Penn Lecturer Is Behind Grotesque Anti-Semitic Cartoons

Dwayne Booth in one sketch drew Nazi flag with Star of David shown in place of swastika

February 1, 2024

A lecturer at the University of Pennsylvania's Annenberg School of Communication has published several anti-Semitic cartoons since Hamas's Oct. 7 attack, including one that depicts Zionists sipping Gazan blood from wine glasses, a version of the ancient blood libel employed in anti-Semitic propaganda that accused Jews of using the blood of Christian children for baking matzah and other rituals.

Dwayne Booth, who joined Penn's Annenberg School for Communication as an adjunct faculty member in 2015 and teaches two classes at the Ivy League institution, publishes political cartoons under the pen name "Mr. Fish."

Another Booth cartoon, posted to his Instagram, shows Jews in a Nazi concentration camp holding signs bearing slogans such as "Free Palestine," "Stop The Holocaust In Gaza," and "Gaza, The World's Biggest Concentration Camp."

Yet another depicts Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu as a bloodied, red-eyed butcher holding a long knife and a crumpled Palestinian flag, while a third shows an Israeli holding a gun to a hospitalized baby's head.

A fifth cartoon depicts a Nazi flag with a Star of David drawn in place of a swastika.

Penn's Annenberg School for Communication did not return a request for comment. Booth is teaching a class on political cartoons devoted to exploring "the purpose and significance of image-based communication as an unparalleled propagator of both noble and nefarious ideas," according to Penn's website. "Work presented will be chosen for its unique ability to demonstrate the inflammatory effect of weaponized visual jokes, uncensored commentary, and critical thinking on a society so often perplexed by artistic free expression and radicalized creative candor," the school says. It is not clear whether students study Booth's work in the class.

Then-Penn president Liz Magill last November announced the formation of a University Task Force on Antisemitism as the school grappled with high-profile instances of campus anti-Semitism. The head of the task force, dentistry professor Mark Wolff, did not respond to a request for comment on Booth's work or on whether the task force intended to address it with university leadership.

The school has not said publicly whether it has addressed the anti-Semitic incidents that roiled the campus last year and faces a lawsuit and congressional investigation into its handling of campus anti-Semitism. In one case, a student stormed the Penn Hillel building, yelled "F— the Jews," and destroyed furniture. Another stole an Israeli flag from an apartment near campus before speaking at an anti-Semitic rally in downtown Philadelphia, where the student recounted feeling "so empowered and happy" as Hamas's Oct. 7 attack unfolded.

The Penn website identifies Booth as a "cartoonist and freelance writer whose work can most regularly be seen on," a self-described "independent news organization that focuses on progressive politics and human rights issues."

The site was founded by left-wing journalist Robert Scheer and features columns from former New York Times reporter Chris Hedges, who routinely accuses Israel of "genocide." In one column, which included Booth's concentration camp cartoon as the feature image, Hedges said Israel's retaliatory war against Hamas "borrowed from the Nazi's [sic] depopulation of Jewish ghettos."

"The Nazis shipped their victims to death camps. The Israelis will ship their victims to squalid refugee camps in countries outside of Israel," Hedges wrote. "And if we do not stand in eternal vigilance over evil—our evil—we become, like those carrying out the mass killing in Gaza, monsters."

At Penn, Booth teaches two courses, according to his university bio: "Sick and Satired: The Insanity of Humor and How it Keeps Us Sane" and "WARNING! Graphic Content: Political Cartoons, Comix, and the Uncensored Artist." The former examines "how and why humor … might be considered one of the most influential and profoundly useful forms of communication," while the latter "examines the past, present, and future of political cartooning, underground comix, graphic journalism and protest art."

Penn in 2017 featured an exhibit from Booth titled "We Are Not Alone," which featured images of "thought leaders" such as former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden.

While Penn wrote in an article on the exhibit that Booth "skewers politicians on both sides of the aisle," the work featured on his website since Oct. 7 almost exclusively attacks Israel. One cartoon shows Netanyahu shoveling skulls into a steam engine and includes a caption accusing the prime minister of working to slaughter "every last Palestinian man, woman, and child."

Booth, who did not return a request for comment, said in the article that he teaches his students "when to fight injustice."

"I want to refine my students' critical thinking skills and get them to recognize how and when to fight injustice and institutionalized apathy," he said.