Talk:Israel Shamir

From SourceWatch
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Relocated to talk page pending review of sourcing of claims: Israel Shamir is a Russian-born journalist who migrated to Israel, but upon becoming critical of Israel moved to Sweden and coverted to Greek Orthodox Christianity. Some of his articles are critical of Israel and Jewish-ideology, and for this he is regularly attacked and merely smeared as a "holocaust denier", "anti-semite", etc. Certainly where ever he goes he does generate controversy, but this has to do with so-called anti-zionist acitivists railing against him accusing him of anti-semitism.[1] These smears have much to do with shutting out discussion of what he actually says. Or as Alexander Cockburn, a writer and editor of CounterPunch, stated as a prefaces to one of Shamir's articles:

Marked Man
We've run a few pieces by Israel Shamir down the years and each time a couple of emails promptly drop into our editorial inbox from dedicated Shamir-haters who seemingly have nothing better to do than surf the internet for Shamir-sightings, then rush forward with routine obloquies. They never vary. To believe them, the man is a blend of all that's vile, a hospice for prejudice and hate, starting with anti-Semitism and moving forward into complicity with the darkest forces in Russia. I reply to them that co-editor Cockburn has in the course of his long career been falsely accused of innumerable crimes against conscience and enlightenment and so I'm instinctively averse to black-balling a writer on the basis of some charges sloshing around on the internet. What we print – most recently two very useful pieces on Julian Assange – bear no sign of the vile prejudices ascribed to Shamir and have been reports well worth presenting to our readers.[2]

Wikileak smears

Israel Shamir has been instrumental in highlighting some of the wikileaks materials, especially those dealing with the former Soviet Union. The material is available to anyone on the wikileaks website, but given the volume, there is an issue about researching the available materials and highlighting the important ones, and Shamir was involved in this from the beginning. Around December 2010, it was apparent that some journalists, in particular David Leigh and John Sweeney, were publishing/collecting materials that smeared Julian Assange's reputation, in particular, Leigh utilized leaked materials coming from the Swedish police/intelligence services [3]. Also apparent was that these journalists sought to impugn wikileaks/Assange's reputation by highlighting their association with Israel Shamir. Many smear Shamir with labels such as "holocaust denier" or "anti-semite" without really bothering to read what he writes about such matters. Israel Shamir discusses David Leigh and John Sweeney's reportage: [4]

I picked up the phone on the third ring, and a melodious British voice informed me that the BBC wanted to include me in its Panorama program. The BBC wanted to hear my views on the world, and was especially interested in Wikileaks. Oh what a glorious moment! I felt myself puff with pride. There is something about “the Beeb” that makes my heart flutter! I have always been partial to their style, and I considered it an honour to have the BBC listed on my CV, even though it was over thirty years ago. When I worked in Bush House on the Strand, the BBC’s Panorama was one of the best investigative programs anywhere - and suddenly here they are, soliciting my comments! Eager to build a relationship of trust, I answered all their preparatory questions with an unvarnished honesty. I thought I had done well; they offered to fly me to London, or if that were inconvenient they would fly out and speak to me in Moscow – civil chaps, aren’t they?
Looking back, the signs of danger were easy to see. They were producing a program about Wikileaks, but they had no plans to interview Julian Assange. Perhaps he is too busy? Furthermore, the questions began to take on a sinister tone. I shrugged off the feeling as a by-product of all the dirty politics we were discussing, but a few telephone conversations later my ill feelings finally seeped into my swelled head and it dawned on me what was going on. These nice chaps from the BBC were actually collecting dirt to use against Wikileaks! I was being played for a sucker. Suddenly I felt like Julian Assange, face to face with the honey trap.
The clincher was a letter I just received from producer John Sweeney, outlining the substance of the broadcast. It does not read like a television show, it reads like a criminal indictment. Every wild accusation is listed, and those without a shred of evidence are given pride of place. Most amazing of all, the Sweeney letter includes some lines lifted from a missive I had sent to Julian some time ago. The words were taken out of context and they were a misquotation of the original, but I recognise my prose. Some questions immediately spring to mind. How did the BBC get their hands on my private correspondence? Does the BBC actually steal private mail, or do they hire out? Ominously, this is not the first time this has happened to me. Another private letter of mine was (mis)quoted by The Guardian’s investigative editor David Leigh. Is it too conspiratorial of me to recognise a disturbing pattern? Could it be that the alleged three stolen laptops of Julian Assange found their last resting place at Leigh & Sweeney after a brief sojourn at Langley?
John Sweeney and David Leigh are cut from different cloth, but they both know how to play the journalism game. Leigh smoulders with jealousy. He plays the Salieri to Assange’s Mozart, but he thinks of himself as the unsung hero of Wikileaks. A hero? Rather, a villain. As Bill Keller of the New York Times admitted it was Leigh who “concluded that these rogue leaks (he engineered them) released The Guardian from any pledge”. Since then, he’s started his own private war against Wikileaks. His liaison with Sweeney was a convenient one. Sweeney is the sort of guy you assign to smear Mother Theresa. He has skated along thus far because only the very rich might contemplate suing the BBC, but he has been found by a court to be a libeller at least one time. Sweeney’s lunatic outbursts of fury are calculated to intimidate interviewees and have been preserved for posterity. It is all too plain to me now why Assange and company refused to have anything to do with Panorama and its pre-planned outcome. It is all too obvious to me now why they came hunting for your humble narrator.


Resources and articles


His website is

Related Sourcewatch

External Resources

CounterPunch articles


  1. Prof. Nabeel Abraham [discusses] the hoopla surrounding Shamir's visit to Michigan Imperfect Storm: Israel Shamir and His Critics, May 2001. Abraham criticizes the tactics used by some of Shamir's detractors.
  2. Alexander Cockburn, Nowhere to Go But Up, CounterPunch, 17 December 2010.
  3. Julian Assange discusses this in the David Frost interview, Al Jazeera, 22 December 2010, around the 15:40 minute mark.
  4. Israel Shamir, BBC Joins Smear Campaign Against Assange and Wikileaks, CounterPunch, 1 February 2011.
  5. [1]
  6. [2]