Today, the MSM finally decided it was OK to report the Daniel Taub story I broke two days ago. I don’t know what happened in the past two days that convinced them to do their job, except my own reporting, which made them sit up and take notice. Unfortunately, both the Guardian and Haaretz refused to credit Tikun Olam for breaking the story: shame on Peter Beaumont and Barak Ravid. But I have to say with Haaretz at least, this is a consistent policy of denying credit to my original reporting. At least they’re consistent. I was especially annoyed with The Guardian because I’d sent a link to Katharine Viner, managing editor, to my post the night I wrote it.
After writing to her, she passed my message to the head of international news, Jamie Wilson, who wrote:
Thank you for your email to the editor in chief which has been passed to me.. We stood the story up from our own sources, but regardless there is no way legally we could link or point to your blog due to the uncorroborated claims of sex with minors which we have no evidence to suggest is true.
I replied to him:
First, the accusations of sex with minors were made by the London Police. You have reporters in London who cover the police. Did you seek comment from the police? Did you try to interview anyone in the unit that provides security for the embassy or ambassador’s residence? Also, MI5 was aware of the sexual activity. Did you attempt to contact them? The reason why I sent my post to Ms. Viner & attempted to reach out Mr. Beaumont is that an outlet like the Guardian or BBC have reporters on the ground who could dig into the story. Something I can’t do from the States.
It is also untrue that claims of sex with minors are “uncorroborated.” As I noted in my post, these specific claims were made by Amir Oren in Haaretz. I did not invent them. Nor would I expect the Guardian to endorse these claims. I only expected the Guardian to note that I was the first media outlet to name Taub as the subject of the story.
Thanks to my friend, Alastair Sloan, who reported the story well and properly at Middle East Monitor. He shows that it can be done.
Strangely, neither the Guardian or Haaretz had the guts to report that Taub is suspected of arranging sexual liaisons at his ambassadorial residence, including with young boys. Instead, Haaretz for example says Taub is accused of “procedural violations.” This is clearly an attempt by either the media or the government to whitewash Taub’s behavior. But I raise a question I often do: what is gained by softening the blow in this case? How does it help the State of Israel or its citizens not to know what Taub really did? In fact, since the ambassador served in the name of the people of Israel they have an absolute right to know precisely what he did. And the media have an obligation to report it. But they’re failing in that duty.
Several new developments to report: after his recall from his ambassadorial post in London, Bibi nominated Daniel Taub to be chief legal advisor for the ministry of foreign affairs: a major post that would be a stepping stone to a glittering career in the foreign service or politics. Now that the story has broken, Ravid says that the scandal has felled Taub’s chances and the job will go to someone else.
Before today’s new reporting confirming my original story, the main contention of the hasbara crowd here and on social media was “there’s nothing to see here.” That Taub completed his normal four-year tour in the London post and returned home as a normal protocol. One of those who offered such an argument was Tal Ofer, a member of the UK Jewish Board of Deputies. He apparently had been “deputized” by his hasbara colleagues to take to the hustings in defense of Taub. Barak Ravid’s report puts the lie to this claim, noting that ambassadors are normally accorded a fifth year if they request it:
Taub’s extension request was turned down. This rejection was highly unusual, since the Foreign Ministry generally approves ambassadors’ requests to serve a fifth year, especially when the request comes from such a highly regarded diplomat.
Foreign Ministry officials said the embarrassing incident and report that followed were key factors in their decision.
But Taub has more heavy artillery at his disposal. Despite an accusation of pederasty, Attorney General Mandelblitt plans to enter the fray:
Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit has since become involved following media reports on the subject. Taub and Mendelblit know each other well from the latter’s former role as military advocate general. In a highly unusual step in just his second day on the job, Mendelblit asked to see the Foreign Ministry inspector general’s report. He then began reviewing the Appointments Committee’s decision to see whether Taub could still be appointed.
A senior government official says Mendelblit found nothing in the report that should prevent Taub from being appointed to the position, and that he planned to see if his appointment could be advanced once more.
So here’s how the deal will go down: they’ll wait a month or two to see if the accusations die down. If they do, Mendelblit will announce that he’s reviewed the case and urged the MFA hiring committee to reconvene and review its former refusal to name Taub. They will do so (the committee includes Bibi crony, Dore Gold) and dutifully change their decision and Taub, an accused serial pedophile, will become MFA’s chief legal advisor.
If this happens, then the Guardian and Haaretz have a share of the blame because they knew precisely what accusations had been made against Taub and refused to report them. That’s how criminals rise to their level of incompetence and criminality in a society in which corruption, greed, and cronyism rule.
You might find this hard to believe in any reasonable country. But Israel is neither normal nor reasonable.
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.