Several flyers containing anti-Semitic cartoons were found at Stanford University May 3 advertising a May 10 Stanford Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) and Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) event.
One of the cartoons depicted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attempting to turn American Jews into evangelicals in order to protect Zionism, only to have the American Jews turn into dinosaurs who want to return to Israel. At one point Netanyahu says, “A giant reptile that lobbies on behalf of Israel is a reptile I can get behind!” Another flyer featured a cartoon depicting Daily Wire Editor-in-Chief and Journal columnist Ben Shapiro in a sinister-looking manner defending Pharaoh at a Passover seder. Netanyahu is also depicted in a sinister manner in another cartoon. Cartoonist Eli Valley is the author of the aforementioned cartoons and is scheduled to speak at the Stanford SJP and JVP event.
On May 6, Stanford SJP and JVP issued a joint apology in the student-run Stanford Daily newspaper.
“We recognize that they were ill-planned/designed and did not accurately represent either Eli’s art or what we hope to accomplish with this event,” they wrote. “We made members of our community feel offended and unsafe, and for that, we take full responsibility and have since removed these fliers.”
However, they insisted that Valley and his artwork are not anti-Semitic.
“Mr. Valley is a Jewish American artist who has worked for well over a decade creating comic art exploring the most pressing issues facing the Jewish community today — from the Israel-Diaspora relationship to interdenominational tensions to the moral obligation to fight white supremacism and Neo-Nazism,” Stanford SJP and JVP wrote. “Published in a wide range of Jewish and secular publications, his art engages deeply with Jewish texts, history, culture, and experience. To call that anti-Semitic denudes the term of its meaning.”
Stanford Law student Ari Hoffman wrote in a Daily op-ed also published on May 6 that the cartoons were reminiscent of Der Stürmer.
“The images are indefensible in any context. They are not justifiable, and they are not explainable,” Hoffman wrote. “The sin is not against sensitivity. It is one of smearing a Jewish minority under attack here and abroad in the name of a skewed vision of a foreign conflict. SJP’s promise that ‘Eli’s knowledge and guidance’ will ameliorate these facts is akin to entrusting fire safety to an arsonist. To apologize for the flyers but insist on continuing with the event is equal parts absurd and appalling.”
Hoffman also wrote that Valley’s artwork “ranges from the morally repugnant to ethically disgusting. Under the fig leaf of criticizing Israel, it depicts Jews and Jewish rituals in the most grotesque of terms; yellow stars, concentration camp uniforms, blood libels and the reliable hooked noses. Like most hate, it’s remarkably lacking in insight. It is crude and disgusting, and its ceaseless recourse to Nazi imagery is matched only by its slavish devotion to the age-old tropes of Jewish caricature.”
He added that while Valley is Jewish, people should be judged “the content of their character rather than the flag they fly. There is a word that perfectly describes the cognitive dissonance of JVP hosting an event entitled ‘Why anti-Zionism is not anti-Semitism’ just two days before Mr. Valley, who manages to cover both bases in spades, speaks: obscene.”
Hoffman later clarified on Twitter that he didn’t want Stanford SJP and JVP’s event canceled; he was merely criticizing Valley’s work.
Stanford’s Vice Provost for Student Affairs Susie Brubaker-Cole and Dean for Religious Life Tiffany Steinwert said in a statement May 5 that the posters “invoked anti-Semitic stereotypes and tropes.”
“We continue to be disheartened and deeply disturbed by the recent presence of anti-Semitic images on our campus,” Bubaker-Cole and Steinwert said. “We speak for our university leadership collectively in condemning anti-Semitism, racism, bigotry, and all forms of intolerance, as we continue to mourn the tragic loss of lives that these ideologies have fueled in places of worship and community gatherings around the world in recent months. We must stand together in our resolve to overcome such hatred and to uplift all peoples in their inherent dignity.”
Stanford Hillel wrote in a May 3 Facebook post that 30 Jewish student leaders discussed the flyers that day, resulting in the flyers being taken down “voluntarily.
“We really appreciate how quickly Jewish students came together, and that Stanford University is taking our concerns so seriously,” Stanford Hillel wrote.
Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean and director of Global Social Action Agenda at the Simon Wiesenthal Center, said in a statement to the Journal, “The Simon Wiesenthal Center, in the last few days, has been barraged by students reaching out from all over the United States including University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, UC Irvine and Stanford. University officials have failed in their obligation to hold anti-Semites accountable for their anti-Semitism and are enabling an atmosphere of intimidating students who are proud Zionists.”
Roz Rothstein, co-founder and CEO of StandWithUs, similarly said in a statement to the Journal, “JVP and SJP spread hate constantly and almost never apologize. Their half-hearted apology in this case only goes to show how offensive their actions truly were.”
Writer Ariel Sobel explained in a Twitter thread that she views Valley’s artwork as “extremely insensitive.”
Valley previously came under fire in March after he tweeted out a cartoon of Meghan McCain, one of the co-hosts of ABC’s “The View.” McCain tweeted that the cartoon was “one of the most anti-Semitic things I’ve ever seen.”
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