Campus Beat Reporter
Jewish students and allies gathered to express concern in response to a controversial editorial cartoon published in the University of California, Los Angeles’ Daily Bruin at the weekly Associated Students Senate meeting in the Flying A room.
The cartoon was published in Monday’s issue of the Daily Bruin as a UCLA student’s commentary to an Israeli law passed earlier in February that allows Israel to seize lands privately owned by Palestinians in the West Bank and redistribute them to Jewish settlements at the state’s discretion, according to the Washington Post.
The illustration depicted Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu standing in front of the ten commandments. Below the text “Israel passes law legalizing seizing any Palestinian land”, the seventh commandment written as “Thou shalt not steal” was legible, with the “not” crossed out. Netanyahu’s character, wearing a yamaka and raising his hands dismissively, appears with the speech bubble “#7 is next”, referring to the line of text stating “Thou shalt not kill”.
“I absolutely welcome a healthy criticism of Israel, even on this issue,” said David Cooperman, a member of Alpha Epsilon Pi, a historically Jewish fraternity. “But what makes this anti-Semitic is in fact the presence of the ten commandments and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a yamaka with the extended big nose. These are tropes that basically tie Jewishness with this political issue.”
Over a dozen students associated with various campus and community groups, including Alpha Epsilon Pi, Santa Barbara Hillel, and Students Supporting Israel, lined up at Wednesday’s public forum to echo Cooperman’s sentiment. Many, like first year student Elora Cohen, who shared her history of battling anti-Semitism while growing up in France, were fearful that instances of anti-Semitism may be normalized in the future.
“Anti-Semitism begins with visual images like this one, and then becomes institutionalized if society continues to say that images like this are okay,” said Cohen, who emphasized the nature of Judaism as a global religious identity, not a political one.
Cohen, along with several other students, expressed that campus climate at UCSB in general is a “comfortable” one.
“I was so utterly thankful that this university is good at creating safe spaces for groups that feel targeted for their beliefs,” said third year economics major Jack Tannenbaum, regarding his experience with Hillel. “I was so thankful that we as an institution created spaces where I could go and express what was upsetting to me with people who identified in the same way.”
To prevent instances of anti-Semitism on campus, third year biology major Michelle May urged senators to revisit a resolution condemning anti-Semitism that was passed by A.S. senators in April 2015. The resolution, authored by former senator Michelle Moreh, was written in response to off-campus events of anti-Semitism at UC Davis, as well as flyers claiming that the 9/11 attacks were a Jewish conspiracy posted on UCSB’s campus in 2014.
Similarly, A.S. Attorney General Gefen Laredo told senators that “we as a whole need to keep our eye out for things that can offend students on campus, whether it’s Islamophobia, the chalking incident, or things like this.”
Within two days, over 50 individuals left disapproving reviews on the Daily Bruin’s public Facebook page in response to the illustration. The cartoon has since been removed from the Daily Bruin’s website, and the editorial board apologized.