SYDNEY, Australia (JTA) – A controversial columnist for a major Australian newspaper resigned after he was exposed sending anti-Semitic emails and tweets to critics.
Mike Carlton, a longstanding columnist for Saturday’s edition of the Sydney Morning Herald, resigned “on the spot” Tuesday when management suspended him after he called one reader a “Jewish bigot” and told others to “f—k off.”
“[He] used language just not acceptable in the workplace,” said Sean Aylmer, the company’s news and business publisher. “You just can’t do that.”
He said it wasn’t the content of Carlton’s July 26 column but his reaction to readers. “No one has the right to treat readers that way,” Aylmer said.
The intense pressure on Fairfax Media, publisher of the Herald, was triggered by Carlton’s column, in which he accused Israel of “waging its own war of terror on the entire Gaza population.”
“Call it genocide, call it ethnic cleansing: the aim is to kill Arabs,” he wrote
The column was accompanied by a controversial cartoon widely condemned as anti-Semitic by Jewish leaders, who threatened legal action.
The backlash prompted the Herald to publish an editorial Monday saying it “unreservedly apologizes” for any hurt caused.
“It was wrong to publish the cartoon in its original form,” the editors wrote, conceding it “closely resembled illustrations that had circulated in Nazi Germany.”
Dr. Danny Lamm, president of the Zionist Federation of Australia, welcomed Carlton’s departure. “It was an appalling one-sided, offensive article,” he said.
Danny Ben-Moshe, a Melbourne academic who specializes in studying anti-Semitism, told JTA that the Herald’s statement “is welcome, but it doesn’t mitigate the fact that they published the noxious views that culminated in the email exchange.”
Carlton said his publisher “buckled” to pressure from its rival newspaper, owned by Rupert Murdoch, and the “Likud lobby,” which wages “crushing” campaigns to “get people they don’t agree with.”
Carlton wrote to one critic: “Looking forward to hearing from you after you have joined the IDF and gone off to kill some kids. Reluctantly, of course. Until then, f–k off.”
He told a local website Wednesday: “I’ve been called a bag of Nazi slime, a Jew-hating racist…I suppose, half-a-dozen times, I hit back and told people to get f—ked.”