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‘Daily Californian’ cartoon of Dershowitz dripping blood unleashes another furor over anti-Semitic canards

On October 11, Alan Dershowitz spoke at the University of California on “The Liberal Case for Israel,” and two days later, this cartoon by Joel Mayorga appeared in the Daily Californian, savaging Dershowitz’s stance. And all hell broke loose.

Here’s how the Daily Californian put it:

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 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.

(Watch out when journalists start talking about the “Many… many”!)

Here’s Chancellor Carol Christ’s letter, in part:

Your recent editorial cartoon targeting Alan Dershowitz was offensive, appalling and deeply disappointing. I condemn its publication. 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.

Three Jewish students said they were terrified by the cartoon, because it showed Dersh with a hooked nose and a spider’s body, a traditional hateful reference to Jews as invasive, shape-shifting insects.

To a Jewish student on this campus, seeing this cartoon in the Daily Cal is a reminder that we are not always welcome in the spaces we call home. Given the extensive history of imagery like this used to propagate stereotypes about Jews that enabled and justified mass violence against our communities, it is terrifying that the Daily Cal did not do their due diligence by researching and checking what was printed in their newspaper.

The Daily Cal retracted the cartoon two weeks after it ran.

Dershowitz didn’t miss the opportunity. He weighed in on the cartoon, in a long letter to the Daily Cal using the incident to tar the “hard left” as “neo-Nazis” for not criticizing the cartoon.

The Daily Californian – Berkeley’s independent student-run newspaper – ran an editorial cartoon by Joel Mayorga, approved by editors Suhauna Hussain, Dani Sundell, Alexandra Yoon-Hendricks and Karim Doumar. The cartoon depicted an ugly caricature of me sticking my head through a cardboard cutout. Behind the cardboard, I am portrayed stomping on a Palestinian child with my foot, while holding in my hand an Israeli soldier who is shooting an unarmed Palestinian youth. …

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. 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.

This sequence of events by hard-left students who originally protested my right to speak at UC Berkeley confirmed what I’ve long believed: that there is very little difference between the Nazis of the hard right and the anti-Semites of the hard left. There is little doubt that this abhorrent cartoon was a hard-left Neo-Nazi expression.

The Daily Cal issued an abject apology, from editor in chief Karim Doumar, saying lots of folks are going to reeducation camp:

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.”

Cartoon of Alan Dershowitz that appeared in the Daily Cal, and that was retracted as allegedly antisemitic.

The Forward has published a defense of the cartoon, using a mostly-black-and-white image of Mayorga’s work that appeared on Twitter, and looks different from the all-color version. Rafael Magaryk said it’s not anti-Semitic, and the cartoon’s critics are demonstrating “an irresponsible use of history.”

[A]s far as I can tell, it is simply arguing that Dershowitz represents himself as a liberal while actually shilling for Israeli state violence against Palestinians.

That is not anti-Semitic; it is true.

The letters decrying the cartoon are vague about exactly where the Jew-hatred resides, though they all characterize the cartoon as a “blood libel.” The blood libel myth that Jews murder gentile children to bake their blood into Passover matzo is indeed a vicious, nasty staple of European anti-Semitism. Blood libels have in the past depicted Jews as cannibalistic, predatory and secretly violent.

But the mere appearance of blood near a Jew is not a blood libel. The State of Israel has an army, and that army sometimes kills Palestinians, including women and children…

In the present, there is a Jewish state, which has nuclear weapons and a well-trained army, and which occupies Palestinian territory. If your definition of anti-Semitism makes it impossible to depict those facts, then you have defined the term poorly. You are not clarifying the boundaries of prejudice; you are crafting a tool to foreclose discussion.

Then Dershowitz wrote to the Forward, to contest Magaryk.

We were caught up ourselves in the controversy when we realized, This discussion is a diversion. The fact is that Dershowitz has justified vicious attacks on Gaza in which several thousand innocent Palestinian civilians have died (and he smeared an honest Jewish judge who tried to anatomize those crimes as a “moser” or traitor to the Jewish people). Last week a human rights lawyer gave an official report to the U.N. saying that Israel has “driven Gaza back to the dark ages,” through bombings and denials of water and electricity and egress, but that the world accepts the Israeli occupation as normal.

You’d think these facts would be getting more attention now. That they’re not is a measure of a profound prejudice everywhere around us: bigotry against Palestinians.

H/t Donald Johnson, Matthew Taylor.  

James North and Philip Weiss

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30 Responses

  1. DaveS on November 1, 2017, 12:27 pm

    When I first saw this cartoon, I wondered what constituted the actual claim of anti-semitism. Was it the depiction of Israel or of Dershowitz? The cartoon appears to be an ordinary representation of Dersh without any exaggerated supposedly Jewish features, and the criticism of Israel, while harsh, wasn’t remotely related to Jews as a whole. Nevertheless Chancellor Christ and editor Doumar simply adopted the assumption that it was anti-semitic and caved in to Dersh’s outrage. It’s revolting that Dersh ultimately got what he wanted: public apologies and withdrawal of the cartoon on grounds of anti-semitism.

    It wasn’t until Dersh’s latest response to Magarik that any details of the “anti-semitism” were provided. (As an aside, what an absurd claim that Dersh “breaks his silence”; when has he ever been silent about anything, much less this cartoon that has had him shrieking for days). Dershowitz now claims that he was depicted as a “spider,” and he referenced a cartoon from Der Sturmer that depicted Jews as a spider. Seriously? In Mayorga’s cartoon, Dersh has a single arm and single hand. Besides, Dersh’s implication that Mayorga knew of the Der Sturmer spider cartoon and was evoking it, is utterly absurd.

    If Dersh wants to complain about comparisons of humans to insects (yeah, I know spiders aren’t really insects), he could start with IDF Chief of Staff Rafael Eitan, who referred to “Arabs” as “drugged cockroaches in a bottle” or PM Begin, who called Palestinians “two-legged beasts.”

    One last thing. While Magarik agrees with the depiction of Dershowitz as defending IDF killers and squashing Palestinians (as do I), the truth of the cartoon is irrelevant. People agree or disagree with cartoons all the time. The question is whether this one was anti-semitic. As Magarik brilliantly points out, Dersh’s hot-headed claim stands in marked contrast to his defense of Steve Bannon from an anti-semitism charge: “I think we have to be very careful before we accuse any particular individual of being an anti-Semite… [I don’t think anybody should be called or accused of being anti-Semitic unless the evidence is overwhelming.”

    • JWalters on November 1, 2017, 7:13 pm

      Excellent response on all points. Dersh is a savage in a suit and glasses. NOT because he is Jewish, but because he is devoid of morality.

      • Misterioso on November 2, 2017, 11:03 am


        Well said!!

  2. eljay on November 1, 2017, 12:56 pm

    IMO, the combination of a bulbous “shadow” circle and the strange positioning of Dershowitz’s arm and leg do make him appear spider-like.

    Perhaps the effect was intentional (in which I case I condemn Mr. Mayorga for the depiction), perhaps it wasn’t; regardless, it allows Dershowitz to deflect attention away from the fact that the cartoon captures the essence of who he truly is: A hateful and immoral hypocrite and willing defender of Zionist evil.

    • DaveS on November 1, 2017, 1:28 pm

      Eljay, we agree much more than disagree but the spider issue is irrelevant. I don’t think it resembles a spider but even if it does, it is harsh on Dershowitz only and not anti-Semitic. Cartoons can depict an individual as an animal without defaming the individual’s ethnic group. The De Sturmer cartoon depicts Jews generally as spiders. Mayorga’s drawing, while grotesque, is no more anti Semitic than if he had drawn Dershowitz as a two headed monster. And we both agree that Dershowitz is a grotesque character. The cartoon condemns the man and the country but says nothing about Jews.

      • eljay on November 1, 2017, 2:06 pm

        || David Samel: Eljay, we agree much more than disagree but the spider issue is irrelevant. I don’t think it resembles a spider but even if it does, it is harsh on Dershowitz only and not anti-Semitic. … ||

        If the cartoonist was attempting (however poorly) to echo anti-Semitic depictions of Jews as spiders, the spider issue is relevant because it’s an anti-Semitic attack against Dershowitz.

        If he wasn’t – or if he also lampoons non-Jews by drawing them as spiders – it’s not.

        Either way, the uproar distracts from the fact that Dershowitz is – as you say and as I agree – a grotesque character.

  3. Kay24 on November 1, 2017, 1:58 pm

    Well, they cannot take criticism even in cartoon form. All fake cries of free speech and expression, falls short. I can still remember that cartoon of an old man sitting on top of a mountain, enjoying watching Israeli bombs drop over Gaza, and after howls of anti semitism, the Australian publication retracted it. Zionist howls seem to intimidate the media.
    When will they stop being intimidated, and say it is free speech? After all, when there was a cartoon of the Prophet Mohamed, that is exactly what the western world said.

    • JWalters on November 1, 2017, 7:08 pm

      “Zionist howls” are a coldly calculated tactic. This is evident from the coldly calculated lies that accompany these howls. As people are coming to recognize these tactics, and are better prepared to respond to the lies, the howls will become increasingly ineffective. Keep speaking out!

  4. Citizen on November 1, 2017, 4:19 pm

    No cartoon can effectively depict Derhsie’s malignancy.

    • marc b. on November 2, 2017, 1:04 pm

      maybe dershowitz’s head poking through into a colostomy bag,. that’s a start.

  5. Brewer on November 1, 2017, 4:21 pm

    Nous sommes tous Joel Mayorga

  6. wondering jew on November 1, 2017, 5:34 pm

    Specifically, there is nothing antisemitic about the cartoon. in general it is very similar to antisemitic cartoons and so it stimulates the same part of the brain in those familiar with such cartoons. The political ramifications of such brain stimulation is a different question.

    • Mooser on November 2, 2017, 4:31 pm

      “so it stimulates the same part of the brain in those familiar with such cartoons.”

      Holey Moley, “Yonah”, are you an expert on anti-Semitism, or what?

  7. Keith on November 1, 2017, 5:48 pm

    ALAN DERSHOWITZ- “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.”

    That Dershowitz should libel Joel Mayorga and the Daily Californian as anti-Semitic is no surprise. The charge of anti-Semitism is the main Zionist defense against criticism of Israel’s numerous crimes. Conflating the Daily Californian with Der Stumer is also standard for the likes of Dershowitz. That this should occur with repercussions to the Daily Californian and not to the irresponsible critics attests to the power of Zionism to set the parameters of discourse. The very notion that Jewish students were “terrified” because Dershowitz’ defense of Israel’s reprehensible behavior was criticized is bogus, yet another attempt to present the powerful as victims. That reckless charges of anti-Semitism continue to be both acceptable and pervasive is a sad commentary on our times.

  8. JosephA on November 1, 2017, 7:51 pm

    Dershowitz was proven to be a plaigiarist by Noam Chomsky. He is trash, garbage.

    • genesto on November 2, 2017, 3:45 pm

      Actually, by Norman Finkelstein, I believe. It’s what led to his dismissal, triggered by Dershowitz, from DePaul years ago.

  9. Peter in SF on November 1, 2017, 11:28 pm

    “Three Jewish students said they were terrified by the cartoon, …”

    And notice that the end of their piece says “They write on behalf of the Bears for Israel executive board.”

    The entire stated purpose of Bears for Israel as an organization is to advocate for Israel. These Jewish students’ views on the cartoon would actually be taken more seriously if they did NOT say they were writing on behalf of Bears for Israel. It is telling that they don’t realize that.

    • festus on November 2, 2017, 11:09 am

      “..Jewish students said they were terrified by the cartoon.”


      Imagine if they were Muslims subjected to actual threats and attacks and constant vilification in the mainstream media.

      • Marnie on November 4, 2017, 8:36 am
    • druid on November 2, 2017, 11:55 am

      Every time anyone citizens Israel and it’s henchmen, the tears flow. I am reminded of the girl who cried when Finkelman called Israel out at a talk! Helet her have it and asked her if she ever cries for the suffering and murdered Palestinians!

      • druid on November 2, 2017, 12:23 pm


  10. Qualtrough on November 2, 2017, 12:05 am

    I have asked this question elsewhere without ever receiving a reply, so let me try here: Is there any criticism of Israel, Zionism, or its supporters that is acceptable to those comprising those groups? If so, please provide links to some examples. I can truthfully say that I have never seen ANY criticism of Israel that wasn’t immediately branded anti-semitic, so any examples would be enlightening.

    • Paranam Kid on November 2, 2017, 9:22 am

      The Zionists have found an excellent “back-up” of their claims that criticism of Israel = antisemitism.

      The The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) states this in its definition of antisemitism:

      “Manifestations [of antisemitism] might include the targeting of the state of Israel, conceived as a Jewish collectivity.
      However, criticism of Israel similar to that levelled against any other country cannot be regarded as antisemitic.”

      Obviously there is a lot of ambiguity in these 2 sentences, which suits Israel & the Israel surrogates very well, because they will always claim that criticism levelled @ Israel is as covered by the 1st sentence, and who would dare to argue with the IHRA, that in & of itself would constitute the most terrible form of antisemitism. Besides, Israel is not like any other country, Israel is exceptional so sentence 1 is always applicable.

      Thus, the answer to your question is a simple NO, it is not possible anymore to criticise Israel. That is, until people dare to take a stand & accept the twisted accusation of antisemitism, AND challenge the accuser to explain what is so antisemitic about his/her specific criticism.

      BTW, the way it is possible to challenge the Russians, or Chinese, or North Koreans, or Iranians, it should also be possible to criticise the Jews. Philip Weiss does that very well.

  11. rhkroell on November 2, 2017, 9:22 am

    “That this should occur [Joel Mayorga and the Daily Californian are convicted by an impartial jury of their peers for creating/publishing an antisemitic cartoon] with repercussions for the Daily Californian and not for the irresponsible critics attests to the power of Zionism to set the parameters of discourse.”

    Can there be any question of which group(s) [Jews/white subject(s) vs. Arabs/black subject(s)] possess the power/influence in western societies to “set the parameters of discourse”?

    It’s perfectly acceptable for the western press to lampoon Muhammad as a fat, barefooted, dark-skinned Arab with protuberant eyes juggling 100 naked virgins — that’s a free-speech issue — but the western press cannot caricature Dersh squashing someone holding a Palestinian flag because the Dersh caricature is fat with spindly arms and/or legs and thus calls to mind grotesque antisemitic propaganda published during the Nazi era in Germany?

  12. druid on November 2, 2017, 11:52 am

    An excellent and accurate depiction of Dershowitz. In fact, it’s not severe enough. That man is true evil!!!!

  13. Qualtrough on November 2, 2017, 11:18 pm

    1. I have never seen a spider with one arm and one leg. Never. Ever.
    2. I fail to discern a ‘hooked nose’ in the depiction of Dershowitz. That is not a hooked nose.
    3. I fail to see any reference to ‘ritual murder’ in the cartoon. It is clearly depicting the murder of hundreds if not thousands of Palestinians by the IDF over the years. Just plain murder, nothing ritualistic about it.

    I think this cartoon is like a Rorschach ink block test. Zionists are going to see in it what they want to see, revealing a lot more about them than any intentions of the cartoonist.

    • Mooser on November 3, 2017, 4:21 pm

      “I think this cartoon is like a Rorschach ink block test. “

      “Doctor, how can you say I am obsessed with anti-semitism? You are the one showing me all these anti-semitic pictures!”

  14. Marnie on November 3, 2017, 2:06 pm

    What’s the problem here besides an honest picture of Dershowitz?

  15. Dan From Away on November 4, 2017, 4:36 am

    Let’s ask some questions that get beyond the hasbara-hype. Let’s try to learn something from this, something that we can use to challenge the next such incident of Zionist censorship.

    For example:


    Do the three Jewish students who were terrorized by this cartoon feel safe now that it has been retracted? Did the retraction restore them and make them whole again? What other symbols/ideas terrorize them and should we all be made aware of them? What symbols terrorize Palestinian students?


    Who gets to level the charge of antisemitism? Anyone? Can Catholics and Buddhists and Wiccans and athiests charge someone, anyone with antisemitism? If yes, please provide some empirical examples. If not, please explain.


    Does the Daily Californian believe it has served the University, and by extention its wider community, by retracting the image? Does it think it took a heroic stand? Does it think we learned anything useful/insightful about antisemitism by its actions? Are the students and faculty of Berkeley better able to comprehend and combat antisemitism as a result of the retraction? If yes, how so? If not, why not?


    Do Zionists think that the students and faculty of Berkeley, the citizens of California and the wider US are more favorably inclined towards Israel/Zionism as a result of this censorship? Do they not see how at odds they are with contemporary American culture? Do they fail to see that their actions may actually reinforce the rapidly expanding image of Zionism as a force for the elimination of cherished American ideals? (Bearing in mind the new Zionist Loyalty Oath one must take to get disaster relief in Kansas)


    What definition of antisemitism are Dershowitz and the Daily Californian using? By not demanding this information the Daily Californian, and for that matter any institution or individual, allow themselves to be played…over and over again. Without clear terms and language these efforts to restrict free expression will simply occur over and over again.

    View 153 Zionist/Israeli Posters-Graphics Depicting/interpreting Palestinians/Muslims/Arabs

    Recent Stand With Us comic book depicting BDS as a snake:

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