Anonymous Israeli Official Tells Post: You Can’t Trust Persians

Bazaar in Shiraz, Iran (cc photo: Johannes Zielcke)

The Washington Post granted anonymity to an Israeli official so they could offer this original and incisive metaphor. (cc photo: Johannes Zielcke)

Today the Washington Post (10/1/13) has a piece about how Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is not pleased with the thaw in US/Iran relations.

That’s not surprising. But I was a little surprised that reporters David Nakamura and William Booth allowed this:

Israeli leaders fear that the international community, and the United States in particular, is in danger of being duped by the Iranians. One official compared the Americans to tourists wandering into a Middle East bazaar.

“The Persians have been using these tactics for thousands of years, before America came to be,” said a senior Israeli official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because Netanyahu has asked his government to remain silent until he addresses the UN General Assembly meeting this week in New York. “We are worried Obama is looking for a way out.”

Anonymity is, according to the Post‘s own rules, something to be granted to sources very rarely, and for good reason. I’m not sure “Persians are liars” meets those standards. The Post‘s rationale for granting anonymity here is that the government officials were told not to speak before Netanyahu’s address. But it’s hard to imagine how “Don’t trust Iranians” might be considered an especially risky bit of information to share.

Or is the Post now ready afford other government officials the permission to make anonymous ethnic smears? The Post‘s rules state, “Sources who want to take a shot at someone in our columns should do so in their own names.” I guess, in this case, a “shot” wasn’t taken at “someone”–just all Iranians.

About Peter Hart

Activism Director and and Co-producer of CounterSpinPeter Hart is the activism director at FAIR. He writes for FAIR's magazine Extra! and is also a co-host and producer of FAIR's syndicated radio show CounterSpin. He is the author of The Oh Really? Factor: Unspinning Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly (Seven Stories Press, 2003). Hart has been interviewed by a number of media outlets, including NBC Nightly News, Fox News Channel's O'Reilly Factor, the Los Angeles Times, Newsday and the Associated Press. He has also appeared on Showtime and in the movie Outfoxed. Follow Peter on Twitter at @peterfhart.