Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Richard Silverstein: Courageous Coward?

I can't tell you much about Richard Silverstein. He's a figure of some prominence in the small corner of American Jewry which actively dislikes Israel as the Israelis understand it - though he might say he's against AIPAC, not Israel. He's probably in his late 50s, and I'm not clear if he's ever held a real job, with real responsibilites and the need to make decisions that are inevitably less optimal than you'd like; on the other hand, he's got three children, and raising children is a reality-based occupation. So who knows.

He runs a blog called Tikkun Olam; Make the World a Better Place. Yes, that Tikkun Olam. With a vengeance. As long-time readers will remember, from time to time I choose a blog from part of the spectrum I sorely disagree with, and follow it for a while to see if I can figure out what makes its author tick. I followed Juan Cole for quite a while; Glenn Greenwald swiftly turned boring and predictable, and Mondoweiss - well, they're so full of hatred there wasn't much of a handle on which to hang a rational reading. The good people at CiF Watch are doing a fine job so I don't need to, though I do follow the Guardian in general, not only CiF, as a long-term proposition.

At the moment I lack the time to adopt Mr. Silverstein and his blog, but maybe later.

I did however have an interesting introduction to him this week. I was sent to a post on his blog with a report on a large conference call some 150 progressive rabbis had with Richard Goldstone. Having read it, I left a comment, only to learn that Silverstein doesn't just let folks leave comments on his blog: you've got to earn it by hewing to the party line, apparently. That was yesterday; in the meantime he has published a comment that was submitted since I submitted mine, so he's clearly decided to block me.

Google being what it is, I can leave record of the blocked comment by writing this post on my blog, which contains all the words connected to the matter, so even if it's not at his blog, it is on the record. Again, here's Silverstein's post, and here's what I posted:

October 19, 2009 at 5:29 AM
I wonder how many of the 150 rabbis have actually read the report. The bias in it is so profound and counter-factual that I have my sincere doubts if Judge Goldstone himself read it carefully. Take, as a simple example, the statement in para 179: “The assassination of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin by an Israeli extremist in 1995 dealt a lethal blow to the peace process.” There are indeed many people who believe this, but they’re all in a particular and easily identifiable camp of observers of the Israeli-Palestinian confllict; it is also easy to find numerous factual problems with the statement. In any case, the issue isn’t relevant to the mission of the fact finders; it was only inserted as part of a clumsy attempt to frame the Gaza operation in an a-priori anti-Israeli narrative.
Judge Goldstone signed on it. He owns it.

So that's done.

If you're into comedy, by the way, you might be tickled by this post Silverstein put up today, in which he bemoans the fact the CiF didn't publish enough of his columns, so he quit.


PetraMB said...

Ah, Yaacov, welcome to the club! I criticized Silverstein occasionally in comments on his Cif pieces, and also once or twice on my JPost blog -- and then one sunny day I found that he had blocked me from even reading his blog!!!
I also contribute occasionally to Cif -- though obviously from a perspective very unwelcome by much of their audience, and I have always wondered how Richard Silverstein managed to convince the editors to take his endlessly long pieces, because as far as I know, their most generous allowance for blog posts is not more than 1000 words, and he often went on and on and on...

peterthehungarian said...

The same Richard Silverstein declared (if I remember well in one of his extremely long and boring CIF opus) that the massacre of Jews in the Mumbai Chabad house was not an antisemitic act... He criticised the terrorists not because they killed many people but because their action could damage the Jewish-Muslim relations! This person is beyond salvage. Writing about him is simply a waste of expensive storing capacity on the servers.

Michael W. said...

I too was banned from leaving comments on "Tikkun Olam" a year or two ago, and I am very left compared to Yaacov. He doesn't like Lefties, he only likes FAR Lefties.

AKUS said...

Silverstein's articles were by far the lowest quality of the articles that day in and day out condemn Israel on the Guardian's website.

Since I savaged Silverstein very thoroughly on CiF (as he claims to want to "savage" Tom Friedman - Tom will no doubt be trembling at the thought of this unknown crustacean from Seattle nipping at his heels), pointing out the numerous errors, the outright lies, etc. in article after article I would like to think that even the dim bulbs who run CiF may have realised that the man is simply stupid and a liability to any attempt to present CiF as some kind of intelligent forum.

I was amused by one of the comments on his cry-baby piece about "quitting" CiF (did he quit or was he "quitted"? More the latter, apparently!!) from someone who claimed he stopped writing because the fees he was paid dropped. Brian Whitaker, Silverstein's CiF "editor", made a false claim that the pro-Israeli commentators were paid shills of the Israeli Government (would it were so - I could have retired on my earnings before banning). Yet here we have proof, if it were needed, that Silverstein was a paid shill of the Israel bashing Guardian - but, as is the fate of all proles working under a Stalinist regime, there eventually comes a time when one is led to the cellars at Lubyanka or sent in a cattle car to the Gulag.

Silverstein will not be missed, except by those like me who got pleasure out of debunking his simple-minded rubbish.

Soccer Dad said...

Aussie Dave loves taking shots at Silverstein whenever he has a chance.

A few years ago the NY Times (and later the Forward) published articles about how uncivil the blogosphere had gotten. Who was one of their subjects? You guessed it. Richard Silverstein. Be nasty as you want, but the moment someone shows you discourtesy, go running off to the big bad MSM crying.

Anyway currently he is shamelessly raising money for his trip to the J-Street blogging conference.

Drew said...

I'm a little late to this particular discussion, but Silverstein stands out in my memory for the time that he compared the cadence (and content?) of Senator Lieberman to that of Nasrallah. And that was during the 2006 war with Hizballah.

Then again, perhaps he was complimenting Lieberman. Oy.

Anonymous said...

I found this on another blog, very funny.

The Little Dickie Silverstein Marching Song

I am a little kapo,
It makes my mommy mad,
Cause when I am a kapo,
Those Zionists get sad!

I celebrate the jihad,
and terror all the while,
I fill my blog and web page,
With loud salutes of Sieg Heil!

I want to see them Zraelis,
All dumped out in the sea,
My swastika a waving,
Cause everything’s bout me.