TEL AVIV – A mandatory lecture for University of Michigan art students reportedly featured a former Black Panther leader who compared Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Adolf Hitler.
Emory Douglas, part of the “Penny Stamps Speakers Series Presentation” of the Stamps School of Art & Design, presented a slide with an image of Netanyahu and Hitler with the words “Guilty Of Genocide” emblazoned on their faces. The definition of genocide was printed underneath. Jewish student Alexa Smith shared the picture on her Facebook page.
The speaker series comprises a one-credit course, which is required each semester for students hoping to earn a BA in Art & Design.
According to the university website, Douglas “worked as the resident Revolutionary Artist and Minister of Culture for the Black Panther Party in the San Francisco Bay Area from 1967 through the 1980s.”
“During his tenure, Douglas created powerful images to depict the reality of racial injustice in America and to promote the party’s ideologies. His distinctive style established the ‘militant-chic’ style decades before the aesthetic became popularized and sought to flip the cultural paradigm from one of African American victimhood to one of powerful outrage.”
Douglas is an advocate of the extremist boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel.
Smith wrote in her Facebook post: “Yesterday I was forced to sit through an overtly anti-Semitic lecture.”
“In what world is it ok for a mandatory course to host a speaker who compares Adolf Hitler to the Prime Minister of Israel?” she wrote.
“I sat through this lecture horrified at the hatred and intolerance being spewed on our campus,” she continued. “As a Jew who is proud of my people and my homeland, I sat through this lecture feeling targeted and smeared to be as evil as the man who perpetrated the Holocaust and systematically murdered six million Jews,” she wrote.
According to Smith, two years ago another required lecture featured Joe Sacco calling Israel a terrorist state. Sacco also declared that Israeli soldiers did not deserve to be represented as actual human beings in his artwork.
“This time I will no longer sit quietly and allow others to dehumanize my people and my community. The administration is repeatedly failing to forcefully respond to anti-Semitism, and so it comes back worse and worse each time. A line needs to be drawn and it needs to be drawn now,” she concluded.
The University’s Assistant Vice President for Public Affairs, Rick Fitzgerald, defended the lecture, noting that “Douglas covered a wide array of subject matter within the overarching context of his work, which looks at the oppression of people across the globe by governmental powers.”
“The Stamps program is intentionally provocative and we are clear with our students about this. The school does not control or censor what speakers present,” he added.
The University of Michigan also came under fire last month when John Cheney-Lippold, a professor of American culture and supporter of BDS, refused to sign a letter of recommendation for a student wishing to study abroad in Israel.