The editors of the student newspaper at the University of California at Berkeley have apologized after publishing a cartoon of famed Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz.
The drawing drew stark criticism -- both from UC Berkeley's chancellor and from Dershowitz himself, who said the cartoon was anti-Semitic.
The cartoon was a reaction to Dershowitz's talk earlier this month at UC Berkeley, where he defended the state of Israel. Prior the talk, he accused the university's students of “content-based discrimination” that almost prevented him from speaking at the home of the Free Speech Movement of the 1960s.
Some on campus had opposed Dershowitz's appearance by drawing a swastika on a poster of Dershowitz’s face the day after the talk. The university condemned the act and suggested expressing disagreement in a more appropriate manner. It remained unclear who vandalized the poster.
A week later, the student-run Daily Californian newspaper published a cartoon featuring Dershowitz that closely resembled Nazi-era anti-Semitic cartoons, prompting condemnations across social media and from top university officials.
“Your recent editorial cartoon targeting Alan Dershowitz was offensive, appalling and deeply disappointing. I condemn its publication,” UC Berkeley President Carol Christ wrote in a letter to the newspaper’s editor.
“Are you aware that its anti-Semitic imagery connects directly to the centuries-old ‘blood libel’ that falsely accused Jews of engaging in ritual murder? 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,” she added.
The Harvard professor also slammed the cartoon, saying the incident shows that “there is very little difference between the Nazis of the hard right and the anti-Semites of the hard left.”
“It is shocking that this vile depiction was published in Berkeley’s paper of record. The cartoon resembles the grotesque anti-Semitic blood libel propaganda splashed across Der Stürmer in the 1930s, which depicted Jews drinking the blood of gentile children,” Dershowitz wrote in the Daily Californian.
Under pressure, the newspaper apologized for “the pain and anger” caused by the cartoon, adding that the artist’s intention was to suggest the professor’s talk on Israel was “hypocritical.”
“We regret that the artistic rendering distracted from the discussion the artist was trying to start,” the apology read.
The cartoon has not been removed from the newspaper's website.