Update: Israeli Paper Denies Saying Obama Spread 'Secret' Prayer

James Taranto provided an update on his item about Barack Obama releasing the contents of his Wailing Wall prayer to media outlets. The New Republic Plank blog ran an "Obama Vindicated" item reporting that the newspaper Ma'ariv is denying it:

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 [that] quoted the alleged "Ma'ariv spokesman." This editor broached the possibility that Ma'ariv was trying to deflect criticims [sic] 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.

Clearly, as a liberal Democratic magazine, the New Republic has its own suspicions about how its hero Obama must be getting railroaded. But Taranto added: "Neither Haaretz's English-language version nor the Jerusalem Post, both of which quoted the purported Maariv spokesman, seem to have backed away from or otherwise updated their earlier reporting." He also links to Israel Insider, which notes how the Obama campaign tried to handle the story:

If Maariv is now contradicting itself, the Obama campaign, characteristically has been acting coy, refusing to confirm of deny that the prayer note even comes from the hand of Barack Obama. An AP report notes: "Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs would neither confirm nor deny the note was Obama's [but] The handwriting appeared to match a message Obama inscribed Wednesday in the guest book at Yad Vashem, Israel's official Holocaust memorial, and was written on stationery from the King David Hotel, where Obama stayed while in Israel. Obama signed the Yad Vashem message. The note from the Western Wall was unsigned."

An Obama spokesman Bill Burton flatly denied the contention that Obama's prayer, in the form of a note slipped into the Wailing Wall, was "approved for publication," adding: "That didn't happen," he said in an email cited in Ben Smith's Politico blog. "We have neither confirmed nor denied the prayer to anyone."

The candidate himself should be questioned about this on TV to put an end to the "coy" refusals to confirm or deny. It's not that there's anything offensive in the prayer to deny. It's a perfectly good prayer, a credit to whoever prays it -- as long as it's a prayer and not a campaign ploy.

Religion 2008 Presidential
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