Richard Silverstein exposed

In a post I published yesterday I described Richard Silverstein as a fool. It appears that I may have been treating him too kindly.

Richard Silverstein

Soon after Silverstein published a “document” which he described as “Bibi’s Secret War Plan” a number of Israeli readers were quick to note the glaring similarity between this “document” and a post on the Israeli social media site, Fresh.

Silverstein accounted for the similarities by saying this:

My original IDF source leaked the post to a Fresh member and me at the same time. That person published a small portion of the original memo at Fresh, embellishing it with much material that was meant to disguise what it was and where it came from. I can’t ascribe motives to whoever published it at Fresh, but much of it [is] fantasy and isn’t in the original document.

The operators of Fresh have now released the following statement which makes it clear that Silverstein’s “document” originated from the Fresh post itself. Whether it was Silverstein’s own plagiarism or someone else’s we don’t know, but his claim that this is an Israeli government document has now been shown to be false. Again, whether Silverstein was duped or was a knowing participant in this act of falsification, we don’t know.

I suggested yesterday that Silverstein has been given attention by the mainstream media that he doesn’t deserve, but I think the situation has now changed. The same reporters who were recently willing to turn to him for information about his latest dubious “scoop” should now be calling him to ask some tough questions.

Here’s the statement from Fresh:

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 – suspension which was ended over a year ago), published yesterday a translation of what he claimed to have been a document obtained from “a high-level Israeli source who received it from an IDF officer”.

Since we can’t read minds, we can only guess whether Silverstein source actually exist, and whether the source was informed on this “attack plan”. 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 “an optimistic scenario for an attack in Iran” and clearly stated that it was based on foreign and non-classified sources and on the author’s own imagination) – 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 “scoop” 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 “an Israeli Forum” ), Israel army radio and “Israel Hayom” – 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 – and this how any news organization would expect other to treat him or its reporters were things different.

Sincerely,
Fresh.co.il team

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Comments

  1. No html tags can be used here? I’ll cut out most but will try bold anyway. Any chance to give the commentariat at least some tools?

    OK, so both Sirpad, and and the most respected community member and author and of the document are disappointed? Only because Silverstein did not acknowledge their authorship?

    Does that make him a:
    “Richard Silverstein, an American Anti-Israeli blogger.”
    or only a copyright felon? I am assuming Silverstein can prove how he received the document. What do you think? Let’s suppose he can prove his reception, wouldn’t that make you and your partners guilty of libel? Could such matters be somehow handled confidentially by the legal community? I don’t know, but you may?

    Strictly as a professional journalist, I would at least be careful to take a position between these two obviously opposite political camps. Richard’s version of matters sounds not completely impossible to me, given his background.

    “Needless to say they we were disappointed.”

    they/we? Disappointed, hmm? It feels, if what they write is true, they should be enraged to the point of wasting a thought on the idea of prosecuting Silverstein. No?

    How about finding out how this author or “one of the forum’s most veteran and respected users”, managed to learn about the super secret weapon of Israel, not even the US knows about? This is the most interesting part and reminds me of the topic of Israel’s superior intelligence knowledge, which admittedly I find hard to believe given US presence in the region and intelligence budgets.

    “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).”

    Wouldn’t this be a matter to investigate now that they give us the anonymous author? Although strictly Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow comes to mind.

    What about the fact that whatever one thinks of the small document, it actually feels exactly what Silverstein calls it: simply another sales pitch (Point of no Return, remember?) for war against Iran.

    What exactly would your respected correspondence partners have to say about this? Do they consider war against Iran necessary, would they prefer the US to do it? Would they be so kind to offer us a complete translation of their article including comment section?

    Let’s see if Netanyahu in his upcoming encounter with Obama or his UN speech shows us all that these matters are just feverish imagination and he and Barak never intended to either push the US into war or start one themselves. In spite of all we can read or hear in the press, that is. Richard surely isn’t a lonely voice here, and admittedly I would hesitate to judge the motivation of his informant, which I believe exists.

    I trust the world would be thankful if the topic is finally off the table after all these years. On the other hand at one point Israel has to walk the talk. Don’t you think? Do you honestly think the US can stand apart and watch?

  2. “LeaNder” — you are treating the question about the source of the “document” as though it is trivial — as though it makes little difference whether a “war plan” emanates from the Israeli government or instead from the thread of a social media forum. In reality it makes a world of difference. Neither Iran nor any other actor needs to respond in any way to the fantasies of people writing in open forums.

    You write: “I am assuming Silverstein can prove how he received the document.” No doubt he can, but how he received it doesn’t tell us where it originated from. He says he received it from a former Israeli government minister who in turn received it from an IDF officer. Even if that claim is taken at face value, as the statement from Fresh makes clear, the author has been identified and Silverstein has refused to respond to that statement. Moreover, he has made a series of contradictory statements about the post on Fresh and his own connection to that forum.

    He says: “I had nothing to do with anything published in Fresh and never visit the site.” But he then says: “I once attempted to publish a piece of news that was gagged I was banned there and have never returned since.” You can’t attempt to publish something and then get banned from a site you’ve never visited.

    The statement from Fresh provides strong evidence that on this issue Silverstein has lied.

    …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 – suspension which was ended over a year ago)…

    Silverstein is now attempting to duck the whole issue of the connection between his “document” which he still claims is an Israeli government war plan, and the post that originally appeared at Fresh. Indeed, he insists that the “proof” of the document’s authenticity is the fact that the Israeli government has not issued a statement disavowing the plan. According to this line of reasoning, any claim that Silverstein ever makes about the Israeli government that does not elicit an official denial, must be true. That’s a pretty striking testament to his narcissistic delusions.

    Nevertheless, if we apply his own line of reasoning to his own statements, then the fact that he has maintained a stunning silence in response to the substance of the statement issued by Fresh, presumably means that there is nothing in that statement that he can refute.

    I guess I can expect Silverstein’s defenders to start showing up here with some frequency but I can’t promise that I’ll be willing to spend much time responding to lame defenses they may present. I would note however that when I attempted to challenge Silverstein directly after he wrote a post in which he smeared me, he refused to publish my comment. This is what I wrote:

    Richard — The dictionary defines a smear as “a usually unsubstantiated charge or accusation against a person or organization.” I didn’t make unsubstantiated charges or accusations against you — I laid out in detail the evidence showing that many of the claims you were making about “Bibi’s Secret War Plan” were false.

    The source of the “document” which you claimed had been leaked from the Israeli government has now been shown to be a post on the Fresh social media site and the operators of the site have released a statement vouching for that fact.

    Instead of addressing the serious questions about how you came to misrepresent this text which turns out not to be have been a leaked document, it seems that you now want to brush the whole issue under the carpet, presumably in the hope that it will blow over and you can return to business as usual.

    By choosing to characterize what’s going on now as an unfortunate political fray, you are signalling that integrity is not something to which you attach much value.

    You also seem to have adopted the tactics of an evangelical minister appealing to believers to stand together and uphold the faith, but I don’t think that we operate in an arena where any of us should be asking our readers to have faith in who we are or what we claim to stand for. Our work should be able to stand up to scrutiny and when it doesn’t we should take responsibility for that fact.

    Imagine “Bibi’s Secret War Plan” had been published by Max Boot on a National Review blog and then shown to be bogus. A firestorm would have been ignited on the Left and yours no doubt would have been one of the most strident voices calling Boot to account.

    The fact is, this is not a Left-Right issue. It comes down to whether one believes that integrity really matters.

    Since you haven’t linked to either of my posts and invited your readers to judge for themselves whether I was engaging in an unfair attack, here are the links:


    As things currently stand, by making an unsubstantiated claim that I smeared you, you are the one who is actually engaged in a smear campaign against me.

    Why don’t you instead try and clean up this mess and explain as best you can how you came to be misled and then state for the record that “Bibi’s Secret War Plan” is no such thing?

    Silverstein’s effort to rally the faithful will help him retain the loyalty of his closest supporters and I take it that their sentiment has been aptly expressed by one called “Mary” who commented on his site yesterday: “Richard, whether you’re right or wrong on this one doesn’t matter. You’re one of the best and most courageous bloggers out there. Carry on!”

    Needless to say, I am not among the faithful and on the contrary I really do think it matters whether someone is being truthful. Some people believe that dishonesty can be used in the service of a greater cause. I don’t share this belief — indeed I think that as soon as one opens the door to what might appear like useful forms of deception, it will become increasingly difficult to clearly discern the difference between truth and falsity.

  3. Thanks Paul, first, I absolutely agree with you, that integrity matters. Besides, I would love to see the original Fresh article including the whole comment section in a reliable translation to be able to compare.

    I am no follower of Richard or true believer in everything he writes, I’ve noticed his troubles with the world outside before, but mainly with the hawkish pro-Israel forces. Fact is, I can’t judge it, I never put myself on the line to the extend he does. But I basically respect him in spite of irritations about his occasional rashness, and a basic tendency while growing older to be hesitant about more specular reports. Fact is these are no normal times, and rumor, a topic I carefully studied is a complex issue.

    But from what I know about him, I find it very, very hard to believe that he in fact deliberately misrepresented something he found on the page of Fresh.

    The only thing I deeply regret in this context is that I did not start learning Hebrew, when I first thought about it. My co-German b or bernard, occupying Moon of Alabamy as a not so good substitute for Billmon, whom I as Richard Silverstein miss, calls the person that published the report based on Google translate “Nettle”, your translation calls him “Sirpad”. Is that a Hebrew transliteration of Nettle?

    One thing, I did not like your headline: Silverstein exposed, due to a longer story that would take too much time to explain. Your above comment also suggests that you consider him a liar.

    I have to look into this much more closely chronologically, but strictly, why should I trust an anonymous Fresh member more than someone Richard seems to trust, maybe for the wrong reason? Sure sources matter, but are you sure you know the whole story? Richard claims there are differences in the two publications, do you think Google translate like “b” does get us close enough?

  4. Given the way in which Richard has repeatedly modified and even contradicted the things he says about Fresh, it’s very hard to treat his word on this matter as reliable. Sadly, many people find it very difficult to admit their mistakes and will often instead dig themselves even deeper into a hole in order to avoid what might initially have been a rather small humiliation. The onus is on Richard now to provide more factual details about what happened rather engage in self-righteous rants about being victimized. He doth protest too much.

    Not only does the statement from Fresh identify the author of the post as one of its veteran users, but it also provides what to most observers would be a realistic description of the nature of the text — “‘an optimistic scenario for an attack in Iran’ … based on foreign and non-classified sources and on the author’s own imagination”. (Needless to say, this can only be called “optimistic” from the vantage point of the author.)

    So, on the one hand we have the claim that an Israeli who is clearly gung-ho about the idea of Israel attacking Iran, wrote down his dream scenario and posted it in a social media thread, and on the other hand we have the claim that this text is a “sales pitch” that Benjamin Netanyahu has used to drum up support for an attack. The first explanation for the origin of this “document” is highly plausible and the second — given the actual substance of the document — highly implausible.

    I would defy you, Richard or anyone else to find a single national security expert who focuses on these issues to state on the record that he or she believes that Richard’s “document” is what he claims it to be.