The best – and kindest – way to describe Richard Silverstein is that he’s silly. Very silly indeed. He sincerely believes that his blog makes an important contribution to world peace, so important that he regularly asks readers to give him money. After a frustrating first few years as a blogger, while he tried to find a bigger audience, most respectable publications realised that he was silly and wouldn’t have anything to do with him. Then he realised that he could reinvent himself as a ‘whistle-blower’, publishing stories that wouldn’t pass the Israeli military censors. This got him the attention he craved, including one or two profiles in the Israeli media. Some of his exposes were accurate; many were not. In assessing his sources, he seems to go by the principle that if it seems to be bad for Israel then it must be true. Needless to say, this isn’t necessarily the way to go if you want to be taken seriously.
Earlier today, in a report that someone with Silverstein’s prose might describe as ‘breathless’, he declared: “An exclusive report from a confidential highly-placed Israeli source says that a booby-tapped drone crashed and exploded at the top-secret Israeli airbase Sdot Micha.” According to this ‘confidential highly-placed source’, the drone was probably sent by Hizbollah/Iran, and the mainstream media reports (that it was an Israeli drone which malfunctioned) were a cover-up.
Over at +972, Dimi Reider convincingly demolishes Silverstein’s claims. His analysis seems reasonable. But he doesn’t stop there. The obvious conclusion is that Silverstein can’t be trusted (those who want to point out that he sometimes gets it right should be reminded that even a broken clock is correct twice a day), but Reider says he has unwittingly played into the IDF’s hands. “But the real question is: who would have us believe this highly improbably hypothesis is true? Iran is mostly trying to avoid escalation [by reassuring Israel that it is perfectly comfortable with its existence – Alex]. Why it would give Israel a perfect casus belli by launching such a blatant military attack, which causes no significant damage, is beyond me; but I can well imagine plenty of people within the IDF who would dearly like a casus belli to bolster their case for an attack on Iran. If I were Richard, I would be extremely suspicious of any information – especially uncorroborated information – that helps the pro-war camp in Israel. Not to mention that the source might be acting in good faith, but is being hoodwinked by his own sources within the system.”
Now, Dimi is far more intelligent than most of the folk out there who oppose Jewish statehood, and he’s certainly far more intelligent than the man with no sense of irony who calls his blog Tikun Olam. He must know that Silverstein’s a bit of a dupe. But here his world-view has forced him into some ludicrous contortions, especially now that Israeli footage of the drone proves that it was indeed Israeli. If the IDF wanted us to believe that Iran/Hizbollah had crashed a drone in Israel, why wouldn’t it just say so? Why would it bother coming up with a plausible – and verifiable – story about an Israeli drone malfunctioning? Why would it choose to use a consistently inaccurate and possibly unhinged blogger to try to convince the world that Iran was attacking Israel? Has he heard of Occam’s Razor?
The only conclusion to be drawn from this episode is that Richard Silverstein shouldn’t be taken seriously. But then most of us knew that a long time ago.6 comments