I have been in a long-running political fracas with the hardline pro-Israel advocacy group, StandWithUs, and its Northwest director, Rob Jacobs. Recently, I received a blog comment from someone calling himself “swustaff:”
I wrote to Jacobs suggesting that he examine the IP addresses of StandWithUs supporters and members to discover whether someone affiliated with the group (the IP is located in Dallas, TX) might be sending this sort of disgusting smut. [UPDATE: a reader has discovered that this IP is a proxy, which is entirely unsurprising. Such cowards would certainly wish to cover their tracks so they cannot be identified.] I doubt anyone on SWU staff would be stupid enough to send this but you should never underestimate the stupidity of people who write crap like this. Jacobs’ of course, falsely charges that I claimed that the comment actually came from a member of the SWU staff. I did not (though of course I would’ve liked for him to definitely rule this out). I decided I would forward the comment to Rob and allow him to try to deal with it internally if he chose. I deliberately decided not to circulate the comment to the Jewish federation, which maintains extremely close relations with StandWithUs.
So how did Rob repay me? First, he accuses me of writing the comment myself. Yes, that’s right, in the world according to Rob I’m the new Tawana Brawley of Seattle’s Jewish community. Then he accuses me of “needing help” and “intervention.” This is how the pro-Israel right chooses to deal with the lunatics in THEIR midst who appropriate their organizational name to smear Jewish progressives. They accuse the victim of being the lunatic and this somehow washes their hands of the problem. This is Rob’s e mail to me:
Stop making these things [blog comments] up and get some therapy.
[Someone should] try to help Richard before he really hurts himself and others….When all of a sudden, out of nowhere and without precedent, from three different sources, nearly simultaneous sets of obscene messages tending to focus on his genitals shows [sic] up apparently coming from false email addresses that all have some vague similarity to individuals or groups that he’s recently attacked on his blog . . . that’s not a coincidence, it’s a problem that, as friends or acquaintances of Richards, deserves some kind of intervention.
First, the comments did not start “all of a sudden.” I’ve been receiving similar comments since I began writing the blog. Second, they don’t come from “out of nowhere.” I’ve criticized StandWithUs, Rob Jacobs and David Brumer (a local board member) for their behavior during a recent local Jewish federation fracas in which a local Jewish progressive group was attacked for hosting a talk by Palestinian anti-Occupation cleric, Naim Ateek. The abusive comments follow directly on these posts.
What “proof” does Rob produce to support his claim? Recently, another commenter appropriated the name of Z Street, another loopy pro-Israel advocacy group which I’ve criticized, and tried to publish this comment here:
Submitted on 2009/08/05 at 7:04am
We at Z Street are offering for sale Richard Silverstein’s foreskin with his penis still attached. It is our way of saying thanks to all those who support our now campaign against treason and self-hatred.”
Jerry Gordon of Israpundit, a real Sherlock Holmes of pro-Israel extremist blogging, claims that the e mail address used in this fraudulent smear comment is located in Redmond, WA. Frankly, I’ve never heard of being able to associate an e-mail address with a geographical location, though this site Gordon dreamed up claims it can do this. [UPDATE: A reader below has discovered that what this website actually tells you is the geographical location of the domain registrant, NOT the owner of the e mail address. Nice try Jerry, you’ve made the brilliant discovery that Microsoft, which owns Hotmail, is located in Redmond, WA. Unlike you, most of the rest of the world already knew this.]
I live in Seattle, WA. nearly 20 miles from Redmond. I’ve never lived or worked in Redmond nor does anyone in my family, nor do I have any friends or acquaintances from that town, nor do I ever visit it for business or any other reason. But somehow all this means that the e mail address is mine and hence I wrote the above comment. And to cap it all off, I entered my own e mail address into this supposed service and it claims I am located in Aurora, IL! Maybe Rob might want to rethink reliance on this as evidence. Unfortunately for our little detectives they didn’t bother to look up the IP address associated with this comment. It is located in Seacaucus, N.J., quite a long way from Redmond or Seattle.
What these two geniuses, Jacobs and Gordon neglect to understand is that any commenter can invent any e mail address they wish when they publish a comment. An e mail address is an indicator or proof of precisely nothing.
Further, if Jacobs really believes I’ve slandered StandWithUs by inventing these comments, he must present real evidence. If he does not, then he’s taking the cheap way out. You smear someone, but don’t have the courage of your convictions to back it up. I doubt Jacobs would want to defend a tissue of lies in court. But if he does, then have at it.
There are real issues which Jacobs is obfuscating beneath a blizzard of scummy insinuations and claims. That is, why would anyone of the pro-Israel right feel the need to smear me in the name of Z Street, StandWithUs or David Brumer? Could it be that the smears, lies and hatred which they’ve disseminated against me have impacted someone already mentally unstable and goaded them to get in on the act? Unfortunately, Jacobs’ response is not only that he has no responsibility for this, but that it’s something I’ve invented in my head. This tells you a great deal about the quality of leadership offered by StandWithUs.
If SWU was a fringe group in our local community I would chalk all this up to wingnut behavior. But it is a mainstream player looked to by the leadership of the community as “experts” on the Israeli-Arab conflict. But after this, how can the Jewish community look at SWU with a straight face and continue to claim it deserves the respect of Seattle’s Jews? Actually, it is Rob Jacobs and SWU that requires the intervention of the local Jewish community. But that apparently won’t happen anytime soon as the group is quite useful in promoting the community’s pro-Israel agenda. The marriage between the Jewish federation and SWU is apparently quite convenient for both parties.
One final laugher from Jacobs:
…So far I have never been anything but respectful toward you…
If lying about my views, claiming I need “help” and “intervention” and that I falsely concocted blog comments designed to smear SWU (while an SWU board member accused me of being “deranged” and being “fascinated” with gay porno) is “respectful” then I’d hate to find out what Rob considers disrespectful.
Silverstein has published Tikun Olam since 2003, It exposes the secrets of the Israeli national security state. He lives in Seattle, but his heart is in the east. He publishes regularly at Middle East Eye, the New Arab, and Jacobin Magazine. His work has also appeared in Al Jazeera English, The Nation, Truthout and other outlets.