A Look at How Richard Silverstein Dishonestly Cherry Picks His Information to Blame Israel

Anti-Israel DouchebloggerTM Richard Silverstein, who embarrassed himself further with his recent fake news blog post blaming Israel for the Beirut blast masquerading as serious pieces of journalism, has doubled down on his spurious claims. In doing so, he reaffirms his whole raison d’etre is to blame Israel, and not to get to the truth of any matter.

If you recall, Silverstein claimed Israel targeted a Hezbollah weapons depot at the port and planned to destroy it with an explosive device, but did not know or care that there were 2,700 tons of ammonium nitrate stored in a next door warehouse.  The explosion at the arms depot ignited the next door warehouse, causing the catastrophe that resulted.

In this follow-up post, he quotes Robert Baer, “one of the CIA’s most distinguished Middle East analysts” who confirmed closely reviewed video of the blast and concluded it was “munitions” that set off the first blast. Silverstein’s takeaway? “He confirmed an essential piece of the story I’ve been reporting.”

Silverstein quotes Baer:

Baer said he thinks that there were military munitions and propellants present. He speculated it could have been a weapons cache, but it’s unclear who it belongs to.

“It was clearly a military explosive,” he said. “It was not fertilizer like ammonium nitrate. I’m quite sure of that. You look at that orange ball (of fire), and it’s clearly…a military explosive.”

Baer noted that white powder seen in the videos of the incident before the major blast are likely an indicator that ammonium nitrate was present and burning. He also noticed a lot of munitions going off ahead of the larger explosion

“It almost looks like an accident,” he said. “It was incompetence, and maybe it was corruption, but the question is whether it was military explosives, who was it going to or why was it stored there?”

Baer isn’t confident we’ll ever know the truth.

“I’ve worked in Lebanon for years, and no one is going to want to admit they kept military explosives at the port. It’s a stupid thing to do.”

Tellingly, Silverstein did not include the entire quote. I have marked in bold the part he deliberately omitted:

Baer said he thinks that there were military munitions and propellants present. He speculated it could have been a weapons cache, but it’s unclear who it belongs to.

“It was clearly a military explosive,” he said. “It was not fertilizer like ammonium nitrate. I’m quite sure of that.”

“You look at that orange ball (of fire), and it’s clearly, like I said, a military explosive.”

Baer noted that white powder seen in the videos of the incident before the major blast are likely an indicator that ammonium nitrate was present and burning. He also noticed a lot of munitions going off ahead of the larger explosion.

No evidence of an attack: Baer said while he believes the explosion does not look like solely ammonium nitrate, there’s still no evidence that this was an attack. The government has blamed poor management and vowed to get to the bottom of it.

“It almost looks like an accident,” he said. “It was incompetence, and maybe it was corruption, but the question is whether it was military explosives, who was it going to or why was it stored there?”

Baer isn’t confident we’ll ever know the truth.

“I’ve worked in Lebanon for years, and no one is going to want to admit they kept military explosives at the port. It’s a stupid thing to do.”

It is clear why he omitted it. It rebuts his entire claim!

Silverstein then writes:

I spoke yesterday to a Lebanese journalist and asked him if it was possible Hezbollah had a presence at the port. He said certainly they did and at the airport as well.  But he said that if there had been such a weapons cache at the port, the militant group would have done a forensic clean-up to eliminate any traces of what had been there before the attack.  It was clear to him that as it is to me that Hezbollah would be mortified that it’s carelessness wrought such devastation on the city; and deathly afraid  of exposure.

This is the same Hizbullah who have been caught operating military infrastructure in civilian neighborhoods.

In his next post, Silverstein actually quotes Israel’s senior Opposition leader, Moshe Yaalon, who told a Saudi Arabia media outlet that the explosion in the Beirut port was initiated in a Hezbollah arms cache located there. Silverstein’s takeaway? “This is the first Israeli official confirmation of a major part of the story I’ve reported– that Israel bombed the Hezbollah site in order to destroy the weapons stored there.”

Say what?

Yaalon never said anything of the kind, of course. He stated that an arms warehouse belonging to the Shiite terror group had caught fire and led to the ammonium nitrate stored in the Beirut port to blow up. But Silverstein dismisses that part of his confirmation

Yaalon couched his revelation in a manner that blamed Hezbollah, rather than Israel, for the tragedy by claiming that the militant group knew there was ammonium nitrate stored in a nearby warehouse. This conveniently minimizes Israel’s culpability for the crime. It also glosses over the fact that, according to my source, Israeli intelligence didn’t realize the fertilizer was stored in a nearby warehouse either, which is how it precipitated the entire tragedy.

In his most recent post, Silverstein quotes both a “former high-ranking Lebanese military-intelligence source” and a “US military explosives expert who has worked closely with the Lebanese army” who think it was an act of sabotage.

In Lebanon, “there is nothing happening in sensitive places – the airport, frontiers, seaport – that is not related to the conflict between Hezbollah and Israel,” a former high-ranking Lebanese military-intelligence source told Asia Times.

The explosion, he assessed, was no accident. And Trump, he said, is evidently incapable of keeping a secret.

A U.S. military weapons specialist argues that the initial explosion was a deliberate act of sabotage. Again, this accords with my original report:

A US military explosives expert who has worked closely with the Lebanese army told Asia Times on condition of anonymity that according to his contacts among the Lebanese armed forces, the explosion was an “act of sabotage” against the hangar, which was holding not only ammonium nitrate, but also short-range missiles, allegedly impounded. 

Of course, neither of these people would be objective, given their connection to the Lebanese army. They may have a vested interest in implicating Israel. Yet Silverstein takes their words as gospel because they accord with his worldview and what he claimed in his original post.

So allow me to break it down for you. Silverstein makes a specious claim that Israel was behind the blast, based on absolutely no proof but merely on what an anonymous source supposedly told him (and we all know his history of being wrong, especially when he claims his information was given to him by an anonymous source). He then cherry picks statements from different people to “prove” he was right.

  • He takes the words of a CIA Middle East analyst in attributing the first blast to munitions, but omits his words doubting it was an attack
  • He takes the words of Israel’s senior Opposition leader, Moshe Yaalon in attributing the first blast to munitions, but discounts his claim that the munitions had caught fire, instead taking his words as an admission we bombed the site
  • He takes as absolute proof the words of two people affiliated with the Lebanese military

The only thing Richard Silverstein has proven is he is no journalist, but rather a poor blogger with a pathological hatred of Israel and the truth.

He’s also completely lacking any self-awareness as his surprise that even people not on the right would recognize his shoddy blogging as fake news shows:

Frankly, I’m astonished at the level of vitriol and derision my reporting has met.  I would expect it from right-wing pro-Israel sources.  But much of this vindictive, even personal response has come from those who purport to be on the left.  This has astonished me.  But it has also made me realize that solidarity is easy on a day to day basis.  But when a crisis strikes, then people either lose their bearings or revert to type.  It’s good to know who your friends are and aren’t.

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David Lange

A law school graduate, David Lange transitioned from work in the oil and hi-tech industries into fulltime Israel advocacy. He is a respected commentator and Middle East analyst who has often been cited by the mainstream media

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