Labor´s posters upset Jews (WASHINGTON TIMES) By Al Webb LONDON, England 02/02/05)
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LONDON ó British Prime Minister Tony Blair´s ruling Labor Party,
seeking to get its general election campaign off with a bang, appears
instead to have misfired over a pair of posters that have outraged
Critics say one of the posters depicts opposition Conservative Party
leader Michael Howard, a Jew, as a character resembling Charles
Dickens´ Jewish pickpocket Fagin in "Oliver Twist," or the villainous
Shylock in Shakespeare´s "Merchant of Venice." Mr. Howard is shown
swinging a pocket watch in hypnotic fashion and saying, "I can spend
the same money twice."
The second poster shows a pair of flying pigs with the heads of Mr.
Howard and Conservative treasury spokesman Oliver Letwin, also of
Jewish descent, with a message about Conservatives´ sums not adding
In the Jewish faith, pigs are regarded as not clean.
The Labor Party had carried photographs of these and two other
posters on its Web site for several days, with an invitation to Labor
supporters to vote on which should be used during the run-up to the
next election, expected this spring, when Mr. Howard hopes to unseat
But the offending posters were withdrawn after some Jewish leaders
said they left the Labor Party and the prime minister open to charges
Rabbi Jonathan Romain, a spokesman for the Reform Synagogues that of
Great Britain, told reporters the poster images were "poisonous." He
insisted, "It crosses the fine line between genuine political attack
and unacceptable anti-Semitic undertones."
Ned Temko, editor of the Jewish Chronicle, told British Broadcasting
Corp. Radio that "Shylock and Fagin are inextricably linked to
notions of centuries-old prejudice."
A Labor spokesman said the posters had been removed from the party
Web site. He insisted that the timing was coincidental and that they
were not anti-Semitic, so no apology was necessary.
"This has been up on the Web site for two weeks, and there has only
been a fuss in the last four days," the spokesman said.
Mr. Howard refrained from accusing either Mr. Blair or the Labor
Party of anti-Semitism, but charged the prime minister with engaging
He said Mr. Blair, in a speech before the 1997 elections that put
Labor in power, had accused the Conservatives of planning personal
attacks against Labor leaders. "It is such a pity that Mr. Blair does
not practice what he preaches," Mr. Howard said.
Election posters have fueled more than a few outbursts of fury on
Britain´s political stage in the past. When a Conservative
advertisement depicted Mr. Blair with "demon eyes" in 1997, the
Advertising Standards Authority ruled it improper.
That no longer appears to be the case. "Since 1999, it has been the
case that political advertising has been exempt from regulation," an
Advertising Standards Authority spokesman said in response to
reporters´ questions about the latest Labor posters.
Still, Mr. Blair and his party inadvertently have come up with
several million dollars´ worth of free publicity, an analyst
estimates. (Copyright 2005 News World Communications, Inc. 02/02/05)
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