Berkeley Paper Retracts Anti-Israel, Anti-Semitic Cartoon

Editors of the Daily Californian claim the artist’s intent was to characterize a lecture by Alan Dershowitz as “hypocritical.”

Two weeks ago, Alan Dershowitz, professor emeritus at Harvard Law School and renowned defender of Israel’s right to exist, delivered a lecture at the University of California at Berkeley called “The Liberal Case for Israel.” Days later, the student paper carried a cartoon which depicted the famous lawyer smiling as he stamped on a Palestinian, while his hand held an Israeli soldier who had obviously just shot a person who was bleeding profusely.

The cartoon prompted wide-spread condemnation in social media, and a quick response from UC Berkeley President Carol Christ, who wrote a stern letter to the student paper. “Your recent editorial cartoon targeting Alan Dershowitz was offensive, appalling and deeply disappointing,” she said. “I condemn its publication…. I cannot recall anything similar in the Daily Californian, and I call on the paper’s editors to reflect on whether they would sanction a similar assault on other ethnic or religious groups.”

Dershowitz wrote a letter as well, saying, “Canards about Jews as predators — prominently promulgated by the Tzarist forgery ‘The Protocols of the Elders of Zion’ — were anti-Semitic back then and are still anti-Semitic today, whether espoused by the extreme left or the extreme right.”

The famous civil liberties lawyer echoed the university president’s point as well, arguing that if the cartoon had directed “hate” against women, gays, blacks or Muslims, the newspaper would not have published it.

“There is one word for this double standard.” Dershowitz wrote. “It’s called bigotry.”

Daily Californian editor-in-chief, Karim Doumar, responded with an editor’s note on Wednesday that stated that the cartoon had been retracted, and expressed regret to Dershowitz and others who were hurt by it. “The cartoon hearkened to clearly anti-Semitic tropes. It should not have been published, and we sincerely apologize that it was.”

The editor added that the staff had learned from its mistake. “Covering a community means listening to that community and reflecting its beliefs, feelings, fears and opinions. As part of our ongoing education, we will be meeting with local religious leaders and experts to improve our understanding of the historical context behind these types of images and contemporary manifestations of anti-Semitism…. We understand and take responsibility for the harm we have caused our readers and our staff. We hear you, we accept your criticism, and we will learn from our errors.”

By: Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News