I received this email comment from a reader based in Europe. I'm posting it here with his permission:
I've been reading your stuff for a long time now and with a lot of appreciation and your latest blogpost about the smelly fish prompted me to write – in particular, your final comments about the Bell cartoons.
I've got to say that the Bell cartoons are a sort of last straw for me.
Scarfe's cartoon is insensitive, wrong and offensive but not ostensibly different from his inability to distinguish Blair from Saddam, Thatcher from Galtieri, democratic leaders from dictators, and all the silly, knee-jerk anti-colonialist politics that is all too common in his part of the British Left. Everything about Scarfe is smelly fish and because it is, I'm prepared to almost exonerate him from anti-Semitism, which at root, is applying different criteria to Jews (and by extension, the Jewish State, the Jewish national movement, etc) than are applied to other peoples, states and national movements. You could almost say that if there was one person who could legitimately attack Netanyahu with this form of imagery and not be anti-Semitic, it is Scarfe.
Even Ward - the guy visits camps in Gaza, his conscience is rightly affected, and even if there's political calculation because of his unique Bradford marginal, he's still miles away from Bell and the Guardian.
But Bell glorifies in the anti-Semitism and the Guardian allows him to joke about anti-Semitism. I can honestly say that I never thought the liberal Left would break such a taboo. Nutters in Trot groups, certainly, but the sheer contempt for a minority community which overwhelmingly feels itself deeply offended and (even if exaggerated) in a certain sense, racially abused, is a level I genuinely never believed would just 'go through' Guardian editors.
I don't know whether you are familiar with the French comedian Dieudonné who, after stepping over the line with a sketch about 'settlers', then moved on to literally build a new career laughing about anti-Semitism. But Dieudonné is a pariah figure politically within the centre-Left grassroots in France. Let me put it this way. Libération, a paper more openly to the Left than the Guardian, could never print cartoons like Bell's. There are certain taboos which enable one to remain part of a political home because even among disagreements, there is agreement on the basic core.
I don't know how to finish this because I'm just so shocked at how low the Guardian has sunk here.
In order not to create any misunderstandings, I should add that I've posted my own views about both David Ward's remarks and Gerald Scarfe's cartoon, and they're not the same as my correspondent's. But on Bell's recent cartoons we are in agreement: the stink given off by his recent little fish was quite something.