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Cartoon of Dershowitz mingled appropriate satire and anti-Semitic imagery

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Shortly after Israel apologist Prof. Alan Dershowitz spoke on campus at UC Berkeley on October 11th, the Daily Californian student newspaper published Joel Mayorga’s political cartoon criticizing his support of Israeli human rights abuses (color and black-and-white versions appear in this post). Daily Cal editor-in-chief Karim Doumar initially wrote in defense, “The artist’s intent was to argue that [Dershowitz’s] recent lecture at UC Berkeley were [sic] hypocritical.” Following a flurry of accusations that the cartoon was anti-Semitic, however, Doumar retracted the cartoon and removed the image from the publication’s website. So, was this cartoon a legitimate critique, or did it cross the line into anti-Semitism?

I think the cartoon was mostly a legitimate critique. However, one specific aspect of the depiction – Dershowitz as a spider – was unmeritorious of publication given that this echoes anti-Semitic propaganda depicting Jews as dehumanized insects.

The cartoon appears to be making the following points:

  • Dershowitz is “putting on a show” in an attempt to convince his audience that Israel is a liberal state, which is the false self Israel tries to project to liberal college campuses through, for example, pinkwashing;
  • However, Israel is in fact an egregious human rights abuser, including Israeli Defense Forces brutality against innocent and underage Palestinians, assassinations, and collective punishment and oppression;
  • Dershowitz is hypocritically complicit in and an enabler of Israeli human rights abuses through the way he distorts reality in his public argument for Israel as a ‘liberal’ state while defending and refusing to condemn the most egregious of Israeli human rights abuses.

The above are fair and accurate criticisms of Dershowitz based on his record.

However, Dershowitz’s body is illustrated as arachnid. The Third Reich’s propaganda machine depicted Jews as insects, as several pro-Israel students point out in their letter to the editor. In his retraction, Doumar states:

“We are ensuring that a detailed knowledge of the history of harmful visual propaganda becomes an integral part of how we train our staff.”

Political cartoons that visually and in unnecessary ways overlap with historical anti-Semitic propaganda are at the least insensitive, reflecting a troublesome gap in the knowledge of the cartoonist, and could be labeled as crossing the line into anti-Semitism. Although we might assume Mayorga, the cartoonist who drew Dershowitz as a spider, is guilty of historical ignorance, not intentional anti-Semitism, historical ignorance is no defense for the editors who published the piece.

According to the Daily Cal, Mayorga said that ‘although he believed he could have spent more time drawing Dershowitz, he believed he was careful in drawing Dershowitz’s features because he understood the issue’s sensitivity.’

“No matter how I drew him, the anti-Semitic card would have been thrown,” Mayorga said. “When anybody tries to call out Zionism or military policy, the anti-Semite card is always thrown to delegitimize those critiques.”

Mayorga is right, in that Israel’s apologists usually label any criticism of Israel as anti-Semitic. And usually, these charges are canards. However, given the benefit of historical education, redesigning the image so that Dershowitz is portrayed in human form would be all that’s needed to remove any implication of actual anti-Semitism. Imagine Dershowitz as a giant ––say, 26 feet tall, the same height as Israel’s imposing apartheid and land confiscation wall –– who is still crushing a Palestinian with one foot and holding up an IDF soldier who assassinates a Palestinian civilian. This design would have the added benefit of emphasizing Dershowitz’s outsize and privileged power to persuade the public of a false reality.

Some critics, such as UC Berkeley Chancellor Carol Christ, claim the violent elements of the image are perpetuation of the blood libel myth. I disagree. Dershowitz has metaphorical ‘blood on his hands’ – culpability – as a result of his discourse, which helps shield Israel from appropriate forms of condemnation and sanction in the court of public opinion. Dershowitz’s pro-Israel propaganda is gaslighting writ large. Israeli soldiers who murder unarmed and innocent civilians, in addition to underage Palestinians, should not be immune from being the subject of political cartoons that depict these atrocities simply because of the past history of the blood libel myth, and neither should a Jewish professor who defends Israeli atrocities.

Put another way, the ‘blood on his hands’ imagery was necessary to make the point about Dershowitz’s culpability, and therefore cannot be called anti-Semitic. On the other hand, Dershowitz drawn as a spider was unnecessary to make the point.

Dershowitz’s letter to the Daily Cal simply reinforced the point the political cartoon made, that he distorts reality, while hypocritically defending and/or hiding from public view Israel’s worst atrocities:

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…. These anti-Semitic displays against me were in reaction to a speech in which I advocated a Palestinian state and an end to the occupation and opposition to Israeli settlement policies. Many on the hard-left refuse to acknowledge this sort of nuanced positioning. That is because their hostility towards Israel does not stem from any particular Israeli actions or policies. Even if Israel were to withdraw from the West Bank, destroy the security barrier and recognize Hamas as a legitimate political organization, it would still not be enough.

Notice in this letter that Dershowitz is presenting the ‘liberal case’ – the mythical and unviable two-state solution – and his soft criticism of Israel (opposition to settlements), without addressing the central point of the cartoon: Israeli human rights abuses, and the way he supports them by presenting the false Israel to the public. He is also falsely conflating fair criticism of his support for Israeli human rights abuses with the ‘blood libel.’

In The Forward, Raphael Magarik argues the image was not anti-Semitic in any way whatsoever:

…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. When you prick those people, I am told, they bleed. It is perverse to demand of artists that they represent actual, real Israeli violence without blood, just because European Christians invented a fake accusation.

Although Magarik’s above point is well considered, and his article is worth reading in its entirety, there is one problem with his piece: it doesn’t address Dershowitz’s arachnid form. Perhaps that’s because Magarik cites a black-and-white version of the image with a few splotches of color, in which Dershowitz’s body doesn’t appear obviously spider-like. Notice that the giant circle behind Dershowitz’s body is shaded in an ambiguous way in that version. When I first saw it, I didn’t get the spider reference, either. However, the full color version seems clearly to show Dershowitz as a spider. And that’s not okay.

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

UC Berkeley is known as the home of the Free Speech Movement, the 1964-5 student uprising that is memorialized today as a café where students can buy expensive lattes, but a place where (I believe) the importance of free speech is easily lost amidst the pro-Israel noise machine. Doumar’s ultimate retraction was an abdication of his responsibility to defend the legitimate aspects of the cartoon. In explaining the choice to retract, he wrote:

“The cartoon depicted Alan Dershowitz presenting as he crouched on a stage, with his body behind a cardboard cutout labeled ‘The Liberal Case for Israel.’ Dershowitz was drawn with twisted limbs. His foot was crushing a Palestinian person; placed in his hand was a depiction of an IDF soldier next to someone the soldier had shot. We apologize to our readers and members of our staff who were hurt by the cartoon.”

One problem with this retraction is that it doesn’t explicitly state the one and only element of the cartoon that could be considered a genuine reflection of anti-Semitic propaganda: Dershowitz’s arachnid form.

Anti-semitic cartoon that used spider body to dehumanize a Jew.

‘Twisted limbs’ is not the same as insect, and the insect aspect, which is dehumanization, was the problem. However, Dershowitz’s foot crushing a Palestinian, and holding an IDF soldier who had shot a Palestinian, were fair and accurate criticisms. Israel’s apologists intimidated the Daily Cal into retracting the entire cartoon, including the aspects of it that represented legitimate criticism. Furthermore, the Daily Cal editor seems unaware of the difference between actual anti-Semitism and legitimate criticism of Israel, which he conflates in the retraction.

Mayorga said that he ‘disagreed with the retraction and that he felt censored by the decision.’ I would like to see the Daily Cal give Mayorga a platform to publish a revised, non-spider-Dershowitz cartoon, still with blood on his hands, and stand behind it. Actual Palestinians, who are actually suffering and dying as a result of intentional Israeli atrocities, should be the primary concern of the editor, not the bruised ego of a privileged professor who is culpable for the perpetuation of such atrocities. As James North and Phil Weiss point out, the entire controversy is a distraction from what really matters: “that Dershowitz has justified vicious attacks on Gaza in which several thousand innocent Palestinian civilians have died.”

(A shorter version of this letter appears as a Daily Cal Letter to the Editor.)

Matthew Taylor

Matthew A. Taylor is co-founder of PeacePower magazine, and author of "The Road to Nonviolent Coexistence in Palestine/Israel," a chapter in the book Nonviolent Coexistence.

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47 Responses

  1. Keith on November 3, 2017, 6:40 pm

    MATTHEW TAYLOR- “However, the full color version seems clearly to show Dershowitz as a spider. And that’s not okay.”

    Would it have been okay if he was drawing a non-Jew? Actually, the color version didn’t look like spider to me. A one-armed, one-legged spider? And even if he did draw a spider, so what? Are we all supposed to study up on Der Sturmer and Nazi propaganda? The problem is Dershowitz, Israel and Zionism, not the cartoon, which will likely have negligible impact. The “Daily Californian” is not Der Stumer, and California is not Nazi Germany, and the continued capitulation to Jewish Zionist power simply results in more demands and restrictions. Look at the witch hunt over anti-Semitism and Jeremy Corbyn. Blood is being spilled as we continue to be confined to walking on egg shells. How long before compulsory Holocaust “education” comes to the US like Great Britain? Don’t be so accommodating.

    • Stephen Shenfield on November 4, 2017, 8:06 am

      Those of us who know more than you about the imagery of historical antisemitism are bound to be offended when this imagery is used. Why needlessly alienate us? True, Zionists spread this knowledge in order to ensure that this reaction occurs. But do you have to step into their trap?

      Actually the author is not very accurate regarding the creatures traditionally chosen by antisemites to represent Jews. Spiders are not insects and Jews are not typically shown as insects (grasshoppers, ants, flies, etc.). On the other hand, Jews are often shown as octopuses. Also as snakes.

      • Donald on November 4, 2017, 9:58 am

        Yep. Whether or not the cartoon makes him look like a spider, it does make him look physically repulsive and nonhuman and distracts from the point, which is that Dershowitz is an apologist for Israeli crimes.

        “ Why step into their trap?”

        Exactly. I’ve never understood why people find this so difficult.

      • Keith on November 4, 2017, 11:39 am

        DONALD JOHNSON- “Exactly. I’ve never understood why people find this so difficult.”

        Which is worse, the cartoon or the excessive reaction to the cartoon? The cartoon or Dershowitz dishonest tirade? The cartoon or the bogus reaction of the “terrified” Jewish students? The cartoon or UC Berkley Chancellor Carol Christ’s reaction to it? The cartoon or the caving to Jewish Zionist power?

        You are much too accommodating, Donald. At some point you have to willing to say enough is enough.

      • Keith on November 4, 2017, 12:18 pm

        STEPHEN SHENFIELD- “Those of us who know more than you about the imagery of historical antisemitism are bound to be offended when this imagery is used.”

        Let me make a second attempt at responding to you. Have you ever considered that this narrow focus on PERCEIVED anti-Semitism is not wholesome? That the reality of the situation depicted in the cartoon is more important than any perceived similarity with some aspect of Nazi propaganda? That comparing one cartoon in the Daily Californian with the propaganda in Nazi Germany is frankly ludicrous? That anti-Semitism in the West is virtually non-existent and not a problem, but that charging anti-Semtism to stifle criticism of Israel and Zionism is a real problem?

        According to Israel Shahak: “Therefore, the real test facing both Israeli and diaspora Jews is the test of their self-criticism which must include the critique of the Jewish past. The most important part of such a critique must be detailed and honest confrontation of the Jewish attitude to non-Jews.” (p103, “Jewish History, Jewish Religion,” Israel Shahak) Unfortunately, I have yet to see that happen.

      • Mooser on November 4, 2017, 1:22 pm

        “ Why step into their trap?”

        I seethe with rage when I see Alan Dershowitz portrayed as a fat contortionist.

      • Mooser on November 4, 2017, 1:28 pm

        “On the other hand, Jews are often shown as octopuses. Also as snakes.”

        Also as large, clumsy, ugly and smelly ungulates with palmate antlers and a big nose. Who run away at the first sign of danger.

      • Donald on November 4, 2017, 2:12 pm

        Keith, I don’t see the need to make the choice. As the original post points out, there were other ways to make the point about Dershowitz. And those other ways would still portray him as an apologist for war crimes and the critics would still use the blood libel attack. But that attack is easy to refute— there is no blood libel since Israel really does kill civilians.

        Also, for me it’s not just the antisemitism which I assume wasn’t meant anyway. I think cartoons which depict people, even immoral people, as physically repulsive and inhuman are a bad idea. I despise Dershowitz and I was repelled by the cartoon on a visceral level.

        I am basically repeating myself, so if you want the last word go ahead— I sort of doubt I have anything to add.

      • Keith on November 4, 2017, 4:07 pm

        DONALD JOHNSON- “Keith, I don’t see the need to make the choice.”

        You don’t see that you made a choice to criticize the cartoon while going easy on Dershowitz? I didn’t care for the cartoon either, but I’ll be damned if I join in Deshowitz’ amen chorus or even Matthew Taylor’s “best to walk on egg shells” advice. When Dershowitz writes that “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….”, then we should be outraged at Dershowitz’ intimidation tactics, not the cartoon. Dershowitz gets away with way too much of this type of thing. Where is the outrage?

        If you change your mind about the last word, feel free. And yes, I am aware that you did say that Dershowitz was an apologist for Israeli crimes. But that is much more gentle than what Dershowitz said about the cartoon which you seem to somewhat agree with.

      • Donald on November 5, 2017, 9:34 am

        I don’t care what Dershowitz said about the cartoon. I judged the cartoon for myself. I think calling someone an apologist for war crimes isn’t being gentle.

        I could elaborate, but it’s probably better to be succinct, especially in a second last word.

      • Mooser on November 5, 2017, 11:43 am

        “At some point you have to willing to say enough is enough.”

        And we know exactly where that point is, fortunately. It’s simple, nobody should say or depict Jews as anything worse than we say about them!

      • Mooser on November 5, 2017, 11:55 am

        ” I think cartoons which depict people, even immoral people, as physically repulsive and inhuman are a bad idea.”

        It’s too bad Thomas Nast didn’t come under your moderating influence, “Donald”.

      • Donald on November 5, 2017, 2:04 pm

        Mooser— Fair point. I only know a tiny bit about Nast, but did he portray people of certain ethnic groups as particularly repulsive nonhuman figures? That would be a problem.

        I personally don’t like dehumanizing caricatures no matter what the target. If Dershowitz looked like Michelangelo’s David he would still be morally repulsive. I would, if I had artistic talent, do what Matthew suggests and show Dersh’s smiling face as he squashes Palestinians and gives weapons to an Israeli soldier as he shoots a civilian. In fact, Dersh’s face on David’s statue doing those things would be a fairly effective cartoon, I think.

        Third and absolutely my last final final comment.

      • Mooser on November 5, 2017, 10:41 pm

        ” but did he portray people of certain ethnic groups as particularly repulsive nonhuman figures?”

        Yes, and the most persecuted and beleaguered group on earth, too, the rich and powerful.

      • Mooser on November 6, 2017, 4:33 pm

        ,” but did he portray people of certain ethnic groups”

        And how does the portrayal of Dersh in this cartoon indicate he was a member of “certain ethnic groups”?

        I thought the cartoon was directed at his actions and speech as a Israeli apologist. You don’t have to be Jewish to do that, nor does the cartoon indicate that he is.

    • [email protected] on November 4, 2017, 1:46 pm

      Couldn’t have said it better myself. Thanks to a concerted effort by Zionists over the years the Western World has become way too concerned about antisemitism. Even the word Jew is considered antisemitic. Enough already!

  2. Brewer on November 3, 2017, 8:03 pm

    Exceptionalism anyone?
    It seems mosques can be depicted as Missile Silos:
    Arabs as crocodiles:
    Arafat as a stopper in the peace bottle:
    …..and terrorist hatchling:
    Arabs as Hydra headed monsters:

    ……..and so on by Israeli cartoonists without a word of censure.

    • Keith on November 4, 2017, 12:49 am

      BREWER- “……..and so on by Israeli cartoonists without a word of censure.”

      Excellent links! And a clear demonstration that power controls the limits of discourse. And why does this empowered group continue to get away with presenting themselves as victims?

    • Misterioso on November 4, 2017, 10:43 am


      A few relevant quotations:

      During an interview with the foreign editor of the London Sunday Times, Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir declared that “it was not as though there was a Palestinian people in Palestine…and we came and threw them out and took their country away from them. They did not exist.” (Sunday Times, London, June 15, 1969)

      In the view of another prime minister of Israel, Yitzhak Shamir, the Palestinians are of no more significance than insects when compared to Jews: “From this mountain top and from the vantage point of history I say that these people [the Palestinians] are like grasshoppers compared to us.” (The Independent, April 1988, from Reuter, Tel Aviv; cited by Michael Rice, False Inheritance, Kegan Paul International, London and New York, 1994, p. 127).

      While delivering a televised address to his Likud party in 1989, Shamir further maligned Palestinians by describing them as “alien invaders of the Holy Land…. They are brutal, wild alien invaders in the land of Israel that belongs to the people of Israel, and only to them.” (New York Post, February 6, 1989)

      During a speech to the Knesset, Menachem Begin, Israel’s sixth prime minister, referred to Palestinians as “beasts walking on two legs.” (New Statesman, 25 June 1982)

      Regarding Palestinians residing in the occupied West Bank, Raphael Eitan, then Israel’s Chief of Staff, declared: “When we have settled the land, all the Arabs will be able to do about it will be to scurry around like drugged cockroaches in a bottle…. We shall use the ultimate force until the Palestinians come crawling to us on all fours. “(New York Times, 14 April 1983)


  3. oldgeezer on November 3, 2017, 11:15 pm

    Oh please… it looks nothing like a spider.

    While we should care about antisemitism and some zionists do care many of them do not. It’s merely a weapon to constrain debate.

    Remember the international furor over the use of actual antisemitic imagery by the Ukraine and nutty yahoo’s son? Remember Douche rushing to the defense of Jewish people against such blatant antisemitism?

    • oldgeezer on November 4, 2017, 9:38 am

      Je suis Charlie anyone? Of course not.

      • Mooser on November 5, 2017, 11:12 am

        “Je suis Charlie anyone? Of course not.”

        “Je suis Charlie” has become “Jews, sui generis“.

  4. JosephA on November 3, 2017, 11:37 pm

    Hypocrisy at its finest. Dershowitz is about as anti-Semitic as anyone can be. Look at his venemous hatred of true semites, the indigenous Palestinians!

  5. Paranam Kid on November 4, 2017, 6:18 am

    Dershowitz does NOT look like a spider. A spider has 8 legs & a short round body, as shown in the 2nd picture in this article. Mayorga did a fantastic job, and as usual, Ziofascist Dershowitz was looking for a way to smear anybody who exposes his filth; the “antisemitism” card was the obvious tool to use, as all Zionists who have no fact-based counter-arguments resort to that in desperation.

    Well done Mayorga, good support Magarik, shame on you, Doumar, for your cowardly acceptance to let the Ziofascists once again foist their filthy, baseless “antisemitic” complaint on the rest of the student community.

  6. Ronald Johnson on November 4, 2017, 9:52 am

    With a cigar, the cartoon face would look more like Groucho Marx than Alan Dershowitz. As to the torso, it is a blob that resolves the dilemma of having the caricature’s head appear to be put on backwards.

    But notice the time being spent on the cartoon rather than the killing of Palestinians and the seizure of their land.

    • Cazador on November 4, 2017, 11:49 am

      Right on, Ronald!

      To the killing of Palestinians, we could add the killing of Lebanese, Syrians. And eventually Iranians, besides the Iraqis (via the USA, following requests from Israel based on its IDF lying intelligence report).

      Some Israelis also performed in South Africa and other African countries.

  7. lyn117 on November 4, 2017, 1:07 pm

    I don’t think it’s anti-semitic. You only think it’s anti-semitic because the nazis used a vaguely similar image, in an anti-semitic cartoon. Only vaguely similar, and clearly limited to the IDF and Dershowitz, not all Jews. In the nazi one, the spider image is used to indicate Jews are spinning webs (I can’t read the writing, so I don’t know specifically webs of what), doing evil, spider-like things. In Mayorga’s it’s just (as someone else says) to overcome the problem of having Dershowitz step on a Palestinian while facing forward, not as in the nazi one, spinning webs of entrapment. Even if Dershowitz is depicted as a spider (unclear), I don’t think every single image used by the nazis should be forever eliminated from the cartoon lexicon just because nazi used one to depict Jews.

    Yes, it’s a distraction. The cartoon was spot on.

  8. [email protected] on November 4, 2017, 1:54 pm

    How about a snake? I think that would be an even better image to depict Mr. Dershowitz’s character. Any historical issues with that?

  9. tony greenstein on November 4, 2017, 3:12 pm

    As Shakespeare put it ‘much ado about nothing’. There is an almost total lack of perspective here. If you want to seen an anti-semitic cartoon go visit the scribblings of Yair Netanyahu depicting George Soros as the lizard controller. But our Zionists, eager to sniff out ‘anti-semitism’ aren’t so eager when it comes to genuine anti-semitism.

    I didn’t see Dershowitz, who I agree is politically ugly and repellant and therefore its fair to depict him as physically ugly and repellant, as a spider. Sorry I saw a man putting his hands and limbs behind himself and saying one thing and doing another. Silly me, I must have interpreted it wrong.

    But in any cases is it wrong to dehumanise our enemies? Is it always wrong to portray human beings as animals if they deserve it? Is Trump not a vicious dog or Bush a rottweiler etc.? There is no comparison with the Nazi depiction of Jews, an oppressed and despised racial minority who had no power in Germany and the portrayal of someone who is very powerful.

    This is a typical case of bleeding heart liberals.

    • Keith on November 4, 2017, 4:26 pm

      TONY GREENSTEIN- ” There is no comparison with the Nazi depiction of Jews, an oppressed and despised racial minority who had no power in Germany and the portrayal of someone who is very powerful.”

      Spot on, Tony! And notice the irony where it is considered anti-Semitic to compare Israel’s behavior (including “mowing the lawn”) with the Nazis, but Dershowitz can compare this kid’s cartoon to Der Sturmer and Blood Libel! And he gets away with it! And the cartoon is pulled! And the cartoon, not Dershowitz, criticized as being thoughtless! Unbelievable!

    • gamal on November 4, 2017, 5:50 pm

      “This is a typical case of bleeding heart liberals”

      As Finkelstein said if their hearts were real and really bleeding they would be bleeding for Palestine, for Mr. Dweik who saw a picture of his son led away by occupation troops on this site, those are not hearts and that is not blood, its just oil leaking from twisted cogs and busted gears.

      • Mooser on November 5, 2017, 12:52 pm

        ” Mr. Dweik who saw a picture of his son led away by occupation troops on this site,”

        Yes. I saw that too, “gamal”. Searing.

  10. Matthew Taylor on November 4, 2017, 5:58 pm

    Agree w/what Donald Johnson has written on this thread. Anyone who looks at the color version and says, “Dershowitz doesn’t look like a spider,” is wearing reality distortion glasses.

    • oldgeezer on November 5, 2017, 1:50 am


      And anyone who sees a spider in the colour version has arachnophobia or has never seen spider.

      The cartoon is umsy and in bad taste. Spider? Pffft buy new glasses.

  11. gamal on November 4, 2017, 6:09 pm

    ” and says, “Dershowitz doesn’t look like a spider”

    exactly and all Arachnids are notoriously anti-semitic, but you don’t think he was thrusting the wrong part of his anatomy through the hole to spout his racist/genocidal nonsense? Some people are slaves to civility.

  12. Rusty Pipes on November 4, 2017, 8:55 pm

    The cartoon makes Dersh look like a fat contortionist in a black suit (not a stretch for a professor or a lawyer) with one hand and one shoe exposed. The leg’s awkwardly bent knee puts it in position to more effectively squash a Palestinian under foot. If anything, it makes fun of fat people.

  13. JoeSmack on November 4, 2017, 10:31 pm

    This is probably one of the worst pieces I’ve read in MondoWeiss.

    Outside of the obvious inanity of purposely drudging up anti-Semitic imagery from another time and place to create an analogy where there would otherwise be none, there is nothing to indicate that Dershowitz is being portrayed as a spider. An incredibly tenuous attempt to wedge the cartoon into a groundless line of reasoning.

    Put another way, even assuming Dersh is portrayed as a spider, there is no reason to connect that with Nazi portrayals of Jews as spiders unless you are only capable of seeing individual Jews like Dershowitz as perpetual Nazi victims and not on their own terms.

    • marc b. on November 5, 2017, 11:27 am

      Agreed. As if any unflattering caricature of Dershowitz would go unchallenged by the great defender of the 1st amendment.

  14. DaveS on November 5, 2017, 10:19 am

    Matthew and Donald are wrong here for a variety of reasons, but they have a good general point. Critics of Israel shouldn’t go near the boundaries of anti-Semitism lest they gift the hasbara crowd with ammunition to shoot down their arguments and generally smear the Palestinian rights movement as bigoted. However:

    1) The cartoon was a representation of Dershowitz, not Jews in general. Nazi propaganda pictured Jews generally with exaggerated facial features and as spiders. There is an enormous difference between portraying one man who happens to be Jewish and an entire ethnic/religious group.

    2) IMO, the cartoon does not represent Dersh as an eight-legged spider, just a hideous creature who pretends to be a sophisticated liberal while defending and supporting the worst human rights abuses. I followed this controversy from the beginning, and Dershowitz’s initial outrage was very non-specific. I honestly had no idea if his anti-Semitism accusation had to do with Mayorga’s portrayal of him or of Israel or of both. Same with Carol Christ’s lock-step agreement with Dersh. It was not until days later when Dershowitz responded to Magarik that I first read the spider theory. It seemed a concocted argument when he finally realized that he had to support his charge with more than a bare-bones, generic complaint. By the way, his color v. black-and-white argument, which Matthew adopts, is garbage. The cartoon looks the same either way.

    3) Mayorga was clearly not flirting with anti-Semitic depictions. As Keith says, do we all need to study anti-Semitic Nazi-era propaganda before making comment on a Jewish man? Sure, he could have chosen other depictions, but he went with what he felt. It was an artistic decision, and the notion that he knowingly dipped his toes in filthy water is fantasy.

    Mayorga’s defense that he would have been attacked as anti-Semitic even if had drawn a less deformed Dershowitz is surely correct. While that excuse wouldn’t hold for someone who risked genuine backlash, Mayorga is entitled to it. In fact, I thought it was a brilliant cartoon.

    • Mooser on November 5, 2017, 1:02 pm

      “Critics of Israel shouldn’t go near the boundaries of anti-Semitism lest they gift the hasbara crowd with ammunition to shoot down their arguments and generally smear the Palestinian rights movement as bigoted.”

      So all you Israel-critics better become hella expert on anti-semitism and anti-semitic images. Start studying, there will be a test.

    • echinococcus on November 5, 2017, 4:17 pm


      Matthew and Donald are wrong here for a variety of reasons, but they have a good general point. Critics of Israel shouldn’t go near the boundaries of anti-Semitism lest they gift the hasbara crowd with ammunition to shoot down their arguments and generally smear the Palestinian rights movement as bigoted.

      Good general point? That would only start making some kind of sense if the main target were the puny and refractory tribal population instead of the general public.
      This is precisely the direction that the Zionist propaganda and its “non-Zionist” tribal organizations have been insistently pushing on, and that canard is their main weapon.
      Look at the result.

      That’s total bunkum. First, we still don’t know what “antisemitism” means, if it is anything over and above plain vanilla racism. Second, the Zionists and the “non-Zionist” tribals won’t need any solid definition and solid proof to call you antisemite, whatever that is, and perform character assassination the moment you are effective and are about to break out of that suffocating inner tribal audience that guarantees failure. Third, antisemitism accusations are irrelevant with the general population: in fact there doesn’t seem to be any great revulsion against even open racism.

      Fifth, and a bit different than the preceding: our objective is the destruction of Zionism, not anything else (as long as we are talking as part of some Palestinian solidarity movement): while we are free to fight racism in forms other than Zionism on any other platform, on this one we are not. Every gun counts, i.e. in the US and European context every pen, every mouth, every wallet counts. I don’t give a rat’s ass what the person next to me helping fight Zionists thinks about Jews, Greens or Martians.

      Finally, the active openly racist groups (including both the pro-Zionists and the traditional antisemites) are a minuscule fringe, smaller in number than even the nominally Jewish in the States –proof that the canard under discussion is fabricated with hostile intent by Zionists and their open or covert supporters.

  15. wondering jew on November 5, 2017, 3:55 pm

    “Winning the hearts and minds”- to coin a phrase, seems to be what the overall battle seems to be about both from Zionist and antiZionist perspectives. Of course part of the battle is just to strengthen the spirit of the true believers. But on the other hand there is the battle for those who are yet to be convinced. To rationally explain the intersection of antiZionist imagery with antisemitic imagery as coincidence is certainly a valid attempt to win the minds, but it is a poor excuse for winning the hearts.

    • wondering jew on November 5, 2017, 5:28 pm

      As a rule political cartoons are not designed to win over the middle, but to encourage true believers. (Very rarely an astute cartoonist reveals something new, but usually mockery a la Charlie Hebdo and Herb Block are the rule.)

      • Mooser on November 7, 2017, 11:37 am

        “yonah”, once you have said that, there’s very little “true believers” can say.
        They will be reduced to an embarrassed agnosticism.

      • DaBakr on November 8, 2017, 2:36 am


        And you would certainly know this well

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