ADL Responds to ‘Shylock’ Crossword Puzzle Clue

UPDATE: On June 28, 2013, a managing editor at Tribune Media Services apologized in a letter to ADL for the Shylock clue in the crossword.  The letter stated: "The puzzle should not have been distributed with that clue, and we apologize for the offense it caused.  The issue has been discussed with the creators and editors involved, and the clue will not be used again in a Tribune Media Services crossword."  More


New York, NY, June 28, 2013 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today called on the editors of Tribune Media Services to apologize for a clue in a crossword puzzle that used the clue “Shylock, e.g.” to elicit a three-letter response, with the correct answer being “Jew.”

The crossword puzzle, which was syndicated, appeared today in several newspapers across the country. “Shylock” is a reference to the grotesque stereotypic fictional Jewish character from Shakespeare’s play, “The Merchant of Venice.”

In a letter to Tribune Media Services, Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director, said:

“We do not need to list here the number of positive historical or literary Jewish figures or notable contemporary members of the Jewish community that could have been used for this clue to bring readers to the same response. Perhaps the puzzle authors were unaware of the use of Shakespeare’s Shylock character throughout the years as a vehicle for anti-Semitism.  Selecting Shylock to elicit the answer ‘Jew’ demonstrates cultural ignorance and an extreme lack of sensitivity.  Even if done inadvertently, such a linkage perpetuates classic anti-Semitic stereotypes of Jews as evil and money-hungry.”

ADL urged Tribune Media Services to print an apology and refrain from using clues that reinforce negative stereotypes about Jews or other groups in the future.

The Anti-Defamation League was founded in 1913 to stop the defamation of the Jewish people and to secure justice and fair treatment to all. Today it is the world’s leading organization combating anti-Semitism, exposing hate groups, training law enforcement on hate crimes, developing anti-bias education programs for students, countering cyber-hate and relentlessly pursuing equal rights for all.