Guardian cartoon of Starmer with Corbyn’s head on platter labelled ‘repellent’
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Guardian cartoon of Starmer with Corbyn’s head on platter labelled ‘repellent’

Illustration by Steve Bell 'portrays Corbyn as victim of a sinister and murderously violent plot' according to Labour peer Lord Adonis

Tali is a reporter at Jewish News

Screenshot from the Guardian's website of Steve Bell's controversial cartoon. (Credit: The Guardian / https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/picture/2020/oct/29/steve-bell-labour-antisemitism-starmer-corbyn-cartoon)
Screenshot from the Guardian's website of Steve Bell's controversial cartoon. (Credit: The Guardian / https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/picture/2020/oct/29/steve-bell-labour-antisemitism-starmer-corbyn-cartoon)

A cartoon of Labour leader Keir Starmer offering Jeremy Corbyn’s decapitated head on a platter is being looked into by the Guardian’s readers editor after complaints, with some on social media accusing it of antisemitism.

The picture, by regular cartoonist Steve Bell, was likened with Italian painter Caravaggio’s Salome with the Head of John the Baptist, portraying the New Testament story where Salome, the Jewish daughter of King Herod, asks for the head of John the Baptist.

Bell appeared to have written “After Caravaggio” on the side of the drawing in a reference to its inspiration, which some on social media said they were reporting for race hate.

The publication sparked a backlash from Guardian readers on social media, branding the cartoon antisemitic for portraying Corbyn as “martyr St John the Baptist” and a victim of a “sinister plot”, with Starmer as “bloodthirsty” Salome.

Others labelled the cartoon’s timing insensitive after the terror attack in Nice a day earlier, in which one victim was beheaded and two others killed.

The cartoon was published after Corbyn’s suspension from Labour for the former Labour leader’s reaction to the findings of the EHRC’s report on antisemitism under his leadership.

Mr Bell has previously been accused of using antisemitic tropes in cartoons, which he denies, including one of Prime Minister Netanyahu acting as a puppet master for British politicians.

Labour peer Lord Andrew Adonis said that the Guardian cartoon was “repellent”. “It portrays Corbyn as victim of a sinister and murderously violent plot, which may be how the antisemitic far left see yesterday’s events but is appalling to the rest of us.”

A Guardian spokesperson told the Jewish News: “The Steve Bell cartoon published portrays his observation on the recent events in the Labour party.”

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