A pro-Palestine UC Berkeley lecturer has apologized for retweeting an anti-Semitic meme after it sparked outrage among some students.
Hatem Bazian, a lecturer in Berkeley's Asian American and Asian Diaspora Studies department, retweeted two images in July, one portraying a caricature of a religious Jew declaring his birthright to kill, rape and steal the land of Palestinians. The other image portrays North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un, wearing a Jewish skullcap, saying, "I just converted all of North Korea to Judaism...Now my nukes are legal."
The controversial retweet only came to light in November when a pro-Israel student group posted screen grabs on Facebook and called on Bazian to apologize.
In an email to this news organization, Bazian, who has since removed the retweet from his account, said he had only seen the Kim Jong-Un image on his phone when he originally retweeted the meme.
"The image is offensive and does not represent my views or the anti-racist work that I do including fighting anti-Semitism in partnership with progressive Jewish groups that express solidarity with Palestine's rights to self-determination and have a strong track record on countering Islamophobia," he said. "As a Palestinian, my issue is with Zionism, a settler colonial movement and Israel's policies directed at Palestinians under occupation and those that live as second or maybe fourth class citizens in the state and not with Judaism or Jews, as diverse communities."
Still, the episode has sparked outrage, particularly among pro-Israel students at Cal. The group Stand With Us accused Bazian, who cofounded the student group Students for Justice in Palestine, of "spreading hate against Jews" and called on UC Berkeley to condemn Bazian's retweet.
In a statement to this news organization, university spokesman Dan Mogulof said the school "unequivocally supports" UC's principles against intolerance and regrets the effect Bazian's posts have had on members of the university and beyond.
"While we do not believe that all criticism of Israel's governmental policies is inherently anti-Semitic," Mogulof said, "the social media posts in question clearly crossed the line, and we are pleased they have been deleted."