Penn's interim president criticizes lecturer's political cartoons related to Israel-Hamas war

Caroline Goggin Image
Monday, February 5, 2024
Penn's interim president criticizes lecturer's political cartoons related to Israel-Hamas war
Penn's interim president criticizes lecturer's political cartoons related to Israel-Hamas war

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- A lecturer at the University of Pennsylvania is being criticized for cartoons he posted on his personal website related to the Israel-Hamas war.

The political cartoons were created by Dwayne Booth, who works at the Annenberg School of Communications on Penn's campus.

On the university's website, Booth is also listed as a cartoonist, freelance writer and artist.

His online biography states, "Dwayne Booth writes and speaks on the importance of preserving political cartooning as a uniquely universal language that often has a greater ability to spark debate and probe deeper conversations than lingual commentary alone."

Booth's courses include "Sick and Satired: The Insanity of Humor and How it Keeps Us Sane" and "WARNING! Graphic Content: Political Cartoons, Comix, and the Uncensored Artist."

Booth recently shared cartoons concerning the Israel-Hamas war on his personal website. Some of the cartoons are critical of how President Biden has handled the war, while others are critical of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

One cartoon shows three men drinking blood of out glasses that say 'Gaza' with an Israeli and American flag behind them. Another cartoon shows Netanyahu shoveling skulls.

Penn Interim President Larry Jameson calls the cartoons "reprehensible," saying they depict antisemitic symbols.

In a statement, Jameson said, "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."

"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.

In response, Booth told Action News in an email, "I do not take Jameson's stance personally, understanding and sympathizing with his responsibility to broker calm and advance the need for protecting students on campus. It just saddens me that the way he has chosen to go about it attempts to placate the controversy in deference to those attempting to limit free speech, academic freedom, and attack independent journalism."

Booth also posted a statement to social media, which reads in part, "Provoking deeper conversations about important cultural and political realities happening in the real world and hoping to inspire meaningful and open debate in consideration of who we are as human beings and what our responsibilities might be as community members both locally and globally is what the job of an artist is."

Penn has come under fire several times since the start of the war.

A U.S. House Committee is currently investigating acts of antisemitism on campus, and the university has until Wednesday to submit documents related to all antisemitic incidents over the past three years.

Former Penn President, Liz Magill, resigned after testifying about these incidents before the House committee last year.