Public Comment

Readers Respond to ‘The Campaign Against the Daily Planet’

Thursday June 18, 2009 - 07:09:00 PM


Editors, Daily Planet: 

Bravo for your gutsy investigation of those who have, for the past several years, attempted to put the Daily Planet out of business by smearing it and intimidating its advertisers simply because it permits a wider discussion of the Israel-Palestinian conflict than most Americans ever see. European newspapers and broadcast media, as well as Israel’s Haaretz, provide a similar spectrum virtually unavailable here because of campaigns such as that which targeted the director and board of the Berkeley Art Center several years ago when it mounted an exhibition of artists interpreting that perpetual ulcer, or that which censored the play “My Name Is Rachel Corrie” in the United States. 

American ignorance of what we are paying for is understandable: People inside both print and broadcast media have told me privately that they cannot or will not run items dealing with this issue because of the rain of brimstone sure to follow. I have been educated about what is happening in the occupied territories largely by Jews and organizations such as Jews for Justice who, I believe, represent the best of the Jewish tradition. I have not noticed that they are anti-Semitic or self-loathing. 

I had to go to a Norwegian public library to see an exhibition featuring maps showing the incremental expropriation of West Bank land for Jewish-only colonies and roads. Any librarian here who mounted that exhibition would quickly suffer the consequences. The maps demonstrated at a glance the absurdity of any two-state solution that did not remove those colonies and the occupying force necessary to maintain and expand them, yet removal is apparently entirely off the table. It literally goes without saying that the “natural growth” of those colonies requires the concomitant brutalization, expulsion, or extermination of the indigenous Palestinians who get in its way. 

Some of your readers complain that the Planet should not spend time covering this issue since it is not local. Unfortunately it is, because the forceful presence of 300,000 (and counting) Jews on occupied Palestinian land enrages millions around the world and thereby greatly endangers the national security of the United States and the planet itself. Silencing those few individuals and outlets brave or foolish enough to tell what is happening will only increase our collective peril, and that of Israel itself. 

Gray Brechin 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

The blacklist is fascist because it says to its victims, if you don’t think the way we say you should, then we will punish you. The blacklist is the first order of tactics of any thought-police. It is anti-democratic, and in that sense, an act of oppression or domination. Like all acts of a fascist system, it is fraught with injustice.  

The attempt by a few zealots (named and described in the June 4 Berkeley Daily Planet) to punish the Planet for being open to wide varieties of opinion on Israel is not a blacklist. But it is close. The call by these zealots to ordinary citizens to boycott businesses that advertise in the Planet (implied in the threat to those businesses, reported in the Planet, that their Jewish clientele will abandon them) is not a blacklist. But it is a desire for one. Why these zealots, supportive of Israel, who make reference to the Shoah as one ineluctable foundation for the existence of Israel, would desire the power to enact such nefarious tactics, becomes more than a question; it becomes a source of dismay, as well as a source of avoidable debate in the present. 

I am gratified by the democratic spirit of my community here in the Bay Area, and its grasp of the principles of justice, that only a few have succumbed to the zealots, as indicated by the Planet’s editor when she says that the Planet is “not suffering too much from the campaign against our advertisers.” I applaud the Planet for standing fast on the principles of free speech, and thus of democracy, against this campaign. And I would council all those in this community who in thought or action entertain the idea of not patronizing establishments because they advertise in the Planet, who are thinking of engaging in such a boycott, to go back and reread the first sentence of this letter.  

Steve Martinot 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

The recent attacks against The Daily Planet by the supporters of Israel closely mimic those that were committed against Marin County’s Coastal Post several months ago. The attacks began after the Coastal Post published an article by Israeli peace activist Israel Shamir.  

The publication of this article resulted in threats against the Coastal Post’s advertisers. Many advertisers succumbed to this pressure and ceased advertising with the Coastal Post. But it didn’t end there. The Coastal Post, a free monthly newspaper, lost many of its distribution points because of these constant threats. Whole Foods was one of the first to meekly buckle under to such pressure and forbade the distribution of the Coastal Post in its stores. Then, like is occurring now with the Daily Planet, copies of the newspaper started being stolen in large from the remaining newsstands. 

Interestingly, while this was being done there was not a peep out of the supposedly “progressive” media in the Bay Area. Nothing from the Bay Guardian and nothing from the Daily Planet. No cries of protest from KPFA or from the ACLU. The Coastal Post had to soldier on alone as those who should have supported its First Amendment rights looked the other way, terrified that what was happening to the Coastal Post might happen to then if they protested too much. The Daily Planet is now suffering from those very same people who were emboldened by the damage caused to the Coastal Post. I hope the editors of the Daily Planet now realize that ignoring attacks against the rights of free speech of others might have its own payback.  

John Dudley 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

I continue to be surprised, not at the activities of Gertz and friends, which are typical of our zionist “left” activists, but at the silence from organizations claiming to be opposed to Zionism, such as MECA, which is itself mostly a Berkeley organization. 

Surely they know all the details of this campaign by Gertz, even before they were aired in the Daily Planet. 

If they have spoken out, I certainly haven’t seen it in the Daily Planet! Or elsewhere, for that matter. 

Mark Richie 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Recently I have been trying to comprehend the deeper meaning of the phrase “special relationship” used by our Democratic Representatives applied to the US and Israel. I also think there is also a special relationship between Iran and the USA. 

The first example is in part founded on a similar event in the origins of both immigrant nation states. 

The Americans drove the Indians (Native Americans) asunder so too the Israelis are trying to do the same with the Palestinians. 

Although this is not uncommon in the establishment of other nation states the particularity of it is one of the signifiers of that idea/sign called ‘special relationship.’ 

The second ‘special relationship’ example occurred this week. Both Iran and the USA have had elections wherein the people in power managed (manipulated, controlled the count, discouraged voters, stole, etc.) and won the now precious and special thing called a democratic election. 

The Iranians, deserve the same type of respect the USA received from the first 2001 election of Bush. 

We should send Al Gore to Iran as a special relation. He understands democratically controlled elections. 

Ron Davis 

San Francisco 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

We of the Lake Merritt Neighbors Organized for Peace are appalled that a few individuals are attempting to shut down the Berkeley Daily Planet because it has insisted on its right to publish opinions on both sides of the Israel-Palestine issue. 

The right of free speech is the very foundation of our democracy. Open and honest discussion is absolutely necessary to ensure its health and vitality. These few individuals are attempting to squelch the Planet’s position as a forum for this type of discussion through outright intimidation, threats and personal insults. They are attempting to cut off money from the paper’s sponsors. This is completely unacceptable. 

We at LMNOP are offering this token ($90) to help the Daily Planet fight this challenge and ensure its right to continue to be an instrument of free speech, publishing all open and honest discussion on any issue, no matter how controversial. 

Daniel Borgström, on behalf of  

Lake Merritt Neighbors  

Organized for Peace 



EDITORS NOTE: John Gertz and Jim Sinkinson have also sent letters to the Planet that contain further expressions of their opinions about the paper and the story about their campaign to shut it down. Upon reflection we have decided not to provide any more free space in our opinion pages for those whose expressed intention is to destroy the forum we provide. They may, if they wish, purchase advertising space to advance their opinions.