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Ron Radosh

Another of my favorites is Silverstein’s condemnation of the Israeli historian Benny Morris, who rightfully calls the ideology of Hamas “Nazi-like,” which Silverstein comments is worthy of a point of view only taken by “rightist ideologues.”

So the paper of record has now stooped to the level of using as a source a blatant leftist Israel hater, whom it characterizes falsely as a “liberal” –  a term which perhaps 90 percent of the paper’s readership identifies with. Hence, they will most likely see the source as credible. This is pertinent since Silverstein is quoted as defending Leibowitz, whom he calls “an American patriot and a whistle-blower,” who was concerned of “the possibility of an Israeli strike on Iran” –  something which both Leibowitz and Silverstein are obviously opposed to. Thus Silverstein had written blogs based on what Leibowitz had illegally given to him, including a report that the Israeli embassy had given President-elect Obama “regular written briefings” on Israel’s war with Hamas in Gaza between his election and inauguration. Another dealt with conversations with Israeli officials and members of Congress, and a third dealt with a phone call between a Jewish activist in Minnesota and the meeting of an Israeli embassy official with Rep. Keith Ellison of Minnesota, who was preparing to go to Gaza.

I have a few thoughts about what Leibowitz passed on and what Silverstein published. First, the entire episode leads me to recall the hullabaloo for the past few years about the indictment of the two former AIPAC lobbyists who were accused of accepting classified information from Larry Franklin, in an FBI sting operation. The case was eventually thrown out of court. Those who followed it remember scores of stories about how the indictment revealed that the two innocent AIPAC officials were betraying their own country, and that it proved the “dual loyalty” of those Americans who were supporting Israel.

Now, Richard Silverstein, by his own admission, accepted illegal classified information from an employee of the FBI, who compromised national security by giving the leftist blogger the classified data, in order to help stop what he thought might be an Israeli policy of which he disapproved. Silverstein blogged on the items because he too wanted to stop a possible Israeli strike on Iran.

Isn’t Mr. Silverstein, then, an accomplice to Leibowitz’s violation of the Espionage Act? He knew what he received was given to him illegally, and that he was dealing with secret information. Why, then, isn’t the U.S. government seeking to prosecute him also?  Silverstein told the Times that after Leibowitz’s indictment, he burned the material in his back yard. As Omri Ceren wrote today at Contentions, “maybe the Times can explain how functionally single-sourced stories from agenda-driven partisans now qualify as publishable.”

Moreover, Shane even wrote that Silverstein’s “account could not be fully corroborated.” Yet the paper ran with the story. Evidently, if the story comes from a leftist opponent of Israel, it is worthy of a major story, even if the account eventually turns out to have major holes in it.

Perhaps when it comes to the Middle East, the paper should now have as its slogan: “All the anti-Israel news that we choose to print.” At least, then, readers would know what they’re getting when they buy the paper.

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