CHULA VISTA, California – An anti-Israel, anti-American cartoon that appeared in the Bonita Vista High School newspaper has sparked a controversy that has escalated to the point that San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan has said her office will look into whether a hate crime has been committed.
The cartoon pictured an elephant identified as Israel holding a sign reading “We want to genocide Palestinians” and Uncle Sam, representing the United States, holding another sign reading “We are entitled to foreign land.” On the other side of the cartoon is a deer, identified as Palestine, holding a sign reading “We want freedom” accompanied by a masked man holding a Palestinian flag aloft. In between the two opposing duos is a man with a sign saying “Both sides are valid,” with the word “valid” replacing a crossed-out word “wrong.” Below the cartoon was the caption, “Centrism, insufferable and inhumane.”
Their report continues:
BVHS Principal Lee Romero, shortly after the cartoon appeared, wrote to the “Baron community,” – Baron being the nickname for the school’s teams – acknowledging numerous complaints about the cartoon in The Crusader. He noted that the publication “is a student-run newspaper and students have editorial control over their publication which by law cannot be censored by administration or teaching staff. We do want to be clear that the views of The Crusader specifically this editorial are not the views of the Sweetwater Union High School District BVHS Administration or BVHS staff.”
On Nov. 3, the Bonita Vista High (BVH) student run newspaper, the Crusader, published their second issue which included a controversial Editorial Cartoon under the opinion section. The cartoon depicted a students’ view on the Israel-Palestine conflict—specifically a criticism of the Israeli and United States governments. The publication immediately received feedback and was faced with censorship.
On Nov. 13, the staff of the Crusader attended the Sweetwater Union High School District (SUHSD) board meeting held at the district office’s board room in Chula Vista to hear thoughts and concerns from community members in regards to the cartoon…
“Student journalists are exercising their free and protected speech to do what so many adults have been afraid to do. [The student who created the cartoon] did not target Israeli citizens and they did not target anyone in the Jewish community,” Solomon said. “They targeted the government that has continued to enable this horrific violence and the American voters that choose to remain silent.”
The Crusader’s Editor-in-Chief followed up with an opinion piece about the cartoon and the board meeting, and the reactions of people both inside and outside the meeting.
One of the topics that were brought up during the public communication segment of the meeting focused on the controversy of Bonita Vista High’s (BVH) newspaper publication, the Crusader, publishing an editorial cartoon on a staff member’s viewpoint on the Israel-Palestine war.
One of the speeches was delivered by a BVH student and a parent, voicing their concerns with the graphic. For reference, each speech had a three minute time limit, with a grace period of approximately 15 to 30 seconds. Before the speaker’s grace period could begin, a group of organized pro-Palestinian protestors outside, yelled at the duo for going “overtime,” with a Palestinian flag over their heads. This soon escalated into an attack against their speech that merely expressed their concerns about the cartoon.