This is a guest post by Michael Weiss.
When I produced a Syrian state document showing that Bashar al-Assad orchestrated the Nakba Day raids into the Golan Heights, Richard Silverstein blogged that an unnamed source of his — supposedly a former high-ranking official in the Israeli government — had authenticated the document but nonetheless insisted that it had come from Israeli intelligence, not, as I had maintained, from the governor’s office of the al-Qunaitera province in Syria.
When I reiterated my claim to Silverstein via email, he then suggested that my Syrian source might in fact be an Israeli intelligence agent himself.
No one has a higher opinion of Richard Silverstein than I do, and I think he’s an idiot.
Still, his unsubstantiated and feverishly “updated” blog post was picked up by Mondoweiss, re-Tweeted by Ben White and regurgitated by the usual suspects for whom even the butterfly’s wing flap in Singapore is a plot concocted in a sub-basement in Tel Aviv.
My friend Hussein Ibish informs me that last night, at an event hosted jointly by the American Task Force on Palestine and the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (“Owning a Piece of Palestine: Syria’s Assad Regime and the Palestinian Question”), Dr Radwan Ziadeh was publicly identified as the person who leaked the Nakba Day doc to me. (By the way, Hussein’s remarks at that event are worth reading in full here). That Ziadeh was my source has been common knowledge in Washington, D.C. for months.
So who is he? Here’s his bio:
Radwan Ziadeh is a visiting scholar at Carr Center for Human Rights at Harvard University and Visiting Fellow at Chatham House (The Royal Institute of International Affairs) in London.
He was a Senior Fellow at United States Institute of Peace (USIP) –in Washington, D.C., and he is the founder of the Damascus Center for Human Rights Studies in Syria. In 2008, Ziadeh also co-founded and served as the executive director of the Syrian Center for Political and Strategic Studies in Washington, D.C. Before that, Ziadeh was chief in-editor of Tyarat magazine in 2001-2002 and secretary of the Syrian Organization for Transparency. He was a researcher with the UNDP project “Syria 2025″ and was named best researcher in the Arab world in political science by Jordan’s Abdulhameed Shoman Foundation in 2004.
Ziadeh has been one of the major players in “Damascus Spring,” a period of intense debate about politics and social issues and calls for reform in Syria after the death of President Hafez al-Assad in
He is a member in the Advisory Group of IDEA (Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance Stockholm, Sweden, Advisory Board of Islamic World Initiative at USIP (U.S. Institute of Peace )Washington, D.C. for “ Reform and Security in the Muslim World.” He is also a member in the Middle East Studies Association (MESA), The American Political Science Association ( APSA ), The International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS ) – London , International Political Science
Association (IPSA) and International Studies Association (ISA).
Ziadeh has written ten books and published studies, research projects and Policy papers for many International institutions like U.S. Institute of Peace (USIP) , IDEA ( Institute for Democracy and
Electoral Assistance ) Stockholm – Sweden, German Institute of Global and Area Studies (GIGA), and The Netherlands Institute for Multiparty Democracy (NIMD). He is a frequent political commentator to several U.S , European , and Middle East Media like Aljazeera , Alarabiya, B.B.C and Alhura . He is also writes a bimonthly op-ed for the leading Arab daily Al-Hayat .
All of which, we are asked to believe, is a decades-long ruse to mask his true identity as a Mossad agent.
Ziadeh is arguably the most recognised Syrian dissident in the world right now. He drafted the National Initiative for Change manifesto for Syria’s transition to democracy; he’s testified before Congress’s Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission on Assadist atrocities; and he’s briefed the US State Department. He’s also the author of a host of books, including one titled Power and Policy in Syria: Intelligence Services, Foreign Relations and Democracy in the Modern Middle East, which is one of the reasons that I said he was well-placed to authenticate Ba’athist documents.
The other reason is this: Ziadeh spoke directly on the phone to the person from the governor’s office of the al-Qunaitera province in Syria who subsequently sent him the Nakba Day doc, which Ziadeh then passed onto your humble servant.
So now my question: Will Silverstein, Mondoweiss, White, et al apologise — not to me but to a brave Syrian dissident trying to rescue his country from barbarism? Or is their anti-Zionism such that the reputation of an Arab scholar and activist is worth besmirching?