Michael Palombo, the Albuquerque coffee shop owner accused of writing an anti-Semitic screed and posting it on Facebook, finally came clean.
“Yes, I did write it,” Palombo said Monday in a telephone interview. “That was in a moment of anger.”
Palombo abandoned his claim that unknown enemies had hacked his account and framed him. There was no conspiracy, only a 51-year-old businessman with a warped view of history and the recklessness to share it with the world.
In his Facebook post, Palombo criticized the business practices of his Jewish landlord. Then he expanded his attack on Jews in general and tried to rationalize the crimes of Adolf Hitler.
Palombo called Jews “[expletive] animals that deserve everything that has happen to them and don’t deserve our sorrow for what has happen to them.”
There was more. All of it was just as ugly.
This led many people to call for a boycott of Palombo’s store, V Roast Bistro at 3904 Central Ave. SE.
Palombo said he plans to shutter the business, though not because of what he wrote about Jews.
“My wife’s been wanting me to close it for a while,” he said, mentioning a grinding workload.
For now, though, the coffee shop is still in business. And Palombo remains a public enemy to many people.
Saul Hoffman, whose grandparents in Poland escaped Hitler’s Holocaust, was unmoved by Palombo’s admission and apology.
“Given the guy’s character, it’s tough to believe he’s sorry,” Hoffman said Monday, also in a phone interview.
Hoffman lives in the same neighborhood where Palombo runs his coffee shop. They met casually years ago, had a cordial interaction and became friends on Facebook.
This allowed Hoffman to see Palombo’s writings on the social media site. Many bothered him.
The worst was the recent one in which Palombo stated that Jews themselves behaved so badly that Hitler’s Nazi Germany was justified in its attempt at genocide.
“My first reaction was ‘Come here and say that to my face,’ ” Hoffman said.
He called television stations in Albuquerque to alert them to Palombo’s posting. Cameras and crews were soon in front of Palombo’s shop.
He was on the spot, and he couldn’t have been worse at handling public scrutiny.
Instead of telling the truth, Palombo compounded his anti-Semitic attack with a wild story. He claimed someone else had written the vitriol against Jews and then posted it under his name.
Hoffman doubts Palombo would have admitted to anything without all the negative attention he received.
“Had this moved on and nobody had made a big stink, there would have been no apology,” Hoffman said. “If he had lived in another city, it wouldn’t have resonated with me so much, but this was happening in my own neighborhood. I had to say something.”
Palombo has run his coffee shop for 5½ years, the last 18 months on Central Avenue. The quality of his service and his coffee no longer gets much attention.
He will be remembered mostly for his views on Jewish people. That will hold true regardless of whether he remains in business or follows through on his stated plan to close the store.
Soon enough, everyone will know what he did and how he tried to cover it up.
Is there a winner in a sordid mess such as this?
I believe so.
It’s the community that turned its wrath on a businessman who spewed anti-Semitisim.
For the moment at least, Palombo is a model of contrition. Maybe the truth set him free.
Ringside Seat is an opinion column about people, politics and news. Contact Milan Simonich at firstname.lastname@example.org or 505-986-3080.