Poor Richard’s Almanac of False Accusations

This is a guest post by Michael Weiss.

I should thank Richard Silverstein of the Tikkun Olam blog for authenticating the Syrian state document I produced at The Daily Telegraph showing that the Assad regime orchestrated the ‘Nakba Day’ raid of Palestinian refugees into the Golan Heights on May 14. According to Silverstein’s “source” — someone he claims is a “former high ranking Israeli government source” — the document is indeed real.  But that’s not his purpose for writing.

Silverstein’s source evidently says that I obtained this document from Israeli intelligence.

That’s a falsehood.

As I told a reporter at The Washington Times who interviewed me about my story on Tuesday, my source is a Syrian who is not in the Assad regime but is well-placed to verify state documents. 

I pointed this out to Silverstein who, in his characteristic Get Smart forensic fashion, decided that my credibility was thus compromised since I supposedly claimed I got this document from the Governor’s Office of al-Qunaitera in Syria. I did no such thing, of course. I said I had been forwarded documents leaked by that office, which is true. Read my original blog. Silverstein has difficulty distinguishing a journalistic source from a leak’s point of origin.

I should have known better than to try to engage with someone who believes that when he falls for a Purim ‘spoof’ article in Ha’aretz, it’s the result of a Zionist neocon conspiracy.

Inevitably, many far left, anti-Israel websites (including Middle East Monitor Online; wazzup, guys?) are now taking this tenderheaded crackpot’s non-debunking as fact.

I offered to explain things slowly and dispassionately to Silverstein on the phone, seeing as he judges himself to be doing “reporting.” Surely, if he’s going to call people liars in print, he might query them himself and not rely on hearsay.

I’ve printed our full correspondence below.

Note that Silverstein has climbed down a bit from his original assertion that I was “prevaricat[ing]”, perhaps feeling that he’s not quite so sure of his own source’s reliability or that maybe a new Mossad telepathy technology has corrupted his judgment yet again.

He is now saying that my Syrian source may be an Israeli spy.

Silverstein may have learned his argumentative technique from the mukhabarat.

He has ‘updated’ his original Tikkun Olam post several times since we emailed, first stating that I must have spoken to Eli Lake of The Washington Times (birds of a feather!). I didn’t. Silverstein obviously only read the article in question after writing about it (which is bad standard practice for a reporter), saw the byline belonged to another (Ben Birnbaum), and deleted that boo-boo.

He also wrongly suggests that Tony Badran of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies “authenticated” the Syrian document and that because Badran is a “neocon,” his trustworthiness is nil. But Badran didn’t authenticate anything, as you can see from the Washington Times piece. (He merely said what was in the document was common knowledge already, which is true.)

But again, guess who did authenticate the document?

Silverstein’s own source.

So in sum:

A very silly man with difficulties reading helps prove that Bashar al-Assad orchestrated Nakba Day raids in order to distract from Assad’s own savagery in Syria.

Thanks, Richard.

From: Richard Silverstein
To: Michael Weiss
RE: Your post

June 16, 2011 11:13:51 AM GMT+01:00

Did it ever occur to you that if your source is indeed Syrian that he might likely be an asset of Israeli intelligence?  I’m telling you that my source would know such things, while you don’t.  Did you ever ask yourself why a ‘Syrian patriot’ would be leaking stories to a pro-Israel journalistic asset?
I’ve had enough blasts out of you in the past & don’t feel the need to speak any further to such specimens.

From: Michael Weiss
Sent: Thursday, June 16, 2011 2:58 AM
To: Richard Silverstein
Subject: Re: Your post
My source passed along a document leaked by the Office of the Governorate of Quneitra. That’s why I began my post by saying “I was forwarded…”  All of which is true.

I know you think everything is a neocon-Mossad conspiracy, but in this case, you’re wrong.

If you’d like to speak about this, please call me at the number below or provide a phone number where I can reach you.


n Jun 16, 2011, at 10:54 AM, Richard Silverstein wrote:

I’m afraid you have no credibility since in your story you claim that document was leaked by the governor of Quneitra. Now you’re claiming it wasn’t leaked by a government official, but by some other unknown Syrian who somehow can authenticate the document. Which is it? Who’s your friend at the Washington Times? Eli Lake no doubt. Birds of a feather.

As for my source, he’s a former high ranking Israeli official with excellent intelligence sources. He knows whereof he speaks. If he’s wrong, prove it. When you do, I’ll print a correction. Until then, I’ll be reporting that you can’t seem to get yr story about who yr source is straight.

—–Original Message—–
From: Michael Weiss
Sent: Thursday, June 16, 2011 1:54 AM
To: xxxxxxxx
Subject: Your post

From: Michael Weiss
Subject: Your post

Message Body:
Dear Richard,

I’m afraid you’ve got this wrong. My source was not a member of Israeli intelligence. I don’t know who you’re talking to, but it might have paid to have [rung] me up to ask before you accused me, in print, of lying.

I told the Washington Times that my source was, in fact, a Syrian, not in the current government but in a position to authenticate state documents.

I would ask that you print a retraction.

Michael Weiss