Fired for Netanyahu cartoon, Guardian fires Steve Bell after 40 years

The British newspaper limited itself to confirming that his contract has not been renewed

Steve Bell, longtime Guardian cartoonist, fired for a cartoon on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The designer himself, who had worked for the British newspaper for more than 40 years, announced it on X. In a post, Bell explained that he was told the newspaper was no longer willing to publish his work after he presented a controversial image of Netanyahu deemed ‘anti-Semitic’.

The cartoon was created after the October 7 Israeli attack on Gaza in response to Hamas aggression. For his part, the Guardian limited itself to saying that his contract had expired and would not be renewed.

In the drawing, the Israeli prime minister wears boxing gloves and holds a scalpel over his exposed belly, preparing a cut in the shape of Gaza, with the caption: “Gaza residents, get out of here now.” The offending cartoon, rejected in recent days by the newspaper’s management, nevertheless ended up on social networks.

Critics have interpreted this as a reference to the character Shylock, the Jewish moneylender in Shakespeare’s play ‘The Merchant of Venice’ who demands a “pound of flesh” from someone who cannot repay him. Bell defended the image and rejected accusations of using anti-Semitic clichés, saying it was a reference to a 1960s cartoon by David Levine, which depicted US President Lyndon B. Johnson with a scar shaped like Vietnam on the torso at the time of the war in the Southeast Asian country.