Guardian’s output of Israel related commentaries continues to decline

cifThough it isn’t easy to empirically measure how the Guardian’s coverage of Israel has changed over the years (in a qualitative sense), one quantitative metric we’ve used relates to the volume of Israel related news reports and commentaries published by the media group.  

Though in 2011 and 2012 we revealed the disproportionate degree of Israel related coverage at the Guardian and its blog ‘Comment is Free’ in comparison to their coverage of other countries, we thought it would be interesting this year to isolate just their Israel related commentaries, and see how the output has changed since 2010, the first full year of this blog’s operation.

The results are interesting, and consistent with our sense that their institutional obsession with Israel, for any number of reasons, has decreased in some respects.

  • In 2010 there were 143 Israel related commentaries in the first six months, and 289 for the entire year.
  • In 2011, there were 92 Israel related commentaries in the first six months, and 168 for the entire year.
  • In 2012, there were 61 Israel related commentaries in the first six months, and 143 for the entire year.
  • In 2013, there were 54 Israel related commentaries in the first six months, and 100 for the entire year.
  • In 2014, there have been 35 Israel related commentaries through June 26th (with a projection of 70 to 75 for the entire year if current trends continue).

Whilst this analysis doesn’t include straight news reports (and other Israel related content which does NOT appear at ‘Comment is Free’), it’s clear that Israel related commentaries decreased quite dramatically over the last four years.

Also of interest is the fact that some of the Guardian’s favorite Israel bashers (commentators who we’ve posted about continually) have been published far less frequently, or have disappeared completely – reflecting a slight improvement (and we use these words cautiously) in their overall output on issues concerning Jews and Israel. 

Rachel Shabi, an anti-Zionist Jew who once was a frequent contributor, hasn’t published a commentary about Israel at ‘Comment is Free’ since August 2013

shabi

Antony Lerman, another anti-Zionist Jew, hasn’t published a commentary at ‘Comment is Free’ since 2012.

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Seth Freedman has largely been silent on the topic of Israel at ‘Comment is Free’ for the past two years, save one quirky piece in August 2013.

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Electronic Intifada co-founder Ali Abunimah (once a frequent contributor) has had only one commentary published at ‘Comment is Free’ since 2009.

ali

Richard (faux ‘scoop’) Silverstein (also once a frequent contributor) has been ‘silenced by the Guardian, and has had only one commentary which deals with Israel published at ‘Comment is Free’ since 2009.

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And, finally, Ben White, the notorious Israel hater who can understand why people would be antisemitic given Israeli behavior, and who once appeared at ‘Comment is Free’ several times a year, hasn’t been heard from since September 2012

ben

Though we are not shy about taking credit for Guardian corrections prompted by our correspondence with their editors, the cause of the decrease in Israel related commentaries – and the disappearance of some of their long time anti-Zionist contributors – is more opaque, and may involve editorial decisions (clearly influenced to some degree by the work of this blog) at the Guardian that we’re naturally not privy to.  

Additionally, the impact – to the editorial process at ‘Comment is Free’ – of the recent promotion of Jonathan Freedland (one of their more sober commentators) to the position of executive editor will not be clear for some time.

Finally, whilst the Guardian is still the most anti-Israel media group in the UK, it is nonetheless important to note such changes in their reporting and editorial decision-making, and recognize even modest improvements in their coverage of Israel and the larger region. 

Video: Chloe Valdary discusses her passion for Israel and her battle with Richard Silverstein

Before viewing the following interview of Chloe Valdary, filmed at the AIPAC convention in March, you can first get up to speed on the racial abuse hurled at the African-American Zionist by Richard Silverstein (a blogger and ‘Comment is Free’ contributor) in CiF Watch posts here, here and here.

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The content of her character: Chloe Valdary responds to Richard Silverstein

On Saturday we commented on a racist Facebook update and Tweet by “liberal” Jewish blogger Richard Silverstein, which he posted in response to his apparent ‘outrage’ at a pro-Israel op-ed written by an African-American woman named Chloe Valdary.

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Chloe Valdary

Today in Times of Israel, Valdary published a new op-ed addressing Silverstein’s attack, and the broader issue of racism and anti-Zionism.

Here are some excerpts:

On February 22, a gentleman by the name of Richard Silverstein took considerable issue with an article I wrote in the The Times of Israel about the contentions of one Judith Butler, professor at the University of California, Berkley. I find Butler’s analysis regarding the Arab-Israeli conflict lamentably disagreeable.

Silverstein did not point out any possible faulty premises in my column. He did not question the evidence I presented. He did not find I was lacking in my analysis. Instead, to illustrate his (ahem) intellectual prowess, he shared a Facebook status linking to my column and in his commentary, wrote: “They finally did it: found a Negro Zionist: Uncle Tom is dancin’ for joy!

His intention is obvious: I am an African-American, and Silverstein believes that all African-Americans are monolithic. Indeed, he believes that because of my skin color, I must think, act, and behave in the certain way — a manner in which he perceives black people to be. Like the old white masters in the antebellum American South, Silverstein believes that he and his ilk alone can be the bearers of opinions which must be held by African-Americans. To think for oneself, to formulate an opinion independent of his consent — well now, this is unacceptable. The consequence is a verbal lashing on social media; an attack on my character because of my skin color, and because, I am, as he puts it, “a Negro,” who does not feel the need to make her analysis contingent upon his approbation.

Moreover, I am a Zionist. I am unabashedly pro-Israel, and a proponent of the right of the Jewish people to self-determination in their ancestral homeland. Silverstein is not a Zionist, and because I disagree with him —  like the old slave masters who believed that their view of the world was superior to and should be foisted upon the negro slaves — he contends that I am an “Uncle Tom” (a derogatory term meaning “house slave,” or one who is subservient and servile to white masters.).

I am certain that Silverstein does not comprehend the irony. After all, white supremacists tend to possess an astounding propensity for cognitive dissonance. It isn’t evident to Silverstein that to assert that a human being must, by virtue of her skin color, behave in a certain manner, is itself prejudicial and bigoted. Silverstein is judging me on the color of my skin, not on the content of my character, or rather, the content of my treatise.

Silverstein [a ‘Comment is Free’ contributor] inverts terms, making them devoid of any meaning, all the while having the temerity to believe his musings are erudite, when in point of fact they are ludicrous, and contributory to the cause of mass homicide. That such obscene characters are given license to spew nonsense in prominent newspapers like The Guardian, I find lamentable

You can read the rest of her essay, titled ‘In Defense of Liberty’, here.

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Richard Silverstein’s meltdown continues: Defends “Negro” “Uncle Tom” slur

Yesterday we posted about a racist Facebook update and Tweet by “liberal” Jewish blogger Richard Silverstein, which were posted in response to his ‘outrage’ at seeing a pro-Israel op-ed at Times of Israel by an African-American Zionist named Chloe Valdary.

He’s been roundly criticized ever since on Twitter, and many have asked that he do the decent thing and apologize. 

Instead, he actually defended his shameful racial slur in a recent Tweet:

Priceless: He’s not the racist for using such pejoratives to characterize a young, black Zionist, but his accusers are betraying their own “right-wing political prejudices”.  

His decision to double-down in the face of such criticism shouldn’t surprise anyone, as the white liberal privilege possessed by Silverstein and his ilk means never having to apologize for even the most incendiary and cruel racist invectives – especially if the target is a Zionist. 

Related articles

 

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Richard Silverstein accuses African-American Zionist of being a ‘Negro’ Uncle Tom

The racism of blogger Richard Silverstein was laid bare today when he posted the following on his Facebook account, referring to an African-American Zionist named Chloe Valdary who had published an op-ed at Times of Israel about Judith Butler.

silverstein

Here’s his Tweet:

Silverstein - a ‘Comment is Freecontributor through 2012 who, until now, was best known for his anti-Israel (and at times pro-Hamas) activism and his faux scoops – has now revealed himself to be bigoted towards black Americans as well.  The term ‘Negro” stopped being used in America in the late 60s or early 70s, and the term ‘Uncle Tom‘ of course is a horrible epithet used historically to accuse African-Americans of being subservient to whites, and betraying their own group by participating in systematic white racism.

As Valdary’s column about Butler had nothing to do with the issue of American racism, Silverstein’s ugly assault seems to have been motivated by his disgust at seeing a woman of color expressing support for Israel.

Silverstein seems to have deleted the post from his Facebook account (though the Tweet is still there), but let the snapshots above serve as a reminder of the narrow-mindedness of some on the Left when confronted with information contradicting their anti-Zionist assumptions.

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Sally Idwedar ‘forgets’ to mention the H-word in her Indy essay on “life in Gaza”

Sally Idwedar is just your average girl living in Gaza.  

sally

She’s also a blogger who, at some point in her life, acted “on impulse”, quit her corporate job in Washington D.C. and made “Aliyah” to Gaza to start her life anew. 

Idwedar also just published an essay at The Independent describing life in the Palestinian controlled territory. 

life

Her polemic on the difficulties of life in the Strip as the result of Israeli villainy includes the following passages:

I was thinking about how I would start to write about life in Gaza – how I would lay the words out with eloquence – when suddenly an explosion boomed close by and those thoughts fled my mind.I didn’t know the source; maybe it was internal training or perhaps another air strike.

The UN issued a report last week saying Gaza is becoming uninhabitable and the humanitarian conditions are deteriorating – sadly that is true.

Two weeks ago the sewage pumping stations stopped working in many areas – they simply did not have the fuel to work. Raw sewage leaks into the streets. Fathers carry their children to get to school and most cars won’t venture into it. The sludge reeks and brings mosquitoes in swarms.

There is fear it will end up in the water supply as well…

..

This is life in Gaza now: a constant struggle to find the bare necessities.

As Elder of Ziyon observed today in his post on Idwedar’s ‘meditation’, she oddly doesn’t use the word “Hamas” even once.  

This omission is even more glaring in light of her own Twitter battle with Richard “faux scoop” Silverstein (richards1052) in October (as noted by the blog Israellycool) where she was much less reticent about using the ‘H-word’.  Indeed, Idwedar’s exchange with the evidently pro-Hamas Jewish blogger is especially revealing in light of her complaint about Gaza sewage noted above.  

Who needs to take action?

Who could import needed parts?

Finally, just in case there’s any doubt as to who precisely she’s criticizing:

Yet, for some reason, Idwedar indeed “tried to hide” her opposition to the Islamist group in her more than 1100 word first person account of the “constant struggle to find the bare necessities” in Gaza.

I simply can’t imagine why.

The Independent or Richard Silverstein? An internet rumor of rabbis, soy and sex

Yair Rosenberg writes the following in an Oct. 30 story for Tablet:

Visit the web site of the national British daily newspaper, the Independent, and you’ll find an article titled, “Rabbi bans students from eating soy in case it leads to gay sex.”

Actually you won’t find it anymore, because, after Rosenberg’s superb fisking of the story – which demonstrated that the Hebrew source for the claim said the exact opposite - the Independent completely removed the article from their website. 

However, here’s a cached page of the deleted article:

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Rosenberg ends his piece by admonishing the Indy for “apparently citing sources [they couldn’t] read or confirm, and embroidering them with utterly fictitious details” – ‘rumor mill’ style journalism we recently exposed in a post about an increasingly notorious anti-Zionist blogger. 

To read Rosenberg’s superb Tablet expose, click here.

To read more about another British daily “newspaper” which obsessively trades in fictitious, reckless, sensational, and ideologically driven allegations against a particular state in the Middle East, you can simply continue following this blog. 

The Guardian’s Phoebe Greenwood cites Richard Silverstein…problems ensue

The question of what blogs and Twitter accounts journalists cum propagandists follow is always an interesting one – and one of the more under-explored dynamics which can help explain some of the more hysterical anti-Israel coverage in the mainstream media (and in the Guardian).

So, for instance, we weren’t surprised when Harriet Sherwood cited a quote by Joseph Dana (Sherwood referred to the anti-Israel activist as a “journalist”) in an effort to contextualize Netanyahu’s speech at the UN in late September, or when, in 2011, she characterized the slain International Solidarity Movement volunteer, Vittorio Arrigoni, as a “peace activist“.  Indeed, both incidents only confirmed what we knew about where the Guardian Jerusalem correspondent’s political sympathies lie. 

In the time Phoebe Greenwood has recently spent filling in for Harriet Sherwood (who’s evidently been ‘away from her desk’ for the past couple of weeks) she has cited the observations of two blogs whose editors explicitly call for a one-state solution – Ali Abunimah’s Electronic Intifada in a Feb. 18 report and, most recently, Richard Silverstein’s ‘Tikun Olam’, in a Feb. 27 Guardian report titled ‘Second Laptop Stolen from Israeli nuclear chief‘. 

Silverstein and Greenwood

Silverstein and Greenwood

Greenwood’s story, about a burglary at the home of the head of Israel’s Atomic Energy Commission, Shaul Horev, two nights ago, included the assertion that, among the items stolen from Horev’s home was a laptop – though other news sources are now reporting that a laptop was not in fact stolen.  While facts regarding the case are still sketchy, Greenwood attempted to frame the story for readers in the following paragraph:

The blogger Richard Silverstein pointed out the irony that Israel had previously claimed to have obtained secrets about Iran’s nuclear programme from a stolen laptop which it used as evidence of Iran’s ambitions for nuclear weapons – claims now widely believed to be untrue

Whilst you can gain a glimpse into Silverstein’s troubled relationship with facts – and his rush to publish faux “scoops” - here, I decided to check the particular assertion, cited by Greenwood, on his blog to see if there was any truth to it. 

Silverstein, who updated his original Feb. 26 post the following day to note that his initial report that a laptop was stolen from Horev appears to be untrue, nonetheless engages in the kind of Schadenfreude-inspired stream of consciousness blogging rampage which is a trademark of the anti-Zionist American Jewish left.

His post includes the following passages:

Israel boasts of its military and intelligence advantages over its enemies. It can, so the story goes, penetrate the most secure defenses of its enemies. Israel, on the other hand, is impregnable. It’s security assets are secure.  What’s important about this story is that Israel is beset by a major case of hubris. It creates a narrative that arrogates to itself permanent domination over its enemies. It foresees no weaknesses, no vulnerabilities. Except when there are.

There is another delicious irony in this scandal. Israel, several years ago persuaded the world that an allegedly stolen Iranian laptop containing top-secret documents about its nuclear weapons program had mysteriously come into its possession. The laptop was a fraud as was its supposed theft.

A brief check of the link he provided demonstrates that his suggestion of Israeli duplicity, regarding a laptop purporting to contain secret documents, is itself a fraud.

The link takes us to a 2008 post at the site anti-war.com, titled ‘Iran Nuke Laptop Data Came from Terror Group.

However, the post, by Gareth Porter, only claims that the “George W. Bush administration has long pushed the “laptop documents” – 1,000 pages of technical documents supposedly from a stolen Iranian laptop – as hard evidence of Iranian intentions to build a nuclear weapon.” Further, Porter notes that “German officials have identified the source of the laptop documents in November 2004 as the Mujahideen e Khalq (MEK)”.

Whilst the post includes idle speculation that Israel may have known about the “laptop documents”, it goes on to add that Israeli intelligence had “chosen not to reveal it to the public”.  Additionally, other more mainstream media outlets, such as the New York Times, which reported on the story, similarly claimed that it was US officials who lobbied the international community that the documents were authentic.  The NYT piece, ‘Relying on Computer, US seeks to prove Iran’s nuclear aims’, barely even mentioned Israel in any context.

Silverstein’s claim that Israel had attempted to “persuade the world” that the laptop documents represented a smoking gun regarding Iranian nuclear intentions appears to be completely untrue.

So, did Greenwood even bother to check the link in Silverstein’s post before publishing her report?

However, if your goal on any given report about the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict is to impute maximum malice to the Jewish state, bothersome issues such as the veracity of your sources are necessarily of less importance than advancing the desired narrative.  

Richard Silverstein gets duped again by a ‘high level Israeli source’

When Richard Silverstein isn’t expressing support for the end of the Jewish statedefending terror groups like Hamas, or engaging in smears and reckless attacks against his opponents, he’s often busy peddling false scoops about Israel based on the flimsiest of evidence.

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Richard Silverstein

While CiF Watch’s exposes on his hateful rhetoric may have been partially responsible for his near disappearance, since Dec. 2009, from the pages of ‘Comment is Free’ (a possibility he openly acknowledged), his notoriety somehow hasn’t prevented him from being taken seriously, on one or two occasions, as a “journalist” by other media outlets.

Bibi’s Secret War Plan: 

bibi

In August, 2012, one “serious” news source was duped by a Silverstein “scoop” titled “Bibi’s Secret War Plan”.  

Silverstein’s post claimed to be based on information he received from a high-level Israeli source detailing the possible methods of an upcoming attack on Iran.  However, the “secret document” he had “obtained” was a near verbatim quote from a Hebrew forum which had appeared online days before his post, and which itself was based on mere speculation from open-source information.

Prisoner X:

Today, Feb. 13, Silverstein reported this about the identity of an unknown prisoner who was being held in solitary confinement in an Israeli jail – known as “Prisoner X” – who committed suicide in 2010.

“Back in 2010, I reported that Israel had arrested an unidentified individual, and imprisoned him in total secrecy in an Israeli jail.  …Even his jailers didn’t know who he was.  His jailers apparently did a lousy job of monitoring Prisoner X, as he was called and he hung himself from a bar in his cell.

Now Australia’s ABC network blows open the story.

He was a Mossad agent named  Ben Zygier”

However, the alleged (and completely unverified) identity of Prisoner X, which Silverstein is now reporting, totally contradicts his original Dec. 2010 “scoop”, where he first “revealed” the identity of the ‘secret’ prisoner.

Here’s Silverstein on Dec. 11, 2010:

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“Until today, we didn’t know [the identity of] “Prisoner X”…a story I broke [in] June (2010).

[But], through a confidential Israeli source I have exposed his identity.  He is a former Iranian Revolutionary Guard general and government minister under former President Khatami named Ali-Reza Asgari.  Western news outlets reported in 2007 that he either defected or was kidnapped by the Mossad, with the assistance of western intelligence agencies (either the CIA or British or German intelligence depending on the source) in Istanbul.  A conservative Iranian publication first reported last year that Asgari was in an Israeli prison and this wasreported by AP as well.”

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Photo and caption which accompanied Silverstein’s post

So, it seems as if Silverstein was again duped by his “high level” Israeli source.

In today’s post, however, Silverstein explained his “error”, thus:

“A word now about the error in my own reporting.  My source was told by an Israeli intelligence official that the dead man was Ali Reza Asgari.  In hindsight, it appears this was a ruse designed to throw the media off the scent of the real story.”

Whilst information on the true identity of the prisoner has not been definitively corroborated, as one Twitterer cheekily observed at the time of his ‘Bibi War’ post, about the credulity of those in the media who take Silverstein’s gossip  as serious “scoops”:  

They’re more likely to obtain incisive Middle East analysis from a man on the street corner with a sandwich board reading ‘The End is Nigh!’.

Has the Guardian backtracked on Josh Trevino?

The Guardian’s August 15th announcement of Joshua Trevino’s joining its US politics team provoked a rather tedious, if predictable, rash of faux outrage (considering that Trevino has been writing for the paper since February 2011) from several of the internet’s prime anti-Israel campaigners. 

One of the first out of the blocks was every ‘one-stater’ racist’s favourite; Ali Abunimah – who took to the pages of the non-democratic, human-rights-abusing Qatari regime’s pet media outlet Al Jazeera, as well as his own electronic Intifada site, to protest Trevino’s new post. 

Not far behind was MJ Rosenberg, with other eccentrics such as Tony Greenstein, Richard Silverstein and ‘Jews for Justice for Palestinians’ (JfJfP) quickly jumping on the band-wagon. 

The main gripe of all of the above is the now famous flotilla-related Tweet by Trevino in June 2011 – one hundred and six characters which, according to Abunimah & co. represent “incitement to murder”.

Whilst one may certainly be able accommodate the notion (given his track record) that Richard Silverstein would believe that the IDF devises policy based on unsolicited advice from Twitter pundits, clearly anyone aspiring to be perceived as a serious commentator on the Middle East would not be making much of the issue if he did not have a much bigger axe to grind. 

Of course none of the above holier than thou ‘anti-racists’ ever put finger to keyboard when the Guardian provided column space for Azzam Tamimi – a man who really does support the indiscriminate murder of civilians by suicide bombing. Neither have any of the above seen fit to object to the fact that the Guardian has repeatedly published articles by senior members of Hamas – who, whilst their social media skills may be lacking, actually do engage in mass murder. 

The only reasonable conclusion, therefore, is that the objection of Abunimah and friends to Trevino’s appointment at the Guardian is in fact a product of their anti-Zionism – which of course so often goes hand in hand with selective anti-racism and curious definitions of ‘free speech’ – and their in-built knee-jerk antipathy to anyone perceived as ‘pro-Israel’.  

So what has been the Guardian’s reaction to this minor squall in a tea-cup cooked up by known (and in some cases, professional) anti-Israel campaigners? Well, if Ali Abunimah is to be believed, it seems that they may have succumbed to pressures from those who wish it to remain an unchallenged, homogenous, echo-chamber of anti-Zionism. 

According to an August 18th post by Abunimah, the Guardian has now downgraded Trevino from member of their editorial team to member of its commentary team.   

“If you look at the Guardian’s 15 August press release as it appears now it begins:

Today the Guardian announced the addition of Josh Treviño to its commentary team in the United States. Formerly of the Texas Public Policy Foundation, Treviño will be the newest commentator for the Guardian’s growing US politics team through his column On Politics & Persuasion which launches on Monday 20 August.

But that is not what it said on 15 August, when I quoted it. Here is how it began then (emphasis added):

Today the Guardian announced the addition of Josh Treviño to their editorial team. Formerly of the Texas Public Policy Foundation, Treviño will be the newest Correspondent for the Guardian’s growing US politics team through his column “On Politics & Persuasion” which launches on Monday, August 20.

Note the disappearance of the terms “editorial team” and “correspondent.” The Guardian also changed the headline from “The Guardian adds Josh Treviño to growing editorial team” to “The Guardian adds Josh Treviño to growing US team.” “

If correct, Abunimah’s claim has interesting implications. Trevino was appointed, according to Matt Seaton, to write about US domestic politics – not the Middle East. His opinions on Israel should, therefore, have nothing to do with his ability to do the job to which he was hired.

Despite that, it now seems that the Guardian may be susceptible to pressures from what it apparently perceives as being opinion-shapers among a large enough portion of its readership to matter. In other words, the Guardian apparently considers it prudent to appease some punters of particular ideological bent – even at the expense of diversity of opinion and expertise on its pages. 

The test of that theory, of course, would be to see what happened if four or five bloggers wrote articles protesting the Guardian’s also recent addition of author and anti-Zionist blogger Glenn Greenwald to its stable of writers. 

My money would be on a response resembling a collective yawn from Guardian HQ – perhaps accompanied by some anodyne statement about ‘representation of a diversity of views’  – just as protestations regarding the repeated provision of a platform for terrorists and their supporters have been greeted in the past. 

The bottom line of the as yet still cloudy ‘affair Trevino’ certainly seems to going in the direction of confirming that as far as the Guardian is concerned, whilst all opinions are equal, some opinions are more equal than others. 

 

 

Elder of Ziyon reader blows the lid off of ‘Dicky Gate’!

BREAKING: A commenter at Elder of Ziyon just revealed the following startling new information on recent “news” about Israeli plans for a 30- day war against Iran which were secretly passed to the Seattle-based blogger, Richard Silverstein, by a source at the IDF.

“I have it on good authority from my sources inside the Mossad that Silverstein is working for Israeli Intelligence. Embedded in the text of his “leaks” is actually a sophisticated virus containing embedded LUA [computer programming] code that was developed by a joint Israeli/American team with help from Iranian dissidents at a secret NSA base in Hawaii where the LUA dress codes were developed. Taken singularly the posts are harmless, however if a collection of n such posts are gathered together on a computer with an Iranian IP address the code unleashes a powerful worm that will take over Iran’s missile system, initiate a firing system and self target each of the silos and all of Iran’s major cities. I’m only releasing this information so that innocent Iranians will have a chance to flee the cities before it’s too late.

The only two people who know the final code which will be released around mid October are Silverstein and his wife. As a result they are guarded day and night by CIA agents, lest Iranian security services seek to thwart the system by kidnapping or incapacitating them.

These particular sources are impeccable and they’ve never been wrong.”

Far fetched?  Perhaps.

But, for those aspiring bloggers amongst you who may wish to influence public opinion, and possibly even become a source for a “respected” British media institution, why not provide, in our comment section, your completely uncorroborated, super top-secret information regarding Israel’s planned attack on Iran. 

Remember: Feel free to let your imagination run wild.  Those fluent in עברית may even plagiarize consult Hebrew language forums, message boards and rumors heard on the street.

Remember, the key aim here is to tip-off Israel’s enemies.  

And, you must operate on the BBC/Guardian assumption that Israelis aren’t sophisticated enough to soberly assess their own security threats – even those posed by nations which openly seek the Jewish state’s destruction – and, thus, Israel needs to be ‘saved from itself’.  

Dicky’s faux scoop: The Anti-Zionist synergy of Richard Silverstein and the BBC

H/T Israellycool, Harry’s Place, The Commentator and fellow Hasbarafia* members

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).”

This is our first post on the latest Silverstein row, so I don’t know what claims at this blog 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.

Guardian publishes clarification of its Jewish Chronicle smear.

Two days ago Adam Levick wrote here on the smearing of the Jewish Chronicle and its editor Stephen Pollard by Guardian Diary Editor Hugh Muir, blogger Richard Silverstein and MPACUK over a BNP member’s use of the JC open blogging platform. 

The Guardian has now issued a clarification:

“In a Diary item about the presence of blogs by Carlos Cortiglia, the BNP’s mayoral candidate, on the Jewish Chronicle website we stated that the blogs were still available on 23 November. We went on to say that this “conflicts” with the account of the Jewish Chronicle’s editor, Stephen Pollard, “that he became aware of Cortiglia’s blog and deleted all trace of it ‘last September'”. To clarify: he told the Guardian’s reporter that “in September we were alerted to the fact that Cortiglia had set up a user blog and the moment we were told, we blocked him and changed [the] entire system”. Mr Pollard has asked us to point out that this was not meant to imply that all traces of the blogs had been deleted in September – in fact the measure he took at that time was to block Cortiglia’s access. He ordered the blogs to be deleted more recently (20 April, page 35).”

Whilst it is good to see the Guardian correcting the record, one also hopes that this incident will serve as a reminder of the fact that when a mainstream news outlet finds itself following the lead of such dubious interested parties as Richard Silverstein and MPACUK, some serious questions regarding judgment calls need to be asked. 

But then again, those questions should also have arisen long ago when Silverstein was a regular contributor to ‘Comment is Free’. 

The Guardian & Richard Silverstein’s battle to see who can most smear the UK Jewish community

In the Guardian Diary, on their Op Ed Page, on April 19th, with the grossly misleading headline, “A BNP bigwig writing for the Jewish Chronicle. Some mistake surely?, , writes:

With their party in laughable disarray, most members of Nick Griffin’s far-right BNP seem content to keep their heads down. But others have careers to build and division to sow. Thus, even in this period of hibernation, they seek a profile. One such is Carlos Cortiglia, who needs to put himself about, not least because he is standing as the party’s mayoral candidate for London. But platforms are hard to find. What to do? His solution has been nothing if not canny; he has been blogging on the Jewish Chronicle. It was easy, for until recently the paper had a system where any reader could set up their own blog and publish their thoughts. He penned at least three blog posts there, all moderate by the standards of JC bloggers, in fact “completely innocuous” as described by editor Stephen Pollard. Unacceptable nevertheless. For although it boasts a Jewish councillor in Essex, the BNP never seems far from the whiff of antisemitism. Griffin, we know, received a conviction in 1998 for distributing material likely to incite racial hatred, and in the course of the prosecution made statements denying the Holocaust. Recently antisemitism appeared to fuel a row between activists on the south coast. “Hitler had a purpose with the Jews,” tweeted one local organiser approvingly. That’s the least offensive quote I could find. The BNP and the Chronicle were never a good fit.

Cortiglia’s blog project endured until Wednesday when the Muslim Public Affairs Committee [MPACUK] put out a story claiming that the BNP man had been hired as a columnist. He never was. But a screenshot taken that morning shows his name at the top of the list of JC bloggers. Google’s cache records that his words were still available then. One blog was dated 23 November. That conflicts with Pollard’s account that he became aware of Cortiglia’s blog and deleted all trace of it “last September”. Still, by Wednesday afternoon the purge was indeed complete and the site amended to explain that only approved people can blog for the Chronicle. [emphasis added]

Of course, the suggestion that the Jewish Chronicle would knowingly associate with a BNP member is beyond ludicrous, and the innuendo that Pollard knowingly employed the services of an open BNP blogger is a smear, and grossly defamatory.

Here was Pollard’s Tweet in response to the Guardian post:

Further, I spoke to Pollard on the phone on Friday, and here’s what else the Guardian blogger got wrong.

  • Pollard, who was interviewed about the story by the Guardian’s ‘Belief’ editor, Andrew Brown, never claimed he became aware of Cortiglia’s blog and deleted all trace of it “last September”, only that he learned of it sometime in autumn. He made clear that the JC blocked the BNP member as soon as it was alerted to his presence on the site. 
  • Muir’s suggestion that Pollard misrepresented himself in the timeline of events is an outright falsehood.
  • Even more insidious is the suggestion that Cortiglia’s BNP’s affiliation was known ahead of time by the Jewish Chronicle.  As Pollard clearly and unambiguously informed the Guardian, they absolutely did not. As soon as they were alerted to the man’s BNP membership they immediately barred his access to the Jewish Chronicle site.  They didn’t remove his post then. They blocked him from posting again, but his three existing posts did remain in the archive. They said Pollard lied about this because his posts were still searchable, but Pollard NEVER claimed he removed them.
  • And, Muir’s most gratuitous, tendentious, and misleading line was this: “The BNP and the Chronicle were never a good fit.”  It never was a good fit because Cortiglia’s BNP affiliation was never to known to the Chronicle when he was blogging.  The JC had a system of open access blogging, through which anyone could register and immediately set up their own blog. Their was no provision for checking the political affiliations of any blogger, any more than the Guardian checks out the affiliations of people who leave comments on CiF. Once the JC realized that their system had been abused by the BNP, they changed the entire system and removed the open access. Blogs are now only hosted from those invited to blog by the paper. [emphasis added]
  • The BNP and the Jewish Chronicle are as far removed ideologically as possible and to suggest otherwise, by innuendo and rhetorical obfuscation, is the height of irresponsible journalism, and represents yet another smear by the Guardian of the UK Jewish community.

By comparison to U.S. blogger Richard Silverstein’s coverage of the The JC, however, the Guardian’s journalistic indiscretions are less egregious.

It’s not an exaggeration to say that Silverstein, taking the lead of  Muslim Public Affairs Committee UK (MPACUK), outright lied about Pollard and the Chronicle.  While anyone even remotely familiar with Silverstein shouldn’t be surprised by anything published at the blog of the former Comment is Free contributor, the following truly should win an award for outright dishonesty.

Here’s the revised version of Silverstein’s original story about the row over Cortiglia, which originally contained a headline similar to the MPACUK lie, which suggested that the BNP candidate had been hired as a columnist by The JC.  (subsequently removed, but confirmed by Pollard)

Notice, Silverstein is still shamelessly writing (in the caption under the photo of Cortiglia) that The JC “offered” the white supremacist a blogging platform, which is a complete and total lie.

Plus, notice the similarity between Silverstein’s headline and that of MPACUK.

Briefly, MPACUK‘s extremism and antisemitism is well documented. They have promoted the idea of a worldwide Zionist conspiracy and used material taken from neo-Nazi, white nationalist, and Holocaust denial websites. A report by the All-Party Parliamentary Group Against Anti-Semitism also notes the CST’s assertion that “[t]he use of ‘Zionist’ as a replacement for ‘Jewish’ is common on the MPACUK website” and that MPACUK has articulated antisemitic conspiracy theories through the language of anti-Zionism.

In a later post, Silverstein weighed in on the contrasting versions of events between Pollard and the Guardian’s Muir, thusly:

[All of  this] leaves one wondering who to believe: an Islamophobic pro-Israel ultranationalist or a reporter for one of England’s most distinguished newspapers.

Silverstein calling Pollard “Islamophobic” and “ultra-nationalist” just means, of course, that he, and his paper, supports Israel’s right to exist, and isn’t afraid to condemn Islamist antisemitism when they see it.

As far as Silverstein’s characterization of the Guardian as “one of England’s most distinguished newspapers”? Well, if by “distinguished” he means, unique in conflating reactionary, violent, antisemitic Islamism with progressive thought, he’s correct. In this category, the UK broadsheet is truly in a class by itself.

As recently as April 19, Yom HaShoah, they provided a platform to radical Islamist preacher Raed Salah, promoter of medieval blood libels, who proceeded to accuse the UK Jewish community of being “supremacists”.

Inayat Bunglawala, an Islamist who believes that the the BBC and the rest of the media are “Zionist controlled” was a contributor to ‘Comment is Free’.

A six month study by Just Journalism published in August 2011 demonstrated that three of the Palestinians who contributed op-eds to ‘Comment is Free’ during a six month  period [during the ‘Palestine Papers’ series] were either members of Hamas or strongly affiliated with it, and have endorsed  terrorist attacks.” The report concluded:

“The decision, by ‘Comment is Free’ [editors] to repeatedly offer a platform to signed-up Hamas members is the logical, if distasteful, outcome of its preference for those who fundamentally disagree with Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state.” 

Again, bear in mind, these hateful extremists were  not blogging in an open blogging platform, but were approved and published by Guardian editors.

Here are excerpts from an email Pollard sent to Silverstein in response to his baldface lies.

Mr Silverstein,

I did not bother to respond to your earlier post in which you simply made up a story, that the JC had announced a new columnist – the BNP candidate for mayor. Quite why you would choose to post a lie, which you must have known was a lie – since you made it up – is your problem, not mine

I suggest that you preface any posts about me and the JC with the words: “This post is made up and has no basis in fact”.

Stephen Pollard

Some final thoughts.

Silverstein is one of the more shrill, dishonest, and hateful extreme left commentators in a very crowded anti-Zionist blogosphere, and, as the title of his blog, Tikkun Olam, (To heal the world), continues to make a mockery of such self-styled progressives 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.

Also, for those unfamiliar with his brand of “liberalism”, and self-styled promoter of “social justice”, it includes expressions of support for a one-state solution, repeated defenses of terror groups like Hamas, and characterizations of IDF soldiers as “bestial” and “subhuman.  

And, he has even likened Israel to Nazi Germany.

Finally, the very notion that the UK Jewish community could even conceivably find common cause with the BNP would be dismissed out of hand by all but the supremely dishonest or those ideologically conditioned to find such implausible alliances politically convenient enough to advance.

The behavior of both Silverstein and the Guardian in this episode (demonizing a mainstream UK Jewish publication, while finding ways to legitimize the most reactionary political forces in the world today, under the absurd veneer of “progressive” thought) demonstrate what this blog has argued continually.  

Much of the the modern Left is in a deep ideological crisis, one which they don’t seem prepared to acknowledge, yet alone overcome.

Richard Silverstein, evidently in an attempt to ‘heal the world’, exposes & endangers pro-Israel blogger

One of the more telling traits of anti-Israel leftist commentators is their immutable belief in their own virtue.  As I’ve argued elsewhere, Israel’s leftist Jewish critics often see themselves as more virtuous, more morally enlightened than their opponents, and, by definition, free of prejudice, hate or malice.

Thus, the NYT’s Thomas Friedman can advance an argument about the corrosive effects of Jewish power on the American body politic which is nearly indistinguishable from those found on the antisemitic right, while largely escaping opprobrium from his political fellow travelers.

An even more egregious example of this dynamic is found on the blogs of Jewish commentators such as Glenn Greenwald and Philip Weiss – who both employ classic antisemitic tropes while continuing to enjoy the moral rewards endowed by the “progressive” brand. 

They often see themselves as – per the name of Richard Silverstein’s blog – attempting to perform Tikun Olam (to repair of heal the world).  They may express hate towards Israelis, and diaspora Jews who support Israel, with an unbridled passion, and even at times defend the most reactionary and racist (anti-Zionist) movements, yet reconcile such enmity as somehow consistent with the values of liberalism and tolerance.

As Woody Allen’s character in Annie Hall quipped, “I’m a bigot, I know, but for the left”.

As we noted in our previous post about Silverstein – in which he was caught posting what he thought to be the personal identity of a pro-Israel blogger with the flimsiest of evidence – his liberal street cred (as a supporter of “social justice”) has not substantially been eroded, despite a record of commentary which includes defending Hamas, characterizing Israelis soldiers as “subhuman“, and likening the Jewish state to Nazi Germany – all while comically claiming to “love” Israel.

Richard Silverstein

One would think that, following the revelations of Silverstein’s gullibility and recklessness in attempting to expose the identity and location of a pro-Israel blogger, he would be at a bit repentant, and perhaps engage in some self-reflection over how his blog, which fancies itself a forum for healing the world, had devolved into a disseminator of vicious anti-Zionist antiprop.

In fact, not only has Silverstein’s subsequent posts clearly demonstrated that no such introspection, personal or political accounting of his devolution occurred, but the opposite dynamic appears to have taken hold.

Per Israellycool in a Dec. 31st post:

While I enjoyed the Sabbath, the Jewish day of rest with my family (and thus could not be online), anti-Israel blogger Richard Silverstein went ahead and revealed what he claims is my real identity, including the neighborhood in which I live. He also claims to have seen photos of my wife and kids.

http://www.richardsilverstein.com/tikun_olam/2011/12/30/aussie-dave-anonymous-no-longer/

Silverstein, in the post cited by Israellycool, gloats:

Dave.  I hope you’re ready for your closeup.  Dave was proud that he snared me in a trap he set inducing me to report a fake identity that he’d devised.  What he didn’t bargain for was that someone (not me) would be so offended by his shenanigans that he outed him.  So here’s what I know: his home address and phone, his wife’s name, her website.  I’ve seen pictures of him, his wife, his kids.  I know where his parents live…

Silverstein then revealed the neighborhood where Dave lives, and issued the following thinly veiled threat:

Dave and his supporters may be tempted to dream up some twisted form of revenge.  I’m holding information in abeyance to tame their passions.

Silverstein concludes:

People now know who he is.  If he continues breaking rules and acting the role of agent provocateur, at least we now know who to blame and can  put a name and face to his misdeeds.

And, now we know who you are Richard – a spiteful, petty and grossly irresponsible propagandist.  

It speaks volumes about the Jewish anti-Zionist left when their understanding of liberalism is so distorted that terrorist movements like Hamas can engender their sympathy – and inspire “liberal” imagination – yet what moves them to righteous outrage are Jews like Aussie Dave with the temerity to passionately and unapologetically defend their family, their community, and their nation from the very real threat posed by malevolent antisemitism.

There’s nothing liberal about Richard Silverstein and his fellow travelers, nor is his animosity towards the Jewish state in any way consistent with the values of Tikun Olam.

You can’t simultaneously claim to “love” Israel, while loathing, and continually expressing contempt towards, actual Israelis.  

Hate – even in the name of “progressive” politics – is still hate.