More on Joshua Fattal story: Debka gets it wrong, too

Wednesday, August 12th, 2009

Here’s an update on an earlier item on the three Americans arrested and detained by Iran and the way the inaccurate story that one of them was a yeshiva student and Jewish Week writer spread across the Internet.

One of the Web sites that spread the story was, which fashions itself a source of in-depth intelligence and security information, with a focus on the Middle East.

In its initial story last week Depka cited “sources” saying that Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad  was getting ready to label the three captives Israeli spies and that he is “plotting to use the three Americans to provoke a new crisis between his government and Washington.”

Debka the identified the captives as  “Shane Bauer from California, who writes for the San Francisco Chronicle, The Nation and New American Media, his partner Sarah Short, age 30 from California, who writes for ‘Matador,”  and Joshua Steel Petel, age 27 from Oregon, who attended a New York yeshiva and writes for Jewish Week.”

Only problem is, Joshua’s last name  is Fattal,  not Petel, and it’s not the same Joshua Fattal who has written for the Jewish Week.

Oh yeah, Debka  got Sarah’s  last name wrong, too; it’s  Shourd, not Short.

A week after Debka’s original “exclusive” on the incident, the story remains on its home page, uncorrected, despite corrections posted on the Jewish Week, Tablet and Poynter Online. And the Debka  report was picked up and repeated in at least 12 other Web sites and blogs – including one in Finnish.

Sorta makes you wonder, doesn’t it?

Heres’s a link to the Debka File story, if your interested.

About the Author
Douglas M. Bloomfield is a syndicated columnist, Washington lobbyist and consultant. He spent nine years as the legislative director and chief lobbyist for AIPAC.