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Is the Berkeley Daily Planet Taken as a Whole Anti-Semitic?

Updated 6/25/2009

Without any doubt, the Berkeley Daily Planet is Jew obsessed and Israel obsessed. Here is a a Google survey of some country hits in the Daily Planet conducted on February 3, 2009:



















Looking beyond the mere hit counts, we examined the content of the top ten hits for each keyword.  10 out of 10 of the hits for “Israel” and “Palestine”, and 8 out of 10 hits for the word, “Jews,” concerned the Israel/Palestine conflict.  Contrast that with only 2 out of the top 10 hits for the Congo and Zimbabwe being related to their conflicts.  The other hits were cultural, AIDS-related, or irrelevant.  For China, not one of the top 10 hits related to human rights.  One was critical of Taiwan, one remembered Mao’s birthday fondly, and the rest were cultural or irrelevant (China Camp, Marin).  Of the top 10 hits for Darfur, not one was from an article concerning that subject.  All were references to Darfur in articles on other topics.  

This so-called local newspaper actually has vastly more to say about Israel/Palestine than about the adjacent communities of Albany, Emeryville, or El Cerrito, where the paper is distributed (See here).  If one subtracts simple addresses as in the Calendar listings there are very many more hits for Palestine than for any of these communities supposedly served by the Daily Planet.   The Berkeley Daily Planet writes more about Palestine than 10 other similar local Bay Area newspapers combined.  In fact, it writes more about Palestine than the Los Angeles Times, even though that newspaper publishes a vastly larger edition, publishes daily, and has full time correspondents on the spot. 

Moreover, even in papers which directly overlap the Planet’s main distribution area and which might be expected to mirror the same concerns of its readership (that is, if the preoccupation with Israel/Palestine is, in fact, a feature of the East Bay, rather than being manufactured by O’Malley), such as the free weekly East Bay Express, the total hits for the term “Palestine” are 5% that of the Berkeley Daily Planet.  Indeed, the free San Francisco Weekly, which largely mirrors the far left orientation of the Berkeley Daily Planet, only musters 6% of the Planet’s all consuming obsession with Palestine.

Perhaps the most damning comparison of all is to compare the total online archive search hits for “Palestine” in the Los Angeles Times back to April 1, 2003 with the Berkeley Daily Planet (this is the date the O’Malley’s began publishing).  Consider that the LA Times is the largest circulation daily west of the Mississippi, serving a metropolitan area with over 13 million residents and with an estimated circulation in the range of 1,000,000.  The LA Times is well known for its keen interest in all matters related to Israel and Palestine, has extensive international news coverage, and has dedicated foreign correspondents on site throughout the Middle East.  Nevertheless, the Berkeley Daily Planet with only one-seventh the number of issues (daily versus weekly), a self reported (and probably exaggerated) print run 19,000, and is a mere 28 pages long manages to far exceed the frequency of references to Palestine found in the entire daily LA

There are at least as many African-Americans as Jews living in Berkeley.  So one would think that the Berkeley Daily Planet would have some interest in Africa.  But almost nowhere in its pages is there mention of the several million people who have died in the Congo conflict, the hundreds of thousands of black Muslims who have been murdered by Arab Muslims in Darfur, or the who knows how many tens of thousands or more who have perished in Zimbabwe.  Congo, Darfur, and Zimbabwe together received less than 20% of the hits as Israel, and even then, the African hits are largely incidental to the problems besetting those countries.   Since O’Malley took over the Berkeley Daily Planet in 2003 at least 500 times more blacks have died in the conflicts of the Congo, Darfur, and Zimbabwe as have died in the Israel/Palestine dispute.  Yet one would never know this by reading the Berkeley Daily Planet. Likewise, there are lots of Chinese and other Asian Americans in the Berkeley Daily Planet readership area, but very little in its pages about repression in Tibet, China, or Burma.  In the place of this lacuna, the Berkeley Daily Planet focuses almost exclusively on Israel. See here.

On December 18, 2008 Becky O’Malley issued a statement as to why this is so: 

The Daily Planet does not state just one side of this issue [Israel/Palestine].  In fact, the Planet itself rarely makes any statement at all on the issue, but with the exception of the occasional editorial cartoon or Conn Hallinan column, merely publishes the views of its readers in the form of commentaries and letters. 

Unfortunately, our findings show that this statement is completely false! 

The Berkeley Daily Planet’s own employees share an obsession with Israel, starting with O’Malley herself.  Contrary to O’Malley’s assertion that she does not write about Israel, to date (September 2009) the Berkeley Daily Planet has published 26 editorials written with Becky O’Malley’s own hand and which concern the topic of Israel or the Jews.  She has written on virtually no other part of the world, except, very occasionally on Iraq.  These editorials can be found in these issues:


Conn Hallinan writes a regularly appearing foreign affairs analysis column for the Berkeley Daily Planet, under the byline, “Dispatches From the Edge.”  Hallinan is in fact from the very edge of the American body politic, being a lifelong Communist.   He is a contributor to various anti-Israel websites, such as  At least 19 of his columns to date entirely or mostly concern Israel, while many more bring Israel into articles written chiefly on other topics.  Taken as a body of work it is, of course, condemnatory:


Managing editor, Justin DeFreitas has published at least 13 cartoons concerning Israel or the Jews, but only a small handful about all the other situations in the world. 

Additionally, there have been numerous “news” articles concerning Israel.  For example, when an anti-war activist, an ex-pilot in the Israeli air force, came to

Berkeley to deliver a pacifist message before a small handful of people, it was painstakingly recorded by the Berkeley Daily Planet (March 1, 2005).  However, when one of Israel’s most well known reporters, Hirsch Goodman, gave a talk several weeks later to a very much larger audience, the Berkeley Daily Planet refused to cover it.  When explicitly requested to cover Goodman for the sake of fair balance, O’Malley responded by email that this would be of no interest to Berkeley Daily Planet reporters.  The Berkeley Daily Planet covered the first “national” convention in Oakland of a very small pro-Palestinian group calling itself Jewish Voice for Peace (April 20, 2007), but has never yet sent a reporter to cover the annual AIPAC dinner in Oakland, even though many national and local politicians plus more than 1000 Berkeley and Oakland supporters of Israel attend, and typically over a million dollars is raised.  By admission and implication, the Berkeley Daily Planet, while obsessed with Israel, is only interested in one side of the story.
On July 20, 2007, consistent with its pattern of being an outlet for every manner of hysterical anti-Israelism, the Berkeley Daily Planet ran an article condemning Israel for a traffic accident in the West Bank in which a Bedouin child was run over by a garbage truck.  The accident is labeled a “crime” and all of Israel indicted, tried, and found guilty.  But the author gives the reader not one scintilla of corroborating evidence.  We do not learn whether the child recklessly ran in front of the truck or whether the truck was careening wildly.  All we learn is that the villagers soon arrived on the scene and set the truck on fire.  We do not learn whether the driver was a Jew or an Arab.   The writer wants us to believe that the driver was a Jew, since the word “Israeli” is used all over the article.  But, in fact, it is very unlikely that Jews drive garbage trucks though Arab villages in the West Bank.  For all we know, and for all that we can rely upon The Berkeley Daily Planet, the whole incident might have been an Internet hoax. 

One of the true hallmarks of hysterical anti-Israelism is a willful misstatement of facts.  O’Malley repeatedly aids and abets in this by publishing anti-Israel material that she either knows to be factually inaccurate, or should know to be inaccurate with just a modicum of normal fact checking.  For example, the Berkeley Daily Planet allowed an anti-Israel letter writer to call two pro-Israel writers “liars” on the basis of misquotes and fabricated evidence.  First, the letter published in the September 13, 2005 issue under the headline, “Why Lie?”:

Even after Gerald Schmavonian in his Aug. 16 commentary rebutted John Gertz, David Altschul, and Lawrence White for their purposeful distortion of history, John Gertz and David Altschul are at it again. They obviously can’t help themselves from lying. Gertz writes (Sept. 2) “The War (1967) began when Nassar sent his armies into Sinai.” But as Mr. Schmavonian pointed out Sinai was then and is now part of Egypt. To say what Mr. Gertz is saying is akin to saying that WWII began when the U.S. stationed troops in California.

David Altschul (Sept. 6) writes that after the U.N. Partition Resolution of 1947 “The armies of Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and Iraq invaded Israel.” In fact, those armies never entered Israel but only the land taken by Israel from the Palestinian state that was supposed to be created by that same U.N. Partition Resolution of 1947 (but never was due to Israeli aggression against it).

I cite the Encyclopedia Britannica that the Israeli army learned that the British planned to withdraw ahead of the scheduled date of May 14, 1948, and the Israelis attacked first in order to “gain strategic objectives in advance” conquering much of what was to become the new Palestinian state. The “Arab hordes” of five nations, that Gertz and Altschul want to frighten and alarm readers with, numbered less than 10,000 poorly-equipped soldiers in total who fought bravely against a Western-equipped Israeli army of 50,000 soldiers.

Gerald Schmavonian urges readers to consult any encyclopedia, including the Jewish Encyclopedia, for the facts. Why don’t Gertz or Altschul ever ask readers to do that? How is it that the U.S. public alone, among all the world’s publics, is under these misimpressions and deceptions? Dare we call it conspiracy? Because Gertz and Altschul and their pals know as Anne Cromwell pointed out (Aug. 23) that if you can control the sound bites, you can control the message.

Otherwise why would they continue lying? Would it weaken Israel’s claim that its armed forces are ludicrously called IDF (Israeli Defense Forces) if people knew they always attacked first (Israeli Offensive Forces) in all their wars. -- Janet Sakamoto, Albany

Gertz’s response (September 16, 2005):

Ms. Sakamoto calls David Altschul (who I don’t know) and myself “liars” for respectively asserting that the Arabs started the 1948 War and the Six Day War. Harsh stuff. She bases her accusations on information she uncovered in the Encyclopedia Britannica (EB). Fearing that Altschul and I have been deprived of new cutting edge research, I ran to Berkeley’s new downtown library. The entire EB contains only a few scant sentences on either war, mostly in an entry entitled, “Arab-Israeli Wars.” This is a mere half-page article covering all of the wars (no wonder the last time I relied on the EB was in the sixth grade). First, the 1948 War. Contrary to Sakamoto, the EB does not say that Israel started the war, but states the order of events as (1) the Arab armies occupied Palestinian areas, then (2) they attacked and destroyed the oldest part of Jewish Jerusalem, and then (3) they marched down the valley that leads to Tel Aviv, where they were repulsed. Elsewhere, in the entry under “Israel,” the EB clearly indicates who did start the war : “On May 14, 1948, the State of Israel was proclaimed and Egypt, Transjordan (later Jordan), Syria, Lebanon, and Iraq declared war on the new country. Israel won the war.” Altschul is vindicated.

But has Sakamoto also wronged me?

When one places a person’s written words within quotation marks, it is accepted practice to use the exact words, especially when the quote is used to justify an accusation of lying. Ms. Sakamoto explicitly calls me a liar based upon the following made up quote: “The War (1967) began when Nassar sent his armies into Sinai.” My actual words published in the Daily Planet’s Sept. 2 issue were:

“Arafat’s attacks on Israel began in 1965 precisely because he did not recognize that [armistice] line, and the 1967 war was precipitated by the Arabs who felt that Israel’s true border should be the sea. The war began when Nasser famously boasted ‘I will throw the Jews into the sea.’ He then blockaded Israeli shipping (an act of war) and sent his armies into Sinai.”

The venerable EB backs me up. Under “Palestine” EB writes that the PLO was created in 1964 and was dedicated to “the destruction of Israel.” There is only one short paragraph about the Six Day War in the half page “Arab-Israeli Wars” entry. It reads in its entirety: “In early 1967 Syrian bombardments of Israeli villages had been intensified. When the Israeli Air Force shot down six MiGs in reprisal, Nasser mobilized his forces near the Sinai border. During this war Israel eliminated the Egyptian air force and established air superiority.” A brief entry under “Nasser” indicates that “war broke out after Nasser had requested the U.N. to remove its peacekeeping troops from the Gaza Strip and Sharm ash-Sheykh [i.e., Sinai], then closed the Gulf of Aqaba to Israeli shipping.” For those who desire more details than these about the lead up to war, I recommend Michael Oren’s definitive history, Six Days of War, or simply go back to archived news accounts of those days, especially the period of May-June, 1967.

With a score of 2-0, I believe that Sakamoto owes Altschul and me a published retraction and apology.

The key point is that the Berkeley Daily Planet could have easily cross-checked Gertz’s quote in question and seen that it was a misquote, and could just as easily have checked the letter writer’s reputed source, the Encylopedia Brittanica

Here is another example:  Steve Reichner wrote on December 11, 2008:

So John Gertz is upset that someone has called him a racist. The poor fellow. John Gertz, who plays whack-a-mole with the Mideast, slapping down with charges of anti-Semitism anyone who stands up to disagree with him on Israel. John Gertz, who believes views that disagree with his own should not be published. John Gertz, who accuses the Daily Planet of bias against Israel though they publish every mean-spirited tirade he can muster against those who disagree with him. John Gertz, who casts all Palestinians into the same mold, as bomb-throwing, Israel-hating terrorists. Cry me a river, John Gertz.

Gertz immediately responded as follows, but O’Malley refused to publish it:

The problem with this letter is that it is factually wrong in each and every allegation.  I have not denigrated anyone with the charge of anti-Semitism because of their anti-Israel stance. Indeed, in scrutinizing the Berkeley Daily Planet archives to search for anyone who I have accused of anti-Semitism, the results show the following: four years ago, I took issue with one of Defreitas' cartoon which clearly employed  classic anti-Semitic imagery of the Jews controlling the world (though Defreitas claimed the use was inadvertent). And I have also critiqued that now infamous op-ed that the Berkeley Daily Planet published by Kurosh Arianpour, "an Iranian student living in India."  Even editor Becky O'Malley acknowledges this commentary to be anti-Semitic, but which she says she printed anyway "in the interests of free speech."  Should anyone doubt me on the above, do please examine the newspaper's archives which can be found online.  If I have called someone an anti-Semite for their anti-Israelism, just who would that be?
As a point of fact, the Berkeley Daily Planet does not publish my every "mean-spirited tirade" as Reichner asserts.  Personally, I don't think they are mean-spirited tirades, but well reasoned tomes.  Nevertheless, tirades or tomes, some of my best pieces have been left unpublished.  The Daily Planet only publishes about a half to two-thirds of what I submit. 
Finally, readers will search the archives in vain for any instance where I have "cast all Palestinians into the same mold, as bomb-throwing, Israel-hating terrorists." 
In sum, Reichner's accusations are complete fabrications and fictions.
My core complaint here is not against an unhinged letter writer, but with the Daily Planet that would print such a calumny, when its editor has her own archives at her very fingertips, and could have ascertained in a moment that the charges leveled were false in every way.  So why publish hateful defamation?  Is this a responsible use of the power entrusted in Berkeley's paper of record?  Remarkably, in the very same issue, O'Malley wrote in her editorial, “if citizens can't engage in rational civil discourse in print, all that's left is shouting at one another over the radio. Some have high hopes for the Internet, but a quick glance at the quality of the reader comments on will disabuse you of that fantasy.” I ask O'Malley, pointblank: just how does Reichner's letter in any way rise to the standards you claim for the Daily Planet?

Perhaps the ultimate bias in reporting came when O’Malley placed an anti-Israel article by well-know anti-Israel activist Henry Norr in the news section instead of in the commentary section where it belonged (August 30, 2005).  In so doing, she broke a cardinal rule of journalism, namely, that a reporter should not be part of the story that he or she is covering.

Moreover, any claim that O’Malley benignly keeps hands off the malicious content of her newspaper is belied by a recent charge by her ex-reporter, Judith Scherr.  Scherr stated that she resigned because of editorial changes O’Malley would repeatedly make to news stories in order to slant them in a direction that accorded with her own political points of view: “I could no longer be part of a newspaper with such a lack of journalistic integrity.” 

In summary, counter to O’Malley’s assertion that “the Planet itself rarely makes any statement at all on the issue [of Israel/Palestine]” the Berkeley Daily Planet has run very many O’Malley editorials, news stories, news analyses, and cartoons of its own directed against Israel.  Apart from Hallinan’s column, it has run almost no articles about any other conflict in the world.  Both Becky O’Malley and Conn Hallinan (we will consider Hallinan in depth elsewhere) equate Israel and its supporters with the Nazis.  This in itself is a very strong indication of anti-Semitism, while Daily Planet cartoonist, Justin DeFreitas, has used imagery in depicting Israel that is indistinguishable from Nazi and neo-Nazi propaganda.  

In part, the European Union draft definition of anti-Semitism reads:  “Applying double standards by requiring of it [Israel] a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.” 

We ask readers to now answer our leading question for themselves, is the Berkeley Daily Planet in its totality an anti-Semitic newspaper?

Our answer is a strong PROBABLY.


Anti-Semitic writings in the Berkeley Daily Planet sorted by theme


Is Becky O’Malley herself an anti-Semite?



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