The May 28, 2009 issue of the Daily Planet ran an article by Joanna Graham that claimed Jews represent only 4% of Berkeley’s population at the very most, and therefore such local Jewish concerns as anti-Semitism in Berkeley’s local paper, the Daily Planet, can be safely ignored. For the record, the Jewish population of Berkeley is responsibly estimated to be 20 – 25%.
Is it also true that blacks comprise only 4% of Berkeley’s population? Of course not. Nor is Berkeley’s population 80% Burmese, nor 75% Algerian, nor is it only 1% white. We would have hoped that Becky O’Malley would instantly
recognize such hoaxes and have the good sense to throw away submitted articles or letters that make preposterous claims such as these. O’Malley’s alleged addiction to “free speech” does not require the Daily Planet to publish false information.
Moreover, when the Daily Planet receives patently false information does it not make its editor wonder what would be the motive? Would not racism be at the core of a letter that claimed that only 4% of Berkeley’s residents are black; especially if the author had a history of making racist remarks? If the DP were to publish such a letter, would we not wonder if, in turning a blind eye to this falsehood, it was not also complicit in this racism?
Any Berkeley resident should instantly know Graham’s 4% figure to be false. Graham even lays out her erroneous logic, namely that Jews represent only 2% of the American population, and therefore even if you double this, that gives 4% at most. In fact, Jews are estimated at 3% of the U.S. population, but, much moe importantly, Jews don’t live everywhere with remotely similar frequency. They are represented in much higher relative numbers in the Bay Area than in, for example, Kansas. Then in the Bay Area there are vastly more in some areas than in others; for example, there are many more in Berkeley than in Richmond or Antioch. The leading authority of American Jewish demography is the recently deceased, Gary Tobin. He put Berkeley’s Jewish population at about five times Graham’s claim. The Jewish Federation of the East Bay estimates that 100,000 Jews live in the East Bay, with about 25,000 living in Berkeley, and many more within the Daily Planet’s area of distribution. If you live in or near the Berkeley Hills, in Rockridge, around Solano, around College Ave., or are a student at CAL, you are either Jewish yourself or know quite well that many or most of your neighbors are.
Four percent at the very most? Then who are all those people standing in the long lines of Berkeley’s annual Jewish Film Festival, and who are those people that attend Berkeley’s annual Jewish Music Festival in droves? Why are there at least twelve Berkeley venues for High Holiday services? How can the local Jewish bookstore, Afiqomin, stay in business when Cody’s, Black Oak, and B&N have closed? How can there be over 1000 attendees at the annual local AIPAC dinner? Why does Hillel estimate that there are over 4,000 students at UCB (that would be 4% of Berkeley’s population right there)?
Finally, if there are virtually no Jews in Berkeley, why does the Berkeley Daily Planet expend so much ink on Berkeley’s Jewish problem?