Richard Silverstein, a Seattle based Jew and self-described “Jewish progressive”, is a regular contributor to ‘Comment is Free’ and the Huffington Post and runs a blog entitled Tikkun Olam. Tikkun Olam means “repairing the world” and as observed by one of Silverstein’s critics “the motto of the site is “make the world a better place“, but unfortunately, his image of a “better place” is more in line with Norman Finkelstein’s vision rather than Anne Frank’s.”
Though Silverstein repeatedly claims to be a Zionist, his writings feature unrelenting attacks on the Jewish state with a wanton disregard for any facts that repudiate his so-called “progressive” views on the conflict. Silverstein openly supports the likes of Norman Finkelstein and Walt and Mearsheimer, minimalizes and, at some times, justifies violence perpetrated by Hamas, vilifies the Israeli right wing and IDF to the point of demonization and supports a version of the one-state solution including the renunciation of the right of return of diaspora Jewry.
Affectionately referred to as “Little Dickie” and “KapoDickie” by his detractors, Silverstein has been embroiled in ongoing spats with several bloggers and websites including The Shield of Achilles, Justin White, Kapodickie- an Adventure in Jewish self-hatred , Aussie Dave , CK , Masada2000 as well as the now defunct (and vulgar) Little Dickie’s Diaper Droppings. He also shoots himself in the foot with Daniel Pipes and is accused of making false allegations about Campus Watch and CAMERA.
Bringing Silverstein further in disrepute, he was recently found by the California Court of Appeals to have libeled Rachel Neuwirth for calling her a “Kahanist swine”.
Commenting upon the Mumbai terror attacks on ‘Comment is Free’, Silverstein outdid even himself by openly denying the antisemitic nature of the gruesome murder of Rabbi Holtzberg and his wife taking the claim of the single surviving terrorist at face value by making the following statement:
“Pakistani militants have been known to select prominent foreign targets within Pakistan, as the Mumbai terrorists did last week. But few, if any, Pakistani militants have been known until now specifically to target Israelis. I say, Israelis rather than Jews because the single surviving terrorist noted that they chose Chabad House to avenge the suffering of the Palestinians. Therefore, the attack was anti-Israeli, though not necessarily antisemitic.”
Below is a selection of statements made by Richard Silverstein “in his own words”:
“I would urge you to e mail Attorney General Eric Holder and tell him you don’t find Tariq Ramadan a danger to this country and that you welcome hearing what he has to say here.” Federal Court Overturns Ruling Barring Ramadan from the U.S. Tikkun Olam blog July 17, 2009
“Blumenthal’s critics claim that he has an anti-Israel ulterior motive in featuring the lowest common denominator in Israeli society. They seem to believe that most Israelis are nice, white liberals like they are and wish the videographer would reflect back themselves in the mirror he holds up to Israeli society. The only problem is that those he interviews ARE entirely representative of the the Israeli Jewish “street.” Public opinion surveys validate these racist attitudes within Israeli society.” Feel the Hate in Tel Aviv: New Blumenthal Video Tikkun Olam blog July 13, 2009
“Now to return to one of the more problematic aspects of the issue of Israel as a Jewish state. If Israel is a Jewish state, then it is not a democratic state. It is an ethnocratic state. That is, a state with a hierarchy of rights with Jews at the top and Muslims at the bottom.
This is not to say that Israel, in an ideal articulation, could not be a state in which its Jewish citizens see it as a Jewish homeland while its Arab or Muslim citizens see it as their respective ethnic homeland as well. To concede this is not to concede that Jews will lose recognition of any of their Jewishness within this reframed state. Instead, what will happen is the re-envisioned state will expand its conception to embrace all its citizens and their respective religions and ethnicities.” Abbas demands Israel recognize Palestine as a Muslim state Tikkun Olam blog June 16, 2009
“I hope that Ethan Bronner reads this column before he next writes the word ‘Hamas’ in one of his reports, which he inevitably follows with the qualifier, “which advocates the destruction of Israel.” This is a simplistic and dismissive assessment which isn’t worthy of the pages of a serious newspaper.” Khaled Meshal: Hamas Accepts ‘Palestinian State Based on 1967 Borders’ Tikkun Olam blog April 13, 2009
“To call Hamas “Nazi-like” is truly worthy of Morris or other rightist ideologues like Daniel Pipes or Bibi Netanyahu. Yet she trumpets her “leftist” credentials as if this excuses her Islamophobia.
Further, Hamas is a “death-loving fanatic” while Lieberman is–what? A minor irritation and annoyance? This is beyond pathetic.” Noa Does a ‘Benny Morris’, Calls Hamas ‘Nazi-Like’ Tikkun Olam blog, March 7, 2009
“I call Seven Children a meditation because to call it a play is misleading. It’s not a linear narrative with defined characters. It’s a series of thoughts, slogans and ideas thrown up against each other. There is dissonance, there is anger, there is heedlessness, there is hatred, there is love. And contrary to Goldberg’s head-exploding claim that this is a blood libel, nothing could be farther from the truth.” Jeffrey Goldberg’s Head Explodes…Again, Over Caryl Churchill’s Gaza Play Tikun Olam blog, February 19, 2009
“It is ACCURATE to say that Hamas is not corrupt and Fatah is. Do please provide a single ounce of evidence that Hamas is corrupt. Then we’ll know the truth. If you can provide no evidence then it is you who have the problem. And if you use the term “gullible fool” here again in any context in which it might be construed as referring to me you will lose yr privileges to comment here.” From comment posted by Richard Silverstein on “US Democracy Double Standard: We Embrace Lieberman, Reject Hamas”, Tikkun Olam blog, February 12, 2009 at 6.40pm
“But this war is different. Till now, I have never heard explicit charges of war crimes so often and regarding so many separate Israeli actions. I am not saying anything will be different this time than in the past when the accusations never went very far. But I think this war could be the tipping point. I think the international community is beginning to realize that giving Israel carte blanche to kill and maim its “enemies” not only makes Israel look like a monstrous nation, but it also shreds international law and the laws of war. Just as in Bosnia and Kosovo, there comes a time when a nation that has gone mad must be reined in lest it subvert the fabric of international comity. I’m hoping this is that time.” Gaza White Phosphorus Victim: Peres and Livni Should ‘Burn Like My Children Burned’ Tikkun Olam blog, January 21, 2009
“I was just listening to this radio story (audio download) about child murder in Gaza and for the first time in my life I felt like killing the Israeli soldier responsible. I realized that in all the years that I’ve chronicled the misdeeds of the IDF over the years here in this blog, I’d never felt that emotion. It was a frightening and unwelcome one. I’m constantly disgusted by what I learn of the IDF’s capacity for brutality. But I’ve never felt such rage at such heinous, subhuman behavior.” IDF in Gaza: Murder in Cold Blood Tikkun Olam blog, January 21, 2009
“Speaking as someone who truly does want to find something that would allow me to see humanity and decency among Israelis, I am forced to concede that I am always disappointed. Even soldiers fighting a battle must make provision for evacuating civilian wounded. The fact that the IDF has refused is beyond bestial. I sputter with rage and indignation as I write this.
I propose that we from now on refer to Ehud Barak as Barak the Butcher. Let this stain whatever legacy he hopes to have for himself. Keep in mind this is a man who donned a woman’s dress in order to assassinate his first terrorist in Lebanon. Mazel tov Ehud, you no longer wear a dress when you kill. Now it’s a business suit. But it’s still the same grisly murder. Barak to the Hague.” Gaza: Praise the Dead, Curse Their Killers Tikkun Olam blog, January 7, 2009
“But just keep this ratio in mind: 100 to 1. One hundred Gazans for every Israeli killed. That one Israeli means everything. Those 100 Gazans mean nothing. That is the moral calculus of this nightmarish war. Phil Weiss reports a commentary written by one of his readers Jules Rabin in which the latter quotes the eulogy for Jewish serial murderer, Baruch Goldstein: “A million Arabs are not worth a Jewish fingernail.” Is that what we have come to as Jews? To, in effect, accept the racist, genocidal words of a crazy settler rabbi?” Gaza: Suffer the Children Tikkun Olam blog, January 6, 2009
“Israel declared war on Hamas, buddy. Hamas fired rockets at Israel that hardly injured anyone in the past few months & certainly never killed anyone. That’s what you call war?” From comment posted by Richard Silverstein on “Gaza the Horror”, Tikkun Olam blog, December 28, 2008 at 10.29pm
“I have no idea what you’re talking about regarding Hamas rockets & the siege. The siege began just after Hamas won the PA election. That’s quite a while ago. I haven’t kept track of whether Hamas was firing rockets before then or not.” From comment posted by Richard Silverstein on “Meretz and the Bankruptcy of Israeli Politics”, Tikkun Olam, December 26, 2008 at 12.55am
“Hamas has just as much credibility in my book as the Israeli government. That is to say, that neither rate very highly. But I am certain that if Israel lifted the siege there would be no rockets. And I judge this based on the fact that when Hamas has been motivated to do so, it has rigorously & mostly successfully enforced previous ceasefires. On the other hand, Israel has felt free to violate ceasefires whenever it is in its interest, just as it has felt free to refuse to implement provisions of previous ceasefires (like keeping the crossings open).” From comment posted by Richard Silverstein on “Meretz and the Bankruptcy of Israeli Politics”, Tikkun Olam blog, December 27, 2008 at 1.23am
“Well I’ve read every comment you’ve written here & I say you are. And most reasonable readers here would agree. I’m not going to spend a lot of time going back over yr past comments to pt. out the bile you’ve written about Palestinians (besides I think I already did that once before when we had a similar interaction). If you can’t find anything positive you’ve ever written about Palestinians I’m going to interpret that as confirmation that you are hostile to them & their interests.” From comment posted by Richard Silverstein on “Indian Muslims Condemn Terror; After Hebron Settler Pogrom, Jewish Silence”, Tikkun Olam blog, December 17, 2008 at 3.03pm
“My Jewish jihadi friends NEED to see the Mumbai attack as based in anti-Semitism because they either wish to, or are prepared to concede a religious holy war between Islam and Judaism in which we will all fight to the death leaving a world in which none of us shall remain standing.” Mumbai and Jewish Jihadis Tikkun Olam blog, December 5, 2008
“@A.N.: Isn’t it typical for the pro-Israel right to compare Hamas to Nazis. So predictable. Can you prove that Hamas is launching rockets into Israel? No, of course you can’t because they’re not.” From comment posted by Richard Silverstein on “Mort Klein and the No-State Solution” Tikkun Olam blog, October 24, 2008 at 5.09pm
“It is yet another presumptuous statement to claim Finkelstein “has no more national spotlight” since his books are as relevant and as quoted as ever. He continues to be an important part of the Jewish discourse on all the subjects about which he’s written including the Holocaust and Israel.” Finkelstein to Invoke Law of Return if Israel Refuses Entry Tikkun Olam blog July 11, 2008
“Divestment is not meant to prevent Israel from protecting itself. It is not meant to attack the IDF. Rather, it is meant to tell American companies and Israel that its settlement policies and policies of subjugating the Palestinians are not acceptable to the citizens of Seattle.
That is why I support the concept of divestment and this initiative.” Seattle I-97 Divestment Campaign Against Israeli Occupation Tikkun Olam blog, June 10, 2008
“If I may again be a bit self-serving, I think it’s telling that the media outlet which has shown itself most receptive to my writing is not Jewish: the Guardian’s ‘Comment is Free’. Haaretz has published a single piece as has the Forward. This despite numerous and repeated attempts to get my perspective heard.” Sociologist, ‘Elitist’ Jewish Leadership Alienates Young Jews Tikkun Olam blog, May 16, 2008
“I don’t know that Faurisson has written a Holocaust denying book and I don’t know that Chomsky has endorsed it. Frankly, it’s not a subject that interests me very much. But the fact that you claim it doesn’t make it so.” From comment posted by Richard Silverstein on “Israel Rejects Hamas Ceasefire Proposal”, Tikkun Olam blog, May 4, 2008 at 3.21pm
“Oh Lord how I hate people who insist on refighting wars & battles of 50 years ago. I was alive in 1967. Were you? Egypt didn’t provoke the war. Israel actually initiated the war through a pre-emptive air attack. Whatever actions Egypt took before the war were more than matched by Israeli actions.” From comment posted by Richard Silverstein on “Israel Rejects Hamas Ceasefire Proposal, Tikkun Olam” Tikkun Olam blog, April 28, 2008 at 9.35pm
“Some may argue that these extremists are a small minority within Israeli society; that they do not command the respect of the majority. To this, I would respond that the extreme views of this minority are echoed in many of the attitudes held by mainstream Israelis. If you look at any number of opinion surveys you’ll find that many Israelis hold starkly racist views of not just Palestinians, but their fellow Arab citizens. While it is possible that such views are held out of ignorance rather than out of malice, the truth is that Israeli Jews know next to nothing about their Arab fellow citizens. And in such a vacuum, the hateful views of a determined minority can take root and flourish.” In Blood, Fire and Hatred Shall Judea Rise Tikkun Olam blog, April 5, 2008
“Since the Lebanon war, and especially Azmi Bishara’s voluntary expulsion (yes, I mean those contradictory terms to go together) from Israel I’ve been rethinking my own Zionism. No, I haven’t stopped being one. But I’ve expanded my vision of what I think Israel should become to fully realize the vision inscribed in its Declaration of Independence.
My own feelings certainly stem from this. But I’ve also been thinking a great deal about the role of Israeli Arabs in the nation’s society. They are, to my mind, the canaries in the coal mine. If they are choking on the dust of discrimination, neglect, oppression and poverty–then Israeli democracy remains unrealized. There must be a way for two peoples to inhabit a single state and live equally and harmoniously together. That is my vision. And yes, it’s still a Zionist vision because Israel would remain a Jewish homeland. But it would also be a homeland for its Arab citizens.
I’m not talking about a bi-national state in the sense there would be two separate nations within Israel. Rather, it would consist of two ethnic groups cohabiting within one state. Each group would have political, cultural and religious rights guaranteed by a constitution. No group, even if it were the minority, would ever have to feel disenfranchised or worse. Yes, there would be political jockeying and one group or another would at times feel put upon. But with a set of ironclad constitutional guarantees, no group should ever feel the need to mount the barricades.” We Need a New Zionism Tikkun Olam blog, February 8, 2008
“Without creating a second nation within Israel, Arabs must somehow feel that their narrative, religion, rights, language and cultural expression are equal to those of Jews. Part of this should also entail that both sides renounce a full Right of Return for Diaspora Jews and Arab refugees. These two principles which undergird both Jewish and Palestinian nationalisms should be renegotiated so that they are no longer absolute concepts but rather ones that are tempered by reality. This new reality would be based on a compromise in which Israel embraces equally its Jewish and Arab citizens while telling them that there are limits to their national expressions.” Rabbi Donniel Hartman: Israel Must Not Ask Arabs to Accept Jewish State Tikkun Olam blog, December 13, 2007
“Don’t do it, Mr. President. You published an honest book about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. If these people have a problem with the book it’s their own problem and they’ll just have to deal with it. They don’t hold a monopoly on truth regarding these issues. Why should you apologize? Because you criticized Israel? Because you called the Occupation equivalent to apartheid? It’s something you hear in the Israeli media regularly. Why is it treif in U.S. political discourse? Or American Jewish discourse?”Jimmy Carter: Don’t Apologize Tikkun Olam blog, November 1, 2007
“Joshua: Look even George Bush gets things right once in a while. So whatever you think about Robert Fisk, you may not dismiss it merely because of the source. Besides, Fisk has editors who edit his material & confirm its accuracy. And in addition, his story was not generated by him. It is based on legitimate scientific research & confirmed by an independent scientific source. If you get hung up on who wrote the story intstead of the actual substance of it you do an injustice to the truth.” [emphasis added] From comment posted by Richard Silverstein on “Israel Reported to Have Used Uranium Bomb in Lebanon” Tikkun Olam blog, October 31, 2006 at 12.59pm
“Links to sources like Debka, LGF, CAMERA, MEMRI, Middle East Forum, Palestine Media Watch, Campus Watch, Stoptheism, Cactus48, or other propaganda sites will be removed. This blog does not promote right-wing or extremist anti-Zionist sites.” From the Tikkun Olam blog comment rules
“Forget about Israel being a “light unto the nations” as the seminal early Zionist thinker Ahad HaAm used to say. Think more like Nazi Germany and the Spanish Civil War. Besides an ideological affinity between Franco’s fascists and Hitler, the Fuhrer found that conflict a perfect testing ground for Germany’s new weapons technology. During the Civil War, the Luftwaffe first previewed the new technique of aerial bombardment to devastating effect in places like Guernica. Hitler and Goering got to test all of their new playtoys like the Messerschmitts, Junkers, and anti-tank cannons.
It seems that Israel has been using Gazans in precisely the same way since its invasion following the kidnapping of Gilad Shalit. The weapon it has tested, known by the acronym DIME (Dense Inert Metal Explosive), works to horrifying effect:” Israel Tests New Highly Lethal, Cancer-Causing Tungsten Weapon in Bomb in Gaza Tikkun Olam blog, October 10, 2006
“I concede that Hamas has been a mortal enemy of Israel and peace. I don’t expect that this victory will turn it overnight into a paragon of democratic and peace-loving values. But I choose to see the possibility that Hamas’ leaders will understand that whether they wish it or not, their movement has changed overnight. No longer are they the outsiders free to engage in ideological sloganeering and extremist violence. Now they govern. The rules are different. The behavior required is different. To the extent that Hamas adapts to the new environment they will succeed and embrace politics over the gun. To the extent that Hamas tries to have it both ways, it will fail. Ray appears certain of which way Hamas will go. I’m not yet so sure. I want to give Hamas the benefit of the doubt for a few weeks or even months. I would hold off on any judgment till Hamas gave me reason to question its commitment to new approaches to resolve the conflict.” [emphasis added] Ray Hanania, Thumbs Down on Hamas Tikkun Olam blog, January 28, 2006
“Oh, I don’t think anyone whether Zionist, anti-Zionist or whatever can demonize Ariel Sharon enough. He’s one bad hombre–something on a par with Augusto Pinochet IMO.” From comment posted by Richard Silverstein on “What’s the Difference Between Yitzchak Shamir (Israeli Terrorist and Prime Minister) and Marwan Barghouti” Tikkun Olam blog, January 24, 2005 at 3.27pm
Set forth below is a selection of statements made by Richard Silverstein in ‘Comment is Free’ “in his own words”
“But thank God, there will be no more winking or nodding. The Obama administration means business. In a battle between an 18-foot boa constrictor and its prey, there can be little doubt who will eventually win. Not that I mean to carry this analogy to its logical conclusion. The US isn’t going to swallow and digest Israel. Rather it is going to squeeze the life out of the notion that settlements are a viable proposition for Israel. If Israelis won’t kill this notion off themselves, then Obama is going to lend a hand and drive the stake through the monster’s heart.” Putting the squeeze on Israel’s settlements May 29, 2009
“Within the US Israel exploits a willing circle of Likudist advocacy groups and thinktanks – such as the Washington Institute for Near East Peace, the Israel Project, the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs as well as Aipac itself – that are closely scripted and co-ordinate their political message with Israeli diplomats. While some of these groups deny such a close affiliation, there is proof of scripting and amplification of the Israeli government’s agenda. And of course there may be cases in which the organisations know the needs of their patron so well that they need no prompting.” Aipac’s hidden pursuaders May 15, 2009
“The Israeli and world press documented IDF atrocities including the indiscriminate use of white phosphorus in densely populated urban areas, the assault on United Nations humanitarian facilities, the shelling of civilian homes, and the shooting in cold blood of unarmed civilians.
Israeli human rights groups have called for war crimes investigations of IDF actions. In the last few weeks, on-the-ground reports supported by eyewitness testimony have become available. They paint an even more damning picture.” American Jewish groups must speak up over Gaza April 20, 2009
“This of course has raised the hackles of the pro-Israel lobby. Jonathan Tobin, writing in Commentary, called Freeman a “truly vile creature”. The rest of the lobby went into overdrive attempting to find anything in Freeman’s past with which to impeach him. The best they could dredge up was an allegedly anti-Israel Arab studies textbook that the Middle East Policy Council (which the former diplomat chaired) distributed to US public schools. It stated that Jerusalem’s Old City was largely populated by Arabs and that the influence of the American Zionist lobby on Harry Truman’s recognition of Israel was a subject “worth studying”.” The new face of US-Israel policy March 2, 2009
“They conveniently label Palestinian militants as radical Islamists or jihadis, when Palestinians themselves largely do not recognise or accept the terms. While it is true that Gaza is ruled by Hamas, which is a movement with a religious identity, most Hamas leaders eschew the language of religious jihad to portray their struggle.” Exploiting Mumbai’s tragedy December 4, 2008
“”Wiping Israel off the face of the map”? Triple check.
“Problem is, Ahmadinejad didn’t talk about exterminating Israel in New York or anywhere else. Does the Iranian president hate Israel? No doubt. Is the feeling mutual among Israeli leaders? You bet. In an astonishing interview published Monday, Ehud Olmert, the former Israeli prime minister, had this to say about Israel’s failed policy toward that country: “Part of our megalomania and our loss of proportions is the things that are said here about Iran.”” McCain’s play for pro-Israel voters September 30, 2008