Public Comment

And Then They Came for Councilmember Capitelli...

By Mal Burnstein
Monday June 21, 2010 - 11:39:00 PM

There are many opinions in the Bay Area about the Israeli blockade of Gaza and its bloody interdiction of the flotilla trying to break that blockade. This piece is not about the substance of that debate. A multitude of resolutions on the subject have been introduced and debated in clubs, organizations and public bodies. And, unfortunately, but not surprisingly, out of the woodwork has appeared some insidious operatives seeking not to win the public debate but to cut it off entirely by means of, not to mince words, threats and economic and political pressure. Again, not surprisingly, some of the same characters that used those tactics against the Planet are at it again. Look at the following posts in the web site of the Jewish Weekly, the week of June 10, 2010, following that paper’s reporting of the introduction of such a resolution condemning the Israeli action in the Richmond City Council: 


"Posted by Dan Spitzer

06/11/2010 at 11:10 AM  


Berkeley Resolution to be Introduced 


"Laurie Capitelli, a Berkeley Councilman who represents a district with a large Jewish populace, is one of the co-presenters of a resolution which condemns Israel. He will introduce the measure at next week’s Berkeley City Council meeting.

What motivates Mr. Capitelli, who in the past was quite a moderate? He intends to run for mayor and believes that by castigating Israel, he will garner votes from Berkeley’s leftist community.

Mr. Capitelli is also a real estate broker with an office at Red Oak Realty on Solano Ave. “J” readers might consider contacting Capitelli at Red Oak(510-527-3387) and letting him know what you think about both his political aspirations and his future in the real estate business… 


"Posted by Dan Spitzer

06/11/2010 at 05:48 PM  


Keep Pressure on Capitelli  


"Because we don’t know for certain that Capitelli has indeed decided not place on the Berkeley City Council agenda his planned resolution to condemn Israel, those who support the Jewish State should continue to let Capitelli know that ANY unwarranted action on his part castigating Israel, now or in future, will precipitate political and professional consequences.

In fact, I’m pleased to announce that the eminent John Gertz—the author of that most effective website which helped torpedo the Berkeley Daily Planet—has just constructed another most informative site, Check it out…[Note, that site appears not yet to be open.] 


"Posted by Dan Spitzer

06/12/2010 at 09:57 AM  


No Capiletti [sic] Demonstration 


"Because Laurie Capiletti [sic] has now indeed bowed to reasonable protest and decided not to place an a resolution condemning Israel on the Berkeley City Council docket, a planned demonstration at his office has now been called off. But this doesn’t mean that those who support Israel shouldn’t demand that Capiletti [sic] remove the loony left ideologue who wrote the anti-Israel resolution, Mary Nicely (what a misnomer), from Berkeley’s so-called Peace and Justice Commission. Please contact Capitelli and DEMAND that he immediately remove his manifestly biased anti-Israel appointee from P&J…


The author of those posts, along with his cohorts—particularly John Gertz—is well known to Planet readers as having been engaged in a campaign to bankrupt this journal, or force it to become a mouthpiece of AIPAC. These people don't want to win arguments about Israeli policies and actions, they don't even want to have such public discussions. Rather, they want to prevent any discussion at all; or force only sycophantic admiration for all things Israeli. They use political pressure, economic pressure, social pressure, and simple name-calling as their weapons. They are a disgrace to the democratic process. 


The irony of such "Brown Shirt" tactics is that, insofar as it succeeds, it cheapens Israeli democracy (as well as ours), and hides Israel's good qualities (and there are many) behind the totalitarianism of their approach. By association with them, they mark Israel as a country too ashamed of its policies to allow them to be scrutinized. They deny Israel necessary oversight of its actions so as to be able to learn from its mistakes. Note the Israeli reversal of its harsh blockade of Gaza after international pressure and condemnation of its raid on the flotilla. These people think that blind loyalty is in the best interests of Israel; that is not democracy. They don't want to, indeed, they fear to debate the issues, but they instead threaten and intimidate the speakers to force them to shut up. And they do that by threatening their livelihood. Some champions of democracy these cowards. As a Jew, I'm ashamed to call them coreligionists. (That's actually a complicated story: as an atheist I can hardly be said to be a religionist; but that wouldn't have kept me out of the ovens.) Be that as it may, we simply can't let these tactics go unremarked or unchallenged. This started with the Richmond City Council as the Planet noted in its story of June 15. Pressure was put on Vice Mayor Jeff Ritterman and he pulled his resolution before it could be discussed. In Berkeley Council member Capitelli has been put under even more pressure. Will we let this go without answer?