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photo by Manny Berkal- Sarbit


by Harriet Berkal,January 15, 2019

Sound too outlandish for you? Too ridiculous and well beyond benign? Really? Even in a day when there are people out there claiming all sorts of bizarre and outrageous denials - like The Holocaust never happened? This all said with survivors, documentary footage and even veterans who responded to the horrors of what they found in the camps. Well, there is a President who sure likes to talk a lot about fake news opening the pandora’s box of democratic speech.


However, the power of a conspiracy theory should not be overlooked or discounted. It may appeal to those on the periphery of society who may succumb to believing and sometimes act or blame others for their plight in life. We recently witnessed this in the shooting of 11 Jews at The Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. The assailant was radicalized into believing that “All Jews must die.” He referenced HIAS the Jewish nonprofit which aids in resettling refugees. This served as a threat in his mind, that nonwhite immigrants would slaughter the white race. (


I, on the other hand, can prove that I was born-daughter to the late Rabbi Louis Berkal, grew up in Winnipeg, was educated here, married, have children and am the COO of a boutique financial company. It’s all tangible. But a talented conspirator might convince you otherwise. To underestimate these types

of people who often spew dangerous concocted aberrations, herein lies the danger. Certain segments of society gravitate to certain theories; perhaps they are anti-establishment or authority types; maybe they were slighted by a government department or a pharmaceutical company angered them; and some may just be seeking an outlet for their anger or discontentment in life.


Personally, I have only ever met one individual who was a self-proclaimed conspiracy theorist, it was the late Barry Chamish, well known for his conspiracy theories about the death of Israeli President, Yitzhak Rabin- killed in 1995.  Chamish  was friends with my husband Larry, and a circle of others, way back in university days.  My husband was in his first bridal party.  Barry had immigrated to Israel in 1975. In 1979, he came back to visit Winnipeg and saw us at our apartment on Roslyn Road.


What is a conspiracy theorist like? I’m not sure as my interaction was beyond bizarre. He liked to smoke, and Larry offered to run out to get him cigarettes while I visited with him. What came next, was surreal. I avoided talking about his books and fanaticism with the Israeli government. He approached me on the small couch and started to kiss me. Okay, so he clearly didn’t like boundaries, but hitting on your best friend’s girlfriend just isn’t cool. I quickly pushed him aside and told him to stop. He had the nerve to suggest we might meet up to continue this.


Larry returned, and I suggested the two fellows go out. Afterwards I told Larry what had transpired, as I don’t like secrets and have an aversion about concealing the truth. He wasn’t all that shocked, but this did damper the relationship. They in fact lost touch with one another. 


On August 23, 2016, Chamish, was found dead in his Florida residence.

The Jeruslaem Post reported that "Soon after Barry Chamish died on August 23 at the age of 64, rumors spread across the Internet that he was assassinated." The Post's article also said that Chamish died "in his home in Florida from heart failure with no evidence of foul play. Some of his followers speculated that at last, 'they got to him.' "
Israel National News reported that  Chamish died of "an apparent heart attack." In the same article Israel National News reported that "After publishing his theory regarding the Rabin assassination, Chamish claimed to be the victim of a long-running campaign of harassment by the Shin Bet, which he accused of targeting him for his role in exposing the conspiracy."


Chamish was also known for his writings on aliens/UFO sightings and interactions in Israel. 


Conspiracy theories range in some of the following areas: aviation (Malaysia Flight MH370, business and industry; Deaths and disappearances ( The Sherman Murder); Espionage ( Israeli animal spying); Race and Religion ( Anti- Catholicism- some felt that Catholics were taking over the world prompted by the Catholic immigration in the 19th century- these fears have been linked to JFK.); Government , politics and conflict ( Sandy Hook, Clintons, Obamas Illuminati); Medicine  ( vaccinations, cures for cancer, fluoridation,); to Science and Technology ( Global Warming, Flat Earth, RFID chips) etc. 


It’s not hard to come up with a conspiracy theory at all. You might even be able to hypothesize behind the scene dynamics at play. But the truth often gets contorted, concealed or is conveyed accurately but later questioned.


Scary stuff folks and we are seeing how far people can go when they start to believe information floating out in cyberspace and it can strongly influence their behavior.


So, I leave you with this- If Harriet Berkal doesn’t exist – then, who indeed is actually writing this article? 



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