Public Comment

Readers Respond to ‘The Campaign Against the Daily Planet’

Thursday June 11, 2009 - 07:06:00 PM


Editors, Daily Planet: 

I was disturbed to learn of the threats made against the Berkeley Daily Planet because of its stance on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Such threats and attacks seem to me to border on the same kind of fascism that groups like FLAME should be trying to combat. I, for one, support the Daily Planet and will make a special effort to patronize those businesses that continue to advertise through the paper. 

Julie Anderson 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

This is addressed to Msrs. Spitzer, Gertz, Sinkinson and like-minded associates: 

Sirs, you are thugs of the most despicable sort. Your attempts to subvert the expression of political opinions not your own are worthy of Iran, North Korea, or China. They do not belong in the United States of America or anywhere in the Free World, much less in the home of the Free Speech Movement. Further, you are cowards, attacking innocent business people with no role in what you regard as objectionable speech. If you think you are forwarding Israel’s interests you are seriously deluded. I am deeply ashamed that some fellow citizens would feel justified in such behavior. I call on you to cease immediately and apologize to the Daily Planet and others you have attacked.  

Paul A. Rude 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

While we firmly embrace freedom of the press, we also hope that newspapers, like the Daily Planet, adhere to the rules of good journalism. Richard Brennerman’s article purposefully miscasts those who have voiced their opposition to what they see as the Daily Planet’s one-sided coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The writer labels those individuals who opine on the paper’s bias as militant right-wing Zionists. His stereotyping is most incorrect. Those readers who have contacted us over the years about the Daily Planet’s anti-Israel writing represent many different political stands—from progressive to conservative, with most representing liberal to centrist positions. The majority of the East Bay Jewish community strongly support Israel and join the people of Israel’s hope to live in peace and dignity with the people of Palestine.  

Riva Gambert 

Director, Israel Center, Jewish Community Federation of the Greater East Bay 


Myrna David 

East Bay Regional Director, Jewish  

Community Relations Council 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Much of the rancor regarding the Berkeley Daily Planet and the issue of Palestine is directed to a letter to the editor written by Kurosh Arianpour in 2006. It was indeed a hateful letter, but it did represent a point of view. A point of view many of us may wish did not exist, but it does nonetheless. However, just because it was printed in the Daily Planet, does not mean that it was the perspective of the editors or staff of the Planet. That should be obvious, as the Planet has published a wide-range of letters of various perspectives on the subject. 

Recently, Moment Magazine, founded by Elie Wiesel and others in 1975, published some views in their “Ask the Rabbis” section on the question of “How Should Jews Treat Their Arab Neighbors?” One response was like this: 

“Judaism’s key teaching is that all are created in God’s image. Everyone, not ‘everyone whose nationality includes no extremists.’ Israel’s leading human rights group is, significantly, called B’Tselem, “in the image.” 

That is a humanist point of view that many of us in Berkeley have embraced. But the Moment did not hesitate to print a very contrary point of view. Another response included this: 

“I don’t believe in western morality...The only way to fight a moral war is the Jewish way: Destroy their holy sites. Kill men, women and children (and cattle).” 

What could be more hateful than that? What could be more anti-Jewish than that, in that it claims that the “Jewish way” is the mass killing of civilians? No rational person would ascribe that point of view to the editors of the magazine. I think the editors of Moment did a service however, as they printed that extreme point of view by that one Rabbi to show that it exists. We can then work to confront it. 

What we need is more discussion, more debate to achieve peace with justice in the Middle East. Closing off debate will not be helpful at all, as that does nothing to stop the suffering of the peoples who live there. Saying and doing nothing is to support for an intolerable status quo. I firmly believe we can create a better future for all, and the hard questions must be confronted. 

Jim Harris  




Editors, Daily Planet: 

To resort to ad hominem tactics against your opponents, signals that they have scored significant points against your own position and you have run out of rebuttals. This is how I read the series of personal attacks against some pro-Israel activists published recently in the Daily Planet. The DP has hardly been unbiased when it comes to the State of Israel. That’s fine. You are entitled to your opinions. But, what is troublesome is the lack of good judgment in persistently publishing vile and hate-filled points of view which lend credence to arguments that the DP has no journalistic integrity and panders to extremists, anti-Semites and bigots. Furthermore, the reliance on stereotypes, one-sided prejudicial depictions and other distortions—Richard Brenneman’s article dubbing his critics as “Zio-Cons” and linking them to Likud and George W. Bush the most recent example—insults the intelligence of DP readers.  

Jews in our community hold many different views regarding Israel and they do not look to the DP as a source of news or analysis of Israeli actions and policies. However, they do expect a degree of discernment, fairness and adherence to community standards of decency and respect. It should not require the objections of our civic leaders to identify the objectionable matter the editors and publishers of the DP seem so oblivious to. Most certainly the members of our community--Jew and non-Jew alike--do not expect or desire to read articles and editorials, signed and unsigned, which advance agendas preaching mindless hatred.  

Seymour Kessler 

Co-chair, Bridges to Israel-Berkeley 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I deplore the campaign of intimidation against the Daily Planet for publishing views that some people find anti-Semitic. However, I fail to see why the Planet should devote space to the endlessly acrimonious Israel-Palestine issue. Certainly it’s an important topic, but there are numerous media outlets where people can state their views on the matter, and I think few Planet readers are interested in the back-and-forth bashing between the partisans on this issue. For that matter, I don’t think the Planet should devote space to international issues at all. The Planet should focus on doing what no one else is doing—providing coverage of events and key issues in the greater Berkeley area, as well as a forum for discussion of those issues. 

Steve Meyers 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

If Jews have learned else nothing from their history, they should have learned the importance of standing up to be counted, especially against rabble-rousing apostles of racial, ethnic and religious stereotyping and intolerance and the bullying tactics they often use to promote their nefarious politics of exclusion. Jews have been the victims of such movements for centuries and ought by now to understand their danger, whether the movements are led by those bigots who have traditionally despised the Jewish people or by those who claim the mantle of Judaism to pursue similar ends and tactics. 

Therefore, please add my name to the list of Berkeley Jews who wish to disassociate themselves from those who claim to speak for me while intimidating this newspaper and its journalists and strong-arming their readers and advertisers into severing ties with a publication that has aired all shades of opinion on Mideast politics. These bullies do not speak for me, as they apparently claim to. 

Those who wield the label “anti-Semite” like a lethal weapon, indiscriminately, at all opponents of the current policies of the Israeli state are unwittingly furthering anti-Semitism and feeding criticism of Israel. I am a Jew, I vigorously oppose the policies of the current and recent Israeli governments, and I cannot stand by idly as smear artists brand me and all other opponents of Israel’s intransigence as anti-Semites. 

As a practical matter, do the people who make such sweeping, unfounded charges as those leveled against the Berkeley Daily Planet really want to include all opponents of current Israeli governmental policies under the category of “anti-Semites,” as their rhetoric suggests? If so, they will create the very monster they fear. True anti-Semites—those who despise all Jews—will find themselves with lots of welcome new company, critics of Israeli policies who were pushed into the category of anti-Semite not by their hatred of Jews but by the incendiary rhetoric of Israeli supporters who chose to place them there. 

As a longtime journalist, I will not defend every editorial decision of the Berkeley Daily Planet, but I will gladly speak for the importance of supporting a publication that is under sustained attack and threats of financial retribution because it has published letters and columns that stray from the “party line” of the Israeli lobby.  

As both a Jew and a civil libertarian, I shudder at the notion attributed to one of the Daily Planet’s tormentors: “The First Amendment as the Last Refuge of Scoundrels.” In fact, the First Amendment is a cornerstone of the constitutional guarantees that protect the rights of minorities—including Jews—in this country. 

The pro-Israel bullies say they speak for Berkeley’s Jews. They don’t speak for this one.  

Peter Sussman 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Although I have disagreed with the Daily Planet on everything from homosexual marriage to gun control to socialized medicine to the Obama Cult, I must speak out against the censorship efforts of a few serious nuts. I wrote the East Bay Express after they self-servingly published Dan Spitzer’s atrocious screed a few weeks ago. I mentioned Spitzer’s obsessiveness in defending all of the many crimes of Israeli since 1948. The Express has degenerated into the Gammon Gazette as it is almost all devoted to one man’s dubious assertions. The day after I wrote the Express I looked up the Gertz website and I found myself libeled as a very dangerous person! Hmm. When you are dealing with possibly violent Likudnik nutcases that may be a good rep to have. Thanks for giving us the background on Gertz’s inherited wealth. There is a now a raging debate in libertarian circles, initiated by Houston attorney, Stephen Kinsella, on whether the copyright and patent laws should be abolished as a form of special protectionism incompatible with the free market. The main result of these laws seems to be the perpetuation of generations of parasites living off the ideas of some ancestor. 

The Ayn Rand Institute in Irvine is a prime example. These Randroids have lived off the works created by Rand who has been dead for 27 years. Unfortunately Ayn herself was an admitted anti-Arab racist (see Ayn Rand Q & A book) who condemned other forms of “racism” as “the lowest form of collectivism.” She appeared to have much in common with the “leftwing” Gertz, thus showing up the whole phony “left-right” debate for the fraud it is. When I lived in Berkeley in the 1980s and worked on the Measure E campaign in 1984 I met many of these proclaimed leftist racists who equated criticism of Israel with “anti-Semitism.” As if those of us who oppose Israeli policies would applaud them if Israel was run by Gentiles! Only the stupidest of asses could believe this.  

On this matter at least, stick to your principles, Becky.  

Michael P. Hardesty 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

I like the Daily Planet because of the policy of publishing all points of view in the letters sections, as well as transparent reporting. I am upset to read about “The Campaign Against The Daily Planet” in the article by Richard Brenneman. I plan to shop at Planet advertisers, and am considering purchasing an ad myself!  

Richard List 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Thank you for the thorough review of the “campaign” against the Daily Planet in your June 4 edition. 

I remember well the commentary by Kurosh Arianpour in 2006. I told Becky O’Malley that I didn’t like it. There are other letters and commentaries in the Daily Planet that I don’t like, but I realize that the Daily Planet position on free speech means, not only printing my letters of opinion, but my putting up with, or skipping through, the repetitive rants by some people, to whom I would only comment, “get a life.” 

But until now, I had no idea of the strength and duration of their obsession. Unsatisfied with having their attacks on the paper printed by the Daily Planet, they apparently try to intimidate advertisers, using commercial pressure to destroy a small but valuable resource to our community. 

My response to these attackers is to concentrate on carefully studying and memorizing the ads in the Planet so that I can remember to patronize these businesses as often as I can afford, and thanking them for advertising in the Daily Planet. I urge others to do the same. 

Let’s see now, tomorrow, lunch at The Vault, and what’s coming up at Ashkenaz? And aren’t we about ready to hire someone to help with some garden maintenance?  

Dorothy Bryant 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Regarding “The Campaign Against the Daily Planet”: The lady doth protest too much. 

Art Braufman 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I am a Jewish woman who has visited Israel/Palestine twice and have seen the atrocities committed by Israel against the Palestinian people. I urge any advertisers in the Daily Planet to resist attempts by Zionist extremists to force the Daily Planet to either concede to Zionist censorship or go out of business. 

In Hebron, Jewish settlers regularly attack the indigenous Palestinian people. Children cannot safely walk to school and the settlers have spray painted slogans like “Gas the Arabs” on the doors of Palestinian homes. These are the facts and I dare anyone to call me an anti-Semite for stating them. Whether you check Israeli human rights organizations or Palestinian human rights organizations and look at data on civilians killed by the Israeli army or civilians whose homes have been demolished or Israeli checkpoints and the apartheid wall—you can only conclude that Israel is using much the same strategies as occupying armies everywhere: ethnic cleansing and genocide. The goal of the Jewish State of Israel is to expand and choke off any possibility of Palestinian self-determination. Yet, after decades of military occupation and crimes against humanity, the Jewish people are no safer. It is the ultimate disservice to Jewish people to equate anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism. How dare pro-Israeli propagandists claim that Israel is the “sole democracy in the Middle East” and then attempt to silence criticism. 

Jim Sinkinson and others who threaten the Daily Planet must be exposed and rejected as enemies of democratic discussion and social justice for all people. 

Arlene Eisen 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Enough already of these creeps—couldn’t you just ignore them? One thing is to publish letters to the editor, another is to give free publicity to ranting stupidity. 

Hurray for Becky O’Malley & Co. 

Bernard Rosenthal 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

I am a 32-year-old “aging radical” (by John Gertz’s standards) and Berkeley resident who has read your paper for years. I was surprised to read about the campaign against it, and after perusing and (which gets the Schoenhard prize for most ironic URL), I am downright shocked these people pose any kind of a threat to your advertising. The hate and hyperbole on those sites is almost comical, and seems like a drunken imitation of ’50s Red Scare tactics (commie bashing included for nostalgia). My favorite section of dpwatchdog is the ominous heading “The Conn of Hallinan.” I guess it’s a Berkeley tradition to be host to fringe ideological zealots dancing on the edge of a 5150 hold, but the suppression of speech has never been a Berkeley value. 

I would like your advertisers to know that if this letter is published, in the next week or two my girlfriend and I will patronize as many of these businesses as we can. Certainly the eateries and grocery stores, if not the insurance agents and lawyers. 

I will next e-mail the antagonist sites and suggest garnishing their websites with animated gifs of torches and Senator McCarthy wagging a finger at the Daily Planet for emphasis. 

Jeff Schoenhard 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Bravo to the Daily Planet for a good old fashioned journalistic smackdown! It’s about time John Gertz and Dan Spitzer were outed as the hostile, angry bigots they are! Gertz has repeatedly pounced on anyone and everyone who dares to criticize Israel and Spitzer has roamed the local media landscape for years like a vigilante of hate, libeling and terrorizing anyone who stands in his way. Daily Planet supporters, Jews or non-Jews, ought to voice their support for the paper and give their patronage to the paper’s advertisers. But readers should make no mistake: Gertz, Spitzer and Sinkinson are not just attacking the Planet and its advertisers, they’re attacking you and me, they’re attacking our right to speak our minds and voice our opinions. If readers don’t speak up we’re just allowing a gang of thugs to dictate the limits of our public discourse and to curtail our freedom of speech and our right to dissent.  

Steve Reichner 




FREE EXPRESSION Editors, Daily Planet: 

Woodrow Wilson is quoted in Naomi Wolf’s book Give Me Liberty as follows: “I have always believed that the greatest freedom of speech was the greatest safety, because if a man is a fool the best thing to do is advertise the fact by speaking.” This is why what the Planet has been doing is a good thing. 

Was anyone who read Kurosh Arianpour’s letter persuaded by it that he was right? Certainly, there are those who would agree with Arianpour, because they have been indoctrinated with the same prejudices, but they would hold those beliefs in any case. The value in publishing that letter is that it shows what Israel is up against—mindless bigots who would not “peacefully coexist” with Israelis no matter what Israel does, because such people are incapable of regarding Jews as human beings. 

Are Muslims the enemies of Israel? The Qur’an says, “Those who follow the Jewish scriptures...and any who believe in God and the Last Day and work righteousness shall have their reward with their Lord: on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve.” (Surah II:62) Real Muslims believe this verse is a revelation from God—how can they be the enemies of a state that is attempting to follow the Jewish scriptures? 

Are Dispensationalist “Christian” fortunetellers like John Hagee friends of Israel? These people regard the founding of the State of Israel in 1948 as an event akin to a fly hitting a spider’s web. They believe Jews are going to hell unless they have accepted Jesus as their personal savior and believe he is God. They are watching for the demolition of Al-Aqsa mosque, so the temple will be rebuilt, which they expect will trigger a series of events that will be hell on earth for Israelis. While they are in favor of giving Israel money, they are doing so in the hope that their dire predictions about the Middle East will come true. 

Dispensationalist prophecies may prove to be self-fulfilling, in which case Israelis can only expect to suffer. But even if Dispensationalist “End Time” prophecies don’t pan out, one might reasonably wonder how the psychologies of such people might mutate over the coming years. These are superstitious people who seem to perceive Jews as symbols—omens—rather than as people. Might they not begin to demonize Israelis if their timetable for the return of Jesus and the End of the World doesn’t work out as they imagine it will? 

In conclusion, I must express the hope that the Planet’s policy of enabling freedom of expression in this community will continue. It is the only forum many women have to express their views on religion and the Middle East, as well as many other issues. 

Chadidjah McFall 




EDITOR’S NOTE: Conn Hallinan submitted this letter to the East Bay Express in response to a letter by Dan Spitzer that the paper published. The Express did not publish Hallinan’s letter. 


In his letter to the East Bay Express, “Ministries of Hate,” Dan Spitzer accuses the Daily Planet of “Israeli and Jew-bashing,” and implies that the paper does not support the existence of Israel. I am the twice-a-month foreign policy columnist for the Daily Planet, so I thought I ought to weigh in on this subject. 

First, there is an implication that the Planet is filled with attacks on Israel. I suggest people read it to find out if that is true. For instance, I have written 88 columns for the Planet since mid-2005. Of those, 11.5 have concerned Israel (and three of those were written during the recent Gaza war). Some of my columns have indeed “bashed” current policies, others have chronicled the courage of the Israeli peace movement that has resisted house demolitions, the separation wall, the endless roadblocks, and the brutality of the occupation. I have never argued that all Israelis think the same thing and would never imply that there is a linkage between those policies and being Jewish. There are an enormous number of currents in the Jewish community and to try to put those under a single rubric is simply anti-Semitic. Because I deal with foreign policy, and because the Middle East is a critical focus for the United States, Israel is going to be a subject of my columns now and then. To call it an “obsession” is simply false. 

Second, I have no idea if the Daily Planet has a position on whether it supports the existence of Israel. I do. I support a two-state solution that guarantees the security of Israel within its 1967 borders. There may be some adjustments of these borders, but that should be decided on as part of negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. I strongly believe that Jerusalem should be divided—it constitutes about one third of Palestinian gross domestic product—and that there should be a resolution of the refugee question that does not alter the makeup of the Israeli state. In practice, I think this will mean compensation for the land and wealth lost when Palestinians were expelled or fled. 

Third, ads to the Daily Planet have fallen off because advertisers have been targeted by FLAME, an extremist organization that is headed up by right-wing neo-conservative Daniel Pipes. Pipes is one of those laptop bombardiers who is lobbying to attack Iran and Syria, and who strongly supported the invasion of Iraq. The Daily Planet will soon report on exactly how that operation has been run, but suffice it to say that advertisers have avoided the Planet primarily because they have been lobbied and strong-armed by FLAME and others to withdraw their business. And why? Because there is a fringe that will do whatever it has to do to silence criticism of the Israeli government. Not in Israel, mind you, where critique and debate are lively and pointed. Indeed, I could not have written my column on ethnic cleansing in Israel without the outstanding reporting of the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, and websites run by Peace Now and Jewish Peace News. 

Becky O’Malley is an old fashioned First Amendment type. She pretty much prints anything. I know, because one letter writer characterized me as an anti-Semite, a charge that a number of readers wrote in to challenge. That is the point. The First Amendment is about debate, point and counterpoint. Nothing is so dangerous to the First Amendment as silence, and yet that is exactly what the campaign to destroy the advertising base of the Daily Planet is aimed at doing.  

Dan Spitzer is passionate about his beliefs, which is fine. But terms like “Jew-bashing,” “merchants of hatred,” and “sickening screed” do not advance the discussion of deeply important things. Does Spitzer think the settlements are a good idea? That Jerusalem should be undivided? OK, let’s talk about it. I don’t agree with him, but I don’t think he is monster or a bad person for holding those beliefs. We disagree. If we all turned down the rhetoric and turned up the discussion, we might just find we have more common ground than you would first imagine.  

Conn Hallinan 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

We should have pity on those whose souls are so impoverished and culturally warped that they would attempt to destroy a treasured community institution. The Berkeley Daily Planet provides multi-dimensional space for information, insight, and opinion from and about so many fields: the arts, science, nature, history, education, literature, commerce, labor, ecology, conflicts (civil and otherwise), religion, politics, home repair and more. 

I hope that the Planet survives and that we are able to express support and/or criticism of Berkeley, the University of California, America, the Planet, God and any other entity or concepts. 

Richard Craig 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

One of the characteristics of Jewish people is that we love to debate, we relish hearing and expressing (often loudly) different opinions on everything under the sun. I remember as a child I would listen avidly to the grown-ups’ heated discussions expounding on all sorts of subjects from politics to the latest theater review. 

But whatever their differences, no matter how strong their opinions or extreme a point of view, never, never was there an insult or a personal attack, never a threat against someone because they disagreed. People might get excited and shout at each other but would never go out and publicly slander someone who took an opposing position, 

Whoever the people are who are vilifying and trying to hurt the Planet for printing the various opinions on the Israel-Palestine situation, I do not recognize them as Jews. They sound like provocateurs just trying to foster anti-Semitism. 

I’m sure the Planet will not be intimidated and will continue to earn the respect of readers and supporters for its openness and fairness. 

Lydia Gans 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I sincerely doubt the editor of this paper is intentionally anti-Israel. I once had an e-mail exchange with her and found she could be suddenly caustic; the quality resonates with a tone I often hear in her editorial writing. Nonetheless, the paper itself is a good community resource. Sure, it might be nice if different folks ran it, but that’s not the case. These are newspaper owners, after all. In the music business it’s often said that hard qualities like arrogance or belligerence may even be requisite for some owners and promoters. Bill Graham was a classic example. Without them we’d have fewer venues and institutions. Probably best to live with how this paper is run in order to continue having its benefits. 

Sandy Rothman  




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Thank you for the complete story on the struggle you are going through with ultra-Zionists Jim Sinkinson, John Gertz, and Dan Spitzer. It’s important for the community to know this story and to oppose the bullying tactics of a few extremists who believe that Israel can do no wrong, and that those who want to discuss the situation freely are somehow against Israel’s security or are anti-Semites.  

I am a Jew and peace activist, and I am fervently opposed to the militaristic and inhumane policies of the Israeli government. I’m not for militarism and killing, whether done by Israel, Hamas, or the United States. People who want peace in the Middle East include the majority of Israelis. Sinkinson, Gertz and Spitzer are working against the desires of the Israelis themselves. Perhaps they should reflect on their misplaced loyalty to the hawks and not the citizens of Israel. 

Readers with open minds about Israel’s unapologetic militarism should watch a documentary on Israel’s attack on the defenseless and clearly marked American ship, the U.S.S. Liberty in 1967, which killed 34 Americans. 

In his article, “USS Liberty Vet Awarded the Silver Star; Navy Vet Honored, Foiled Israeli Attack,”, Ray McGovern says “The infamy is two-fold: (1) the Liberty, a virtually defenseless intelligence collection platform prominently flying an American flag in international waters, came under deliberate attack by Israeli aircraft and three 60-ton Israeli torpedo boats off the coast of the Sinai on a cloudless June afternoon during the six-day Israeli-Arab war; and (2) President Lyndon Johnson called back carrier aircraft dispatched to defend the Liberty lest Israel be embarrassed—the start of an unconscionable cover-up, including top Navy brass, that persists to this day.”  

Cynthia Papermaster 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I’m sorry to have to be the one to tell you but, apparently, hundreds if not thousands of your locally owned-newspapers appear to have been stolen from newsstands all across North Berkeley last week. 

While I don’t always run out to get a copy as soon as they are issued on Thursday, I’m always able to find copies of your fine paper even as late as Tuesday, perhaps because there are so many of your newsstands in this part of town. Despite searching far and wide, I was unable to find even a single copy of your paper on Friday afternoon anywhere north of University Avenue. All the other papers were still in the news racks besides yours, so your missing papers weren’t the victim of a recycling heist. Clearly something you covered editorially was the reason for the wholesale thievery. 

I was sent on this search because a friend of mine (a fellow former journalist) called me to insist that I read your front page story on the three local, First-Amendment-hating Zionists/Neo-Cons, who have made it their life’s work to silence the divergent voices published in the Berkeley Planet. She was especially insistent that I get a copy immediately as she knew one of the people your thorough and excellent article exposed as a fascist hack. 

As a former newspaper publisher I’m personally aware of the great damage caused by thieves who would hijack an entire edition of a newspaper in a vain attempt to silence a story. I had that crime committed against me several times when I was exposing the political corruption that was the hallmark of government in Emeryville in the 1980s. It didn’t work then and it won’t work now. The sort of skulking criminals who would do such a thing have no honor, no integrity, no intellect, they are no more than modern ‘Brownshirts’ dedicated to insuring that “All opposition must be stamped into the ground!” 

By the by, eventually I drove to your offices in south Berkeley to acquire a copy of the article and paper. The article was worth the effort it took for me to find, and I recommend that everyone read it carefully and note who among us in Berkeley would deliberately attempt to kill a newspaper, who would happily murder that which makes America a shining beacon in a world full of nationalists, theocrats, fascists, thugs and thieves. 

Keep up the good work, continue to expose the truth. 

Fred Dodsworth 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I usually disagree with Daily Planet Becky O’Malley’s editorial viewpoints. I think a bit of reporter bias too often seeps into the Daily Planet’s news stories. Yet, I believe the Berkeley Daily Planet is one of our town’s most precious resources. 

It’s a resource in jeopardy, however, threatened by the tough economy and structural changes in the news business. Worse, because people really should behave themselves better, it’s being threatened by bullies like those exposed in last week’s package “The Campaign Against the Daily Planet.” 

There are two reasons I hold the Daily Planet is such high regard. One is the paper’s commitment to covering local news. The other is its commitment to free speech. 

My perceived bias of the Planet’s coverage does not bother me, because the paper is open to all points of view. Whether you’re pro-development or anti-development, whether you favor a particular tax hike or oppose it, whether you think Tom Bates is a fine mayor or the dumbest log in the pile, the Planet will print your point of view. The letters and commentaries rejected for publication are slim indeed, and from what I can tell, those being filtered out deserve that fate. (Again, see last week’s package.) 

Without the Planet, the city government will be able to operate with greater secrecy and community debate on important issues will be stifled. Keeping the Planet alive keeps the debate alive and government more accountable. 

I hope advertisers being bullied by those who don’t believe in free speech will have the stones to resist those tactics. I’d even urge new advertisers to step up to the plate and hawk your business in the Planet: the paper has a lot of dedicated readers, hence potential customers. To those who disagree with the paper’s stands, I suggest you contribute your own point of view and keep things smart and lively. Perhaps even make some donations. 

Finally, to those rich folk in Berkeley whose net worth has remained sky high even in the midst of this Great Recession—why not make an investment in local news and free speech by becoming a significant benefactor of The Berkeley Daily Planet, and keep this endangered resource alive? 

Russ Mitchell 


(Russ Mitchell is a journalist who has worked on the staffs of Business Week, U.S. News & World Report, Business 2.0, Conde Nast Portfolio and other publications.) 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I returned to my hometown of Berkeley two years ago. I have never been more moved to voice my thoughts on a local matter until seeing the article on the campaign against the Daily Planet. Growing up here I was surrounded by a rich diversity of opinions that cut across ethnic, religious and class lines. This empowered me to develop my own thoughts from an early age on local and global issues. I knew that whatever conclusions I reached I could walk down the streets of Berkeley and find someone to argue them with me. This type of open dialogue is a well-referenced quality of Berkeley and is also the fabric upon which democracy is built. 

Despite my disposition to dialogue, I never voiced an opinion on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict before age 19. As the Planet article mentioned, a large percentage of people in Berkeley are Jewish and span the spectrum of stances on this important issue. I always felt that as a non-Jew it was not my issue to take on. It wasn’t until I moved away from Berkeley that I realized that in fact it was my duty as a global citizen to educate myself and develop an empirical perspective on this issue. The catalyst was the death of a fellow student at my college. She was run over by an Israeli bulldozer while protesting the demolition of a Palestinian doctors home. My first step was to take an in-depth historical class which rebuilt many assumptions I carried and enabled me to accurately build my understanding of how this conflict has come to be. 

Years have passed and since moving back here I have always appreciated the Daily Planet for its in-depth coverage. In an era of media conglomeration it is precious to have a paper this committed to local news and open dialogue. The campaign against the Planet is one of bullying and censorship. This leads to ignorance and compliance, both backdrops of fascism. I applaud the Planet for standing up not only for itself but also for the first amendment and for open, local journalism everywhere. The men waging this campaign could choose to write letters or ask those in support of Israel to step up and get more published in the Planet. Instead, they have chosen to try and silence the whole paper. This is not acceptable. We are a city that understands the importance of open dialogue as a first step in coming to creative solutions for the issues of our time. I will not be intimidated and I support the Berkeley Daily Planet. 

Kaytlyn O’Connor 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I have been following in these pages the backing and forth-ing between friends and foes of Israel. The vehemence is palpable. Neutral positions have appeared from time to time only to be outshouted and dismissed.  

Have you ever tried to break up a dog fight? I have, and I can assure you of two things: you can’t stop it and watching is very boring. 

I’m writing to try to break up this dog fight between The Daily Planet and those who deny its right to exist. I probably will not succeed any better than I did when as a boy my dog and the neighbor’s had a fight. But the Planet is a friend and you know how it is when your friend is under attack. 

First, this war of words without regard to where it takes place is asymmetric. One side hurls “anti-Semitism” and the other replies, “anti-Palestinianism” or “anti-Islamism” but only the first epithet sticks. Remember that although the bigger dog can cause more hurt, it seldom succeeds in destroying its smaller opponent.  

Dogs don’t use words whereas words are essential and necessary instruments in human fights. My intervention is an appeal to both sides to focus attention on the most explosive word in this fight, “anti-Semitism.” It can be disarmed with proper analysis. 

Every time the suffix “ism” is attached to a noun it creates an abstract category that is vague, pejorative, doctrinaire and super-charged for controversy. Notice, for example, how “terror” and “social” are irremediably corrupted when appended with the insidious suffix “ism”. Not only are they devoid of force but the meaning of terrorism and socialism changes with context and user.  

Finally, bear in mind that the offending word is formed from “Semite” the adjectival form of which refers to the overlapping of origins, customs and cultures of half a dozen peoples, some extinct like the Phoenicians and some not extinct like the Ethiopians and the Hebrews.  

So, anti-Palistinians and anti-Islamists (and you too, anti BDP-ists) keep on hurling “anti-Semitism,” a wet noodle at best but belay the sticks and stones. 

Marvin Chachere  

San Pablo