Washington Post Self-Censors Comic Criticizing Iran

Late Wednesday, The Washington Post decided to remove a controversial cartoon that had been uploaded on November 8th. The cartoon, seen to criticize Hamas, was taken down following considerable feedback and dialogue from readers.

David Shipley, the opinion editor at the Post, made the call to remove the contentious cartoon. According to his editorial note, many readers had viewed the cartoon as carrying a racist undertone. The controversial piece portrayed a Hamas terrorist binding a hijabi woman and four children to his body with a rope. A thought bubble above the character read, “How Dare Israel Attack Civilians.”

Shipley took responsibility for the cartoon’s publication in his note, stating, “I am responsible for what appears on [the opinion section’s] pages and its screens. The section depends on my judgment.” He admitted that he had approved the cartoon by Michael Ramirez on the war in Gaza, seeing it as caricaturing a specific individual, the Hamas spokesperson who had celebrated attacks on unarmed Israeli civilians.

Shipley, however, conceded that the reaction to the cartoon made him realize he had overlooked a deeply divisive element within it. He expressed regret, reaffirming the section’s commitment to understanding and finding common ground even in challenging times.

The newspaper received several letters condemning the cartoon as “deeply malicious,” “deeply racist,” and filled with “bias and prejudice.” Readers expressed discomfort with the racial stereotypes, and one reader even accused the cartoon of seemingly excusing Israeli war crimes.

The Post’s executive editor, Sally Buzbee, reportedly circulated a memo about deleting the cartoon and shared Shipley’s mail with the opinion staff. The email, obtained by the Washington Free Beacon, reiterated Shipley’s initial interpretation of the cartoon and his subsequent realization of its perceived racist undertones.

This isn’t the first time the Post has stirred controversy with its cartoons. During the 2014 Gaza war, they published a cartoon of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hitting a Palestinian infant, sparking outrage among Jewish communities.

The cartoon was published in the wake of a brutal October 7th attack by Hamas terrorists on Israel that left 1,400 Israelis and 31 Americans dead, with over 200 people taken hostage. The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) discovered horrifying scenes, such as decapitated infants and children’s bedrooms stained with their blood.