Editorial cartoon underscores need for education on Jewish history, stereotypes

letter to the editor
Willow Yang/File

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Anti-Semitism has been an ugly part of Jewish history. As a Jew growing up in the United States, a country that has embraced and given me the full opportunity to practice my religion unharmed, it has truly been a privilege and right that I sometimes take for granted. I wear my yarmulke around Berkeley and on the UC Berkeley campus without issue; my children attend Berkeley public schools wearing yarmulkes, embracing and taking pride in their Jewish expression. As a Jew living in this amazing country, with all of its faults, I feel blessed to have the freedom to live a vibrant Jewish life. I can sometimes become complacent and even want to ignore anti-Semitism when is right in front of me.

To see The Daily Californian’s anti-Semitic cartoon online depicting Harvard Law School professor Alan Dershowitz was a reminder that as a Jew living in our open society, we are still plagued by undertones of historical anti-Semitism. There should be no excuse or rationalization for why this cartoon is “simply” a critique of Israeli policy or the speaker’s opinion. Like any bigoted cartoon, it should be called out, and the leadership of The Daily Californian needs to take responsibility for its actions. Jewish students on campus have every right to be included, practice their beliefs and express their passion for and love of Israel — their Jewish homeland — without experiencing anti-Semitism.

As a rabbi and educator on campus, I encourage members of The Daily Californian to take the time to learn about the history of anti-Semitism currently plaguing our society today. Berkeley Hillel and the entire Jewish community stand ready to work with The Daily Californian in offering training and education about the continuing reality of anti-Semitism. I look forward to hearing from The Daily Californian staff.

Rabbi Adam Naftalin-Kelman is the executive director of Berkeley Hillel.

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  • Peter

    Rabbi, I don’t know if you’re going to read this, but you just wrote about 300 words about a cartoon that you are labeling “anti-Semitic”, and you say that “Like any bigoted cartoon, it should be called out”. I agree, but the way to do this is not simply to say “that’s bigoted” or “that’s anti-Semitic” and then leave the reader no wiser about just what is bigoted or anti-Semitic about that particular image. I would expect more from “a rabbi and educator on campus”.

  • BerkPed

    What undertones does the opinion writer see in the political cartoons of the Jerusalem Post? https://www.facebook.com/TheJerusalemPost/photos/a.224811654307181.48962.159050394216641/228604607261219/?type=3&theater ?

  • herbcaen

    Anti-Semitism is a core value of the University of KKKalifornia, BerKKKeley. It can no more be removed from this “university” than can poo be removed from a septic tank. It is safe to say that the majority of UC BerKKKeley students are virulently anti-Semitic and are angry that they were born too late to be concentration camp guards. The US taxpayer should not contribute any money to this travesty. Let ISIS or the Iranians fund it

  • TNT

    The cartoon was not bigoted nor anti-semitic. Political cartoons generally exaggerate the physical characteristics of the subject to make light of them while making some point. You either agree or disagree.

  • Tod_Zuckerman57

    Even worse than the Nazi-like cartoon was the editor’s sickening “apology”.. Here is my heartfelt message to the editor: Take your phony baloney apology, laminate it, and shove it where the sun does not shine – sideways. The Daily Cal’s entire “brain trust” is a disgrace to the University of California.

  • Jack Spencer

    Please enlighten me on how this was anti Semitic? Not trying to stir up anything, I honestly want to know.

    • ModernMaccabi

      Compare a similar cartoon mocking and stereotyping a scholar from any other minority group. Muslim, African-American, Hispanic…. Do you really think those would be ok? For instance, imagine a similar image of a speaker promoting Black Lives Matter with behind the scenes imagery showing him or her to be a violent gang member, drug dealer or some other offensive stereotype. Would that type of cartoon be racist and bigoted? I think it would. Just as this cartoon is anti-Semitic.

      • TNT

        They should be ok. I would delight in seeing them just like I did this one.The scenarios you propose are not anti- anything and neither is this one.

        • ModernMaccabi

          Glad to know that you are an equal opportunist when it comes to offensive cartoons. But I won’t be holding my breath waiting for the Daily Californian or most other college newspapers to run similar cartoons intended to offend Blacks, Mexicans, Muslims, Arabs, Asians, and other minority groups.

    • lspanker

      Hmm, a big-nosed guy smiling while stomping on bloody Arabs. No anti-Semitic stereotypes there…

      • Jack Spencer

        What political cartoon does not show distorted facial features? Show me one.

        • zzz

          I think part of the problem is that for the far left a cartoon showing distorted facial features of certain select groups that are deemed worthy will result in hysterics, while a cartoon of not so worthy groups will not result in hysterics.

          People might be also bothered by the double standard.

        • Norman Hyman

          If a political cartoon depicts a Jew as having a pronounced, hooked nose, is it acceptable because it’s a political cartoon. How about the Nazi cartoons of the 30’s?

  • Scot Jenkins

    I wish I could say I was shocked that this would have ever been published. I’m not.

    Just more evidence that outrage over bigotry is selective and illusory.

  • BlackConservative

    “I look forward to hearing from The Daily Californian staff.”
    The Daily Cal team is censoring comments, and it is unacceptable. There is not 0 comments on this post yet it shows 0 comments. Daily Cal editors, you cannot pick and choose comments based on your political liking. Stop censoring people, it’s pathetic, and is just poor practice. YOU ARE A PUBLIC UNIVERSITY!

    • zzz

      They may be censoring things, but disqus often takes a few hours for things to align.