Although it was submitted in time for publication in an earlier edition, the Daily Planet finally published a statement of protest by leaders of the Community against its persistent publication of anti-Semitic diatribes. No doubt, seeking to limit the damage, the Daily Planet waited to publish this until its December 23, 2009 edition, that is, right before Christmas when it was likely to be read by few. For good measure, the Daily Planet buried this important statement by placing its main body on page 6, while cunningly detaching the signatures, printing them separately on page 14. We therefore reprint this important statement here:
Editors, Daily Planet:
In its Dec. 3, edition, the Berkeley Daily Planet published a letter from an Atlanta man who egregiously claimed that Zionist Jews conspired with Eichmann and Hitler in the Final Solution. In the letter, he stated, “Zionists collaborated in sending the bulk of Hungary’s Jews to the gas chambers in exchange for allowing your relatives and a few rich Jews to leave and go to Palestine as the basis for a Zionist state.”
This type of repellent fiction may be commonplace on neo–Nazi websites where Jews are often blamed for their own victimization, but any responsible newspaper would reject this erroneous and inflammatory statement.
However, the Daily Planet has a history of making Jews scapegoats. Israelis and their American Jewish supporters have more than once been compared to Nazis. Local American Jews have been called spies and fifth columnists for Israel. A writer once gloated that she was lucky that she did not marry a Jew. In 2006, the Daily Planet printed a letter from India which claimed that the Jews got what they deserved in the Holocaust and then repeated numerous anti-Semitic canards. Many of us communicated to the Daily Planet our rejection of this hatred at that time.
No one is saying the paper does not have a right to print viewpoints that are critical of Israel. We are saying that it has a responsibility to our community to not print anti-Semitic falsehoods. We understand that Daily Planet Executive Editor Becky O’Malley professes free speech “absolutism” as her reason for publishing these anti-Semitic calumnies. However, she has recently stated that she would never publish junk science that might harm the public good (e.g., that the swine flu vaccine is dangerous), and she has never, to our knowledge, published any hate speech directed at other minorities. Is it too much to ask that she likewise desist from publishing false, hateful speech directed at Jews?
Again, what we are requesting is not a call for censorship. Rather, we are requesting that the publisher and editor of the paper exercise substantially more responsibility in what they print and cease publishing dishonest and hate-filled speech against Jews in general and against Israel in particular, where nearly half the Jews on earth reside.
Jonathan Bernstein, Regional Director, Anti-Defamation League
Gordon Wozniak, Berkeley City Council
Rabbi James Brandt, Executive Director, CEO of the Jewish Community Federation of the East Bay
Rabbi Ferenc Raj, Rabbi Emeritus, Temple Beth El
Rabbi Jane Litman, Western Regional Director of the Jewish Reconstructionist Federation