Posts Tagged ‘Breaking the Silence’
A recent meeting between National Security Council officials and the left-wing Breaking the Silence group barely made headlines but was a significant move in President Barack Obama’s agenda to justify his view that Israel is an “occupier.”
It was President Obama who succeeded in removing AIPAC as the default representative of what is called the “pro-Israel lobby” by opening the Oval Office to J Street, the left-wing group that thinks being “pro-Israel” means accommodating Hamas, expelling 600,000 Jews from Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria and granting statehood Palestinian Authority inside Israel’s borders.
Calling itself “pro-Israel, pro-peace,” and with generous funding from far-left billionaire George Soros, J Street’s launch in 2008 coincided with the campaign and election of President Obama.
Since then, Obama has shifted farther and farther to adopt the Palestinian Authority view of Israel as an occupier, and of Jews in settlements and even half of Jerusalem as “illegal” and “illegitimate.” Listening to leftist Jews telling him what he wants to hear has strengthened his belief that the “peace process” is the panacea for the Middle East.
Obama also has grabbed every opportunity to twist Judaism into his vision of a religion that can used to support his agenda, and he has plenty of support from Reform Jewish leaders to become a modern Korach, the Biblical figure who rebelled against Moses’ authority by claiming that the entire Jewish community is just as holy as he is.
The end of the story is that Korach and his 250 followers were swallowed up in the ground, which opened up to bury them alive, and that seems to be the same fate for President Obama’s foreign policy, especially when it comes to any place in the Middle East.
Instead of accepting reality, he is trying to hold on to an illusion. Breaking the Silence is a new pawn for President Obama to use in his chess game to check Israel, and particularly Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.
Senior White officials welcomed Breaking the Silence, which was formed by a disgruntled Israeli-American soldier whose agenda is the same as Obama’s. Both of them have adopted the Palestinian Authority term “occupation” to describe the presence of approximately 300,000 Jews in Judea and Samaria and another quarter of a million or so in half a dozen Jerusalem neighborhoods. Tens of thousands of the residents are from the United States.
Reform Jewish leaders , who call themselves rabbis, do not represent Judaism, J Street does not represent the pro-Israel lobby, and Breaking the Silence does not represent the views of more than a tiny minority of Israelis.
But President Obama is playing magician to try to show that all three groups are the Jewish establishment.
The meeting between White House officials with Breaking the Silence was the first ever and was held only days after the anti-IDF organization staged an anti-IDF exhibition with the sponsorship of the Swiss government.
The President shrewdly made sure the meeting would not be held in the White House, making it easier for him to get smart and drop Breaking the Silence before it costs him support from the real mainstream Jewish community that knows the Israeli Defense Forces separate Israel from annihilation.
Haaretz reported that the meeting took place “at the offices of an American nonprofit in the capital.” A good guess – and it’s only as guess – would be that those offices belonged to J Street or perhaps more likely the Washington-based Foundation for Middle East Peace, whose president Matt Duss arranged the meeting.
The group’s website states:
The Foundation for Middle East Peace was created in 1979…to promote a just resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through education and advocacy…. the Israeli-Palestinian conflict [is] at the core of the Arab-Israeli conflict….
In 1992, in view of the growing threat of Israeli settlements to peace, the Foundation introduced the bimonthly Report on Israeli Settlements in the Occupied Territories.
Breaking the Silence is trying to go mainstream. Obama’s “shared values” are more with the left-wing group than they are with the real mainstream in Israel and in the United States.
MK Yinon Magal (Bayit Yehudi) has proposed legislation in the Knesset that will tax Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO) who receive significant funding from foreign governments.
The proposed law will tax any NGO receiving more than $50,000 from a foreign government, at the rate of 37% on those funds.
Those NGOs will also be restricted in the amount of cooperation they can receive from official government bodies and the IDF, and will be designated as a “foreign NGO”.
In addition, the NGO will be required to place notification on all their official documents that they are supported by foreign governments.
Regarding foreign government funding funneled through another NGO, the 2011 foreign funding transparency law explicitly covers all money that originates with governments.
Bayit Yehudi head called this a “response to the UN report.”
The latest UN “Schabes Report” against Israel received information from Israeli NGOs who receive millions of shekels from foreign governments in Europe, and advance the interests of those foreign governments.
The proposed law will not stop the NGOs from continuing their work, but it will make clear that they providing services for foreign government who ere using local Israelis to promote the agendas of the foreign governments.
The United States has a similar law called the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA).
The U.S. law requires those working directly or indirectly for a foreign government or foreign organization publicly disclose that information, as well as disclosing all their activities and finances.
The leftist Green Part in Switzerland has invited Yehuda Shaul, leader of the anti-IDF Breaking the Silence group, to speak in the parliament a week after the government funded his exhibit that charges the military with human rights violations.
The Israeli Foreign Ministry last week failed to cancel the Breaking the Silence exhibition, which it said has the ” sole purpose to tarnish the image of Israel’s …and Israel’s image.”
The Swiss Foreign Ministry shelled out $25,000 to help Breaking the Silence stage the exhibit and justified its action as a “commitment to increasing dialogue about human rights.”
Yehuda Shaul is as an Orthodox Jew in Jerusalem but has stated he was Not raised as an Israeli.” His agenda is clearly leftist, and he states on the Breaking of Silence website:
Moral values disintegrate, that’s inherent in these circumstances and you can’t both be there and not be there. Occupation is an equation. Soldiers dominate civilians. It starts with what I talked about and ends with what we don’t want to listen to, yet we must because our society is an occupying one, and our soldiers are doing these things in our name.
Shaul founded Breaking the Silence, which is generously funded by the leftist New Israel Fund, and he has recorded allegations by anonymous soldiers of indiscriminate fire at Arabs in Gaza during last summer’s Protective Edge counter-terror campaign.
Ten Swiss parliament members strongly opposed last week’s the exhibit and stated, as translated and published by The Jerusalem Post:
Disinformation and the political ideology of hatred are being directed against the Jewish state and, of all things, it is shameful that Switzerland, on whose soil the nucleus of peaceful political Zionism developed in Base at the First Zionist Congress in 1897, is participating in such activities.
Israeli pressure so far has not stopped the Green Party, which issued an invitation to Shaul to speak in the parliament to speak.
IDF Reservists last week appealed to Hotovely and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to stop the exhibit and said they also “will not remain silent in the face of an organization that retries to degrade the IDF.” They should form a group and call it “Breaking the Slander.”
The Breaking the Silence report is ammunition for BDS. Its 237-page report titled “This Is How We Fought in Gaza” is full of anonymous testimonies form 60 soldiers among tens of thousands who were called up during the war.
NGO Monitor has charged Breaking the Silence with making “sweeping accusations based on anecdotal, anonymous and unverifiable testimonies of low-level soldiers.” It added:
These ‘testimonies’ lack context, ignoring the fact that during the 2014 Gaza war heavy fighting took place between Israel and terror groups in Gaza, and that soldiers faced grave danger throughout the conflict from rockets, mortar shells, and terrorists emerging from tunnels dug beneath private homes. These distortions and erasures dovetail with BtS’s ideological agenda and fuel delegitimization campaigns against Israel.”
On May 4 the organization which has given itself the courageous moniker of “Breaking the Silence” issued a harshly critical report about the IDF’s performance in last summer’s Operation Protective Edge in Gaza. It claimed indiscriminate shooting by Israeli soldiers caused the deaths of hundreds of Palestinian Arab civilians.
In the days following, that report has itself been criticized, debunked, dismantled and discredited. It’s worth understanding why.
The name of the organization issuing the scathing report, “Breaking the Silence,” suggests no one else has been willing to criticize the IDF. In reality, of course, that is the primary global discourse about the IDF.
And it is not as if IDF soldiers are uncritical of their experiences. But most of that criticism is internally directed, with the goal of actually improving conditions and procedures. BtS’s effort, in contrast, is a public relations exercise in demonizing Israel and its military apparatus.
The international media pounced on what was promoted by BtS as scorching criticism based on more than 60 interviews with unnamed active duty and reserve IDF personnel who participated in last summer’s OPE. (Anonymity of critics is a hallmark of Breaking the Silence’s many reports.)
A report based on testimony from Israeli soldiers who directly participated in the conflict would appear to be unimpeachable.
Except this one is and has been impressively impeached in a series of reports and public comments by a wide range of critics. Those reports have not received the extensive publicity the Israel-bashing original report has.
And why should anyone doubt the veracity of this report?
Well, for one thing, Breaking the Silence has been subject to intense criticism for years, including from such venerable bastions of Israel criticism as Haaretz, Israel’s flagship far leftist media outlet. In 2009, a Haaretz writer said of Breaking the Silence, it “has a clear political agenda, and can no longer be classified as a human rights organization.”
Other critics include former Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Dore Gold, former Associated Press reporter Matti Friedman, the well-respected non-governmental watchdog group NGO Monitor and Im Tirzu, a staunchly Zionist Israeli organization.
The various critics offered substantive and persuasive reasoning for rejecting the claims contained in BtS’s latest report.
FOREIGN FUNDING AND BOUNTY HUNTING
First, the funding of Breaking the Silence suggests it has a clear political bias. Despite its claims, including one during a BBC interview, that its organization “are not subcontractors to anybody,” BtS is highly subsidized by foreign entities and governments. That in itself may not be problematic. But bounty hunting, where funding will only be provided if a set level of “scalps” are supplied, reaps malevolently skewed results.
And contrary to BtS’s claim that “the contents and opinions in this booklet do not express the position of the funders,” NGO Monitor research revealed that a number of funders made their grants conditional on the NGO obtaining a minimum number of negative “testimonies.”
Got that? We call that bounty hunting.
“This contradicts BtS’ declarations and thus turns it into an organization that represents its foreign donors’ interest, severely damaging the NGO’s reliability and its ability to analyze complicated combat situations,” observed NGO Monitor’s analysts.
Gerald Steinberg, the executive director of NGO Monitor, told the JewishPress.com that while “the leaders of Breaking the Silence claim to promote Jewish values, they are impostors.”
“From Biblical texts through modern times, Judaism has emphasized political realism and not pacifist myths. Abraham had to show that he had the power to defend his interests, and the same is true for Jacob, and so on. In addition to this distortion, [the authors of the report] are self-promoting messianists who immorally promote themselves through money given by church groups and foreign governments which seek to deny the right of the Jewish people to sovereign equality.”
By Matti Bernhardt
A group of former IDF soldiers, incensed over an Israeli NGO’s claims that they abused Palestinians during last summer’s fighting in Gaza, have taken to social media to fight the allegations.
Under the hashtag #my_truth in Hebrew, the soldiers, many of whom faced heavy fire from Hamas and other terrorist groups during the 50-day Operation Protective Edge, have begun posting stories of cases showing how they went to great lengths to avoid harming Palestinians. They also mentioned cases in which civilians took part in terrorist activity.
The goal of this initiative is to counter damning anonymous testimonies by other troops published by the NGO Breaking the Silence, which frequently publicizes claims that the IDF mistreats Palestinians.
Breaking the Silence touts itself as an organization of ex-soldiers who collect testimonies from troops who served in Palestinian areas since the start of the Second Intifada.
While claiming their goal is to “raise awareness over the everyday reality of serving in the occupied territories and to create a discussion about the cost of military control over a civilian population for so many years,” the NGO refuses to post the names of the soldiers who testify. They have also refused to pass along their accounts to the IDF’s Military Advocate General’s Corps for investigation, despite repeated requests by senior IDF officials.
As well, the latest report was itself published first in English and released to the foreign media. Breaking the Silence members routinely go abroad to share their testimonials on IDF activities, instead of taking their case directly to the IDF or civilian courts.
The latest counter-initiative to the NGO report began after Israeli left-wing Meretz MK Zehava Galon posted one such hostile testimony last Tuesday on her Facebook page.
In the allegation that she posted from Breaking the Silence, Galon quoted the following: “the unit identified two figures walking in an orchard around 900 meters from where we were posted. The figures were two girls. The observation post could not see them well, so the commander sent a UAV. The UAV marked them as dangerous. The unit directed an aircraft who fired on the girls, killing them. When the bodies were checked they had no weapons on them,” the allegation said.
Such accounts, which purport to show the IDF in a bad light, have prompted numerous counter claims from other IDF soldiers, who have attempted to portray a more positive view of IDF activities during the foray.
After reading the Breaking the Silence pamphlet, former IDF soldier Matan Katzman wrote on his Facebook page last Thursday that “during Operation Summer Rains in Beit Hanoun [in the northern Gaze Strip in 2006], we entered a house with a couple living in it. We asked them if they’re involved with Hamas, they said “no, not at all.” We asked them if they have weapons in the house, they said “no, not at all”. We stayed in the house for a couple of hours. When we left, we moved the couch and discovered an IED.”
The informal pro-IDF campaign by former Israeli soldiers also cited examples of humane and respectful behavior towards non-combatants during operations in the Judea and Samaria.
Avishai Shorsham recalled in a testimony that he wrote of his service on his Facebook page on Wednesday, that “During an operation in the Nablus Kasbah, while we are in the middle of a stakeout, an old man who lived in the house felt sharp pain in his chest. Without accordance with our orders, we evacuated him in the middle of the night while endangering ourselves.”
According to the organization’s website, the recent Breaking the Silence pamphlet was produced with the “generous support” of such foreign organizations as Christian Aid, Dan Church Aid, Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law, Secretariat and Open Society Foundations founded by George Soros.
Related story: IDF Officer Reports from the Gaza Front (Video)
IDF veterans who provided negative testimony for the leftist NGO “Breaking the Silence” may not realize they are also participating in an effort by the group to fulfill a funding quota for bad stuff against Israel.
According to a report by the NGO Monitor, a number of grant-making agencies who provide funding to leftist organizations in Israel have made their patronage contingent upon the groups’ abilities to obtain a minimum number of negative “testimonies.”
“This contradicts Breaking the Silence” declarations and thus turns it into an organization that represents its foreign donors’ interest, severely damaging the NGO’s reliability and its ability to analyze complicated combat situations,” said the report.
One example is the foreign leftist Oxfam group, which signed an agreement with Breaking the Silence, according to the NGO Monitor watchdog organization.
According to that agreement, the Monitor reported, BTS was to conduct interviews with “as many” soldiers as possible who would testify regarding [Israeli] “immoral actions] that violate human rights.
The entire report can be read by clicking here.