UPDATE: The full 50-minute BBC Newshour program on which the story about this document was featured is available here.
My source has permitted me to publish the entire original Hebrew document, which you read here. The English translation is in yesterday’s post:
When one publishes an important leaked Israeli government document, one has to expect a counter-attack from the hasbarafia. And it has come. I’m going to share a few words on the background of the document and address some of the scurrilous charges raised about this matter. Then I’m not going to address it again nor publish any further comments on it. So if you have anything to say along those lines, wish to further debunk the document, question my source, call me names, you’ll have to find other places and sites to do it.
About a week ago, I received the document from a known and trusted source who is, as I’ve often said here, a former Israeli government minister. It was in turn leaked to him by an IDF officer.
Unbeknowst to my source, the original IDF leaker also gave the document to a member of the Fresh forum, an Israeli gossip and politics forum. That Fresh member wrote a largely fictional account that omitted one phrase from the actual document I published in full.
Contrary to claims made by many in the hasbarafia at sites like Harry’s Place and CIF Watch, anyone who actually reads the Fresh post and compares it to what I translated & published would see that one phrase that does not appear in the Fresh version. You’d have to argue that I added that phrase myself, and while my reading ability of Hebrew is quite good, I’m not at all as fluent in terms of my writing ability.
Earlier, I claimed there wasn’t significant overlap between the Fresh version and my document, because I’d only skimmed the Fresh post but hadn’t read it in sufficient detail. An Israeli friend has done so and informed me that I was wrong. There is significant overlap, though they are not exact duplicates of each other.
The truth is that I had the document for about four days, but didn’t publish it because I was negotiating with several media outlets about reporting it and also vetting it with several national security experts to ascertain its authenticity. As opposed to what I did, the Fresh member merely created a pastiche of the original and his own feverish imaginings.
As a journalist, you always wish to have exclusive use of leaked documents but you can’t control what a source does with materials he gives to you. I have opinions about the leak to Fresh, but there’s nothing I can do about that. I can only control my own actions and behavior, behind which I stand 100%.
I had nothing to do with anything published in Fresh and never visit the site. In fact, when I once attempted to publish a piece of news that was gagged I was banned there and have never returned since. Personally, I have posted in the past at Rotter, whose politics are even more right-wing than Fresh. The attacks against me at both sites have been vehement. But Rotter never banned me despite those disagreements. As far as I’m concerned Fresh is even worse and more reprehensible than Rotter. This incident only further confirms that.
Frankly, I do not care what the hasbarafia thinks about me. What matters most is whether or not Israel begins a disastrous war against Iran. I received this document because my source and I both oppose the oncoming war (though I disagree with my source about a number of other things concerning Israel’s policy toward Iran). The goal was to expose a real document representing the real views of the real leaders who will take Israel to war.
I received this document under precisely the circumstances I described above. If the hasbarafia were honorable, which is a contradiction in terms, it would compare word for word my translation with the Fresh posting and concede that they are entirely different pieces of writing with the exception of a very small portion. Rather the goal of the hasbarafia is to kill the messenger because you don’t like the message. Their mission is to conduct scurrilous attacks on my honesty and professionalism because that will undo some of the damage caused by the leak. It won’t work, but let them try. They’ll waste their energy when they could be using it to do even more damage to Israel’s interests in some other enterprise.
Because I care about whether Israel attacks Iran, I published this document. My mission is focused on preventing a disastrous war. One way of doing this was to publish this document. If it has raised a debate inside Israel and in the international media on the issues, all to the good.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, no one from the Israeli government has come forward to deny the authenticity of the document. Ehud Barak was invited to speak on the BBC Newshour segment which first reported on the story and he refused. MK Danny Danon was interviewed by the BBC and he never doubted its authenticity. In none of the coverage I’ve read (and here) in the Israeli media has any government official denied it. As far as I’m concerned, that seals the deal.
As for the hasbarafia, they can say what they want, but their lies will reflect on them, not on me.
UPDATE I: Readers and friends have told me with some concern that my story is being attacked by the left as well. Apparently, Moon over Alabama and Paul Woodward have attacked me. They’ve done this a number of times in the past taking the general line that I’m a witting or unwitting dupe of the Mossad or those who want war. Frankly, I’m not paying much attention to this. With those who accuse me of exposing Israeli plans for war and endangering Israel’s security and others saying I’m helping Bibi’s agenda for war against Iran, that’s a pretty comfortable place to be. Being hated and attacked by both the pro-Israel right and those farther on the left than I, is OK by me.
One last element of rebuttal to the hasbarafia: as Dvorit Shargel has noted at Velvet Underground, the Fresh post includes a Hebrew spelling error that is not in the version I published. To those who are trying to argue that I merely stole the document from Fresh, you’d have to explain how I spelled the Hebrew word correctly and Fresh spelled it incorrectly. You’d have to argue that my Hebrew is so good that I caught the error and corrected it before publishing. I guarantee you my Hebrew isn’t that good and I didn’t put the document through a spell check either. As for the rest, go to it. You’ll undoubtedly figure out 1,000 ways that you’re still correct and I’m whatever you think I am.
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.