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San Francisco prosecutor who sent anti-Arab emails retires

Prosecutor and former mayor of Martinez, Michael Menesini, retired from his decadelong post April 1.

A man pats another man on the shoulder.
Assistant District Attorney Michael Menesini greets San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee on Nov. 9, 2011. | Source: Jeff Chiu/AP Photo

A veteran San Francisco prosecutor and former Martinez mayor—whose emails calling Arabs “hate mongers” who should leave Israel and “go back to their homeland” sparked outrage in February—has left his post at the District Attorney’s Office, according to the city. 

After his emails sent to CounterPunch magazine surfaced on Twitter, Michael Menesini, who worked as a prosecutor in San Francisco for decades, was condemned by the District Attorney’s Office. 

“Mr. Menesini’s communications regarding his personal views with CounterPunch do not reflect the views of the District Attorney or the District Attorney’s Office,” a DA spokesperson said in a statement at the time. 

The result of the DA’s subsequent inquiry into the incident has not been made public, and the office did not respond to a request for comment on Friday. 

Menesini, who quietly retired April 1, could not be reached for comment. 

The Correspondence  

In the email correspondence sent in January and February, Menesini bridled at CounterPunch magazine’s critique of Israel’s war in Gaza, calling it antisemitic, while he attacked Arabs. 

“You are so virulently antisemitic that all of what you publish has no credibility,” Menesini emailed CounterPunch on Jan. 31.

The email was in response to a story by the publication with a headline about South Africa’s International Criminal Court case alleging Israel committed genocide in Gaza.

The editor responded, saying that half of his staff is Jewish.

“Your response reminds me of the too common refrain ‘I have black friends, so how can I be racist?’” Menesini wrote. 

On Feb. 5, Menesini sent another email about a story titled “Are Palestinians the New Jews?” which compared Israel’s war in Gaza to the Holocaust.

“Brutal Arab invaders need to be sent back to their native homelands and out of Israel and Judea where they can freely engage in their hate fests along with other anti-Jewish hate mongers, the Nazis, fascists and…Ask the Berbers of North Africa about their experience with oppressive Arab invaders,” Menesini wrote.

Berbers are Indigenous people of North Africa, which was invaded by Muslim Arab armies in the eighth century.

CounterPunch’s managing editor Joshua Frank put the emails on Twitter in February. 

"Obviously, he was offended by something that we published,” Frank told The Standard soon after he tweeted the emails. Calling someone antisemitic because they criticize Israel is an unfair way to silence dissent. 

Impartial DA?

The affair has raised questions about the office’s impartiality in the criminal cases related to past and future Palestinian solidarity protests, Lara Kiswani with the Arab Resource and Organizing Center said. 

In October, DA Brooke Jenkins tweeted that a pro-Palestinian march in San Francisco was pro-Hamas. "This weekend a pro-Hamas rally was held downtown, where 'Death 2 Israel,' amongst other hateful rhetoric, was graffitied across a building," Jenkins wrote. She later removed the tweet.