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Israeli mag sacks cartoonist for Netanyahu-as-pig drawing

JERUSALEM -- Israel's union of journalists says a Jerusalem-based magazine has laid off a cartoonist for an image rendering Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Likud lawmakers as pig characters from George Orwell's "Animal Farm." The Union of Journalists in Israel said on Wednesday that Avi Katz, a freelance cartoonist for the Jerusalem Report, was dismissed after the cartoon ran in the magazine's edition this week.

The cartoon was meant to criticize the Israeli government's passage of a controversial law enshrining the state's Jewish character.

It's captioned with Orwell's line: "All animals are equal but some are more equal than others."

Critics say the legislation, which defines Israel as a Jewish state and downgrades the Arabic language's status, marginalizes the country's Arab minority.

Israel passes controversial nation-state law

The Jerusalem Report didn't respond to requests for comment, but confirmed to the Times of Israel that Katz's contract was terminated "in accordance with editorial considerations."

Netanyahu has increasingly tangled with Israel's press, claiming bias against his administration.

The cartoon drew some cries of antisemitism online, as pigs are considered unclean animals in the Jewish faith.

A post shared by Avi Katz (@avixkatz) on

Katz's reference in the cartoon was an insinuation that Netanyahu's government is moving away from the country's democratic norms; "Animal Farm" is the story of livestock that rise up and conquer their human masters. The pigs end up leading the other animals and vow to rule in the interest of all, but end up declaring themselves the superior species.

According to The Guardian newspaper of Britain, Israel's Union of Journalists in called on the Post to reverse its "unacceptable step" in dismissing Katz.

The Guardian said one of the cartoonist's colleagues at the magazine, fiction writer Haim Watzman resigned in protest.

Haim Watzman, a Jerusalem Report short fiction writer, published a resignation letter on Facebook, accusing the magazine of firing Katz "simply because his work has upset some readers.

"Journalism, when done well, always angers some readers, and it is the duty of the newspaper or magazine's editors and managers to stand by writers and other members of the staff when readers complain about the analysis and opinions expressed by its staff," he said.

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