How the BBC got Duped by Anti-Zionist Blogger Richard Silverstein
by Adam Levick
Richard Silverstein is one of the more shrill and dishonest commentators in a very crowded anti-Zionist blogosphere and – as the title of his blog, Tikkun Olam, (To heal the world) suggests – continues to make a mockery of such self-styled progressive bloggers.
Several months ago, for instance, he thought nothing of exposing the identity of a Zionist blogger – including his address – potentially placing his entire family at risk.
For those unfamiliar with his brand of “liberalism” and “social justice”, it includes expressions of support for a one-state solution, defenses of terror groups like Hamas, and characterizations of IDF soldiers as “bestial” and “subhuman“.
He has even likened Israel to Nazi Germany.
More recently, Silverstein engaged in a horrendous smear of Jewish Chronicle editor Stephen Pollard, suggesting that The JC knowingly associated with BNP member Carlos Cortiglia – a claim which is beyond ludicrous and grossly defamatory.
Silverstein’s original story about the row over Cortiglia (which he later slightly revised) even suggested that the BNP candidate had been hired as “a columnist” by The JC. In fact, as we reported at the time, The JC originally had an open blogging platform which allowed literally anyone to post, including Cortiglia. But, as soon as Pollard was alerted to the BNP membership affiliation of Cortiglia they immediately barred his access to The JC site.
Even the revised post at Silverstein’s blog still shamelessly claimed (in the caption under the photo of Cortiglia) that The JC “offered“ the white supremacist a blogging platform, which was a complete lie.
So, with such a disgraceful record of smears, distortions, outright lies (and various false “scoops”) – in the service of his anti-Israel political agenda – why on earth would any mainstream, “respectable” media outlet legitimize Silverstein?
Well, perhaps we should ask the BBC which, on Wednesday, saw fit to publish a story lending credibility to Richard Silverstein’s post “Bibi’s secret war plan“ – a post which he claims was based on information he received from a high-level Israeli source.
The report at the BBC claims that Silverstein has been leaked a document from the IDF detailing the possible methods of an upcoming attack on Iran.
“…a US blogger has published what he says are Israel’s attack plans.
Richard Silverstein told the BBC he had been given an internal briefing memo for Israel’s eight-member security cabinet, which outlined what the Israeli military would do to prevent Iran developing nuclear weapons.”
The BBC then details, per Silverstein’s “briefing”, the detailed plan of Israel’s “planned” 30-day war against Iran.
As The Commentator explains:
“The problem is, while Silverstein is quick to publish information he ‘receives’, the veracity of such information can of course never be verified. The BBC has not seen the so-called documents that Silverstein purports to have, nor has it double-sourced any information of the sort.
It appears that Silverstein has been duped into thinking that some text on a Hebrew forum was some kind of coded message or secret document, though he excuses the fact that he is quoting almost verbatim from the forum [which used open source information] by stating on his blog that, ‘My original IDF source may have leaked the post to someone at Fresh [forum]. But whoever published it there embellished it with much material that is not in the original document.'”
The BBC, despite being unable to verify any information beyond that of a blogpost, has run full pelt with the story, interviewing Silverstein on several occasions and quoting him widely.”
Regarding his post’s overlap with the Hebrew forum, Silverstein responded by writing:
“Contrary to claims made by many in the hasbarafia at sites like Harry’s Place and CIF Watch, anyone who actually reads the Fresh post and compares it to what I translated & published would see that there is very little overlap. Of the entire 500 word (in English translation) document, perhaps 100 words are in the Fresh post, which itself is quite long, probably over 1,000 words (I haven’t checked).”
As Editor of CiF Watch I can testify, that our first reaction to the latest Silverstein row followed his response, so I don’t know what claims he is referring to. (I guess he has CiF Watch on the brain.)
More importantly, as Israellycool revealed today, contrary to Silverstein’s claims that a “Fresh member wrote a largely fictional account that included very limited portions of the actual document which I published in full”, the Fresh post contains Silverstein’s entire document with a few minor, grammatical changes.
Aussie Dave published a comparison of the Forum text with Silverstein’s, provided by Harry’s Place.
So, more broadly, what was Silverstein’s motivation for the post?
Well, commenting on Bibi’s alleged “war plan” on his blog, Silverstein explained:
“[It is] the product of the Israeli dream factory which manufactures threats and then creates fabulist military strategies to address them.
Remember Bush-era Shock and Awe? Remember those promises of precision-guided cruise missiles raining death upon Saddam Hussein’s Iraq? Remember Bush’s “Mission Accomplished” ceremony on the deck of the USS Lincoln, only six or seven years premature? Remember the promises of decisive victory? Remember 4,000 U.S. dead, not to mention hundreds of thousands of Iraqis?
Now, think of what an Israeli war against Iran could turn into. Think about how this sanitized version of 21st century war could turn into a protracted, bloody conflict closer to the nine-year Iran-Iraq War.”
Interestingly, this isn’t the first time Silverstein has run interference for Israel’s foes.
The New York Times reported in September 2011 that the blogger to whom Israeli-born Shamai Leibowitz (who was working for the FBI) gave sensitive information including details of a potential strike on Iran – which he heard from FBI wiretaps of the Israeli Embassy in Washington, D.C. – was none other than Richard Silverstein.
The NYT reported that Leibowitz was working as a Hebrew translator for the FBI when he became concerned about Israeli lobbying efforts in Washington as well as a potential Israeli strike on Iranian nuclear facilities.
Silverstein, who admitted publishing posts on his blog using the information he received from Leibowitz, discussed the case with The NYT out of what he said was a desire to prove that Leibowitz, though in violation of federal law, was acting out of a sense of justice. Wrote Silverstein:
“I see him [Leibowitz] as a…patriot and a whistle-blower, and I’d like his actions to be seen in that context…”
Leibowitz has since been charged under the Espionage Act and is now in a Federal custody.
So, it seems that Silverstein sits there in his Seattle home with the supreme belief that Israelis are children who do not understand either their own interests nor the true nature of foreign threats and must be rescued from their leaders’ malevolent designs. Such unenlightened Jews must, it seems, be liberated from their evidently fantastical belief that Iran represents an existential threat to the Jewish state.
Silverstein represents a perfect example of the supreme hubris – present to varying degrees on the American left – which informs the belief that Israelis must be “saved from themselves” by the more sophisticated.
Such imperiousness regarding the Jewish state manifests itself consistently among the British media elite and it comes as no surprise that the BBC decided to hitch their wagon to Silverstein’s anti-Zionist far-left agitprop.
The only question which remains is how long it will take the Guardian to pick up on Dicky’s faux scoop.