Cartoon is an anti-Semitic trope


Updated June 11

To the Editor:

The Martha’s Vineyard Times has published an anti-Semitic cartoon titled “The Shunning.” It features an Alan Dershowitz cartoon character, and is drawn by Charles Pinck, who, for all I know, may be Jewish himself. The cartoonist’s religious or cultural background is irrelevant. For those unfamiliar with the 500-year historical context of anti-Semitic cartoons that exaggerate “Jewish-looking” stereotyped features (overly large or hooked noses; menacing, open, ugly, leering, toothy mouths), I will provide a few links that spell out how these cartoons have been used throughout centuries to promote Jewish hatred:,,,

Last week under The MV Times article about the Chilmark library and Alan Dershowitz giving a book talk there this summer, there were several objections by commenters, after both Alan Dershowitz and I pointed out that there were some comments that were anti-Semitic. A few people dismissed the idea entirely. One person scoffed at the very idea of anti-Semitism in Chilmark (although I have been verbally assaulted in Menemsha with anti-Semitic hate speech by a born and raised Chilmarker). Another person went to the trouble of reading through every comment, and “only” came up with two comments to copy and list that could possibly be interpreted as anti-Semitic, but still denied that they were. 

I don’t know if it’s ignorance, a resistance to facing the reality of anti-Semitism on the Island, or if the denial and obliviousness are something more systemic and stubborn, but when it comes to anything Dershowitz-related, this is not the first time I have brought the anti-Semitic nature of some MVTimes published community opinions to the attention of this newspaper. It is astonishing that there are still people falsely claiming under every Dershowitz article that his decades-long career has been motivated by money. No one talks about his pro bono work, or that he donates book sales to the Chilmark library after his talks. The reality of Alan Dershowitz’s dedication to his field does not fit the anti-Semitic narrative promoted by ignorance and false, anti-Semitic assumptions, particularly about Jewish lawyers and being money-hungry. 

This week, Charles Pinck has come up with another one of his many Dershowitz-belittling cartoons that he sends to the Times and posts in social media, but this time it is a blatantly anti-Semitic attack. Mr. Pinck rarely draws a comic on another subject. However, after seeing several of the cartoons Charles Pinck submits to the Times Letters to the Editor, obsessively and rather compulsively making fun of Alan Dershowitz, this is the only cartoon I see that crosses the line into stereotypes and anti-Semitic tropes. 

Charles Pinck’s disgusting cartoon should be removed from this paper’s website. Hate speech is not considered free speech in a place where it is not allowed by a private entity. The Times does not allow hate speech, supposedly. Mr Pinck’s Dershowitz cartoon character is portrayed with exaggeratedly negative and stereotyped “Jewish” features, as he appears to leer and physically menace an exaggeratedly young, pretty, helpless damsel in distress. This is a typical anti-Semitic portrayal of the menacing Jew threatening a pretty, blonde, young thing. The idea that a stereotyped ugly, menacing, Jewish ogre is somehow terrorizing an exaggeratedly young woman is nothing short of sexist as well as anti-Semitic, as outlined in many corroborating links on the history and use of these anti-Semitic cartoons which promote Jew hatred. 

Anti-Semitism and hate crimes against Jews are rising. Not noticing anti-Semitism, denying it, and telling Jews they are being “too sensitive” for noticing it, serves only to promote anti-Semitism. Every accusation of anti-Semitism should, at the very least, be considered and not be outright dismissed. I have never seen anyone admit to the possibility of anti-Semitism when it inevitably comes up in Times comments under articles about anything to do with Alan Dershowitz. One anti-Semitic comment in the Times is too many. One anti-Semitic cartoon in the Times is too many. There is no such thing as being too sensitive to the kind of acceptable anti-Semitism that allows Charles Pinck to draw “The Shunning” cartoon, with The MV Times publishing it, oblivious to the anti-Semitism in it. Jews and non-Jews alike need to be more sensitive to the forms of anti-Semitism that often go unnoticed or unremarked upon until someone dares bring it up. 

Jackie Mendez-Diez
New York City, formerly Chilmark