You’d think that a man who falls for a Purim parody in Ha’aretz and believes that “no senior Hamas official” has ever called for the destruction of Israel and that writes that the American civil rights movement was no big deal compared to the occupation of the West Bank — and does so in an offensive Huckleberry Finn slang — would try to take better care with his facts. Or that a man who boasts of his knowledge of foreign language and foreign intelligence apparatuses might suspect an email correspondent called “Yossi Nachas”. Popular culture is filled with bumpkin detectives and not-so-super sleuths from Inspectors Clouseau to Gadget but at least they eventually, if unintentionally, hit pay dirt. Not so anti-Israel blogger and all-around one-man entertainment hour Richard Silverstein. If you can imagine John Le Carre one day turning to Sholem Aleichem’s shtetl comedies for characterisation pointers, you can well grasp the curious behavior of this self-important Seattle blogger who fancies himself the I.F. Stone of Mossad skulduggery.
More idiot than useful, Silverstein takes an almost perverse delight in being shown to be the mug of an elaborate hoax cobbled together at his own expense. This hoax featured the following:
– Silverstein admitting to not knowing where an Israeli neighbourhood was located;
– Silverstein confusing a photograph of a professional basketball player with that of an anonymous blogger;
– Silverstein suspecting that Israel hosts Virgin Megastores (a simple Google search would have sufficed for background research here) and that said blogger worked in one.
It would be pointless to summarise Israellycool’s trap for Silverstein, so we’ll just reprint the whole hilarious post below. Enjoy, and Happy New Year!
In his latest post, DouchebloggerTM Richard Silverstein exposes my real identity, including my address, potentially placing my entire family at risk.
Or so it would seem.
You see, Silverstein’s post is the result of a trap I set to expose him as the unreliable, nasty amateur that he is.
For years, I have been posting about his hatred for Israel and nastiness, which makes a mockery of his blog’s name Tikkun Olam (“Repairing/Healing the World”). Recently, he was cited by the mainstream media, due to his posts blaming Israel and the Mossad for explosions in Iran and Lebanon, as well as for leaking online some FBI surveillance transcripts of conversations caught on F.B.I. wiretaps of the Israeli Embassy in Washington. Although I have demonstrated on numerous occasions the inaccuracies in his posts, I knew I had to step things up a notch to really show how unreliable and careless with the facts he is.
So I set a trap. I asked a friend of the blog to approach Silverstein with “proof” of my real identity, knowing how much he wanted to reveal it to the world. In order to make it believable, I inserted an “easter egg” into this Silverstein-related post.
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Some of my eagle-eyed readers noticed my name “David Loeb” in the top right hand corner of the screenshot, even sending me mails to warn me of my “mistake.” The thing is, it was not a mistake at all, but rather a deliberate move to get Silverstein to take the bait.
David Loeb is a fake name. The photo in the Facebook profile I set up is of basketballer Jordan Farmar, who was in the news in Israel for playing for Maccabi Tel Aviv. I used his photo deliberately since anyone who claims to be knowledgable on the goings on in Israel would know this, yet using it would not necessarily expose the account as being fake. I knew if Silverstein thought the photo was really of me, it would expose the level of his ignorance.
I included in the profile my supposed address (Beit Shemesh was a great choice given how much it has been in the news), as well as the URL of this blog to connect David Loeb to it.
With the trap set, I asked a friend of this blog to send a mail to Silverstein with “proof” of my identity. He mailed Silverstein under the name Yossi Nachas, with me on blind copy.
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Despite never having met “Yossi Nachas” before, Silverstein eagerly took the bait, although promising to do “more research” (something he clearly never did).
Silverstein then sent Yossi another email:
Silverstein finds it incredible that I would have my blog’s URL in my Facebook Profile, yet it does not occur to him that he is being set up! Notice also how he begins to elaborate on some of the information provided in the Facebook Profile. But most striking is his intention to perhaps offer me a “deal” – agree to shut up about him, and he won’t expose my identity. In other words, blackmail.
Yet Silverstein never did send me that blackmail offer. He went right ahead and supposedly exposed me. I am not sure why he changed his mind, but I doubt it was because of my “feeble attempt to link me to a couple from [his] home city sharing [his] last name, who were charged with welfare fraud.” Rather, I believe it was my last post showing how he defends Hamas.
I instructed “Yossi Nachas” to suggest to Silverstein a reasonable explanation as to why I may have Virgin Megastore in the Facebook profile – as research for this post (which happens to be the actual reason).
Yet as you can see from Silverstein’s post, he favored the far-fetched scenario that I work for Virgin Megastores. I guess it goes along with the blackjack player image!
I should also point out that despite his claims, I have never posted Silverstein’s home address, phone number and wife’s employer’s name on my site. Some commenters have posted links to sites where he himself has posted his details, and I have linked to his wife’s profile at her law firm site. This is entirely different to what Silverstein has endeavored to do: out an anonymous blogger who has not voluntarily placed his own details online.
So to summarize what we have here:
– Despite claiming to want to “repair the world”, Silverstein reveals what he thinks is my name and address, potentially placing my safety and the safety of my family at risk
– Silverstein posts this on the basis of an anonymous source he knows nothing about, and a Facebook Profile with my URL and one friend!
– Silverstein does not recognize the photo of someone heavily in the news in Israel, despite his claims about being knowledgable about goings on there
– Silverstein invents facts based on nothing more than speculation, despite being presented with a more realistic alternative interpretation
– Silverstein lies about me publishing his personal details
– No doubt Silverstein will quickly take down his post “exposing” my real identity if he hasn’t by the time of me posting this (some like this man have already sounded some warning bells). But the screenshots don’t lie: the exposer has become the exposed.
I hope this post serves as a warning to all of those who rely on Richard Silverstein as a valid source of information, and place trust in his theories and “anonymous sources.” I hope it also demonstrates to you how he has no compunctions about potentially endangering the life of a fellow Jew, despite his claims of wanting to serve mankind.
Update: In case you think I am exaggerating by stating he potentially placed my family at risk, look at his cheer squad.
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Update: Despite the mounting evidence of the deception, Silverstein can’t back down.
Update: While I clearly have a personal interest in this story since the safety of me and my family is at stake, this post is ultimately about a blogger who is regularly cited by mainstream publications as a source of secret information about Israel, yet is so gullible and unscrupulous that he got taken in by a couple of emails and an obviously fake Facebook profile. With this in mind, here are some examples of MSM outlets and noteworthy publications that have either relied on Silverstein or otherwise quoted him.
New York Times (and here complaining about online harrassment and bullying!)
Israel’s Channel 10
Jewish Daily Forward
Update: A reader notes that one of the commenters egging on Silverstein is Jillian York (see the screenshot of the comments on Silverstein’s blog) – Director of International Freedom of Expression at the Electronic Frontier Foundation. This is taken from their website:
Many people don’t want the things they say online to be connected with their offline identities. They may be concerned about political or economic retribution harassment or even threats to their lives. Whistleblowers report news that companies and governments would prefer to suppress; human rights workers struggle against repressive governments; parents try to create a safe way for children to explore; victims of domestic violence attempt to rebuild their lives where abusers cannot follow.
Instead of using their true names to communicate these people choose to speak using pseudonyms (assumed names) or anonymously (no name at all). For these individuals and the organizations that support them secure anonymity is critical. It may literally save lives.
Anonymous communications have an important place in our political and social discourse. The Supreme Court has ruled repeatedly that the right to anonymous free speech is protected by the First Amendment. A much-cited 1995 Supreme Court ruling in McIntyre v. Ohio Elections Commission reads:
Protections for anonymous speech are vital to democratic discourse. Allowing dissenters to shield their identities frees them to express critical minority views . . . Anonymity is a shield from the tyranny of the majority. . . . It thus exemplifies the purpose behind the Bill of Rights and of the First Amendment in particular: to protect unpopular individuals from retaliation . . . at the hand of an intolerant society.
The tradition of anonymous speech is older than the United States. Founders Alexander Hamilton James Madison and John Jay wrote the Federalist Papers under the pseudonym “Publius ” and “the Federal Farmer” spoke up in rebuttal. The US Supreme Court has repeatedly recognized rights to speak anonymously derived from the First Amendment.
The right to anonymous speech is also protected well beyond the printed page. Thus in 2002 the Supreme Court struck down a law requiring proselytizers to register their true names with the Mayor’s office before going door-to-door.
These long-standing rights to anonymity and the protections it affords are critically important for the Internet. As the Supreme Court has recognized the Internet offers a new and powerful democratic forum in which anyone can become a “pamphleteer” or “a town crier with a voice that resonates farther than it could from any soapbox.”
The Electronic Frontier Foundation has been involved in the fight to protect the rights of anonymous speakers online. As one court observed in a case handled by EFF along with the ACLU of Washington “[T]he free exchange of ideas on the Internet is driven in large part by the ability of Internet users to communicate anonymously.”
We’ve challenged many efforts to impede anonymous communication both in the courts or the legislatures. We also previously provided financial support to the developers of Tor an anonymous Internet communications system. By combining legal and policy work with technical tools we hope to maintain the Internet’s ability to serve as a vehicle for free expression.
I guess the above does not apply to pro-Israel bloggers like myself?
Update: I just noticed Silverstein updated his post after discovering the photo was fake. But instead of understanding he had been duped, he invented a convoluted reason as to why I would do such a thing.
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Update: Jillian York showing on Silverstein’s Facebook page more enthusiasm for my being outed, despite working for the EFF.