Misquotes and Lies Guardian Style Part I

This is a guest post by a CiF Watch reader who prefers to remain anonymous and has performed a stunning forensic analysis of evidence adduced by McGreal

Below is a copy of the second page of minutes from an ISSA meeting produced by Chris McGreal in his “memos and minutes that confirm Israel’s nuclear stockpile“.

This piece of “proof” adduced by Chris McGreal serves as the lynchpin to McGreal’s claims. Here are some observations:

1. This is the second page of a multi-page document. No inferences can be drawn from it without seeing the whole document, and particularly the first page. At the moment one cannot even see the date even though McGreal disclosed the date of an earlier meeting (June 30, 1975) in other minutes produced in his “memos and minutes that confirm Israel’s nuclear stockpile”. Is the entire document available?
2. It is plainly draft minutes, on which substantial corrections have been made. This is very common in the civil service of all countries. The original note was obviously not very accurate. It is full of mistakes and what originally appears there is plainly not an accurate account of what was said, and the same or another official has later tried to correct it.
3. Is the finalised version available, and if not, why not? Has Sasha Polakow-Suransky tried to obtain it?
4. A point to remember is that the note-taker might not have had English as his first language, and might well have been Afrikaans speaking, which meant that the note itself might be wrongly expressed, and, more importantly, he or she might not have understood Minister Peres with his thick accent, and the fact that English is not his first language. The negotiations were probably conducted in English as the common language between Hebrew and Afrikaans speakers.
5. Paragraph 10 of the version actually quoted by McGreal is a figment of someone’s imagination.
This is the original typed version of Paragraph 10 before the handwritten corrections:

10 “Minister Botha expressed interest in a limited number of unit of Chalet provide [sic] the correct payload could be provided, Minister Peres said that the correct payload was available in three sizes. Minister Botha expressed his appreciation and said that he would ask for advice.”

This has been later corrected by hand by the same or another official to the following, which is presumably a more accurate rendition of what was actually said:

10 “Minister Botha expressed interest in a limited number of units of Chalet subject to the correct payload.”

The rest of the original paragraph 10 has been deleted. The other paragraphs on the page have also been extensively amended by the official who corrected the draft.
Here’s a snapshot of what McGreal actually wrote in relation to Paragraph 10 in his “expose“:

Now here’s the interesting part. Upon analysis of McGreal’s quotation of Paragraph 10 , he accepted the official “corrections” in some instances, rejected others and added in some of his own contributions. This is an unusual and very odd way of reporting. Here is what McGreal wrote this time with my comments in bold:

“The top secret minutes of the meeting record that: [note that what follows purports to be a quote from Paragraph 10] “Minister Botha expressed interest in a limited number of units of Chalet subject to [McGreal has accepted the official corrected insertion of the words “subject to”, and also the official deletion of the word “provide”] the correct payload being available [McGreal has accepted the official deletion of the words “could be provided” and inserted the invented words “being available”].” The document then records: “Minister Peres said the correct payload was available in three sizes. Minister Botha expressed his appreciation and said that he would ask for advice.” [McGreal has rejected the official deletion of all these words, and included them anyway in his corrected version.] The “three sizes” are believed to refer to the conventional, chemical and nuclear weapons.”

The person who “believes” this last sentence is not identified, nor are his qualifications to draw this inference given, nor is any source provided for the inference. Plainly, McGreal does not have enough confidence in it to say “I believe it” and give his grounds.
Going through it again: The words “provide” and “could be provided” have both been deleted. The latter deletion (which McGreal accepts) is crucial and shows that Botha was expressing interest in acquiring “Chalets” with a certain payload, not asking for the payload itself to be provided. That is why the person who corrected it deleted “provide” and “could be provided”.
The sentence which is left can only have one meaning: Botha expressed interest in acquiring a number of Chalets subject to them being capable of carrying the correct payload.
In order to enable his meaning to be attributed to the passage, McGreal has to insert the words “being available”. Otherwise, the inference doesn’t get off the ground. The actual sentence reads only: “Minister Botha expressed interest in a limited number of units of Chalet subject to the correct payload.” There is no suggestion that the payloads must be “available”, except in the McGreal version, where the words are falsely inserted.
The next key point is that the following sentence, on which this whole theory is based, i.e. what Minister Peres allegedly said, has also been deleted in its entirety. Peres obviously never said these words, and that’s why the official who corrected the draft deleted it. Anyone can check this.
I say “obviously” because (a) the deletion is there in black and white for all to see, and (b) the sentence makes no sense. Here the context is essential and that’s why nothing can be certain until we see the first page. It seems that they weren’t discussing the payload at all; they were discussing the development of, or the purchase of, the missile. That’s what Botha says: he “expressed interest in a limited number of units of Chalet” [here we are dependent on Polakow-Suransky to tell us that “Chalet” means missile, but I assume that’s correct]. The next words show that he probably said something about the missiles being capable of bearing the “correct payload”.
Even if the crucial words of Peres, which have been deleted, responding to that expression of interest, give some indication that Peres said something, it is obvious that the note-taker thought he was talking about the size of the payload which the missile could carry, (i.e. the nature of the missile) rather than the nature of the payload. This can be seen from the reference to the missile being capable of carrying payloads of different sizes.
Even if Peres mentioned three (and that’s been deleted), all he seems to have said is that the missile was capable of carrying different sized payloads.
However, since the words the note-taker had originally used could imply that Peres was talking about the payload being available, the official correcting it has deliberately deleted it, presumably because it is ambiguous and conveys the wrong impression of what happened at the meeting.
Why should Peres have responded to an “expression of interest” in a missile capable of carrying a certain size payload, by talking only about the payload, let alone offering to supply it, still less offering to supply nuclear weapons. You have to be very obtuse and motivated to draw that inference.
An equivalent would be: I express an interest to you in obtaining a limited number of crystal glasses provided they can contain the correct liquids. You respond by saying that three types of liquid are available. McGreal would add: “It’s believed this refers to beer, wine, and spirits being available.”
It’s a complete non-sequitur and makes no sense.

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