A CARTOON published by The Australian Financial Review this weekend – depicting Treasurer Josh Frydenberg with a hook nose – has sparked claims of antisemitism, despite the artist responsible denying the allegations.
The cartoon by David Rowe, which is based on the E Phillips Fox painting Landing of Captain Cook at Botany Bay, portrays Prime Minister Scott Morrison as Cook and Frydenberg as a sailor, sporting a head covering, a hook nose and holding a dollar sign.
Social media users have blasted the cartoon, describing it as “disgusting”, “shameful” and an “antisemitic piece of garbage”.
“This makes me sick to my stomach. HOW is this even possible?” one user said.
“Hitler would love this! AFR continuing the propaganda of the Third Reich,” wrote another.
Other comments described the cartoon as a “beyond despicable portrayal of our treasurer using racist stereotypes” while federal MP Josh Burns said, “The line has clearly been crossed here.”
Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ) co-CEO Alex Ryvchin wrote to the cartoonist on Twitter, asking, “Is that the treasurer depicted with a head covering, hook nose and a dollar sign? A better way?”
Rowe responded, “It is Josh but he’s wearing a sailor’s cap as per the E Phillips Fox painting of Cook’s landing. And yes he’s carrying a dollar harpoon because he’s the treasurer. As for the nose it’s just a quick sketch.
“Apologies if you thought I was suggesting something else.”
Hi alex, it is josh but he’s wearing a sailors cap as per the ephillips fox painting of Cooks landing. and yes he’s carrying a dollar harpoon because he’s the treasurer as for the nose it’s just a quick sketch .apologies if you thought I was suggesting something else
— david rowe (@roweafr) June 6, 2020
Ryvchin told The AJN on Sunday that ECAJ had received a great number of complaints from members of the community and many others who “detected something sinister in that depiction of the treasurer”.
“Cartoons are subjective and often the public will infer meanings that aren’t there or that the artist never intended,” Ryvchin said.
— Joey Wilkinson (@unofficialjojo) June 7, 2020
“This is why I felt it was best to seek a clarification from the cartoonist rather than jumping to conclusions and I’m glad the clarification was issued swiftly.”
He added, “The public can now make up their own minds and I hope that greater caution is exercised in future.”