UC Berkeley Paper Apologizes For Anti-Semitic Cartoon

TEL AVIV – After first defending its moves, the editors of the University of California’s student newspaper issued an apology and retraction for publishing a Nazi-themed cartoon last week. 

The first draft of the Daily Californian‘s editor’s note did not contain an apology as such, instead focusing on justifying cartoonist Joel Mayorga’s handiwork.

The artist’s intent was to argue that the contents of civil liberties lawyer and professor emeritus at Harvard Law School Alan Dershowitz’s recent lecture at UC Berkeley were hypocritical. We regret that the artistic rendering distracted from the discussion the artist was trying to start.

The editor’s note was then updated to “better reflect the sentiment of the editor,” the Daily Californian said. A third version was then published that also included a retraction.

The cartoon hearkened to clearly anti-Semitic tropes. It should not have been published, and we sincerely apologize that it was.

The cartoon depicted Alan Dershowitz presenting as he crouched on a stage, with his body behind a cardboard cutout labeled “The Liberal Case for Israel.” Dershowitz was drawn with twisted limbs. His foot was crushing a Palestinian person; placed in his hand was a depiction of an IDF soldier next to someone the soldier had shot.

We apologize to our readers and members of our staff who were hurt by the cartoon. We especially apologize to Alan Dershowitz for the ways it negatively impacted him both personally and professionally

The cartoon featured Dershowitz, who was due to give a speech at the university titled “The Liberal Case for Israel,” hiding behind a wall of “liberalism” with a globe-shaped body ostensibly representing perceived Jewish control of the world. In his hand is an IDF soldier who has just shot a Palestinian and underneath his foot a flattened body lies next to a Palestinian flag.

In a letter to the editor, UC Berkeley Chancellor Carol Christ wrote that the cartoon was “offensive, appalling and deeply disappointing” and added that “its anti-Semitic imagery connects directly to the centuries-old ‘blood libel’ that falsely accused Jews of engaging in ritual murder.”

In an essay for the paper, Dershowitz defended his October 11 speech at the university, saying that in it he “advocated the establishment of a Palestinian state and a negotiated end of the conflict. I encouraged hostile questions from protesters and answered all of them.”

This sequence of events by hard-left students who originally protested my right to speak at UC Berkeley confirmed what I’ve long believed: that there is very little difference between the Nazis of the hard right and the anti-Semites of the hard left. There is little doubt that this abhorrent cartoon was a hard-left Neo-Nazi expression.

These anti-Semitic displays against me were in reaction to a speech in which I advocated a Palestinian state and an end to the occupation and opposition to Israeli settlement policies. Many on the hard-left refuse to acknowledge this sort of nuanced positioning. That is because their hostility towards Israel does not stem from any particular Israeli actions or policies. Even if Israel were to withdraw from the West Bank, destroy the security barrier and recognize Hamas as a legitimate political organization, it would still not be enough. For these radicals, it is not about what Israel does, it is about what Israel is: the nation-state of the Jewish people. To many on the hard left, Israel is an imperialistic, apartheid, genocidal and colonialist enterprise that must be destroyed.

Dershowitz also told the Daily Wire in response to the cartoon, “I’m surprised that it was treated with as little response. Imagine if a comparably anti-black or anti-woman or anti-gay cartoon was ever published in the Berkeley student newspaper. Again, it reflects for me the incredible double standard in tolerance that people have toward anti-Semitism.”


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