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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.' "
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