The Backflip

In the wake of the widespread panning of his far-fetched retelling of an otherwise straightforward report of a damaged IAF drone – which was seen as being so laughable that even the mainstream media stayed away from it (with the exception of the palestinian Maan News) – DouchebloggerTM Richard Silverstein has tried to do a backflip.

http://www.richardsilverstein.com/tikun_olam/2012/01/30/israels-drone-crash-and-the-perils-of-reporting-on-a-national-security-state/

Above is my latest appearance on Tzinor Layla (starting at around 2:30) in which I discuss the crash of the drone inside Israel two days ago.

I’ve spent the past day or so trying to make sense of the duelling stories of the crash. My Israeli source said that the unmanned aircraft was foreign, likely flown by Hezbollah with Iranian technical assistance from southern Lebanon. Shortly after I posted, the IAF released its version saying its own drone crashed while testing advanced sensors installed on its wing. Supposedly, the wing separated from the drone, and images of a severed wing were displayed in the media. Eyewitnesses were interviewed who claim to have seen the drone on fire before it crashed, though it’s not clear where they were physically located. Though the body of the drone was not pictured, it reportedly crashed into an air base (though the name wasn’t specified). My source claimed the booby trapped drone crashed and exploded at the top secret Sdot Micha missile base. The IAF claimed the drone crashed while making an approach to the Tel Nof base.

I have approached journalists in Lebanon and Iran to confirm or rebut the report. In Lebanon, a source close to Hezbollah poured cold water on the story. I am still attempting to find out if Iranian officials wish to comment it.

For those who reject my story, let’s examine the IAF story. They claim that Israel’s most advanced drone, testing highly sophisticated new sensor systems simply lost its wing due to equipment and human error. Either this is a colossal episode of incompetence or the story doesn’t hold water. They showed a wing in an orange orchard and nothing else. I could not see any damage to the wing indicating it had dropped off a drone in flight and crashed. They offered no military or drone experts to verify what was shown in the footage. I would wonder why military and police personnel at the site would allow photography and video filming of some of Israel’s most advanced new technology. Even if they couldn’t prevent such filming they could easily impose military censorship on reporting the story. They didn’t. This is contrary to the absolute secrecy Israel imposes on its military technology.

So continuing with this line of thought, if Israel did lose one of its most advanced drones it is a major setback in this program. As news reports make clear, this drone is one that can reach Iran and would be used for multiple critical aerial tasks during an Israeli air assault on Iran. The fact that it crashed on a test flight only a few miles from its base, when Israel is known to be preparing for a possible strike against Iran, is a major failure. So again, even if you discount my version of events, the IAF has not presented a credible version either. Anyone who seeks to discredit the Hezbollah angle of this story should present a credible alternative. I have heard none from the other side.

The usual suspects on the right and left have criticized the story I reported. None of them very carefully read, understood or reported what I actually wrote. Dimi Reider, who prides himself on being a careful, sober journalist argued erroneously that I claimed the drone flew 1,000 miles from Iran to Israel, when in fact I argued just the opposite, saying it likely could not fly that far and originated in southern Lebanon. Reider also believed I was being “played” by Israeli sources seeking war against Iran. In fact, my source opposes war against Iran. All of which proves that someone who prides himself on precision can be guilty of the same errors of which he accuses me.

Dapha Baram, writing at the world news agency GRN, pointed with pride to the reasons why her news agency could not publish my reports because they fall below its standards of “journalist ethics.” She failed to understand that my decision to report or not report a story has nothing to do with ethics and everything to do with other factors including my physical distance from the story and sources I’m reporting, the vagaries of the Israeli national security state which intimidate the free flow of military information to journalists, and my role as an anti-war activist coinciding with my role as a blogger. In fact, the very reason why Israeli security issues are so thinly reported inside and outside Israel is that the system prevents mainstream journalists from doing this.

None of this means I can knowingly report stories that are false (nor would I ever do so). On the other hand, I am reporting stories that aren’t (and usually can’t be) corroborated by second or third independent sources. That in turn means that the mainstream media is too conservative and cautious to publish my original reporting. This may save them from reporting a story that turns out to be criticized or unsubstantiated; but it also causes them to lose out when I report major stories embarrassing to the Israeli military-intelligence community.  That’s why you’ll never see Reider or GRN breaking the story of Anat Kamm, Dirar Abusisi, Ameer Makhoul, the Eilat terror attacks, or Shamai Leibowitz.

My critics fundamentally misunderstand what I do. My primary job isn’t to be an oracular James Reston or Walter Cronkite and only report what is scientifically, verifiably true and be right 100% of the time. My primary job is to be right as often as I can while staying true to the reasons I write this blog in the first place: to promote transparency in Israeli military-intelligence matters, Israeli democracy, and to oppose military adventurism.  This is a tightrope act, one that is difficult to negotiate since there are so many unknowns, so much concealed information.

The goal of the national security state is to render its affairs as opaque as possible. It is to shut off information to journalists, bloggers and even its own citizens. That’s why it’s sometimes so damn hard to know if you got it right. But if anyone thinks I’m going to be deterred by the fact that every once in a while the I’s aren’t dotted or the T’s aren’t crossed or that even, God forbid, my source may get it wrong (which I do not concede in this instance), they’re sorely mistaken. I’ll accept the brickbats of Dimi Reider, Dapna Baram and others for the sake of the greater good of exposing the dangers a rampant Israel may pose to the region and the world.

A number of comments from my side:

  • In the Israeli TV video above, the presenters are actually laughing at Silverstein! One states Silverstein has missed the mark many times, while the other remarks that his “imagination” is his greatness! The fact that Silverstein posted this video so unflattering to him is further proof his Hebrew is so poor.
  • Even in this moment of defeat, Silverstein can’t bring himself to admit he was sorely wrong. In fact, he tries to place the onus of proof on those who believe the official story!
  • Silverstein admits to spending “the past day or so trying to make sense of the duelling stories of the crash.” Why did he not undertake this exercise before he posted his “scoop”? Like in the case of the successful sting I orchestrated against him, he rushed to disseminate his story in pursuit of his own agenda (in this case damaging Israel and self-glorification)
  • Silverstein states the IAF released its version of what happened after he posted, implying had he known this version up front, he may have been more discerning. Yet Silverstein always pays little attention to the IDF version of events, depicting them as habitual liars. In addition, the official version was already in the media before Silverstein’s post, to which his post itself testifies.
  • In contrast, Silverstein sought confirmation from Hizbullah and Iranian sources, as if they are trustworthy.
  • Despite claiming he is a journalist, Silverstein admits to no journalistic ethics
  • Silverstein sees his job as not being right 100% of the time, but “right as often as I can.” Yet he has repeatedly shown that he does not care for the truth, especially when it conflicts with his anti-Israel agenda.
  • He also claims to not posting anything he knows is false. This in itself is utterly false. I have many examples of him doing just the opposite.*
  • Even if he did not knowingly post anything false (which is not the case), this would not excuse him for the gross negligence he exhibits with his lack of fact-checking and due diligence. Nor with posting speculation as fact.

While I am disappointed Israel TV’s Tzinor Layla is still in the business of giving him air time (and they do know of his lack of credibility since  a link to my post exposing him was sent to them), it is good to see more and more in the mainstream media seeming to be ignoring him.

Update: Delusions of grandeur. Some revealing comments from Silverstein which reveal just how desperate he is to be taken seriously. 

* One such example is when he went on record to claim Pajamas Media dumped me. Despite my insistence this did not happen (which it didn’t, a fact he would have learned had he simply asked them), he went ahead and posted the assertion to pursue his own, anti-Aussie Dave agenda.

About Aussie Dave

An Aussie immigrant to Israel, Aussie Dave is founder and managing editor of Israellycool, one of the world's most popular pro-Israel blogs (and the one you are currently reading) He is a happy family man, and a lover of steak, Australian sports and girlie drinks

2 incoming links

Inside The Secret Tel Nof Airbase : Israellycool
31 January 2012 at 6:01pm
[...] Tel Nof airbase and taken secret photos of the drones or UAV’s so much in the ...
The Final Nail In The Coffin Of Richard Silverstein’s Credibility | Israellycool
17 October 2013 at 7:10pm
[…] or engaging in smears and reckless attacks against his opponents, he’s often ...

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  • Jim from Iowa

    Confucius say: “Man with anti-Aussie Dave agenda is one not to be trusted.” It was the message in my last fortune cookie at the local Chinese buffet. Honest.

    • STV

      Interesting. Mine said “that isn’t chicken you’re eating”.

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  • Gerald

    If all Silverstein did was to make himself look stupid then you could regard him in the same way as the strange dishevelled man who stands in a public park shouting at the ducks.
    But, Silverstein aids and abets those who wish to delegitimize and throw dirt at Israel with his clown like behaviour. That makes him dangerous as well as a clown.

    • Kibbutznik

      ” If all Silverstein did was to make himself look stupid then you could regard him in the same way as the strange dishevelled man who stands in a public park shouting at the ducks.
      But, Silverstein aids and abets those who wish to delegitimize and throw dirt at Israel with his clown like behaviour. That makes him dangerous as well as a clown. ”

      Agree 100% with you , why anyone takes what he has to say seriously is beyond me .
      He is a clown and he is an ass and he is definitely dangerous for us ALL .

      • http://www.israellycool.com/ Aussie Dave

        If someone were to do a movie about him, the byline could be:
        He’s an ass.
        He’s a clown.
        He’s an assclown.

  • Jed

    His logic:
    “I would wonder why military and police personnel at the site would allow photography and video”

    So if Israel does not allow the media to show footage-
    it’s a conspiracy!

    if Israel DOES allow the media to show footage-
    it’s a CLEAR PROOF of a conspiracy!

    What logic?

    I heard an eyewitness on Reshst Bet radio who saw the crash and called the police. As I recall he described the plane twirling which is in line with losing the wing.

  • http://anneinpt.wordpress.com anneinpt

    I know that technically Dickie’s writing in English but I cannot follow his reasoning, his logic or his syntax. His circular arguments and double negatives are making my head spin.

  • STV

    He is so stupid, I’m worried reading him could give me an aneurysm.

    Let me just say, Aviation is my thing. Flying and aircraft have been he focus of my entire life; particularly military aviation. So when he makes the logical leap and assumes that the Eitan/Heron TP is so advanced that it must be top secret, it makes we want to hit him with a frying pan.

    He also tries to posit himself to the reader as some sort of expert on UAVs and wing constructions stating that he could see ‘no evidence it had fallen off an aircraft’. I’d love to know how else he thinks a wing got into the middle of an orchard.

    The wing of the IAI Eitan is long and designed to flex slightly. It’s a very common design feature of endurance aircraft. Unfortunately they are also very fragile meaning that if you exceed the flight envelope the aircraft was designed for then the wings are more than likely to be the first thing to fail.

    A quick google of UAV crashes will show how relatively intact these things often look after hitting the ground.

    This is the most likely scenario given that the aircraft was apparently trialling navigational equipment which itself is incredibly unlikely to be top secret.

    It will basically be a new set-up of GPS receiver, flight stability controls and Auto-pilot. Most likely an off the shelf package rather than something designed for the Eitan. The reasons that people were allowed to take photos was because the aircraft itself is not classified and because people looking at a photo would learn nothing about how the aircraft or it’s systems work.

    It’s likely that one of these components failed, the alternatives are a mechanical failure, sensor failure (the Eitan can either receive instructions from satellites or line of sight datalinks) or much less likely extreme weather.

    None of these actually constitute ‘incompetence’ as Silverstein would have us believe, sometimes things just break, especially during experimentation as this clearly was.
    Nor does it constitute a ‘major setback’. Eitans are coming off the production line in relatively quick-ish fashion (there are some great pictures online) and Israel already has a few hanging around that can be fitted out to continue the experimentation.

    The flight testing will be being carried out by Merkaz Nisu’ey tisa (MANAT) at Tel Nof and they certainly wouldn’t be working with anything that sensitive in broad daylight. In fact if I was the Israelis and wanted to fly something top-secret I would take it to Ramon in the Negev.

    His angle that a UAV was being used to target Sdot Micha is ludicrous because you would need a Massive ordnance penetrator to get anywhere near doing damage to that place, that’s a 30,000lb bomb, 14 metric tonnes. Beyond the capability of most of the Earth’s professional airforces.

    • http://www.israellycool.com/author/brianoflondon/ Brian of London

      STV you’re pretty much spot on. At the time the Heron UAV was unveiled publicly at that event I went to, it was pretty well known in defence circles. It’s widely believed it saw a lot of action in the last Lebanon war and there are countless sightings and “hearings” of it that add up.

      There is one aspect that Israel is protective off. At that event and subsequently, the IAF has never confirmed whether that drone (or any of their drones) are armed. They merely indicate that they take part in attacks but, unlike the US with their armed drones, the Israeli drones are not confirmed to carry weapons. They’re big enough (as you can see from my photos). The thing is longer and wider than an F15 (because it was parked next to one) and who knows what they can put inside it.

      Also note that Israel has been having uncharacteristically stormy, windy and rainy weather. That, combined with an experimental guidance system and it’s easy to imagine some wind sheer or extreme un-commanded manoeuvre that took the drone down. As you note, the wings are really slim and spindly and funamentally, because it is unmanned, I’m sure it’s not built to the specifications that a manned plane is.

      To wilfully look for another explanation as far fetched as terrorist remote control pilots in Lebanon penetrating the worlds most sophisticated air defence network is complete bunk!

      • STV

        It does seem likely that the Eitan could be armed given that we know it has a very powerful engine and also because of the wide range of options and ‘packages’ that the aircraft have been pictured with.

        The part of the wing that seems to have come off is from beyond the boom but from the pictures I have seen there is no evidence that it was fitted for hardpoints for weaponry nor do I think they would be fitted for the sort of testing would have been done during the day from Tel Nof.

        Dickies assertion that the aircraft came down in Sdot Micha is not impossible, however the witness accounts report hearing a bang and even seeing the aircraft in a spin. I’m clearly unfamiliar with the area but my understanding is that Tel Nof isn’t too far from civilian areas whilst Sdot micha has more open areas around it.

        It just seems more likely that the UAV crashed at Tel Nof whilst attempting (a potentially new setup for) the automatic landing phase.

  • walt kovacs

    he is a sick, twisted, evil bastard….who still refuses to confirm or deny that [deleted]

    • http://www.israellycool.com/ Aussie Dave

      Please do not make those allegations on here. Let’s not be dragged down to his level of fabrication. Plus I certainly don’t want him or someone else claiming I myelf posted such unsubstantiated claims.

  • http://ziontruth.blogspot.com Eliyahu

    sliverbrain claims that the alleged Hizbullah drone was “booby-trapped.” Does that mean that it carried explosives that were only meant to go off when the Israeli enemy at Sdot Mikha approached the drone on the ground or touched it while on the ground??? Would the Hizbullah send a drone into Israel that was not carrying explosives? Sliver did not report that his “sources” said that there was an explosion, did he?

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