Editorial cartoon reveals danger of anti-Semitism in critique of Israeli policy

letter to the editor
Willow Yang/File

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As a liberal Jewish UC Berkeley alumnus who was very involved in student group life and the Jewish community, I am heartened to see your response to the wholly inappropriate and grotesque anti-Semitic cartoon the paper recently ran.

It is quite disappointing that an easily preventable incident like this had to happen to educate the paper and the wider campus community on the history and contemporary manifestations of anti-Semitism. The fact that this cartoon was drawn and made it through to publication demonstrates the profound lack of understanding of anti-Semitism and the plague of disproportionate and unfair anti-Israel attacks on the only Jewish nation in the world. To reduce the very complicated decadeslong conflict into this disgusting cartoon is both offensive and absurd.

Also to reduce Alan Dershowitz, one of the foremost legal minds and liberal voices in America for many decades, into an anti-Semitic stereotype is not only highly inappropriate and unproductive, but also a prime example of criticism of Israel treading into anti-Semitic waters. Simply put, this cartoon, or really any cartoon attacking Dershowitz for his Israel stance, could not adequately address any legitimate criticism on Israel policy while avoiding anti-Semitic territory. Legitimate criticism of Israeli government is welcomed and certainly happens within the Jewish community and Israel, but far too often, it veers into anti-Semitic hate rather than proportional, rational criticism. If the creator of the cartoon and the paper’s editors bothered to do their research, they would know how inappropriate and unfair this imagery is.

Political cartoons certainly have their place in public discourse, but this particular subject involving Dershowitz is bound to fail, alienate and greatly offend while producing more animosity than incisive criticism. This is yet another example of intersectionality failing to include Jews, the single most persecuted minority in the history of civilization, who ironically have been at the forefront of every major civil rights and social justice movement in U.S. history — literally giving our lives for the cause. Did you know that Jews played significant roles in the foundings of the NAACP and ACLU? Did you know numerous civil rights workers in the 1950s and ‘60s were Jewish? And that the two of the three civil rights activists murdered in Mississippi were Jewish? Or that women’s rights and LGBT rights movements have been led by Jews?

When you say, “we appreciate those who have reached out offering to help us better our understanding of these issues. We will be taking them up on the offer,” what and when specifically will you be doing this? As the newspaper of record for the city of Berkeley, it is critical that you responsibly represent and respect all members of the campus community and do not let your biases and subjectivity cloud your judgment as you produce this paper.

I am tired of defending UC Berkeley from ridiculous critics, who know nothing of our school and wider campus community, from claims of anti-Semitism, bigotry, hate and sheer ignorance. I know UC Berkeley is not some hateful bastion of anti-Semites run amok, but far too many wrongly think this; the campus and all those associated with it suffer accordingly. So please consider your responsibility to all UC Berkeley community members as you helm this paper that has far reach and impact outside of Berkeley.

David Denney is a UC Berkeley alumnus.

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  • Peter

    I think this letter was intended as satire, though I’m sure it would go over the heads of most readers, who aren’t familiar with the genre it’s satirizing.
    Notice the obligatory introduction “As a liberal Jewish UC Berkeley alumnus who was very involved in student group life and the Jewish community” and the linking of “anti-Semitism and the plague of disproportionate and unfair anti-Israel attacks on the only Jewish nation in the world”.
    But the giveaway is this: “Simply put, this cartoon, or really any cartoon attacking Dershowitz for his Israel stance, could not adequately address any legitimate criticism on Israel policy while avoiding anti-Semitic territory.”
    Right. Any cartoon attacking Dershowitz for his Israel stance is going to be anti-Semitic. Even if it is addressing “legitimate criticism on Israel policy”.
    And then more about that: “Legitimate criticism of Israeli government is welcomed and certainly happens within the Jewish community and Israel, but far too often, it veers into anti-Semitic hate rather than proportional, rational criticism.”
    By now, the letter writer is expecting the reader to accept him as the judge of what criticism of the Israeli government is legitimate or not. Once ensconced in that position, he notes approvingly that such legitimate criticism “happens within the Jewish community and Israel”, but on the other hand, “far too often, it veers into anti-Semitic hate rather than proportional, rational criticism.” Hm, can criticism of Israel by Palestinians fall into either of these categories?
    “If the creator of the cartoon and the paper’s editors bothered to do their research, they would know how inappropriate and unfair this imagery is.” And if the writer of this letter bothered to do his own research, he would be able to tell readers how inappropriate and unfair this imagery is, rather than taking somebody else’s word for it and passing it on.

    • Lifeboat

      BRAVO!!

    • Todd

      Peter, watch out for support from Lifeboat he is a Jew hater.

      • Lifeboat

        “When the debate is lost, slander becomes the tool of the loser.”
        Socrates

        • Todd

          Agreed, however in this case, it is the truth, so no slander.

          • Lifeboat

            What is your evidence? Certainly you may disagree with me, but that doesn’t mean it would be just for me to vilify you, does it? Should you not pay me the same courtesy? Or, is vilifying your opponent simply an ad hominem tactic to distract from his actual arguments? Are these guys linked below “Jew haters” too?
            http://www.nkusa.org/customUploads/Image/20170724-1.jpg

          • Todd
          • Lifeboat

            Now please demonstrate how I violated this definition. And please quote me directly.

          • Todd

            I counted 15 circumstances. However, I will not reprint garbage to prove my point. However, look at your posts from 13 days ago when you complimented Joe for his anti-semitism.

  • Lifeboat

    What is interesting about this editorial is that it assiduously avoids defining “anti-Semitism” and then demonstrating how the cartoon in question fits that description. This is typical. Routinely Zionist individuals conflate legitimate criticism of the countless bloody crimes of the Israeli government with mindless racist hatred. It is an effective *tactic* to shift the focus away from such crimes while intimidating and silencing those who expose them. And professional liars like Dershowitz play a large part in that propaganda effort.

    If you are wondering what Jews think about this cartoon, check-out the thread on the Israeli newspaper Haaretz Facebook page below. The consensus is that the cartoon is not anti-Semetic at all, and attempting to classify it as such is just a silencing tactic, and thus, a joke. Too bad the Daily Californian buckled to this tactic.
    https://www.facebook.com/haaretzcom/posts/10155694534456341

    • Otto von Bismark

      You lying snake. Haaretz is a far Left newspaper that represents “what Jews think about this cartoon” about as much as Salon represents how Americans see the world. It is simply flabbergasting that you would be so despicable as to write about a Jewish “consensus” as if you have any right to appropriate Jewish pain and suffering for your cause. But then again, your attitude is a perfect example of how the intersectional far Left/ Islamophiles are so routinely despised and resented throughout America that a certain president was just elected out of deep loathing for your disingenuity.

      As for your “muh Zionism” DARVO tactics, try to be a bit more creative next time, and come up with some new talking point beyond what you overheard at your most recent SJP meeting.

      • Lifeboat

        “You lying snake”! “Flabbergasting”! “Despicable”! Such hateful incendiary rhetoric which betrays that you have no reasonable and legitimate argument. Here is the facts: many or even most Jews are not Zionists and do not support the crimes of Israel. This is represented in the comments section of the Haaretz post I linked above. Check it out for yourself.

        Next, you should go after these “despicable” “snakes” that plainly demonstrate my point:
        http://www.nkusa.org/customUploads/Image/20170724-1.jpg

        And have a nice day. :-)

        • Otto von Bismark

          I don’t use the Media Matters or Salon comment section as a gauge to judge the general opinion of Americans, anymore than I’d use Haaretz for Israelis. You’re looking for what you want to see. Furthermore, you didn’t even respond to my point that you’re attempting to create a narrative of a Jewish “consensus,” based on an unpopular website.

          Anyway, the rest is my opinion fwiw: The far Left is discredited in America on the Israel issue, because the majority of Americans (and *vast* majority of Middle Americans) revere Israel. The only way you’ll get more support is by siding with the far Right, which is more isolationist and would prefer us to pull out of the region entirely.

          • Lifeboat

            While the power establishment in the U.S. “reveres” Israel, and is most willing to put the interests of Israel ahead of America’s, this cannot be said for “Middle Americans”: Poll: Most Americans Aren’t Zionists
            http://original.antiwar.com/smith-grant/2017/06/19/poll-americans-arent-zionists/

            And your point regarding the comment section of Haaretz is fair, though it is a merely anecdotal reference I made for how *this particular story* is received in the Jewish community. The link I provided above demonstrates that neither Alan Dershowitz nor Bibi Netanyahu, nor the State of Israel speaks for all, or even most Jews. In fact, Jewish American support for Israel is on the decline, especially among Millennials.
            http://www.nkusa.org/customUploads/Image/20170724-1.jpg

        • Jon Skeed

          “Many or even most Jews are not Zionists”? Where did you get that from. And why do you cite nkusa? Neturi Karta is the Jewish equivalent of ISIL – they are a radical fringe of a few thousand people – most of whom do not speak English or have more than 8th grade knowledge of science and mathematics.

    • Jon Skeed

      Lifeboat: You need to look at the comments on the Haaretz web site (not a facebook page). Also, Haaretz.com is for a non-Israeli audience (which is not necessarily Jewish). The Haaretz newspaper is written in Hebrew, so really you should be looking at the comments in the Hebrew language website. Why would what’s written on a facebook page represent the views of Jews????