A professor at the University of California, Berkeley has apologized for sharing Twitter memes that the university said “crossed the line” into anti-Semitism.
Hatem Bazian, a lecturer in the department of ethnic studies, retweeted a status with two offending images. One showed an Orthodox Jewish man smiling and raising his arms above the caption: “I can now kill, rape, smuggle organs & steal the land of Palestinians.” The other showed North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un wearing a kippah, saying that he had converted to Judaism with the caption: “Donald Tlump: Now my nukes are legal & I can annex South Korea & you need to start paying me 34 billion a year in welfare.”
Bazian told J., the Jewish News of Northern California that he had not carefully examined the text of the tweet before retweeting it while traveling. “As a Palestinian, my issue is with Zionism … and not with Judaism or Jews,” he added.
“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.”
University spokesman Dan Mogulof criticized Bazian for the tweet.
“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.
(As of Sunday, the retweet is still up.)
As a graduate student, Bazian co-founded Students for Justice in Palestine, the leading pro-Palestinian campus group.
Bazian drew controversy for an anti-Israel protest he led as a graduate student in 2002, when he asked Berkeley students to “to take a look at the type of names on the building around campus — Haas, Zellerbach — and decide who controls this university.”