Canadian paper blasted over ‘anti-Semitic’ cartoon

Jewish community advocates and experts from academia and the political realm slammed the Edmonton Journal for a cartoon depicting a data hacker using imagery they say incorporates classic anti-Semitic tropes.

By World Israel News Staff

The Edmonton Journal faced harsh criticism for its decision to publish a cartoon related to a recent data breach at financial giant Capital One, which critics claim evokes classic anti-Semitic stereotypes.

The cartoon was the work of Malcolm Mayes and portrayed an older man with a black beard and a huge nose, sitting in the money fold of a wallet, which Honest Reporting Canada saw as reminiscent of the “happy merchant” caricature.

The “happy merchant” is an image anti-Semites use on the internet in memes to disparage Jews, Israel, and Zionists. It consists of a grotesque hunched over figure with a hooked nose and Jewish skull cap who appears to be rubbing his hands together ominously.

The “happy merchant” image. (screenshot)

According to the Canadian Jewish News (CJN), “In reality, the alleged hacker is Paige Thompson, a 33-year-old former Amazon software engineer, who is neither Jewish nor an old man.”

In addition to Honest Reporting, the Edmonton Journal was rebuked by the Edmonton Jewish Federation, anti-Semitism expert Professor Deborah E. Lipstadt of Emory University, and political analyst Arsen Ostrovsky.

Lipstadt tweeted, “Blatant antisemitism. Doesn’t get much clearer than this. Not in Poland or France but Canada.”

Ostrovosky posted, “No, not Der Stürmer, but Canadian publication @edmontonjournal! A sickening piece of #Antisemitism by the cartoonist Malcolm Mayes.”

In the wake of the cartoon’s publication, Mike Fegelman, executive director of Honest Reporting Canada, told CJN, “Mayes has a track record of illustrating odious cartoons that have offended the Jewish community and supporters of Israel, and that many felt crossed the line.”

In one of the cartoons to which Fegelman referred, Mayes depicted Israel cranking a meat grinder into which Hamas jammed Palestinians.

Over a week after the paper ran the data breach cartoon, it published the following statement:

“[T]he Edmonton Journal ran an editorial cartoon depicting a shadowy figure in a wallet next to the words ‘data hacker’ in relation to the breach of customer information at Capital One. It has since been pointed out that the image of the person bears resemblance to anti-Semitic tropes prevalent in some anti-Jewish propaganda. This resemblance was entirely unintentional, but given that association, the Edmonton Journal apologizes for the publication of the cartoon. We are re-examining the procedures we have in place to vet editorial content to avoid future such occurrences.