UPenn's interim president condemns 'antisemitic' cartoons by lecturer as 'reprehensible'

​University of Pennsylvania Interim President Larry Jameson condemned a series of cartoons from a lecturer that he considered 'antisemitic.'

University of Pennsylvania Interim President Larry Jameson condemned several political cartoons drawn by a lecturer who works at the institution.

Dwayne Booth, a political cartoon lecturer at the university publishes his work under the name ‘Mr. Fish,” published a cartoon in December that contains three men standing in front of an Israeli and American flag while drinking blood from a glass that reads “Gaza.” A dove carrying an olive branch is standing beside them, with the caption reading “‘Who invited that lousy anti-Semite?’”

Commenting on Booth’s cartoons, Jameson said on Feb. 4 he considers them anti-Semitic.

”There are times when leaders should weigh in on the values and principles that guide and define an institution. Recent political cartoons make this one of them,” Jameson wrote. “I will not, and should not, respond to every event on our campus, but I want it understood that these political cartoons, posted on a personal website, were not taught in the classroom and do not reflect the views of the University of Pennsylvania or me, personally. I find them reprehensible, with antisemitic symbols, and incongruent with our efforts to fight hate.”

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”They disrespect the feelings and experiences of many people in our community and around the world, particularly those only a generation removed from the Holocaust. And, for me, it is painful to see the suffering and tragic loss of life of noncombatants in Israel and Gaza be fodder for satire,” Jameson added.

Booth told The Forward that his cartoon wasn’t “rendered to reference” blood libel, stating “the depiction is referencing a simple metaphor often used in cartooning: Warmongers and those who benefit from the deaths of civilians are, as a metaphor, drinking the blood spilled by their actions.”

In the email, Booth also said he was disappointed in the interim president for accepting The Washington Free Beacon’s view that the cartoons are anti-Semitic.

“It just saddens me that Jameson’s statement attempts to placate the controversy in deference to those attempting to limit free speech, academic freedom, and attack independent journalism in service of an agenda designed to silence debate rather than encourage it,” Booth wrote.

In another cartoon, Booth drew Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu playing chess with another man, with the caption reading “Human decency and international law playing chess against Benjamin Netanyahu and not being able to move a single piece for fear of being called an anti-Semite.”

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Jameson said community members of the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, institution have the “right and ability” to express their own views “however loathsome we find them.”

”These core values are fundamental, but the boundaries are not absolute—they are defined by both the listener and the speaker. Not everything that can be said, should be said. This requires us to exercise judgment and demonstrate respect for other members of our community. In recent months, we have advanced important work to combat antisemitism and hate,” Jameson wrote.