Press "Enter" to skip to content

Letters (Oct. 13, 2022)

* * *


To the Editor:

I have to stop talking – trying to talk – to homeless people. I just had my second fight with one in two weeks.

We were OK in the beginning, starting out. She - let’s call her Sally - had her dog and I had mine, and the dogs got to talking, so, you know. Plus, she was knowledgeable; she knew the history of dogs. My mostly cocker spaniel is a hunting dog, she said, a water dog.

I think that’s right. It was upsetting after the fight so I may be mixing up what she said about my dog with what she said about her dog’s job originally. But like I said, we were just fine in the beginning when I was in my “there but for the grace of god, go I” mode.

I don’t know why I think talking to the homeless is going to kick over some stone for me and I’m going to find gold underneath, or wisdom, some shiny fleck of something unexpected. But I do. The truth is, I do.

No, that’s not true. Sometimes, I want to show I don’t think I’m better than the homeless, that “there but for the grace of god, go I” mantra again playing in my mind like a Johnny Cash song. So, there I go again.

The homeless live in a swirl of conspiracy theories, fantastical thoughts; despite having lots of time on their hands, they lead pretty un-examined lives, if you ask me. That’s a skill that comes with comfort, lamps to reach over and turn on, books to read three pages of before sleep; it doesn’t come with watching out for your survival 24-7.

No one asked, but to me mental illness is common, and causal, among the homeless, looping on itself in renewal after renewal of explanations for their lives, their predicaments, their memories to themselves. They are shell shocked both from a daily and a distant war. And they tell you about it while they tell it to themselves. They lead the way on dark mine tours through their thoughts, but the lantern is dim and their way is quickly lost.

That’s when the fights I have with the homeless become, basically, inevitable.

Fight #1 two weeks ago was with a homeless young man who told me there are tunnels two or three miles long running east under the town with portals for emerging beneath the Palace Hotel. He said he had pictures.

Sally told me today her home was taken from her, and her money, and “dividends” — everything. She didn’t know by whom. She didn’t even say it was the “government.”

I liked that about her, by the way, that she didn’t say it was “the government.” If you don’t know who took your house and all your money, don’t say you do. Sally didn’t.

That’s a thing I think I admire about the homeless, too, though it gets tedious quick: they stick to the personal and the real; to the slings and arrows shot from close range.

What I mean is, they never talk or walk down the street shouting things like “the military lied and painted a rosy picture to Congress year after year for twenty years about how Afghanistan was going.” The homeless know life is lived in the shade when it’s hot, that everything you own has to sometimes go in a cart, and that what is not there anymore is still real. Even if you make it up, it’s still real.

But we hadn’t fought yet, Sally and me. It had been maybe ten minutes and my patience had not yet worn thin, I guess. She said people running a puppy mill had stolen her dogs. They came into her back yard and taken two of her dogs, first one and then the other. She said she saw the older dog later on TV.

“Well,” I said….

Even in the great outdoors of a park in late summer or early Fall, whenever this is, the temperature between two strangers on opposite picnic table benches can drop pretty quick when one of them says, “Well….,” the way I said “Well….”. And when the other one is not exactly up for being doubted.

“Dogs can look pretty similar,” I said. “The dog on the British Dog show didn’t have to be your dog.”

Still no fight, but Russian troops were suddenly on the borderline.

We didn’t fight till she said there was a puppy mill right here in town. They use the homeless to watch the dogs and walk the dogs till they can be mailed off for big money. A guy who sits “right over there” was waiting for her to turn her head some day so he could snatch this dog like they did the other two out of her yard when she had a yard.

I could feel we were already over the edge.

She said I was calling her a liar. I said I just wanted her to check her facts.

Check your facts. That’s how out of touch I am. We have two halves of a country shouting “check your facts” back and forth at the other half, and I’m fighting with a homeless woman I met ten minutes ago.

I’m fighting with a homeless woman I met ten minutes ago like I did my cousin till a year ago, when we stopped speaking all together.

All I require from people – I tell myself – is sound reasoning, the willingness to think critically, to expect there will be evidence of a thing, and to look at it.

And the homeless are not the only ones deficient in that.

William Walls


* * *



Senator McGuire is once again asking for our vote while pushing to convert the old Northern California Railroad Authority (NCRA) rail line into the “Great Redwood Trail”. His push for this proposed trail involved channeling several million taxpayer’s dollars to former Congressman Doug Bosco among others. Just so happens the two key players assisting these efforts, McGuire’s aid Jason Liels and former NCRA Executive Director Mitch Stogner, also worked for Bosco during his time as a politician. Bosco conveniently is also an owner of the Santa Rosa Press Democrat and Chairman of the California Coastal Conservancy whose agency is now essentially in charge of the Great Redwood Trail Authority formally NCRA.

McGuire has promised many, many times to provide transparency during the process of railbanking the NCRA rail line yet there has been zero response from his office to several inquiries. The NCRA also has repeatedly refused to provide relevant information under the Public Records Act.

A railbanking proposal is meant to preserve the rail corridor for future rail reactivation yet the continued claims out of the McGuire camp is that reactivation is impossible. This claim actually argues against their own proposal. In other words, if the rail cannot be reactivated as they say, there is no reason to railbank it. If the Federal Surface Transportation Board (STB) ultimately agrees with McGuire the rail easement goes away or is “abandoned”. Thus, no trail easement either. I am not sure if McGuire thought that one out. Or maybe he did. But he made sure getting Doug Bosco paid was first priority.

A short section of the northern most end of the “Great Redwood Trail” in Blue Lake was christened by Senator McGuire upon completion a few years ago. The cruel irony is that even with the $1 million plus spent, the STB determined the NCRA did not actually have the authority to grant Blue Lake a license to build it where they did. Apparently the NCRA didn’t own the land in question and knew that at the time. This will probably lead to litigation.

Multiple claims of “beating back the coal trail” by both McGuire and Congressman Huffman are laughable if you know that the deadline for submitting a specific filing was simply missed by less than 24 hours.

McGuire and Huffman both say they support the port of Humboldt, yet both are adamantly against a rail line to feed the port and distribute goods brought in. If either one of our representatives can provide an example of an industrial port that does not have a rail, I would be interested. Otherwise, it’s just more rhetoric with zero basis in reality.

Uri Driscoll


* * *



I believe it's time for the editor's six weeks of vacation — three weeks on either side of important elections. His candidates never win. Filling in for the editor will be that veteran news man Pete Golis. The AVA will have a different smell with a guy who talks the Democratic Party ticket but votes for Republicans.

This will be a good time for the doppelganger to review his specialty, county government. Never has county government been so thoroughly reported. Who reads it? It might be a good idea to look at the Willits Weekly and see how they do it. All the news of the county is condensed into a single column or less.

There are some things I like about the Press Democrat such as their reprinting of articles, columnist Maureen Dowd, politically accurate cartoons. There are several places that are in need of improvement. 

For example, when something happens I would contact Feinstein, Padilla, Thompson and Huffman and find out where they stand. How am I supposed to know who to vote for? Occasionally the Press Democrat prints a page advertising themselves. It might as well be left blank. You would think they would have something ready to fill that page like a chapter from Oliver Twist. Have you noticed that the Press Democrat never prints maps except when there is a fire on their doorstep? I have a list of ten proposals that would make the Press Democrat a better newspaper but I am not going to send it to them unless they ask for it. What do you think are the chances of that happening? Not ruddy likely, mate.

To those who are wondering how to vote on Propositions 26 and 27, when gambling remember when you are betting against the house, the chances are that you will lose. If you are betting on the horses or playing cards you are playing against your neighbors. Skill counts and the house collects around 15% for putting on the show. Skill is important. One of the two most famous people in Willits reads the AVA (Dr. William Bowen being the other) every week. He went out to Reno and entered a big playing card contest and blew them away. I guess that is Willits' claim to fame since several murders on Main Street 150 years ago.

Ralph Bostrom


* * *


Dear Editor,

Here's my view on Kevin Murray's court verdict:

Murray got a lenient sentence because those in power are going easy on him and keeping quiet about the trial because they are scared that Murray could expose (either truthfully or falsely or both) the corruption in local government he was well placed to know about as a mid-level corrupt police officer working for years in Ukiah. By not charging him with the three felonies, the charges can be held in reserve as a threat to Murray not to make accusations of illegal activities of government officials.

John Kennaugh

San Francisco

* * *


Hello, Yorkvillians and Friends,

Your 2022 YCBA Virtual Farm Stand order form is available! It's an exceptional selection of over 30 different items, made and donated by our community members.

All purchase proceeds go to the Yorkville Fire Station. Last year, the Virtual Farm Stand raised over $3,500.

To order, let Adrian Card or Peter Brodigan know what you'd like. You can list items in an email, attach a copy of the form, or give a call.

(707) 894-9210

Please submit your order by Sunday, October 16. Order quickly! Most items have limited quantities, and we sold out last year.

We'll schedule delivery times at the end of October when you can pick your goods up at the YCBA/Post Office. We'll be back in touch with those specific dates and times.

Preferred payment is by check payable to YCBA at time of pickup.

 Many thanks to all our wonderful cooks and participants who donated time and ingredients: Tina Walter, Lisa Bauer, Becky Perelli, Kathy Borst, Linda Nayes, Marti Lawrence, Nancy Armstrong-Frost, Val Hanelt, Whitney Cookson, Deb Wallo, Doug Labat, Sue Marcott, Margot Rawlins, Adrian Card and Peter Brodigan

For a copy of the order form or for questions email 

Peter Brodigan <>


Peter and Adrian


* * *


To the Editor:

How many pot stores does Ukiah need? Our population is a little over 15,000. Would you say one store would be sufficient? Five permits have been issued for pot stores just within the city limits. Of course there are more just outside the city limits. So there is at least one pot store for every 3,000 people.

Several weeks ago the Ukiah Daily Journal ran an article about how deleterious pot use is. Yet our city blithely continues to issue permits, even when the permit request is directly against stated parameters, such as being next door to an occupied dwelling.

Let’s not fool ourselves. Pot costs us in terms of police and fire calls and crimes generated by the criminal element it attracts, probably more than the dollars our elected officials hope to garner from taxes on pot sales.

I suggest that the city council impose a limit on the number of permits for pot stores. Five stores are more than enough for every man, woman and child in Ukiah.

Janet Freeman


* * *



Fall is upon us, and as we move into the holidays, I hope everyone in Mendocino County can appreciate the year we have had. We have had some seriously great things occur while we continue to face challenges as well. It’s easy to stand back and point at the things that go wrong however we also need to be thankful for the things that are going well. 

Wildfire season is coming to an end, and we are continuing to do well in our responses to fires and other emergencies. Our partnerships with the community and with local and state fire agencies are paying off. Working regularly with fire safe councils and the communities have put us in a place where we can be successful. Patrol personnel and dispatchers work together in sending timely and important notifications to the public regarding wildfires and emergencies. Our emergency alerts and warnings distribute prompt and critical information to the public regarding rapidly evolving situations.

Over the past several years we have worked very hard along with our local press and radio stations forming collaborations in which we are all serving together during times of disaster. Please remember wildfire season won’t be over until we have considerable rain fall, so I am asking everyone to please remain vigilant in our daily activities. 

Our dual-response teams in which a Deputy Sheriff is partnered with a behavioral health worker, are providing incredible service to persons in need. This is also providing a safe environment for behavioral health workers and reducing the time Deputies are spending on behavioral health calls. 

Recently we have had some serious crimes. Many of these crimes have been fueled by addictions, greed and patterns of abuse. Some of these crimes I will simply ponder for the remainder of my life, as I just cannot imagine there is an explanation for them. We have been successful in the investigations of these terrible crimes.

We have been seeing an increased number of overdose deaths and crimes associated with addiction. Legislative changes have caused possession of heroin, fentanyl, methamphetamine and other serious narcotics to be reduced to misdemeanors, only remedied by citation. Sadly, these addictions are the root of several serious and dangerous crimes which have become increasingly abundant in Mendocino County. For many people addictions are a death sentence for It’s like watching an arsonist pour accelerant on a house knowing his intent, however having to stand back and allow this situation to continue until the home has burned down before we can take meaningful steps to stop it. 

Let’s be clear, many of the problems we are facing are due to several rounds of legislation in California, decriminalizing behaviors which are the cause of many serious crimes. The issue is the legislation left gaps in systems and provided no framework to bridge these gaps. We are now seeing the chickens coming home to roost and the results are becoming evident in our daily lives. These crimes take a toll not only on our communities, however also on the dispatchers who receive these calls, the deputies who investigate the crimes, the corrections deputies who supervise the suspects in custody and the professional staff who provide the support and reports for prosecution. Remember these folks are also a part of our communities. 

I am often contacted regarding behavioral health issues including addictions, homelessness, and the spoils of drug abuse. Our deputies on patrol and in our custody division are not social workers. The tools previously used such as arresting persons in possession of narcotics have been legislated away. We are not trained counselors or therapists, therefore the question we must answer is who is best equipped to handle these situations.

Our deputies are continuing to serve you day in and day out however our numbers are low. Currently police agencies and sheriff’s offices across the United States are down personnel and we are no exception. Although numbers are down, the demand for police services are not.

Limiting services and responses from our personnel is not something I am willing to consider. So I looked for alternative solutions to reassign certain duties that would allow our deputies to focus on public safety, primarily protecting the public and our communities. 

I have taken steps to reduce the workload for our personnel, one of which is instituting a Coroner’s Investigative Technician who is assigned to the Chief Deputy Coroner. Coroner’s duties are complex. This position is completing follow up with medical providers, pathologists, and completing many of the data-entry duties which in the past were performed by Deputy Sheriff’s. This is working out well for us.

We are at a moment when we have to look at the services provided and how best to deliver these services. Currently new legislative mandates are taking valuable time from our personnel who need to detect and investigate crimes. I am confident that by freeing our personnel up to patrol and detect crime we will have a positive and greater impact on the county. 

I will be working to hire Sheriff’s Services Technicians who will assist on several of the reporting requirements as well as removing much of the clerical and data-entry work from the deputies. This will also allow our deputies more time for patrolling our neighborhoods, directly supervising those incarcerated and investigating crimes.

We are still hiring for Deputy Sheriff, Corrections Deputies, Dispatchers, Sheriff’s services Technicians and professional staff. I would invite all interested in a fulfilling career of public service to visit the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office website and apply with us. This profession is truly fulfilling, and here in Mendocino County our personnel are continually supported by the communities we serve. 

Thank you.

Sheriff Matt Kendall


* * *



Making wine and spirits bottles recyclable is a great step forward. More important would be creating recycling centers where they can easily be redeemed for cash. Perhaps the place where they were initially purchased?

Stevie Lazo

Santa Rosa

* * *



None of our energy options are without risk, and when compared per unit of delivered electricity, nuclear energy is among the safest. Furthermore, because of the pace and scale of climate change, all our energy options are needed. Eliminating any will seriously delay our progress.

Entrenched beliefs have already jeopardized our future. Climatologists predict that we will surpass the hoped-for 1.5 degrees Celsius limit of global warming within the next five years and have locked in about a foot of sea level rise by 2050. These observations, together with the rising impact of wildfires, heat domes and floods around the world, should cause all of us to reexamine our positions about energy options for fighting climate change.

Fortunately, Gov. Gavin Newsom and the Legislature recently did just that and approved an extension of Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant’s operating license. Many other Americans have been reexamining their positions. A Gallup Poll in May revealed that 51% are now in favor of nuclear energy, a rise of 7% since its lowest point in 2016. A poll in San Luis Obispo County, where Diablo Canyon is located, revealed 74% in favor.

Ron Gester 


* * *



Throughout my decades of reporting I have consistently refused to use information from “anonymous sources” except in extremely rare circumstances that I could probably count on my fingers: think rape victims.

Enter former football player Herschel Walker, hand picked Republican MAGA candidate for U.S. Senate for the State of Georgia. Nearly every mainstream news outfit that I check daily has trumpeted Walker's presumed hypocrisy of allegedly paying a former partner for an abortion. If you came in late, Walker is running on a “no abortion under any circumstances” platform.

I'm no fan of the guy; if there were a national list of unqualified U.S. Senate candidates he would make the top 10, in my humble opinion, since there appears to be scant evidence that he has shown much interest in governance before being hand-picked by the floundering Trump machine to tip the Senate balance Republican. We've all seen the cancelled check on the news, along with the allegation by the same woman that she refused a second abortion and went on to bear his son. Walker has publicly denied both allegations.

The accuser does not fall into the protective parameters of anonymity; unless she fears some version of a MAGA hit squad, disclosing her identity would not likely cause her imprisonment, job loss, or some other dire repercussion. And since even the anonymous accuser states that Walker has met his court-ordered support obligations, he doesn 't appear to have broken any laws - except for the one that he now so passionately espouses. 

If traditional journalistic standards still applied, no one would have touched this story without the accuser's identity. If you're prepared to take down a U.S. Senate candidate for hypocrisy, tell us your name. And the bitter teenaged son? Really? If every teenager pissed off at his/her parent were granted air time or column inches to broadcast his or her complaints there wouldn't be anybody left to run for office.

I personally believe that Walker's candidacy is a cynical Republican move deserving of a landslide in favor of his Democratic challenger (even though I wouldn't put it past the Democratic powers that be to have located Walker's former partner in the first place).

His candidacy is an example of the cynicism that unfortunately festers in the heart of American politics these days.

But one key principle is at risk here: Herschel Walker is innocent until proven guilty. And dirt from an “anonymous” source, especially from an ex-partner, is not enough to qualify that dirt as deserving of news coverage. And if Democrats are somehow behind the disclosure, shame on them, too. 

If we the voters are incapable of voting for candidates with legitimate, provable bona fides, of separating the wheat from the chaff, we deserve the government we get.

Marilyn Davin

Walnut Creek

* * *



It was the ringing of the landline that woke me … one thirty in the morning … who could be calling at this hour? As I fumbled for my slippers and opened the bedroom door, something felt extremely wrong. Opening the door from the hallway onto the kitchen, my eyes beheld our property and front porch ablaze.

I yelled to Lynda that we were on fire. She yelled that the rear deck was burning, and we had to get out pronto.

We grabbed a bag that was ready for our planned holiday cruise, containing our passports and other vital items. After driving through the tunnel of fire that was Mark West Springs Road, we regrouped at Sutter Hospital, joining others, all of us in shock as we watched the fire march toward us, consuming everything in its path.

We decided to drive north to our family home in Ukiah, only to find the Redwood Valley Fire burning east of our residence. That night there was no sleeping. We thanked God we were alive and prayed for those in the path of devastation.

Our home in Riebli Valley has been rebuilt, our beautiful acreage nearly devoid of the once-tall evergreens. Lynda and I will never erase from our memories the near brush with death.

Michael Girard

Santa Rosa

* * *


To the Editor:

I just learned about World Day for Farmed Animals on October 2nd (Gandhi’s birth date). It has been around since 1983 and is meant to memorialize the billions of animals abused and killed for food each year.

Like many, I always considered farm animals only as a source of food. But, after recently watching the documentary ‘Speciesism,’ I realized that farm animals are much like our family pets, deserving of love and respect.

I’ve learned that farm animals get neither on today’s factory farms. Male baby chicks are ground up alive or suffocated in garbage bags. Hens are crowded in small wire cages that tear out their feathers. Breeding pigs spend their lives pregnant in metal cages. Calves are snatched from their mothers upon birth, so we can drink their milk.

The cruelty of factory farming drove me to replace animal products in my diet with plant-based meat and dairy items. I have since learned that my cruelty-free diet is also great for my health and for the health of our planet.

Lawson Jenkins


* * *



Sorry, the Post Office is doing the weirdest tricks with my AVA subscription. Nothing comes for weeks, and then three issues are in my box on the same day, so I'm way behind. Anyway, let's talk about books. 

Once, there were hundreds of books on my shelves, but may years ago I went on a book diet. Most books are bullshit anyway; they meander, they get boring, I fall asleep and never wake up. When I find that rare book that's worth reading, it's the beginning of a beautiful friendship. That book goes onto my very small bookshelf, and I re-read those same books in a cycle that won't end until I die. 

These are the few books on my eternal re-read shelf. Never noticed until prepping this list that most of them are science fiction, but it makes sense. Earth in the 21st Century is a gruesome, awful place, and I like escaping it. 

  • The God Delusion, by Richard Dawkins
  • About Time, by Jack Finney (sci-fi)
  • The Body Snatchers, by Jack Finney (sci-fi)
  • The Body Snatchers, by Jack Finney (I have two copies)
  • Time and Again, by Jack Finney (sci-fi)
  • The Man Who Folded Himself, by David Gerrold (sci-fi)
  • The Lathe of Heaven, by Ursula K LeGuin (sci-fi)
  • To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
  • Elmer Gantry, by Sinclair Lewis
  • Neutron Gun, mostly by Gerry Reith (short stories)
  • When You Reach Me, by Rebecca Stead (a kids' book, but sci-fi)
  • Roadside Picnic, by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky (sci-fi)
  • The Death Ship, by B Traven
  • Treasure of the Sierra Madre, by B Traven
  • Stoner, by John Williams

Doug Holland

Seattle, Washington

* * *



As promised in last week’s front page exchange with StandWithUs’s Michael Harris, I am responding to his “guilt by associations” attack on me with which he hoped to divert attention from the serious charges I had leveled against Israel and his organization in a previous issue. 

It is true that I not only spoke at events with Israeli Gilad Atzmon but even helped to organize one at a time I considered him my friend. In Israel, in the early Eighties, as part of Israel’s occupying forces in Lebanon, he had come upon, El Khaim, an Israeli prison complex in the south of the country in which Palestinian and Lebanese prisoners were kept in dog cages, not even four feet high, which made it literally impossible for those housed within them, to stand erect.

In 2007, on my fourth and last visit to Lebanon, I visited El Khaim. The now empty prison camp was still standing but the cages, though long emptied of prisoners, brought to mind the Zionist propaganda, peddled by the likes of Harris, that “the Israel Defense Forces is the most moral army in the world.” If one substitutes what I saw of them in Lebanon, the West Bank and Gaza, the word, sadistic, for moral, and limits the comparison to the so-called “developed” world, I would agree. Sharing the experience of seeing El Khaim for what it was and represented, coupled with Atzmon’s unconditional condemnation of Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land and the treatment of its people, with which I was and remain in complete accord, is what brought us together.

Unfortunately, Atzmon eventually went far beyond that, becoming an apologist for and friend to ex-Nazis, an advocate for the far right Catholic church under the Spanish fascist Francisco Franco, wrote favorably of David Duke who had previously embraced him, and, in his last book, pushed his idea of MAGA in the US, though not in those exact words, before Trump came on the scene. Atzmon’s degree of “self-hate,” which he not only acknowledged but was proud of, led him to see a Jewish conspiracy in everything, such as resistance to fascism in the Spanish civil war, which dominated his spiel the last time I saw him and walked out. My disgust with his presentation was shared by all of his long time admirers who had attended. He is one of only four Jews I have known or encountered who can legitimately be labeled “self-hating.” As a critic of Israel today, he is irrelevant. But “self-hating” remains the first accusation thrown at Jewish critics of Israel by its Jewish-American defenders in the absence of any genuine counter evidence they can present in Israel’s favor.

Harris then went on to attack Greta Berlin, an American woman who had once been married to a Palestinian and who has been active on behalf of the Palestinian cause for decades. One of her activities was helping to organize the Free Gaza Movement, a well-meaning effort a decade ago to break Israel’s now 17-year blockade of Gaza’s seashore with a flotilla of small boats containing medical supplies and shoes and clothing for the residents of that strip of land along the Mediterranean that numerous international observers and foreign journalists have described as “the world’s largest outdoor prison.” 

It is not surprising that Harris dismisses the Free Gaza Movement and its ultimately doomed effort as a “Hamas support network,” with Berlin as one of its founders. Predictably he offers no supporting evidence of that because there isn’t any. There are a number of international groups, the most prominent being Berkeley’s Middle East Children’s Alliance, that provide services to the people of Gaza. While Hamas, as could be expected, approves their work, they operate independently. I know, because I was there with a MECA delegation and never saw anyone from Hamas.

I do recall that Greta was accused of promoting a film that contained an element of “Holocaust denial” as opposed to it being a “Holocaust denial film,” which is a very different kettle of fish. Given the omnipresent references of the Nazi’s attempted genocide of Europe’s Jews in the US media, the most recent being a three part series on PBS by Ken Burns with its unforgettable images of the dead and the dying, only in the irrelevant, extreme corners of our society is it considered a hoax. 

In 16 countries in Europe, holocaust denial is considered a crime subjecting the denier to fines and/or imprisonment. That is not just a unique restriction on free speech or inquiry about an important historical event, but an inducement to those born long after the war ended and the concentration camps converted into museums and monuments, and who witness, via their computer screens, Israel’s never-ending atrocities against the Palestinians, to view the determination by Israel and its European lobbies to shut down any historical inquiry beyond the “officially approved narrative” as a Zionist cover-up. 

And to the extent that this narrative excludes pre-war collaboration and contacts between the Nazis and the Zionists, including a visit of Adolph Eichmann to Jerusalem hosted by the Haganah, the coining of a medallion, featuring a swastika on one side and a Star of David on the other, issued by the Nazi publication, Der Angriff, edited by Joseph Goebbels, celebrating another trip to Palestine by one of its editors, an SS colonel (an image easily found on the internet) and the Haavera (Transfer) Agreement which allowed German Jews to escape Germany for Palestine by buying German goods that would be delivered by Nazi flagships to them in Haifa, it was, at least, to far more than a negligible degree, a cover-up.

For daring to mention Eichmann’s pre-war visit and suggesting that the collaboration in the camps by Jewish officials with the Nazis made the ultimate death count greater, in her landmark report on his trial , “Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil,” the internationally recognized Jewish political philosopher, Hannah Arendt, ended up being virtually excommunicated by international Jewry.

The main target of Harris and StandWithUs in his response was Alison Weir, a onetime Bay Area based journalist whose organization (and website) If Americans Knew, has long been a thorn, albeit and sadly, a virtually lone thorn in the backside of the Israel Lobby which for all intents and purposes includes the entire Jewish political establishment and much of its religious components. Those who deny its power or insist that Evangelical Christians are now the Lobby’s largest component are simply dishonest or don’t know what they’re talking about. More likely, both.

The tens of millions of evangelicals don’t lobby. It’s a skill few have and still fewer have the check book balances and lobbying skills of the Jews that do. What they do do is vote, mostly in so-called Red States where their votes keep the Republican members in line. In past years, there have been one or two who have veered away from the Israeli Lockstep, Washington’s unofficial dance, but no more, with the sometime exception of Kentucky’s Sen. Rand Paul, son of former Rep. Ron Paul, who may have been the last House Republican critic.

Weir is a thorn in their butt but she is also a thorn in the butt not only of Harris’s StandWithUS and its ilk, but also in the behind of a group that has effectively co-opted the Palestinian solidarity movement that was never strong to begin with and from the beginning was hopelessly outmatched by the other side. Imagine Ukiah High against the New England Patriots with Tom Brady at his prime and you’ll get an idea of the difference. (If should be noted that if New England’s owner, Robert Kraft, is a patriot of any country it is Israel to which he has contributed millions, if not billions, all tax-exempt).

The co-opting organization is Jewish Voice for Peace, an organization founded by an Israeli-American married to an Israeli whose business was involved in policing Israel’s West Bank checkpoints. Come to think of it, Checkpoint, is the organization’s name.

As someone, with more than a half century working for justice in and for Palestine, I have essentially four criteria for determining whether an American organization claiming to be supportive of Palestinian rights is what it claims to be or a Zionist front or something in between, an organization that has been infiltrated by what can best be called Jewish tribalists. They don’t believe in a Jewish state but do believe in community solidarity and tend to be as sensitive to gestures, comments, or actions that might be perceived as anti-Semitic as much as any Zionist zealot, such as Michael Harris.

These criteria are (1) Calling for and acting to end all US aid and arm sales to Israel and tax-emptions for any non-profit charity that sends money to Israel for any use whatsoever. (Currently, thanks to Jewish lobbying pressure, the destinations of those funds are no longer made public). (2) Recognizing and speaking and acting publicly against organizations that represent and speak for Israel in the public sphere, from AIPAC and the Jewish Community Relations Councils to StandWithUs. (3) Calling out and identifying members of Congress, particularly liberal members who are “progressive on every issue but Palestine” and supporting local actions nationwide to get them to change their positions and (4) Speaking publicly and educating Americans about Israel’s attack on the USS Liberty, a Navy and NSA intelligence ship that was attacked over a two hour time frame on June 8, 1967, in international waters off the coasts of Israel and Egypt, which left 34 US sailors dead and 171 sailors wounded, with the survivors threatened with court-martial by Pres. Johnson if they talked about it publicly.

Jewish Voice for Peace has failed to deliver on every one of those issues, as has a sister organization, the US Campaign Against the Occupation, also founded by an Israeli-American, Josh Ruebner, whose dual identity I didn’t learn about for years. 

JVP prides itself on being the successor to a similar organization, New Jewish Agenda that appeared in the early Eighties the apparent goal of which was to neutralize legitimate Palestinian and Arab-American anger against Israel while pretending to be supportive of the Palestinian cause.

When I began speaking in the Bay Area about the power of the Israel Lobby, I became an NJA target to the point where even my old friend, Terrence “Kayo” Hallinan, who had been sucked into the Zionist vortex, called me a “loose cannon.”

In short, like JVP, despite the good intentions of many of its members, at the leadership level, it was a Zionist front and three letters that I have in my files, all on NJA letterhead make my case. The most important was from the NJA national office to its San Francisco chapter, threatening to kick it out of the national organization should it take a position against US aid to Israel. The letter suggested that the SF chapter take a cue from its chapter in Orange Co. which had taught the local Arab activists not to raise issues that were sensitive to Jews. Another letter was from seven leading members of the organization to David Salniker, the director of Pacifica Radio and an uber Zionist who had banned any mention of Zionism on the KPFA airwaves, asking that he remove an Israeli commentator, Amos Wollin, from the network’s programming because of what they claimed was his “anti-Israel bias.” The program that he was hosting dealt exclusively with Israeli politics and was utterly fascinating. It was the first and last radio program to be heard in the US on that subject. The third letter was from the head of the Sacramento chapter of NJA which called on KPFA to ban Lenni Brenner, a foremost anti-Zionist Jewish historian, from the station’s airwaves. The writer of that letter, David Mandel, who lived 10 years in Israel, is today the head of JVP in California.

I should point out that I learned from a reliable source, that at the time that JVP was formed in Berkeley in 1996, it began “monitoring” me because of my “obsession with the Lobby.”

That makes the fact that a JVP co-founder and chief spokesperson at the time, Mitchell Plitnick, turned down an invitation from KPFA to debate me on the role played by the Israel Lobby in fomenting the 2003 Iraq War, more readily comprehensible. By a remarkable coincidence, on the very night that KPFA was airing my debate on the subject with a stand-in, Stephen Zunes, a long time AIPAC apologist, Plitnick had scheduled an event in Mill Valley, in which he would argue that the Lobby had not been involved in planning for the war. Since then the evidence of its role in initiating the conflict has been overwhelming.

Now that I’ve established that Jewish Voice for Peace is not a serious supporter of the Palestinian cause, it should come as no surprise that the StandWithUs chapter in Contra Costa County would use the content of a vicious smear campaign it waged against Alison Weir in 2015 to prevent her speaking before the Mt. Diablo Peace Center.

Here is how Harry Clark reported on the event in the Sept. 9, 2016 CounterPunch:

“The scurrilous attack in summer, 2015 on Alison Weir and If Americans Knew by Jewish Voice for Peace and US Campaign to End the Occupation, has threatened Weir and her audiences with violence. On March 30, Weir spoke at the Walnut Creek, CA public library, about her book Against Our Better Judgment, about Zionist influence on foreign policy. A few weeks before, Weir had been warned by Walnut Creek police of hateful on-line incitement to disrupt the talk; the threat referred to the JVP-USC material against Weir. The Walnut Creek Parks and Recreation Department received phone calls from people planning to protest the talk.

“The talk, sponsored by the Mount Diablo Peace and Justice Center and Rossmoor Voices for Justice in Palestine, was well-attended, including by members of StandWithUs, an Israel propaganda outfit. They protested with signs and handed out fliers, also referring to the JVP/USC material. At the talk, five protestors seated themselves in the front row, and more stood at the back of the hall holding signs. 

“During the talk, SWU protestors shouted repeatedly at Weir, prompting some audience members to call for them to stop. Only by speaking loudly, directly into the microphone, could Weir make herself heard.

“Helen Lowenstein of SWU, a significant donor to pro-Israel organizations, according to Weir, was escorted from the hall by Walnut Creek police. She “swiped at” an audience member who was recording her, and was arrested and taken away in handcuffs. The Bay Area Jewish press decried an outbreak of anti-Semitism in their version of events. As of this writing, the Contra Costa County district attorney’s office has not prosecuted Lowenstein.” 

If one wanted to argue, as I have, that the Israel Lobby can be legitimately described as fifth column in the US, StandWithUS more than qualifies for such a characterization. In 2014, it was reported on the site, Mondoweiss that SWU had its own special web site, accessible only to SWU members with a special password that contained dossiers on pro-Palestinian activists plus questions to ask them when they appeared in an SWU member’s vicinity. After that report was published the site seemed to have disappeared but it should be apparent from Harris’s response that SWU’s imitation of the East German Stasi is still flourishing.

But what was really so “toxic” about Alison Weir that would have Harris write “that even Jewish Voice for Peace, which promotes an astonishing litany of lies and libels about Israel, [providing appropriate cover for a sister organization] won’t work with her?”

First, she more than meets all of the four criteria previously mentioned that JVP failed. While her If Americans Knew website produces daily reports on Israeli violence against Palestinians, her speaking engagements are largely geared to ordinary Americans who have no vested interest in either Israel or Palestine or the outcome of that conflict, a section of the public that JVP has admitted, indirectly, that it ignores, but who might care about their tax money is being used to send billions of weapons to a foreign state and who just might become angry when learning, for the first time, in most cases, about Israel’s attack on the USS Liberty 55 years ago, the treason of Pres. Johnson who recalled the jet fighters from the aircraft carrier sent to defend them, and the decades of cover-ups by a US government and Congress held in thrall by the government of Israel and its American fifth column in which Michael Harris and his StandWithUS appear to be eagerly enrolled.

What I would also postulate, recalling the negative reaction on the part of the American Jewish political establishment to the Camp David peace accord between Israel and Egypt in 1978 which Pres. Carter forced, to some degree on both Menachem Begin and Anwar Sadat is that the Israel Lobby has a vested self-interest in perpetuating conflict in the Middle East with Israel at its center. Were the political spokespeople of American Jewry against peace in the Middle East between Israel and its enemies? The answer, in short, was yes, and it still is, for what gives the Jewish mucky-mucks their power and influence in Washington is that Israel’s conflicts with the Palestinians, the Lebanese Hezbollah, Syria and Iran are ongoing and whenever attempts have actually been made to dial down these struggles, they have encountered powerful Jewish opposition.

One afternoon, back in the last century, I attended a book event at the Jewish Community Center in San Francisco. The author was an American Jewish journalist Richard Ben Cramer, the book title long forgotten, who had covered the Middle East, but it was something that CSPAN thought worth covering. The subject of the discussion was the Israel-Palestine conflict, about which Ben Cramer seemed quite knowledgeable.

So when the time arrived for questions from the audience, I asked what he thought would happen to the Israel Lobby if, by some chance, there would be peace between Israelis and Palestinians?

“It would evaporate overnight,” he replied.

Jeff Blankfort


Be First to Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *