NEW YORK—The dismissal of Israeli cartoonist Avi Katz in response to his cartoon critiquing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is an unacceptable attack on free expression, said PEN America today.

Illustrator and cartoonist Avi Katz was dismissed this week from Israeli newspaper The Jerusalem Post following an outcry on social media about a cartoon depicting Prime Minister Netanyahu and members of the Israeli parliament as pig characters from George Orwell’s Animal Farm. The cartoon was captioned with Orwell’s quote, “All animals are equal but some are more equal than others.”

Katz’s cartoon parodies a photograph of Netanyahu and other politicians taking a selfie after passing a highly controversial new law on nationality in Israel. The cartoon was published in The Jerusalem Report, a magazine published by The Jerusalem Post. Israel’s National Union of Journalists called for his immediate reinstatement and a colleague of Katz’s resigned in protest. Katz had freelanced for The Jerusalem Post since 1990.

“To punish satire is to muzzle the most creative, trenchant and arresting form of political commentary,” said Suzanne Nossel, PEN America Chief Executive Officer. “Katz’s dismissal is an unacceptable attack on the rights of journalists and artists and marks a new low for freedom of expression in Israel.”

Katz’s ouster echoes the dismissal of American political cartoonist Rob Rogers from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Rogers was fired in June. He has told publicly that his dismissal resulted from proposals for a series of cartoons critical of President Donald Trump which had been rejected by the paper.

PEN America leads the Artists at Risk Connection (ARC), a program dedicated to assisting imperiled artists and fortifying the field of organizations that support them. If you or someone you know is an artist at risk, contact ARC here.

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PEN America stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect open expression in the United States and worldwide. We champion the freedom to write, recognizing the power of the word to transform the world. Our mission is to unite writers and their allies to celebrate creative expression and defend the liberties that make it possible. pen.org

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Anoosh Gasparian, External Relations Manager: agasparian@pen.org