Much ink has been spilled of late as a result of Richard Silverstein’s latest “scoop.” In a blog post published on August 15th, Silverstein claims to have received an Israeli briefing document outlining Israel’s war plans against Iran. The document in question was allegedly provided to him by “a high-level Israeli source who received it from an IDF officer.” Before publishing this document, he apparently vetted it with several national security experts from both the US and Israel and all attested to its authenticity. Apparently. After a few days of vetting and negotiating with news outlets, he posted his story and the document and was interviewed by the BBC Newshour. That was good enough for everyone and the story was picked up by other news outlets around the world.
But there’s just one thing. Silverstein was duped. Everyone who believed Silverstein was also duped. Of course the authenticity of the document was called into question almost immediately. A larger document that within it contained everything in Silverstein’s document was published days earlier on an Israeli forum called Fresh. Silverstein then claimed that his IDF source leaked the document to a member of Fresh as well, who embellished it in order to disguise “what it was and where it came from.” He also claimed that the person in question only published a small portion of the memo. These claims were easily debunked by Hurry Up Harry who noted that “Silverstein’s piece is the same as the forum posting, with the spelling and phrasing tidied up in a few places, and the more overt fantasy material taken out.” To further clarify things, he compared the two documents in a graphic reproduced below. Silverstein’s “leak” is on the right, the Fresh post is on the left (click to expand):
I see. The document also contains no mention of an Iranian counter attack, which Silverstein attributed to Israeli arrogance – believing that Iran’s ability to respond will have been obliterated by Israel. Silverstein dismissed this and other critiques as the work of the “hasbarafia” and coalition of hard core Zionists acting in tandem under the direction of the Israeli government and whose headquarters are based in Silverstein’s head. Never mind that the briefing document itself seems extremely amateurish and lacks the kind of operational details one would expect from something of this nature. Silverstein to this very moment, continues to claim its authenticity and the bona fides of his source who apparently was a senior minister in a previous Israeli government.
Well, the coupe de grace to whatever is left of Silverstein’s credibility was delivered today when the person who wrote the document on Fresh came forward and reiterated the fact that what was written was based solely on information that was in the public record and that he in fact wrote it. Here is the statement by Fresh in its entirety:
On Silverstein, Responsible media and Ethics in Journalism
Over the past two days, most of the people in Israel (ourselves included), have seen news reports all over the media, detailing the “Israeli Iran Attack Plan”, allegedly originating from one Richard Silverstein, an American Anti-Israeli blogger.
Silverstein, whose lack of integrity is shown by his claims to have never visited www.fresh.co.il though he has an active account, which he used to write 11 posts (the 12th was an attempt to publish classified information and resulted in deletion and a six month suspension of his account â€“ suspension which was ended over a year ago), published yesterday a translation of what he claimed to have been a document obtained from â€œa high-level Israeli source who received it from an IDF officerâ€.
Since we can’t read minds, we can only guess whether Silverstein source actually exist, and whether the source was informed on this â€œattack planâ€. What we don’t need to speculate about, is the fact the first publication of the said document (in a different version, which defined it as â€œan optimistic scenario for an attack in Iranâ€ and clearly stated that it was based on foreign and non-classified sources and on the author’s own imagination) â€“ was published four days before Silverstein’s publication, right here, on this website, in the Army and Security Forum, as a thread which was started by the forum’s moderator, Sirpad, on behalf of one of the forum’s most veteran and respected users, who was the original author of the document (yes, he and non-other).
Since we have no expectations that a man who dedicates his life to causing harm to the State of Israel and its citizens, will be honest enough to admit that his â€œscoopâ€ is neither scoop nor his, we were hoping that at least the Israeli Media, which rushed to quote Silverstein, Will know to give Sirpad, the real author, and original place of publication, their due credit. Needless to say they we were disappointed. Since yesterday there were articles in NRG, YNET, Channel 2, Ma’ariv (whose printed version did point out that Silverstein wasn’t in fact the first publisher of the story, but failed to name Sirpad, The real author, or fresh.co.il and identified the true origin as â€œan Israeli Forumâ€ ), Israel army radio and “Israel Hayom” â€“ and none of them gave the credit which media outlets are supposed to give.
Worthy of a positive mention is Avri Gilad who named the true origin of the story both in his morning show in Channel 2 and in his radio show in the Army radio.
We understand there is great deal of embarrassment among the media, which had quoted a dubious and irresponsible blogger, but that shouldn’t, in our opinion, cause them to refrain from correcting their articles, now, when they know the truth. In fact the seriousness of a news publication can be measured in its willingness to admit its mistakes and to correct them.
We hope that media outlets, mentioned here, all of them among the most respected in Israel, will know to set things right, and clarify that the original publication was written by a veteran and well known member of the fresh.co.il community, and was published on his behalf by the Moderator of the Army and Security Forum, Sirpad. That is how a responsible media should act â€“ and this how any news organization would expect other to treat him or its reporters were things different.
Some have claimed that Silverstein lifted the information from Fresh. I doubt that – even Silverstein’s arrogance and stupidity has its limits. But what is clear is that someone pulled the wool over the eyes of Silverstein and his altekaker former Minister source. In his rush to discredit Israel and cement his self-proclaimed moniker as the Wikileaks of Israel, Silverstein didn’t do even the most basic research. He claims he only found out about the Fresh post after the BBC interview. He had time to negotiate with several media outlets but no time to do a simple Google search which would have led him to Fresh, and to the author of the post and may have led him to reconsider his claims.
Silverstein claims to be a Zionist. Clearly he isn’t. Silverstein claims to be a journalist. Clearly he isn’t that as well. When I asked our fearless leader ck why we hadn’t covered this at all, he told me that it was obvious that the document was fake and that Silverstein was just vying for attention. Now that there is no doubt to anyone reasonable that the document is fake, I guess it’s ok to let the world know, again, what a grossly unreliable source Silverstein is. Of course it’s too late. It’s unlikely that all of the 1000s of media outlets that reported this fake story will issue retractions, but at least Jewlicious readers know and that’s all that matters. Because you’re all so cute and we love you so much!
Most of the Jewlicious crew is in LA enjoying SummerFest (I am so jealous) and ck is probably surrounded by loved ones enjoying a peaceful Jerusalem Sabbath. I’m wasting my lunch break writing this post! I’m going to hit submit and then I am going to get something tasty at Coldstone Creamery. I deserve it. Have a wonderful weekend and a restful Sabbath.
UPDATE: All references to the Fresh post mentioned above in the comments section of Richard Silverstein’s blog have been quietly deleted. Silverstein claims that the IDF officer that leaked this document to his source also leaked it to Fresh. However, Fresh has always claimed, even before Silverstein’s “scoop,” that the document was written by an anonymous source, based on publicly available information. Usually when someone writes something on Silverstein’s blog that he disagrees with, he responds forcefully. So why the quiet deletions? I imagine Silverstein is embarrassed, as he should be. But there is no indication that he is ready to admit that he has been fully and completely duped. Richard Silverstein remains as arrogant and delusional as ever.
UPDATE BY CK: Richard Silverstein finally explains why he deleted the link to Fresh that debunked his claims:
Joel August 18, 2012 at 10:09 AM
Richard. Did you remove Omri’s comment from yesterday. It was there yesterday and now it’s gone. Omri linked to Fresh.co.il where Fresh served their rebuttal to you. Fresh.co identified the real author of the subject post and he doesn’t appear to be your â€˜source’. What’s going on?
Richard Silverstein August 18, 2012 at 12:49 PM
I’m not going to allow my site to be used to get into a pissing contest with Fresh. If you like that site my all means make your home there. But don’t bring the garbage it represents here. I have no interest in it or anything it represents.
That goes for other commenters as well.
So let me see if I understand this. An officer in the IDF, presumably opposed to the war rumblings emanating from Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak, leaks a highly sensitive document to a former Minister in a former government and to an Israeli forum that discusses military issues (as well as video games, pop culture and a whole host of topics). Then, the person at Fresh, Sirpad, the moderator of the Army and Security Forum, added, according to Silverstein, a bunch of stuff to the leaked and very important document, posted it and then claimed to have written it himself based on publicly available information. Did Silverstein try to ascertain from the original leaker how he felt about this alleged vandalism? Was he pissed that the Fresh moderator defanged his leak? Silverstein had enough contact with said leaker to be able to assert that the document was simultaneously leaked both to him and to Fresh. And yet? We have no indication of the reasoning behind the leak to Fresh. We have no indication regarding how the leaker felt about what was done to the document he provided and how his role in leaking it to Fresh as well as its official governmental provenance was completely ignored. What am I saying? I’m saying that Richard Silverstein is a liar trying to cover his ass. He claims to be above a pissing contest with Fresh, yet the original leaker felt highly enough about Fresh that he likened them in importance to Silverstein’s former minister in a former government.
Silverstein’s explanations are far too convoluted to be believable. In all likelihood, Silverstein was fooled, and not even that well. How convenient is it that the National Security experts that Silverstein relied on to vouch for the likely authenticity of the document have chosen to remain anonymous. They, if they do in fact exist, and their reputations, if they ever had any, have remained unsullied by public support for this epic nonsense. Silverstein however has sunk to a new low, if that’s even possible. Bully, nasty, delusional, obsessive, stupid, ignorant and a liar.