Poli Sci professor dissects former Bio professor’s “false flag” letter

When I read this RG letter from retired UO Bio professor Frank Stahl I didn’t understand what the hell he was trying to say. UO Poli Sci professor Gerry Berk did, and he does us all a service by explaining how it fits into the history of anti-Semitic thought. In the RG here:

We find Frank Stahl’s letter chilling (“Anti-Semitism or false-flag setups?” March 12). Stahl seems to suggest that Zionists, people who believe in Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state, are behind the bomb threats toward Jewish day schools and institutions, and the defacing of Jewish cemeteries, as a way to garner pro-Israeli sentiment here in the U.S.

As Jews, we experience these ideas as deeply threatening. The letter conflates reasoned debate over Israeli settlement policy with paranoid assumptions of powerful and immoral Jews secretly manipulating public opinion for their own nefarious ends, stereotypes that have always undergirded the anti-Semitic imagination.

Given the rise of anti-Semitic acts in Eugene and Portland, Stahl’s letter serves two purposes. First, like disturbing remarks emerging from the White House, it emboldens those who wish to perpetrate hate crimes. Second, it exacerbates the fear and insecurity that is now a fact of life for the local Jewish community.

We recognize The Register-Guard’s commitment to free speech in deciding to print professor Stahl’s letter. In addition, we call upon the editorial board to publicly condemn anti-Semitism and to express its commitment to combatting threats against the Jewish community of Eugene.

Toward that end, we also ask The Register-Guard to publicly condemn Stahl’s letter for perpetuating centuries-old stereotypes of Jews.

In a time when so many minority groups face violence and insecurity, it’s critical that The Register-Guard express publicly its commitment to balance free speech with its responsibility to guard the safety of all of Eugene’s citizens.


Response received 3/16/2017, from Frank Stahl:


You wrote:  “When I read this RG letter from retired UO Bio professor Frank Stahl I didn’t understand what the hell he was trying to say. UO Poli Sci professor Gerry Berk did, and he does us all a service by explaining how it fits into the history of anti-Semitic thought. In the RG here:”. When you did so,  you were clearly aiming to fill your role of service to the community.  If you really want to do it right , you will now publish the following:

Why I made that infamous suggestion:

By Franklin W Stahl

Preface: If I were to have written the infamous letter with what I know today and with the advice of my editor, this is how it would have read.

As readers know, this winter there was a wave of anti-Semitic incidents across North America. I want to know why that happened. Some have blamed it on “Trumpism”, and that makes some sense to me.  However, Trump’s lack of PC is not accompanied by overt anti-Semitic expressions. This contrasts with his explicit characterizations of Muslims as terrorists and Latins as rapists and murderers.  Furthermore, when I take note of Trump’s Jewish family connections, I wonder whether “Trumpism” is the best hypothesis. In these circumstances, the obvious thing (to a scientist) is to do some research.

         The oft-mentioned, and sometimes-denied, historic connections between Zionism and anti-Semitism seemed worth looking into. This is some of what I found:

A central problem for the Zionist movement when trying to establish a Jewish state was the convincing of European Jews that they should pull up their roots and transplant themselves to Palestine. It is very human (unfortunately) that when the carrot fails, a stick may be applied. In that regard, Joseph Massad of Columbia University, a highly-praised scholar, wrote:

 “Herzl [Austro-Hungarian journalist and ‘Father of Israel’] would conclude in his Diaries that ‘the anti-Semites will become our most dependable friends, the anti-Semitic countries our allies’. These were not slips or errors but indeed a long-term strategy that Zionism and Israel continue to deploy to this very day.”.

http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2012/12/201212249122912381.html) ).

 A second reference is always desirable. This one is from a book by Israel Shahak, an Israeli holocaust survivor, professor of organic Chemistry at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and highly regarded student of Judaic history:

 “In fact, close relations have always existed between zionists and antisemites: exactly like some of the European conservatives, the zionists thought they could ignore the ‘demonic’ character of antisemitism and use the antisemites for their own purposes. Many examples of such alliances are well known. Herzl allied himself with the notorious Count von Plehve, the antisemitic minister of Tsar Nicholas II;27 Jabotinsky made a pact with Petlyura, the reactionary Ukrainian leader whose forces massacred some 100,000 Jews in 1918–21; Ben-Gurion’s allies among the French extreme right during the Algerian war included some notorious antisemites who were, however, careful to explain that they were only against the Jews in France, not in Israel.” (Shahak, Israel. Jewish History, Jewish Religion: The Weight of Three Thousand Years)

 But, the need to attract Jews to Palestine did not end with the declaration of the State of Israel in 1948. “In light of the new post-war period that saw the end of state-sponsored antisemitism, the Zionists set out to attack Jews in a number of countries and to conjure up the specter of anti-Semitism in countries that opposed Zionism. In Iraq, the Israeli Mossad planted bombs in synagogues, libraries and cafes in the early 1950s, which killed and injured Iraqi Jews and spread panic amongst them that Iraqi Muslims and Christians were targeting them.”  (Joseph Massad)

 If the newly formed State were to achieve its Founders’ goal of conforming to the Kingdom of David and Solomon, many more Jews would be needed. This under-population problem was exacerbated by the greater birth rate of the Arab than of the Jewish population of Palestine. That fact not only stands in the way of today’s Israeli imperialist ambitions, but may soon threaten the very existence of the present Jewish state.

There is expectation in Israel that these antisemitic incidents will increase immigration:


. However, whether false flags have, in fact, been involved, I cannot personally assert. But we all know that governments will use false-flag operations to achieve their desired goals. That unpleasant fact of life was impressed on me by personal experience (no, Bill, not the sinking of the USS Maine):

In 2002-3, it was obvious (to some) that the threatened invasion of Iraq by America was being sold on a lie of Iraqi possession of world-threatening weapons of mass destruction. Of course, the idea that an American government would lie to Americans to justify an inevitable loss of American lives was inconceivable to many Americans. (But lie they did, at the DoD-estimated cost of 4,424 total deaths and 31,952 wounded as of June 29, 2016.)

Our efforts to alert the UO and Eugene to that impending disaster provoked some nasty responses. In making the suggestion that the recent wave of apparent antisemitism might also be a lie, I am well aware that I will upset many in the University, the town, and, possibly, among my own friends. I am also aware that I might be made uncomfortable, but that’s my problem. As a scientist, the search for truth can sometimes be uncomfortable to all concerned.

When the perpetrators of the recent anti-Semitic threats/acts are apprehended, as I hope they will be, we may gain a clearer picture. If, in fact, Israel is shown to have employed false-flag tactics to boost immigration from America or reduce emigration from Israel, we can all hope that the resulting anxiety will soon be allayed and be grateful that loss of life has apparently been nil.  

I hope very strongly that these anti-Semitic events do not indicate a rise in American anti-Semitism.  Such a rise would lead to an appalling disruption in the lives of Jewish citizens and an unimaginable loss to the entire country. In this regard I am heartened by recent reports,  based on information from the NYPD and federal investigators, that most, at least, of the telephoned threats were delivered by one person and this person was residing outside the United States 

 https://worldisraelnews.com/one-man-behind-threats-us-jewish-institutions-investigators-say/ and    http://www.cnn.com/2017/03/10/us/nypd-intel-official-jcc-threats/ 

Apparently, the acts of antisemitism are less nationwide than first characterized and most may not be home-grown. This winter’s “wave” of American antisemitism may not even be a ripple.

Let’s pray for peace.


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19 Responses to Poli Sci professor dissects former Bio professor’s “false flag” letter

  1. honest Uncle Bernie says:

    Frank Stahl’s letter made me very sad, as well as upset. Sad because he is one of UO’s most distinguished scientists. I have wondered why he hasn’t won a Nobel.

    Sad, too, because I have to wonder if he’s OK. But that is better than the alternative explanations.


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  2. Deborah Green says:

    Thank you to Gerry Berk, the JCRC, and the Jewish Federation. And a big thank you to UO Matters for addressing this problem on this website. Jews are not attacking themselves. Zionists are not attacking Jews. Racists are attackimg Jews, and Frank’s letter fans the flames.

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    • UO Matters says:

      Yeah, I thought this was important enough to squeeze in before the next athletics scandal hits. And, at a time when many call for banning offensive speech, I was impressed by how Berk defended the importance of the right to free speech at the same time he explained why he thought this letter was so pernicious.

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  3. Andy Stahl says:

    As reported by CNN, the New York Police Department’s Counterterrorism chief has evidence that the many threatening phone calls to Jewish community centers originate from a single individual located overseas.

    One extra-territorial person using spoofing technology does not a rise in U.S. anti-Jewish sentiment make. OTOH, NYPD’s evidence is not inconsistent with the thesis that this rash of threat calls is foreign, state-sponsored terrorism. Stahl, Sr., asks “Which state?” and suggests Israel has the means, motive, and opportunity.

    The community center threats have been reported since late January, after Trump’s inauguration. I can’t think of a more existential threat to Israel than an isolationist, nationalist, America-First President who wants to cut foreign aid. Sprinkle in some spicy speculation that Trump is a Russian tool, and Israel may think it faces the perfect political shit storm. Drastic times would require drastic, but hardly unprecedented for the Mossad, measures.

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    • I mean, really? says:

      It doesn’t really help your argument when the source you cite directly contradicts your claim.

      From the CNN article:
      “On Thursday, John Miller said one person is behind most of the bomb threats, while others have been perpetrated by copycats.”

      Others have been perpetrated by copycats.

      Others have been perpetrated by *copycats.*

      Hrm. I wonder who those people are? Maybe people with anti-Semitic sentiments?

      Nah, couldn’t be.

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    • Focused anger cuts says:

      The claim by Frank Stahl was not that many of the bomb threats were by a single individual overseas.

      It was that the attacks were false flag operations intended to increase support for the State of Israel.

      The report linked to by Stahl the Younger provides zero evidence to support Stahl the Elder’s outrageous claim.

      Also, there have been no less than 148 documented incidents. Even taking the CNN piece at face value and ignoring the fact it does not support Stahl the Elder’s outrageous charge, this still leaves dozens and dozens of anti-Semitic incidents in several months. That does make for a rise, according to various organizations tracking such things.

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        • Frank Stahl says:

          Dog’s comment “the rise, documented” is not well supported out by the data in the article. For the last three months (the subject of the infamous letter), no data are reported. For the years 2014 and 2015, For overall incidents, the P value (Chi square probability that two such values could come from the SAME universe) is 0.52. For vandalism, P = 0.64. For Harrasements, P = 0.89, and goes down instead of up. For assaults, P = 0.048, which, if assaults had been the only class measured, would be considered marginally significant by most biologists; otherwise, I suspect, not. To call the rise in assaults “dramatic” is painful puffery. Perhaps a better statistician than I will comment on the data.

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          • dog says:

            dogs don’t understand statistics, what did you expect

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    • honest Uncle Bernie says:

      Frankly, Andy, it seems to run in the family ….

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  4. UO Matters says:

    Editor’s note: I’m now getting a blitz of comments on this with various links and lengthy explanations, on both sides. I don’t have the time to wade through them, so please don’t be surprised if your comments (or your spambot’s comments?), don’t appear.

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  5. honest Uncle Bernie says:

    I guess those overturned Jewish gravestones must be due to that overseas caller? Or perhaps Mossad agents operating in the United States?

    That guy in Missouri a year or so back in the fatal attack on Jewish facilities? (Who turned out to be Christian, rather than Jewish).

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  6. Frank Stahl says:

    Dear Bernie, Please read my response (“Why I made that infamous suggestion:”) which follows directly after Gerald Berk’s letter. It, like the one published in the RG, refers only to the increase in (“wave”) of antisemitic activity in America during this (almost) past winter. In no way does it relate to the origin of all antisemitic activity in America or even to all antisemitic activity during the past winter. Let’s stay on subject.

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    • honest Uncle Bernie says:

      Yes, Frank, the Mossad revved things up this winter.

      Please stop.

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  7. Anonymous says:

    So yeah, about that…
    “Israel’s Cyberattack Unit Arrests Israeli-American Teen for ‘Hundreds’ of Bomb Threats Against Jewish Institutions Worldwide”

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  8. Hire Ed says:

    Yes, I am wondering if anyone is going to have the courage to revisit this thread, walk back their condemnations of Professor Stahl, and acknowledge how they have contributed to damaging his reputation… all for having the audacity to make controversial (though factual and carefully-measured) statements. Too many people reacted to what they thought they heard, and were simply ready to dismiss an old man as having succumbed to conspiracy theories.

    Moreover, it seems to me that too much of the UO and Eugene-Springfield communities are far too ready to jump on white professors of a certain age who take controversial stances, not remembering who these people have been and what they have stood for over time!

    Nancy Shurtz and Frank Stahl both deserve better than they have received this year, in particular from their colleagues. Both of them have had the courage to stand in the winds of popular blowback and not retaliate against two-dimensional attacks on their character.

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