UC Berkeley community criticizes controversial Dershowitz editorial cartoon

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Following the publication of what many have called an anti-Semitic cartoon in The Daily Californian, many members of the UC Berkeley community spoke out to condemn and criticize the cartoon.

The cartoon, which was published in print Oct. 13 and retracted online Oct. 27, depicted renowned attorney and Harvard Law School professor emeritus Alan Dershowitz huddled on a stage with his head through a cutout reading ‘The Liberal Case for Israel,” the name of the speech Dershowitz gave on campus Oct. 11. Dershowitz, a prominent liberal pro-Israel supporter, was drawn holding in one hand a Palestinian person being shot by an Israeli Defense Forces soldier while crushing another Palestinian beneath his foot.

The cartoon drew waves of criticism in the following days from people such as UC Berkeley Chancellor Carol Christ, as well as Dershowitz himself. Many accused the cartoon of a strong resemblance to 1930s-era Nazi propaganda depicting Jews as hulking insects and ‘blood libel’ propaganda falsely accusing Jews of ritual murders.

Dershowitz said he believed that, in some ways, the publication of the cartoon was worse than the white nationalist rallies and counterprotests held in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August, during which one person was killed when a car drove through a crowd of protesters.

“Charlottesville was individual bigots and racists,” Dershowitz said. “(The cartoon) has behind it a kind of established acceptance, and that’s what was going on in Nazi Germany. … It’s worse than individuals acting out of their own bigotry. This represented a system of bigotry or a system accepting of bigotry.”

Nearly two weeks after the cartoon’s publication, The Daily Californian retracted the cartoon and issued an apology as announced by editor in chief Karim Doumar. According to the statement, the publication’s staff would be meeting with local religious leaders and experts in the future to improve their knowledge of the history of anti-Semitism.

Additionally, Doumar said, all editorial cartoonists will be required in the future to learn about the history of visual propaganda as part of their training.

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

Campus Koret professor of Jewish history John Efron, however, said he did not believe the issue was a lack of education, and that he found it “disingenuous” that anyone did not know the cartoon was anti-Semitic, citing “standard anti-Semitic images” used to draw the features of his face. He added that he did not believe the campus was a hostile place for Jewish students or faculty, but that this has become the “broad perception” for UC Berkeley because of the “toxic atmosphere” surrounding all discussions of Israel on campus.

Several members of the campus’s Jewish community also spoke out against the cartoon, including Bears for Israel president and campus third year political science major Lily Greenberg Call, who stated that the cartoon made many Jewish campus students feel that they were being depicted with “subhuman” imagery familiar from their studies in school or their family experiences. According to Greenberg Call, Jewish people in the United States are often left out of conversations about social justice.

Campus second year global studies major Joel Mayorga, the cartoon’s illustrator, said he did not attend Dershowitz’s speech, but that he had done prior research on Dershowitz and wanted to point out his “hypocritical statements.” Mayorga said although he believed he could have spent more time drawing Dershowitz, he believed he was careful in drawing Dershowitz’s features because he understood the issue’s sensitivity.

“No matter how I drew him, the anti-Semitic card would have been thrown,” Mayorga said. “When anybody tries to call out Zionism or military policy, the anti-Semite card is always thrown to delegitimize those critiques.”

Mayorga added that he disagreed with the retraction and that he felt censored by the decision.

According to Dershowitz, he believes that there is a tolerance for anti-Semitism from liberals in academia, especially at UC Berkeley. He added that he was disappointed that more people, such as University of California President Janet Napolitano, did not condemn the cartoon.

“There is a pervasive double standard running through Berkeley from the top to the bottom,” Dershowitz said. “Only against a Jewish supporter of Israel would they have allowed that cartoon to be published.”

Senior staff writer Audrey McNamara contributed to this report.

Ashley Wong is an assistant news editor. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @wongalum.

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  • rab

    So first Mayorga draws an anti-Semitic depiction of a Jewish man. Then he claims that no matter how he had drawn him, he would have been called out as anti-Semitic because…”the anti-Semitic card is always thrown” when someone criticizes Zionism.

    Mayorga seems unaware of many centuries of anti-Semitism that existed long before Israel came into being, or political Zionism for that matter. It’s a real thing, anti-Semitism. If you look at FBI statistics, for example, you’ll find that Jews are by far the most targeted religious group in the USA (about 4 times as many attacks as on Muslims, the second highest group). So when Jews see anti-Semitism, we tend to respond. It’s not because we are liars pulling a card to trick others, you see. In fact, that in itself is an anti-Semitic claim, Mayorga, because it suggests Jews lie, that Jews lies about anti-Semitism in particular, that Jews manipulate others by suggesting that ANY criticism of Israel or Zionism is anti-Semitic.

    This isn’t just nonsense, it’s actually bigoted hatred. In my first remark in the original cartoon posting, I suggested that maybe Mayorga came from a place of ignorance. But now it’s clear he comes from a place of bigotry. And Mayorga is right about one thing, the cartoon should not have been removed. The world deserves to see his shameful bigotry out in the open.

  • ModernMaccabi

    Its sad to see that the cartoonist Joel Mayorga is actually acknowledging his bias and bigotry without apologizing for it. Does the Daily Californian employ any other self-professed racists, bigots or anti-Semites?

  • Miami Beach Vice

    Ah the Leftist Islamofascist alliance of evil in total control at the Daily Cal. Ashamed I am an Alum. Kinda of explains why I won’t send an alum cent back to Berkeley.

  • Me and 72 Virgin Goat.Verified

    InfideIs, is good Editor Brothers Karim, Hussain and the Lefties at Cal Daily never once do a cartoon about the time we Muslims slaughtered, gassed, chopped up, and barrel bombed 350,000 brother Muslim, including the lady and child, in the Syria. Would be Islamophobic. Is minor event, Pls to keep total focus on Israel Jews.

  • Auntie Pha

    ““No matter how I drew him, the anti-Semitic card would have been thrown,” Mayorga said…”
    What? … So I figured what the heck, I’ll draw him the way they all look!

  • diogenes

    What’s disgusting and disturbing and telling is seeing so much of the American press pick up and trumpet the bullying lie that this cartoon is in any respect anti-semitic. The cartoon criticizes — with abundant reason — an advocate of a brutal racist regime. Self-righteous advocacy of brutality and bullying in support of it — that’s what’s shameful here, not to mention vile.

  • Albert

    As a Holocaust survivor I found your despicable act very disturbing. I lost my 18 months old sister, my grandparents in the concentration camp of Bershad, Ukraine. How in the name of decency could you commit such a heinous act?

    • diogenes

      This is totally off topic. It has nothing to do with a cartoon targeting a supporter of a brutal racist apartheid regime. The fate of your relatives at the hands of nazis does not in any respect justify the fate of millions of Palestinians at the hands of a brutal racist regime. The Nazi regime ended 72 years ago. The Israeli regime is still ongoing and has been for 69 years. It’s history of racist oppression and violence is well known, and well documented, including by Jewish historians.

      • Albert

        You survive on bigoted lies. There is no “brutal racist apartheid regime.” Arabs in Israel serve in the Knesset (Parliament), Supreme court, Attend Universities, serve in Medical Centers, serve in the Military, etc. You simply lie your way into bigoted hatred, you are sick.

        • Dan Spitzer

          Ignoramuses like diogenes area always welcome on topics such as this as they make our case for us with their unmitigated arrogance, ignorance, and virtual illiteracy. “Bullying, racist, apartheid”–wow is their vocabulary limited. Here’s hoping diogenes isn’t a student at UCB, but on the other hand, he might well have Hate’m Bazian as his mentor.
          When it comes to hate, nobody exhibits it in greater measure than the Palestinians’ most popular political party, Hamas, which has called for the murder of Jews worldwide in its very charter. Obviously, this doesn’t trouble most of those in SJP, JVP, and BLM and haters like Diogenes. Anti-Semitism, in their book, isn’t offensive–indeed they value it.

          • diogenes

            Fortunately today among informed Americans the brutal facts of the Israeli regime are well-evidenced and widely known and people like Dan Spitzer merely display their own disrespect for truth and for the people they are intent on deceiving.

          • Edward Devotion

            For someone so informed, you sure don’t have much knowledge about the conflict. Maybe that’s why the decisions of informed like you are so often disastrous. You are standing on the side of repression and dystopia, but you’re too foolish and wrapped in anger to notice. Why would anyone in the real world listen to your “informed” nonsense.

  • diogenes

    The cartoon is not “anti-semitic.” It targets Israel’s deadly apartheid state and Dershowitz as an enabler of its reign of terror. Calling it “anti-semitic” is a bullying abuse of language and this form of bullying is typical, habitual and characteristic of the advocates of this Israeli regime and its murderous oppression of the indigenous population of Palestine. Why is the Daily Cal giving space to this bullying?

    • Dan Spitzer

      What ignorance! Look up apartheid (which had its popular genesis in S. Africa) and understand that there is no correlation to how S. African whites treated their black countrymen and how Arabs are treated in Israel.

      Also, Palestinians are not indigenous to what you call “Palestine.” Genetically, they hail from the Arabian Peninsula and immigrated to what is today Israel, the W. Bank, and Gaza. There has been a Jewish presence in what is today the State of Israel for 3,000 years. Jerusalem has nary a mention in the Koran. It is noted hundreds of times in the Old Testament.

      As to the bullying of the Palestinian people, look to their own governance when it comes to suppression of women, brutalization of gays, and the jailing and sometimes murder of dissidents. None of this applies to Jews or Arabs within the state of Israel.

      So yes, if you wish to use the term “apartheid,” apply it to how women, gays and dissidents are treated by the Palestinians’ own governing bodies.

      • diogenes

        Same old same old from the same old same old, and totally off topic.

        • ModernMaccabi

          According to you everything is “off topic” if it doesn’t comport to your distorted and bigoted view of Israel and the Jewish people.

      • FartyMcFartface

        I fart on you

  • Dan Spitzer

    Here’s the dictionary definition of Zionism: “The belief that Jews should have their own nation.” And that they do in Israel.

    Hence, the cartoonist by his own statement doesn’t believe that the Jews among all peoples can or should have their own state and that is purely and simply anti-Semitism. Virtually half the Jews remaining upon the planet live in democratic Israel, yet people like Mayorga, SJP, JVP, and the Muslim Student Association openly advocate an end to the Jewish state. They have clearly, pointedly and without reservation stated this time and again. Correspondingly, on the UC campus this perspective and the anti-Semitism attendant to it has become pervasive.

    If half of the planet’s black people lived in a single state of their own and that nation’s legitimacy were so regularly called into question, well this would rightfully be characterized as racism won’t it? Moreover, numerous nations in the Muslim world define their counties as “Islamic” (most, unlike Israel, are vicious dictatorships). Mayorga and other anti-Zionists fail to criticize this. Yet over and above such authoritarian regimes seen throughout the world, be they in N. Korea, Russia, Africa or the Middle East, Israel is incessantly singled out for castigation and its very right to exist is regularly called into question on the UC campus and within the UC system.

    This bigotry has got to stop. And the hypocrisy inherent in what Mayorga and others emphasize in their nonstop criticism of Israel while ignoring the wrongdoings of truly authoritarian states (including the Palestinian’s Fatah and Hamas governance) reflects anti-Semitism at its most vile.

    In sum, it’s not just legitimate criticism of Israeli policy which is so manifest on campus. It’s that the overwhelming emphasis that the very Israeli existence as a Jewish state has become anathema to so many ignorant members of the UC community. And this is toxic racism, a hatred of Jewry at its worst…

    • diogenes

      More bullying rant from the same old sources. The entire world, including most American Jews, oppose the racist brutality of the Israeli regime. Bullying apologists for brutality striking poses as righteous moralists shame themselves.

      • Todd

        Lol. Go to Israel and learn. Israel is a multicultural society.

    • FartyMcFartface

      Just shut up already, the cartoon was about two-faced Bershowitz, not anti-Semitism as a whole.

      • benfivel

        Obviously an unbiased supporter of BDS.

    • lyn17

      a) The first dictionary definition of Zionism that comes up isn’t “The belief that Jews should have their own nation.” Zionism (according to definition) is a specific movement to establish a Jewish nation, that culminated in the establishment of Israel. That movement used mass murder, terror and ethnic cleansing to achieve the goal, and is inherently discriminatory against Palestinians, the indigenous people of what’s now Israel, in that it denies most of them the right to live in their own land and has always denied them the equal rights and democratic self-determination.
      b) If all the black people in the world had a country they established by mass murder and terror against it’s indigenous population, it would not be racist to be against that nation.
      c) “The belief that Jews should have their own nation” isn’t really tenet of Judaism, so being against such a belief would not be antisemitic. It’s irrelevant in any case, the author of the cartoon made no statement indicating he was against Jews having their own nation, that is, some theoretical Jewish nation that was established entirely through cooperative and peaceful means. Such a nation doesn’t exist.

  • tanner

    1. the cartoon was not antisemitic. 2. dershowitz and the rest of the zio crazies are trying to shut down criticism of israheil. 3. dershowtiz does have a ginormous nose. it is a fact. the thing has grown and grown over the last two years so much so that he has become a living antisemitic meme.

    To identify the truly sick racists google: chief rabbi of Israel
    says only purpose of goyim is to serve jews, life of goyim worth same as
    donkey. Netanyahu says this jerk is the
    greatest mind of this generation.


    • Albert

      You have just proven what an Antisemite you are.

      • tanner

        don’t blame me because dershowitz has a ginormous nose. it’s his fault that he looks like a hook nosed jew meme.

        • ModernMaccabi

          Its not the depiction of his nose. Its mostly the other anti-Semitic tropes of a Jew perpetrating violence behind the scenes in a serpentine or less than human type of way. Why can’t you see this? Could you have an anti-Semitic bias, per chance?

      • lyn17

        The cartoon nose isn’t hooked, or even that big. Not any bigger relative to his face than Dershoweitz’s

    • roccolore

      You are the fascist who would have demanded the firing of a cartoonist who criticized Islam.

      • peteywheats

        This is like Hitler saying “You’re the Nazi!”

        • roccolore

          You Democrats are the Nazis because of your hatred of Jews.

      • tanner

        don’t blame me because dershowitz has a ginormous nose. it’s his fault that he looks like a hook nose jew meme.

    • diogenes

      This link gives the game away, doesn’t it.

    • ModernMaccabi

      “Zio crazies” is language taken straight out of the neo-Nazi playbook to defame Jews. So you must be a Nazi.

      • tanner

        looks like another zio loser who thinks it has the right to tell normal people what and how to speak. fo maggot.

        • ModernMaccabi

          Hahahahah!!! What an intelligent post. Your mother must be proud.

        • ModernMaccabi

          HAHAHAHAHAHAHAH!!!! Now that is funny. Are you a child? Your mother must be so proud of you.

  • disqus_6YcQLVlAyH

    “No matter how I drew him, the anti-Semitic card would have been thrown,” Mayorga said. “When anybody tries to call out Zionism or military policy, the anti-Semite card is always thrown to delegitimize those critiques.”

    Ugh, no matter how I drew him, whether as an arachnid spider or an octopus with tentacles encompassing the globe, they always call it anti-Semitic! Just to delegitimize me!

    • Jon R.

      David Hirsh from the University of London, coined the term “Livingstone Formulation” – when an individual with alleged antisemitic attitudes is confronted with this allegation, he / she immediately reverses the charge, accusing his accuser of “playing the antisemitic card” to stifle debate.

      “The Livingstone Formulation functions to de-legitimise scholarly or political analysis of antisemitism by treating analysis of antisemitism as an indicator of anti-progressive discourse. This mode of refusal to engage rationally with antisemitism is often facilitated by the treatment of antisemitism as a subjective sentiment rather than as an external and objective social phenomenon” (Hirsh, 2016).

      Might as well call it the Mayorga Formulation.

    • diogenes

      The cartoon is not anti-semitic. To call it so is just name-calling in an effort to bully you into silence. How charming! It speaks volumes about the character of the name-callers and the cause on behalf of which they resort to such tactics. It leaves them, and their cause, self-condemned.

      What’s even more disgraceful — and self-disgracing — is to see so much of America’s hireling media parrot this bullying smear. They too are self-condemned.

      What’s encouraging is that more and more, Americans see this for ourselves.

      • Todd

        What is your training? You appear to be anti-indigenous people