ADL blasts Coastal Post over editorial

Do Jews hold a “death grip on the media and universities”? Is organized Jewry a “swarm” made up of “gnats,” such as Emory University professor Deborah Lipstadt, that attack and consume its foes?

Those contentions and others in a recent editorial in the Coastal Post, a monthly paper published in Bolinas, are drawing criticism from the Anti-Defamation League and the Marin Jewish community.

The controversial editorial by Israel Shamir, headlined “Carter and the Swarm — Daring the Wrath of the Jewish Lobby,” appeared in last month’s issue of the Coastal Post.

Shamir, who claims on his Web site to be a Russian Israeli writer living in Jaffa, Israel, is a strong advocate for a one-state solution for Israel and Palestinians. A Swedish citizen who changed his name from Jöran Jermas, Shamir was described by Searchlight Magazine as “a Swedish anti-Semitic writer” who has fabricated certain parts of his background.

Shamir used former President Jimmy Carter’s recent book “Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid” as a stepping-off point for his diatribe in the Coastal Post, which publishes submitted articles. Shamir’s editorial targeted a group of “super-chauvinist Jews” that are “the power pushing for war” and “Jewish media lords … that clinch the party line.”

The editorial also sympathized with Roger Garaudy, an author whom the ADL labels a Holocaust denier.

Jonathan Bernstein, the director of the ADL’s Central Pacific Region, said the Coastal Post publisher has run “many pieces” that are “certainly negative toward Israel and blatantly anti-Semitic.”

Added Bernstein: “This time we felt this was so over the top and clearly anti-Semitic that we had to respond.”

Bernstein wrote a detailed letter to Coastal Post publisher Don Deane. The three-page letter outlined the ADL’s concerns and requested that such concerns be taken into account when deciding whether to publish similar articles in the future.

“We publish a lot of controversial stories and I very much support people to write about their differing views … which is an old tradition in this country,” Deane said of the ruckus over Shamir’s editorial. “Beyond that, I don’t have any comment.”

Bernstein said this isn’t the first time he’s received complaints about articles with an anti-Semitic tone in the Coastal Post, which boasts on its Web site that its print version has 80,000 readers per month.

“I think this is really another example of how extreme criticism of Israel can often bleed into anti-Semitism,” Bernstein said. “What I would like to see happen is for progressive leaders to speak up more. By not speaking up, they end up endorsing this hateful message.”

Vanessa Wager, public relations associate for Whole Foods markets in Northern California, acknowledged that there had been complaints about the article at the company’s Mill Valley store, where copies of the Coastal Post are placed in a free literature area.

“Once we heard from our shoppers that there had been this negative reaction … the management in Mill Valley decided to pull the issue,” Wager said. “We don’t have plans to ban it, but that is still up for consideration.”

Meanwhile, the author of the editorial, Shamir, defended his views in an email response.

As to the ADL’s accusation of Shamir promoting stereotypes such as a world-controlling cabal and “Jewish media lords,” Shamir wrote in his email, “There is a good, hard way to fight unpleasant stereotypes: to act contrary to stereotype.”