Breitbart News reports that Dr. Cornel West, an independent presidential candidate in 2024, joined a “Free Palestine” rally in downtown Los Angeles on Saturday and held an antisemitic banner depicting “Zionism” as a snake.
West had participated in a pro-Palestinian “student walkout” on Thursday, insisting that it was not about hating Jews, but opposing Israeli “occupation” (Israel has not occupied Gaza since 2005).
However, Saturday’s march featured explicit calls to eliminate Israel — a genocidal goal — and to arm Palestinian Hamas “fighters.”
The Los Angeles Times reported:
Salah Odeh, of Pasadena … said it’s imperative that the people of Gaza be given humanitarian aid and that Palestinian fighters receive military assistance in the face of Israel’s bombing campaign in recent weeks.
“People are offering their prayers, and that’s good — but we need physical help. We need military assistance,” said Odeh, who wore a black-and-white keffiyeh on his head, a Palestinian flag around his neck like a cape, and a pro-Palestine shirt and necklaces.
The banner that West held was revealed, in a Times photo and on social media, to bear the slogan “Unity in Confronting Zionism.” It featured a raised fist pulling a snake’s tongue — with the obvious implication that Zionism, the belief in Israel’s right to exist, is the snake.
The image of a snake was a frequent antisemitic theme in Soviet anti-Israel propaganda. As Tablet magazine noted in 2019:
Soviet anti-Zionist cartoons relied on a particular set of symbols to identify “the Zionist” as an object of contempt and hatred. Since one of the political goals of Soviet anti-Zionist ideology was to undermine Israel, Soviet caricaturists typically depicted a “Zionist” as wearing Israeli military uniform. When it came to identifying a Jew as such, they used the full arsenal of anti-Semitic portrayals developed over the centuries. One traditional approach was to show a Jew as subhuman in form (a dog, a spider, an octopus, a snake) yet in possession of supernatural powers.
West has been accused of referring to Jewish conspiracies in recent years, as when he blamed his position on Israel for his denial of tenure at Harvard.