(JTA) – The editors of the University of California, Berkeley student newspaper apologized for “the pain and anger” caused by a cartoon that critics said contains anti-Semitic imagery.
The editor’s note was added to the cartoon on Wednesday, a week after it appeared in The Daily Californian. The cartoon remains on the newspaper’s website.
The note read, in part: “The artist’s intent was to argue that the contents of civil liberties lawyer and professor emeritus at Harvard Law School Alan Dershowitz’s recent lecture at UC Berkeley were hypocritical. We regret that the artistic rendering distracted from the discussion the artist was trying to start.”
The cartoon, published a week ago, depicts a grinning Dershowitz with his head poking through a cardboard cutout bearing an Israeli flag and the silhouettes of happy children. The sign reads “The Liberal Case for Israel,” which was the topic of the Harvard Law School professor’s recent speech on the campus.
Behind the sign, Dershowitz’s foot crushes a man with a Palestinian flag and his hand cradles an Israeli soldier shooting an unarmed man soaking in a puddle of blood. In the online version, only the Palestinian flag, the soldier and the blood are in color.
UC Berkeley Chancellor Carol Christ, in a letter to the editor calling the cartoon “offensive, appalling and deeply disappointing,” wrote that “its anti-Semitic imagery connects directly to the centuries-old ‘blood libel’ that falsely accused Jews of engaging in ritual murder.”
Dershowitz spoke at the university on Oct. 11.
“The criticism we have received reaffirms for us a need for a more critical editing eye, and a stronger understanding of the violent history and contemporary manifestations of anti-Semitism,” wrote Karim Doumar, the editor in chief. “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.”
The executive director of the Berkeley Hillel in criticizing the cartoon in a letter to the editor made such an offer.
Dershowitz wrote in an essay for The Daily Californian on Wednesday that while he defended the editors’ right to publish it, he believed the cartoon to be deeply anti-Semitic.
“There is little doubt that this abhorrent cartoon was a hard-left Neo-Nazi expression,” he wrote.
Hours after Dershowitz’s appearance, a flier of the event was discovered with a swastika drawn over his face. The speech had originally been blocked by the university because organizers of his visit did not give campus police the required eight-week notice for the event – a requirement that only applies to nondepartmental applicants. Following that disclosure, the law school agreed to co-sponsor the talk.