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O'Malley's hard-left readership chimed in, denouncing me as a "racist," "fascist," "scum," and more. Reading their letters, one can detect no evidence that the authors had ever even visited the web site that they condemned. Self-described "First Amendment absolutist," Becky O'Malley, placed a spam blocker on me so that she would not have to publish my response to all this, and ignored me when I used an old-fashion fax machine to get around the block.
In the meantime, as O'Malley continued to publish anti-Semitic tracts with merry abandon (but never anything that could be construed as anti-black, anti-Muslim, anti-gay, or misogynous — hate speech being reserved only for Jews), her ardent defender, Richard Brenneman, boldly announced that he, as a Jew, could vouch that O'Malley was not an anti-Semite. However, as DPWatchDog revealed, Brenneman was born to Mennonites, lived in an ashram where he was a practicing Hindu astrologer, left to convert to Christian Science, then wrote a book condemning Christian Science, and is now, according to his blog, a practicing atheist. His sole claim to being Jewish stems from the fact (if the man is to be believed at all) that one of his several wives was Jewish.
Since the print paper's closing, I have reached out to some of its employees with offers of help. Most of them were as much a victim of Becky O'Malley's vicious prejudices and vulgar bullying as the community at large, though, as for Brenneman, he probably justly reaped the rewards of what he helped to sow.
John Gertz, Berkeley
Ironic that you would choose Richard Brenneman to write the post mortem for the Berkeley Daily Planet. He is in no position to be objective, having served as the O'Malley's journalistic hatchetman on many issues. His blatantly personal ad hominem attacks on me and others involved in the campaign to stop anti-Semitic editorial in the paper certainly marked a low point in what was already an enterprise known for sub-standard journalism. Brenneman's attacks were particularly cowardly, since he knew we couldn't respond — the supposedly "pro-free-speech" Planet had a policy of not printing any submissions by those of us who sought to reform it. Ultimately, however, the Planet failed because it offended large swaths of the Jewish and business communities. The O'Malleys and their small cadre of ultra-left followers obviously had no idea how to run a successful community-based newspaper.
James Sinkinson, Oakland
Why the Focus on Israel?
Since the Express saw fit to publish a host of untruths by Richard Brenneman concerning with the demise of the Berkeley Daily Planet, it seems only fair that your paper consider printing my rejoinder to Brenneman's manifest falsehoods.Thank you for your consideration of the above. And I here provide a final correction here in the text below of a few more minor typos I have caught ... When I saw a press screening of Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ, I was appalled by the film's portrait of Jews exhibiting the worst stereotypical behavior as frequently depicted by anti-Semites which correspondingly had earlier resulted in centuries of persecution. Gibson denied being anti-Semitic and the film was hugely successful at the box office. Then a wise friend of mine said, "Bigots who work in the public's eye will sooner or later blunder and reveal their biases." And thus it was with Gibson. Arrested for drunk driving by a Jewish officer, Gibson ranted, "Fucking Jews. ... Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world. Are you a Jew?"There is a correlation here with the O'Malleys and their Berkeley Daily Planet. Week after week, the paper printed op-eds, commentaries, and letters by both Becky O'Malley and contributors obsessed with eviscerating Israel. Indeed, as the meticulously research web site DPwatchdog.com documented, Israel and the Palestinian territories are noted in far greater measure by the Planet than El Cerrito and Albany combined, leading many of us to ask, "What's with the O'Malley's obsession with Israel? Isn't the Planet supposed to be a paper focused upon local issues?" And if there is to be some emphasis upon international affairs, why is there scant or no mention of the horrific situations in Darfur, the Congo, Tibet, Burma, etc., while Israel is incessantly vilified?Like Mel Gibson, Becky O'Malley soon clearly demonstrated her antipathy both toward Israel and Jews by her publication of the Iranian Kurosh Arianpur's op-ed in which alleged Jewish attitudes were used to justify every murderous outrage Jews have historically suffered, including the Holocaust. Despite a huge outpouring of criticism by prominent local politicians and religious leaders, O'Malley tendered no apology for printing screed that would only appear elsewhere in the publications of a David Duke.In response to this outrage, I unilaterally started visiting advertisers, asking if their businesses wished to be associated with an anti-Semitic publication. All I had to do was show advertisers the vicious bigotry regularly printed in the Planet and 85 percent of them vowed to cease placing ads once their contract with the paper expired.As the cliché would have it, "Birds of a feather flock together" reflects the lockstep perspective of those who worked for or regularly contributed to the Planet. Old Lefty columnist Conn Hallinan, for a number of years an editor of the Communist Party's US newspaper, Peoples World Weekly, time and again excreted baseless commentary alleging "neo-colonial, imperialist, or ethnic cleansing" actions by Israel, largely eschewing the facts. And primary reporter Richard Brenneman, a former Christian Scientist who once served as chief astrologer to a corrupt Indian guru and who used to champion his belief in psychic surgery, was enlisted by O'Malley to pen an eight-page hit piece knocking myself, John Gertz, and Jim Sinkinson for working against the paper. What Brenneman wrote was little more than a litany of lies and half-truths. And, like Mel Gibson, Brenneman's own venemous smears against Israel and, correspondingly Jews, would be reflected in his blog in which he wrote that Zionists conspired with the Nazis during the Holocaust to justify sending Jews to present-day Israel. See http://richardbrenneman.wordpress.com/2009/12/22/apples-and-apples-in-the-mideast for this repugnant fiction which speaks volumes about Brenneman's unveiled biases.