Tikun Olam has been in the news today in no less than three publications and I’m delighted. First, after hocking everyone I could think of including The Forward about the Bishara story for some time, they assigned their Israeli correspondent, Orly Halpern to write about it. She did an estimable job though she didn’t report on the substance of the alleged charges.
The Forward also ran a short account of my reportage on the case:
Although Israel-based journalists are barred from publishing the particulars of the Azmi Bishara case, some details have been reported in Arab media outlets and in the blogosphere. One of the most explicit and seemingly reliable accounts appeared in the Tikun Olam Web site of Seattle blogger Richard Silverstein, who is a frequent critic of Israeli policy and is sympathetic to Jewish causes.
This quotation in the piece from my blog notes:
“…Getting approval of the Supreme Court…indicates that the charges against him are serious and perhaps credible, since they have been vetted by Israel’s highest court.”
But it omits the following:
Though how credible these charges are is again anyone’s guess.
It makes it appear that I accord more credibility than I really do to the charges.
Also, The Forward said that my Israeli informant believed that Bishara is being charged with accepting money from a foreign government for his personal use:
The $5 million, whose original source remains unclear [ed., actually my blog noted the funds are claimed to have come from Syria], is believed to have been taken by Bishara for personal purposes, not political ones, suggesting that the authorities are seeking to build a case of corruption.
I would’ve changed the phrase “is believed” to “is alleged.”
The Seattle Post Intelligencer technology columnist, Monica Guzman, wrote her NetNative column about Tim O’Reilly’s blogging code of conduct and my blog impostor:
Seattle blogger Richard Silverstein has a similar case, but a tougher issue. He advocates for peace in the Middle East on his political news blog and says he likes the code because it could give him more ammo against angry commenters who toss up the immature accusation that he’s violating their freedom of speech when he deletes needlessly nasty posts.
Detractors created a fake blog for the sole purpose of attacking him and his beliefs, using everything from religious insults to photos of his 6-year-old son.
I had a few quibbles here as well. First, she didn’t link to my blog (though she did mention its name). Second, she didn’t mention Blogger.com as the host of the fake blog. I had really hoped that she would name Blogger publicly so I could point to this when I lobby the company to take the site down. However, there is a Computerworld article by Mary Brandel coming out just after April 26th on my fake blog and in my interview I tried to emphasize what I view as Blogger’s responsibilities as a host and its shirking of those responsibilities.
Third, Jim Besser just published a terrific Jewish Week story about the AIPAC spy trial and included an interview he did with me earlier this week:
On the other side of the political spectrum, the case has become a marker pointing to what activists say is an out-of-control Israel lobby.
For many on the Jewish left, the case highlights “the hubris of AIPAC,” said Richard Silverstein, a persistent critic of U.S. and Israeli policy and editor of the Tikun Olam blog. “It goes to an issue of an organization that believes it has such hegemony over the Israel issue in the American Jewish community that it can act as it wishes.”
…Activists on the left still insist the case tarnishes AIPAC itself. To Silverstein, the case demonstrates that “AIPAC gets so wrapped up in advancing Israel’s interests that it has lost sight completely that there might be different perspectives in the American Jewish community.”
Many on the far left are portraying the case as “proof” Israel and its American supporters are distorting U.S. policy to suit Israel’s leaders.
“For many, the case confirms that AIPAC is operating contrary to U.S. interests,” he said. “There are anti-Semites out there; it just confirms the worst attitudes these people have about AIPAC being a foreign agent. And it harms the reputation of the American Jewish community for people to be engaging in this kind of borderline behavior, or over-the-line behavior.”
Other than being characterized as “on the far left” I was happy with Besser’s characterization of our interview. The AIPAC trial is very important stuff and I’m glad he’s writing about it using terms like “hubris” which it certainly warrants.
After four years of slogging through the blogosphere in virtual anonymity (well, not quite but almost), it’s good to be recognized for one’s work. May it continue.
Leila A. says
I am very proud of you, Richard. You have done well. This is what the blogosphere does the best – noodge the mainstream media to pay attention to stories the corporate headquarters don’t want to touch.
This is so well deserved. Your blog’s combination of quality writing, intellectual substance and courage makes it so precious and deserving of wide attention.
Speaking truth to power is always a lonely and frustrating slog, and it’s doubly so when you happen to be questioning sacred cows that are relentlessly whitewashed by the MSM. It’s also exhausting, as you must constantly contend with hordes of intellectual thugs who hurl the same tautological arguments over and over.
The nature of the Blogosphere, alas, rewards partisanship and “attitude” over fairness and substance, so it’s so heartening to see a voice of reason like yourself getting recognition.
Forgot to mention that an outspoken dissident like you is subjected to a hardship that even Muslims in this day of rampant Islamophobia rarely face: The ferocious hatred and bile of hardliners in your own community that consider your dissent treasonous and dangerous.
Few things in this world are uglier than the fury of pro-Israeli zealots towards Jewish activists who try to dare to apply Jewish principles of justice to Israel. You really get a sense that they’d rend you limb from limb if they could. It’s sickening.