Sure, Michael Leunig did not enter his “Auschwitz 1942 – Israel 2002” cartoon in Hamshahri‘s competition for the world’s most offensive Holocaust drawings. However, the Iranian government controlled newspaper thought that Leunig’s art was a real goer in this competition and, as the leading anti-Semites going around, the Iranian leaders should be well-qualified judges of such material.

As we know, Michael Gawenda (The Age‘s then editor-in-chief) pulled Leunig’s 2002 cartoon. However, it was widely distributed in Australia – primarily due to the decision of the ABC TV Media Watch program to support the artist and place his controversial cartoon on its website.

Last Monday Media Watch reported that ABC managing director Russell Balding has directed the public broadcaster not to show any of the Dutch cartoons depicting Muhammad. Fair enough – except for the evident double standard involved. In 2002 Mr Balding did not object to Leunig’s “Auschwitz 1942 – Israel 2002” cartoon being placed on the ABC’s website – where it remains today. This in spite of the fact that radical Islamists in Iran regard Leunig’s work as admirable, anti-Semitic propaganda. The question is – will Mr Balding now instruct Media Watch to remove Leunig’s offensive cartoon from the ABC’s website?

Meanwhile, even before the current controversy broke, Michael Leunig was showing signs of paranoia. He was reported in The Age 10 February 2006 as saying that “a couple of prominent Australian media personalities…have publicly called for my internment”. He did not name names. Leunig owes it to the The Age‘s readers to state precisely which prominent Australian media personalities have called for his “internment”.

Peter Fray

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