After a week of controversy on and off campus regarding the posting of ‘anti-Semitic’ cartoons by Eli Valley, the cartoonist spoke on campus Friday, accusing Zionists and “right-wing” Jews of complacency regarding white supremacy and criticizing their support of “white supremacist” politicians such as President Donald Trump. He called white supremacy the biggest threat to Jews and referred to the Stanford College Republicans (SCR) as “shitheads.”
“It’s time to stop allowing people who have leapt into bed with Nazis to define Jewish authenticity and pretend to speak for us,” Valley said. “It’s time to recognize the diaspora of experiences at the cornerstone of our Jewish lives. It’s time to excommunicate the fascists.”
Valley revisited the debate over his comics frequently throughout Friday’s presentation. The comics — posted in dorms and common spaces by event hosts Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) and Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) — sparked a Notes from the Quad blog post by Vice Provost for Student Affairs Susie Brubaker-Cole and Dean for Religious Life Tiffany Steinwert following a conversation between student groups on community standards and the presence of anti-Semitism on campus.
Valley believes the University should have done more, particularly after an SCR member posted flyers comparing Valley’s work to that of Nazi-era German newspaper Der Stürmer.
“There seems to be zero repercussions for the Stanford College Republicans for distributing Der Stürmer imagery in freshman dorms,” Valley said.
A source close to SCR leadership told The Daily that the student did not consult SCR leadership beforehand. Valley said he is “appalled that the Stanford University administration did not throw them off campus or at least institute some serious penalties.”
The Daily has reached out to SCR for comment.
SJP sent an email apologizing for its own flyers on May 5, saying Valley’s work could be considered controversial out of context. JVP released a statement May 6 in a Daily op-ed and on Facebook, joining SJP in apologizing for making members of the Stanford community feel offended or unsafe. JVP expressed regret over a lack of “due discussion and delicacy” preceding the posters.
But many audience members laughed during Valley’s repeated attacks on campus conservatives during Friday’s event.
“As we see at the Hoover Institution at Stanford, the right wing has greater resources,” he said, adding that “right-wing oligarchs” indulge in their self-interests by “putting money into institutions that perpetuate their own ideology.”
Valley also dismissed the incoming SCR-sponsored event, “Yes, America is a Judeo-Christian Nation” featuring conservative author Andrew Klavan.
“[Judeo-Christian] is a bullshit term,” Valley said. “It’s a term used partly to erase Jews. It’s also a term to sort of have a backdoor into Islamophobia.”
“[SCR] is an alt-right group it seems to me,” he added. “It’s an anti-Semitic hate group it seems to me. They should not have been able to do what they did without serious repercussions.”
While Valley expressed severe concern over conservatives’ “gaslighting” of Jews, he said he often tries to ignore his detractors.
“People who leap immediately to Der Stürmer looking at my art have such a vast stupidity about comic art and Jewish art specifically that they have no right to be talking about culture at all,” he said.
Valley also admitted that he doesn’t know how to solve the conflicts surrounding Israel and Zionism today, though he stressed a need for Palestinian voices at the table. The voices of more liberal Jews have also been largely suppressed, he said, by conservative Zionist organizations with ties to white nationalism.
Rather than sacrifice their values for the support of such organizations and politicians, Valley said Jews should focus on fighting “the dominant form of terrorism in the United States: white nationalist terrorism.”
“It’s hard to imagine you’ll be be able to convince somebody who says Palestinians are not a people, [that] they’re not a culture,” Valley said. “What do you even say to that?”
Ultimately, Valley said he hopes through his comics to “chart a path away from the current nightmare” perpetuated by politicians like Trump, who he called the “hero of American Nazism,” and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
“I don’t think it’s worth engaging with someone,” Valley said. “I draw comics instead.”