A defense of UCLA student paper’s decision to publish Netanyahu cartoon

US Politics
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Marcy Winograd sent the following letter to the editor of the Daily Bruin at UCLA after the newspaper apologized on Monday for a cartoon mocking Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that it had run that day. 

Dear Editor Tanner Walters:

As a UCLA alumni and recently-elected California Democratic Party delegate to Assemblyman Richard Bloom’s 50th assembly district, I take exception to my assemblyman’s casual and capricious use of the label anti-Semitic to describe a political cartoon recently published in the Daily Bruin, UCLA’s student newspaper.

Bloom’s statements were published in the Santa Monica Lookout.

The cartoon your newspaper rightfully published mocks Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for supporting a newly-passed Israeli law that retroactively legalizes settlements on Palestinian land and shows the Israeli leader crossing out the word “not” in “Thou shalt not steal”– one of the Ten Commandments and foundational beliefs of the Jewish faith.

Let’s be clear. The cartoonist is not mocking the Jewish faith but rather suggesting that Netanyahu has no respect for deeply held Jewish values that would never sanction Israeli tractors slicing Palestinian homes to ribbons in a matter of minutes.

Following Bloom’s heavy-handed published attack on the cartoon and newspaper staff, I read the Daily Bruin’s note from the editor to the reader:

As a newspaper, we take responsibility for our mistakes and apologize for them, so that’s what we’re doing here. Running this cartoon was an error that we deeply regret. It is wrong to use religion or religious tenets to criticize political policy. And it’s wrong to perpetuate harmful stereotypes – intentional or otherwise. We strive to understand the community that we cover. So as part of our ongoing education, we are reaching out to local religious leaders to help our staff understand the historical context behind these kinds of hurtful images.

I ask that the Daily Bruin not encourage self-censorship by subjecting its staff to a one-sided meeting with religious leaders who seek to conflate anti-Semitism with criticism of Israel. Additionally, I urge the newspaper’s editors to refrain from apologizing again for engaging in a worthy political debate that raises important questions about the right of Palestinians to live with dignity in their homes.

Bloom’s attacks on the student press only serve to chill speech and provide cover for the far right in Israel that seeks to annex the entire West Bank and force Palestinians to live forever as second class citizens under colonial occupation. This would further inflame tensions in the middle east, jeopardize the safety of those living in the region, and undermine human rights everywhere.

Marcy Winograd
Santa Monica, CA

About Marcy Winograd

Marcy Winograd is a former congressional candidate and Bernie Sanders delegate in California. An English teacher at a public high school, she is also a children's book author, at lolazola.com

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9 Responses

  1. eljay
    February 17, 2017, 10:40 am

    || … Bloom’s statements were published in the Santa Monica Lookout. … ||

    … “I am deeply disturbed that the editors at the Daily Bruin permitted an offensive and anti-Semitic cartoon to be printed in [the] paper,” Bloom wrote.

    He continued, “Criticizing a governmental action, in this particular case, Israeli settlement policies, is responsible journalism. However, calling into question Jewish religious tenets is reckless, immature and blatantly discriminatory.” …

    Given that the two universal (or at least Judeo-Christian) ethical values are presented in the context of (supposedly secular) Israel and its King, I’m deeply disturbed that Mr. Bloom:
    – reduces them to “Jewish religious tenets”; and
    – “pulls a hophmi” and anti-Semitically reduces Jewish culture, ethnicity, people, nation and civilization just to religion.

    • BethlehemOlivesRedeem
      February 17, 2017, 5:04 pm

      “calling into question Jewish religious tenets is reckless, immature and blatantly discriminatory”

      – yes, that is exactly what Netanyahu is being portrayed (accurately!) as having done, and it is what the so-called Jews of the Knesset do every time they pass a law that legalizes their theft, kidnapping, torture and murder of Palestinian civilians.

      The cartoon, far from “calling into question” the values of the Ten Commandments, calls into question the hypocrisy of colonial-ethnosupremacist state agents wrapping themselves in the purportedly “innocent” cloak of Judaism while perpetrating the crimes of thugs and tyrants.
      It seems pretty obvious that the cartoon respects Judaism and chastises hypocritical politicians who disingenuously pose as agents of the Divine. It basically says, to officials of the so-called “Jewish state” who apparently can’t read their own scriptures and understand their meaning, why don’t you (Knesset and Netanyahu) practice the faith you claim to be members of, or else stop claiming to be Jews? I actually can’t recall where it says in the scriptures that politicians can ever represent God.

      The prophets in fact reminded “the children of God” (aka the people calling themselves, or referred to, in their inherited (or adopted) scriptures as “Israel”) they are literally exiles, deservedly, and must be as long as they keep breaking their covenant to keep God’s commandments. There’s nowhere any biblical promise of a literal territorial kingdom like the racist European and American Zionists would have us believe. Even being welcomed back into God’s Grace has nothing to do with ownership of land, and everything to do with how you treat your neighbor, especially those less fortunate..

      The prophets certainly chastised politicians for such pretensions back in the day, if I recall….. But maybe I’m mistaken, blinded by a tangle of grey hair.

      • Elizabeth Block
        February 18, 2017, 10:39 am

        This friend speaks my mind [as the Quakers say]. Brilliant cartoon. Thanks for publishing it here.

  2. AddictionMyth
    February 17, 2017, 11:12 am

    Awesome! The rise of anti-BDS orthodoxy and legislation will be an incredible flop – as it targets nice Jewish boys and girls who speak out against it. Fun times ahead!

  3. Ossinev
    February 17, 2017, 1:56 pm

    Perhaps the cartoonist could have come up with an alternative cartoon featuring the newest ie 11th commandment = Thou shalt not accept criticism of Israel under any circumstances.I think Kim Jong Un has this as his one and only North Koreancommandment .

    With regard to the “supposed Anti-Semitic (LOL) cartoon in question I note an article in a site called forward.com , an American Jewish support site ( America first you understand) which states:
    “A cartoon called anti-Semitic that was published in the University of California – Los Angeles student newspaper has been strongly condemned by civic and campus organizations, among them a pro-Palestinian student group”
    http://forward.com/fast-forward/363091/anti-semitic-cartoon-of-netanyahu-published-by-ucla-student-newspaper/

    For whatever reason , and it does seem to stand out as a missed opportunity , the writer of the article does not then go on to name the said “pro-Palestinian Group”. Is this because it is a figment of their Hasbarism or is in fact because it is simply another one of those Jewish American pseudo “Peace” groups which because it flags up it`s “wanting peace” and “wanting negotiations” with the Palestinians can be conveniently flagged up as “Pro -Palestinian” when it suits.

  4. oldgeezer
    February 17, 2017, 2:10 pm

    Je suis charlie anyone. As if…

  5. RobertHenryEller
    February 18, 2017, 10:52 am

    Not only is the cartoon not anti-Semitic, but it is actually pro-Judaism. The only people it should make uncomfortable is people masquerading as Jews. And around the issues of Palestine/Israel, the problem is not Fake News, but Fake Jews.

    Who are Fake Jews? Jews who, regardless of how ritually observant they are, are what I refer to as “70% Jews.” Who are “70% Jews?” They are so-called, or self-styled Jews who nonetheless do not follow three of the Ten Commandments: Thou shalt not bear false witness; Thou shalt not steal; Thou shalt not kill.

    I’ve been asserting exactly what this cartoon asserts for the last couple of years, and I’m sad that people don’t invoke this idea more frequently. The cartoon in fact gives me hope, although the faux-outraged response is all too predictable. Real Jews, people who believe they don’t get to pick and choose among the Ten Commandments, or selectively turn their observance of all the Commandments on and off, should be calling out Zionists on this hypocrisy. In fact, “70% Jews,” whose self-proclaimed leader is Benjamin Netanyahu, are a greater threat to Jews and Judaism than any Palestinians, or even all Palestinians. Which do we think actually matters to our God, that we occupy a certain piece of real estate, or that we obey all of His Commandments (None of which is that we live in Canaan, or Palestine, or Israel.)?

    I do not make a religious argument because I am religious (I’m not. Maybe I’m even, at best, a 30% Jew. But according to Rabbi Hillel, who I’ve yet to see anyone effectively rebut, that’s the essential 30%. Note also that I don’t demand or even ask that Israel take me in, or protect me. Why would I? Israel, and Zionists everywhere, endanger me and every other Jew, and endanger Judaism.), but because the Zionists assert that Israel, right or wrong, must be defended at all costs, because Jews need their own land. I’d have a harder time arguing against that if Israel was in fact protecting actual Jews. But apparently, most Israel so-called Jews are in fact “70% Jews.” And for me, that makes them, effectively, “0% Jews.” The Ten Commandments is a contract, not a menu. So I use this argument against those who claim they are 100% Jews, when they are only 70% Jews. Not good enough to make any demands based on Jewishness. One of the oft-cited horrors of the Holocaust was Rabbis forced to piss on a Torah. Yet the majority of Israeli Jews, without any hesitation, in fact with some glee, piss on the Ten Commandments. How does that stack up against worshipping a Golden Calf, in God’s Eyes?

    This cartoon is anti-Semitic? Just the opposite. What’s actually anti-Semitic, as in, a real danger to real Jews and real Judaism (Not the fake 70% kind.), is the policies of the Israeli Right, along with their aiders and abettors.

    • Mooser
      February 18, 2017, 2:19 pm

      “RobertHenryEller” there is no reason at all why Judaism must be uniform. And there are plenty of good reasons why Judaism may become divided into antagonistic sects as it has been before.

  6. larick
    February 22, 2017, 3:15 pm

    meone once said, “anti-Semitism used to be about people who hated Jews, but now it’s about who Jews hate.” This is the perfect example. All the polls have shown for years that Israel is less and less popular amongst Jews in the U.S., and that the younger the Jewish demographic the more critical of Israel Jews in the U.S. are. There is a very good reason for that: the myth of a lovely little Jewish country just trying to survive as a democratic state being menaced by Arab dictators and terrorists has given way to the reality that is very different. That reality shows a colonial settler state that has viciously displaced and dispossessed an indigenous people. As an American Jew, it took me over 50 years to wake up to the fact I had been brainwashed in a liberal synagogue and household, with the strong inculcation of a biased media to believe in this fantasy of “poor little Israel”, the “only democracy in the Middle East”. Now that the truth is out, the argument gets shifted by those defending the indefensible to a crude level of accusing critics– including Jewish critics, of anti-Semitism for one reason: Israel’s defenders do not have the facts to back up their argument. I challenge anyone who goes to the West Bank or the Gaza strip to tell me that is the working of a democratic state or of “Jewish values”. Rubbish! That is a Jim Crow segregation as ugly and deadly as Mississippi was in 1950 or 1900. So when you hear the slur, “anti-Semitic”, know that’s because they have no other argument. To censure the obvious political act of criticizing a political entity such as Israel and conflate that with anti-Jewish sentiment is cowardice abetted by ignorance.

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