LOS ANGELES – A Jewish human rights group has denounced a political cartoon as anti-Semitic, comparing it to Nazi imagery of the 1930s that led up to the Holocaust.
The syndicated cartoon published by Pat Oliphant on Wednesday in newspapers across the U.S. depicts a goose-stepping uniformed figure wheeling a fanged Star of David that menaces a small female figure labeled "Gaza."
The Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Center, a Jewish rights group with more than 400,000 members in the United States, said the cartoon is meant to denigrate and demonize Israel.
"The imagery in this cartoon mimics the venomous anti-Semitic propaganda of the Nazi and Soviet eras," Wiesenthal Center officials said in a statement. "It is cartoons like this that inspired millions of people to hate in the 1930s and help set the stage for the Nazi genocide."
The center called on the New York Times and other online outlets to remove the cartoon from their Web sites.
A New York Times spokeswoman didn't immediately respond to a phone or e-mail message left after office hours. Universal Press Syndicate, which distributes Oliphant's cartoons, did not immediately return messages left late Wednesday night.
Oliphant, who won a Pulitzer Prize in 1967, is considered one of the most widely syndicated editorial cartoonists in the world. His work has been syndicated internationally since 1965, and by Universal since 1980. His work is on permanent display at the Library of Congress.
His latest cartoon alludes to Israel's aggression on the Gaza Strip, where its troops launched an offensive in December to halt rocket fire and weaken the territory's Hamas rulers. More than 1,400 Palestinians, including more than 900 civilians, were killed, according to a Palestinian human rights group.
On its Web site, Universal declares that "no one is safe from the acid brush of Pat Oliphant."
Oliphant has courted controversy before.
In 2001 and 2007, the Asian American Journalists Association objected to what they called offensive racial caricatures in cartoons about trade with China and concerns about international food safety.
In 2005, the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee criticized one of his cartoons, saying it drew on false stereotypes and reinforced negative views of Arabs.
A native of Australia, Oliphant came to the U.S. in 1964 to work for The Denver Post.