Tim Graham writes in a July 29 NewsBusters post:
The publication of Barack Obama’s supposedly secret prayer at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem was a scandal in Israel. James Taranto noted the newspaper Ha’aretz reported calls for police investigations into the removal and publication of the Obama note, published by the newspaper Maariv. But Maariv said it was Obama who authorized the unveiling of his temporarily private message to God.
Maariv's response: "Obama's note was published in Maariv and other international publications following his authorization to make the content of the note public. Obama submitted a copy of the note to media outlets when he left his hotel in Jerusalem. Moreover, since he is not Jewish, there is no violation of privacy as there would be for a Jewish person who places a note in the wall."
Stop right there. First, Taranto also cites as part of his evidence a report from Israel Insider -- as we've detailed, a right-wing, anti-Obama website that is, for all practical purposes, the Israeli WorldNetDaily -- so it really can't be trusted at face value.
Second, The New Republic has been chasing the story as well, and Zvika Krieger has a critical update that undermines Graham's attack on Obama:
Yesterday, I posted an item about an accusation from Israeli newspaper Ma'ariv that the Obama campaign had leaked a copy of his Western Wall note to the foreign press (rather than Ma'ariv having bought it from some yeshiva kid who stole it out of the wall). After some additional reporting last night, I noted that the story sounded a bit fishy--not only has Ma'ariv not offered any tangible evidence to support this claim, but they also have only made the claim via a spokesman to various Israeli papers rather than printing the accusation in their own paper.
I just got off the phone with a Ma'ariv spokesman who says that the accusation is "completely false," and that he has no idea who these papers were quoting from Ma'ariv. "No official spokesman for Ma'ariv told this to any of the papers." I've got some calls in to these papers to find out where they got the quote. (I'll update here when I hear back.) He told me definitively that "the Obama campaign did not give us a copy of the letter or approve it for printing."
UPDATE 1: I just spoke with an editor at one of the four publications who quoted the alleged "Ma'ariv spokesman." This editor broached the possibility that Ma'ariv was trying to deflect criticims of it by releasing these spurious rumors about the Obama campaign, but upon realizing that they'll have to back up those accusations, is now disavowing them. This editor is going to look into this alleged "Ma'ariv spokesman" they quoted in his publication so we can try to ascertain if this is a Ma'ariv cover-up. I'll update here when I hear back from him and if I get anything interesting from the other publications who also quoted this alleged spokesman.
Looks like this Israeli newspaper can't even get its own story straight. Graham should have looked into this further before being so eager to smear Obama that he made assertions that may turn out to be false.