.
In the image the president of Israel was seen wearing boxing gloves and holding a scalpel over his own exposed belly, readying a cut in the shape of Gaza while the caption reads: ‘Residents of Gaza, get out now’.
Critics have taken this to be a reference to Shylock, the Jewish moneylender from Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice, who demands a ‘pound of flesh’ from someone who can’t pay him back.
Mr Bell has defended the image and has decried accusations that he used anti-Semitic tropes, although it is not the first time he has faced these claims.
Cartoonist Steve Bell claims he has been effectively sacked by the Guardian over accusations of anti-Semitic work
It comes after he submitted a cartoon of Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu amid the ongoing conflict between the country and Gaza
A spokesperson for the Guardian confirmed the newspaper will not be renewing Mr Bell’s contract when it expires
He has insisted it is a reference to a 1960s cartoon by David Levine, who drew US President Lyndon B. Johnson with a Vietnam shaped scar on his torso. The cartoon he submitted last week has the words ‘After David Levine’ written on it above the artist credit.
Writing on Twitter on Monday, October 9, Mr Bell claimed said he had submitted the artwork but it had been ‘spiked again’, before saying it was becoming ‘pretty nigh impossible to draw this subject [Israel] for the Guardian now without being accused of deploying “antisemitic tropes”‘.
The artist claimed after filing it he received a phone call from the newspaper ‘with the strangely cryptic message “pound of flesh”.
He later suggested the cartoon didn’t make sense if it was a reference to the Shakespeare play, given Netanyahu is ‘wearing boxing gloves’.
Tonight a spokesman for the Guardian confirmed the newspaper would not be renewing his contract.
They told the Telegraph: ‘The decision has been made not to renew Steve Bell’s contract. Steve Bell’s cartoons have been an important part of the Guardian over the past 40 years – we thank him and wish him all the best.’
MailOnline has contacted Steve Bell for comment.
It is not the first time Mr Bell’s work has been accused of anti-Semitism. In 2020 the cartoonist came under fire for a drawing of Keir Starmer offering Jeremy Corbyn’s decapitated head on a platter.
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 sparked a backlash among readers, with many decrying it as anti-Semitic for portraying Corbyn as ‘martyr St John the Baptist’ and victim of a ‘sinister plot’ and Starmer as ‘bloodthirsty’ Salome.
The cartoon was published after Corbyn’s suspension from Labour for his reaction to the findings of a reports on anti-Semitism under his leadership.