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, 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.  

18 replies »

  1. I also fail to understand, why a home invasion, in country thousands of miles away, would so greatly enthral British readers, anyway.
    The mark of any obsession, is the turning of any trifle or piffle into the most pertinent and captivating business…
    This latest Greenwood ‘report'(read, hysteria) is a case in point.

  2. Why the hell are you trolling with this, here?
    You’re not a Zionist anyway, what does the ZF, and its actions have to do with you?
    Mr. Levick, get this moron, and his tripe out of here, please…

      • Fritz, my response, as well as Labenal’s, was directed to a comment, that has since been removed.
        My apologies, this was not meant at you, and your post is indeed very interesting. Mr. Levick, if you could remove my riposte to “Armbach”(whose original message you deleted), that would be great!

  3. What’s important about this story is that Silverstein is beset by a major case of hubris. He creates a narrative that arrogates to himself permanent domination over his enemies. He foresees no weaknesses, no vulnerabilities. Except when there are. And the Phoebe Greenwoods of the world fall for this, lock, stock and barrel.

    • Silverstein is the archetypal malignant narcissist with a huge, but paper-thin, ego which is easily punctured.

      Once that happens he’ll crumble.

  4. Because of some discussion in other fores related to the use or misuse of NS

    What exactly is to think of permanent distortion, denounciation, demonisation and misrepresentation of the Jewish state in a newspaper? While giving platform for terrorists against this state? Why can permanently spreaded lies not be called Nazi-style propaganda? Because the journalists of Al Guardian or Al Standard don`t wear blackshirts? Because no Hitler party is on the scene?
    Okay, then let`s call it PostNS style, as postmodern Antisemits, be they Arab, European, left radical, Islamist, Catholic, right extremist, liberal, artist, intellectual, preacher, internet nerd, must not wear visible uniforms to share uniformed visions how to handle the “Zionists”, just share codes.
    They use codes like the story above which promotes the tit for tat-thinking about Jews.
    The codes were spread and financed by the UN and the Soviet bloc around the world for decades and by a lot of Nazis who converted to Islam in Egypt and Syria, after 1945.
    After the downfall and the end of the Cold War. In the nineties and on, using the anonymiity of the internet all sorts of antisemitic codes were disseminated. Tthe once powerful socioeconomical stronghold of the intellectual antizionistic left in medias, and universities was gone, but a lot made careers in arts, leaving behind the ‘culture’ as resort, hence the strange development of cultural studies, islamic studies, postcolonial studies, oriental studies. The postmodern times of the universities, when Said for example applied ‘methods’ of Foucault, and Butler applied ..
    And all united in ‘Antizionism’ as marker, code to fight Israel as long they have to live in capitalism and have to make careers. A surrogate (nothing new in the Jewish history) and a booster, too.
    Now the codes are partially mainstream, on a global scale.
    You can read the same lines of arguments again and again in French, German, Austrian, US-American, Australian or Austrian news publication. It`s uniformed.

    I guess it will be the same in Russian, South African or Brazilian news.
    Not to speak of Arabian.

    And what does that indicate, signify, this fantastic and orgiastic speech of the brutal and immoral state of Israel, of non existent bloodbaths, of a state beyond international law, whose inhabitants are called stranger to the earth there, and are permanently dehumanized and delelegitimised?
    I speculate that the western elites are conditioning their voting population: Don`t feel guilty concerning Jews and Israel, let Arabs or Islamists do it, and those Zionists deserve whatever will happen, because they allegedly provoked it by their alleged misdeeds.
    In this sense, in a speculative view, it is a postNS style preparing and conditioning the people, alienated and desensitized, for …?
    No blood for Oil/Gas, as the Anti-western demonstrations are chanting since the war against Iraq in 1991 – we won`t neither see or hear them in this case.

    Exaggerated? You are sure?

  5. I have a serious question for experienced RS observers (along with my sincere sympathy for having to spend a large amount of time listening to his bullshit): was there a time when his “scoops” weren’t on a Cal Ripken Jr.-level streak of being absolutely wrong and surprisingly easy to disprove? My experience is that for every Seymour Hersh–a journalist who pretty much loathes the West and Israel but who also backs up his reporting on those matters and DOES have a track record of generally, not always, getting his facts straight–there are dozens of people like RS and Mark Perry and Franklin Lamb who tend to regurgitate false claims and simply don’t care if folks outside their bigoted lunatic fringe circle prove them wrong. It’s odd to wonder if someone who said that the Jewish victims of terrorism in 2008 Mumbai deserved to die was ever worth a shit. But I’m just curious.