UC Berkeley lecturer Hatem Bazian
UC Berkeley lecturer Hatem Bazian

Lecturer apologizes for retweet that UC Berkeley condemned as anti-Semitic

UC Berkeley officials today condemned university lecturer Hatem Bazian for retweeting cartoons the school determined had “crossed the line” into anti-Semitism. Bazian apologized and said “the image is offensive and does not represent my views or the anti-racist work that I do.”

The cartoons originally were tweeted by a user named Ron Hughes on July 31 and then retweeted by Bazian, a lecturer in the Asian American and Asian Diaspora Studies department.

One cartoon shows a Jewish man raising his arms in celebration above the caption: “I can now kill, rape, smuggle organs & steal the land of Palestinians.”

The other shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un, wearing a kippah, saying he has just converted his nation to Judaism: “Donald Tlump: Now my nukes are legal & I can annex South Korea & you need to start paying me 34 billion a year in welfare.”

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UC Berkeley spokesman Dan Mogulof cited the University of California Regents’ Principles Against Intolerance in attacking the tweet, which he said had since been deleted.

“While we do not believe that all criticism of Israel’s governmental policies is inherently anti-Semitic, the social media posts in question clearly crossed the line, and we are pleased they have been deleted,” Mogulof said.

Bazian said in an email that he was not careful enough in reading the text in the Kim Jong-Un cartoon and said “as a Palestinian, my issue is with Zionism … and not with Judaism or Jews.”

“The image in the tweet and the framing relative to Judaism and conversion was wrong and offensive and not something that reflects my position, be it in the past or the present,” Bazian told J. “In the future, I will make sure to include that retweets don’t represent an agreement or support for the ideas that are shared and only my own postings reflect my positions on issues.”

Tikvah: Students for Israel, a UC Berkeley campus group, condemned the tweet in a Facebook post. StandWithUs, a Los Angeles-based Israel education organization, called it “blatant anti-Semitism.”

“While this incident is deeply disturbing, it is unfortunately not shocking. This professor has a long history of promoting bigotry. I’m glad the UC Berkeley administration spoke out now,” said Noa Raman, Pacific Northwest campus director for StandWithUs. “I hope this is just the beginning of them standing up against the hate Jewish students and others face on campus.”

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Rob Gloster

Rob Gloster is J.'s senior writer. He can be reached at rob@jweekly.com.