[ Ed. note – It is beginning to look like Israel could be a country Jews have to end up escaping from rather than finding recourse to moving to. A supreme irony, of course, but supreme ironies abound in today’s world. In the last 24 hours, the Israeli group Breaking the Silence sent out the email below. A friend of mine who is on their list forwarded it on to me. It seems like a lynching party or two may be in the process of forming to go after this group of ex-Israeli soldiers who have dared to speak candidly about the occupation of the Palestinians. ]
Dear friends of Breaking the Silence,
We are in the midst of yet another wave of slanderous orchestrated attacks, intended to delegitimize Breaking the Silence. This campaign of incitement has lasted for several months, throughout which the mainstream Israeli media has distributed large amounts of disinformation and blatant lies about us.
Two weeks ago Channel 2 broadcasted a report that used manipulatively edited materials secretly filmed by moles from the right-wing organization, Ad Kan, in which they baselessly accused us of occurrences that never took place. About an hour after the report was aired on Channel 2, Prime Minister Netanyahu announced that security services were investigating the matter. Following his remarks, a chain of politicians, from the Right and Left, publicly expressed their stances on the matter. A few days later, Netanyahu outdid himself in drawing a connection between Breaking the Silence and the terror attack in Istanbul. On his Facebook page he wrote:
“Israel stands at the frontline of the struggle against global terrorism, and those who lead the military struggle against terrorism are the IDF and the security forces. Attempts to slander our soldiers are unacceptable in and of themselves, but the attempt to collect intelligence on them is unbearable – and is taken care of by bodies authorized to do so.”
Defense Minister Ya’alon also understood the direction in which the wind was blowing through the corridors of the Knesset, and when giving a lecture to high school studentshe called us, soldiers who chose to break the silence about their service in the occupied territories – “traitors.”
Recently, the dimensions of slanderous incitement have increased to frightening degrees. The appearance of Minister of Tourism, Yariv Levin, on a panel on the Channel 2 Friday night news, is another example of the absolute lack of responsibility and discretion spreading among right-wing ministers and MKs. The discourse used by some of our attackers, including the prime minister and defense minister, in referring to as us “spies” and “traitors,” nears an outright call for blood. When these baseless accusations come from the government, they create a toxic public climate – especially for anyone who refuses to align with their right-wing pro-occupation policies. We have no doubt that the purpose of these statements is primarily to frighten and intimidate us and others from talking about and opposing the occupation.
The main baseless accusation in the report was that we gather confidential information. Since our foundation 11 years ago, and to this day, we gather testimonies from soldiers who talk about what the reality of military control over a civilian population looks like. We do our work professionally and responsibly, and every testimony is legally reviewed, verified, and approved by the military censor before publication.
Since the IDF is well aware of the precise material in our possession, it took only a brief examination that lasted a few days to reach the conclusion that our work does not threaten security in any sense.
As every self-respecting journalist and researcher knows, in order to conduct serious, extensive, in-depth research, through verifying testimonies and ensuring their credibility – one must ask many questions to understand the situation in depth. Only through such a process can we accurately and confidently verify testimonies. This is precisely why, despite the ongoing attempts of right-wing organizations to sabotage our work – they have not succeeded to date. In this sense, we were able to expose the four moles that were sent to us by Ad Kan.
Following the confusion and the questions raised following the “report” on Channel 2 news, we are happy to introduce another FAQ about Breaking the Silence.
A little bit about those behind the latest attack against us
Ad Kan is a sister organization of the extreme right-wing settler organization, The Samaria Settlers’ Committee, which is funded in part by taxpayers’ money and is currently under investigation by the Ministry of Justice.
This organization previously provided manipulatively edited materials to Channel 2, as part of a campaign to separate between Palestinians and Jews on public buses in the West Bank. Following the broadcast, the materials were found to be based on recordings provide by Ad Kan. Through a hidden camera, Ad Kan moles filmed their attempt to prompt Palestinian passengers to sexually harass a Jewish female mole of theirs, posing as a passenger on the bus. Watch the video we prepared about the Samaria Settlers’ Committee and their activities.
But we are not alone
Alongside all these attacks, we were moved by the support we received. Ranging from broad public support on social media, to statements of support by public figures, Knesset members, journalists, and senior army officers. Major General (res.) Amiram Levin, a former commander of Sayeret Matkal (an IDF special forces unit), and the former deputy chief of the Northern Command, notably responded on Channel 2 news to the false allegations against us, the day after the “report” was aired.
From the media
Yuli Novak in an interview on London and Kirschenbaum.
Why Netanyahu is so afraid of Breaking the silence, Dotan Greenvald in 972+
What will the prime minister do on the day the Israeli public gets up and refuses to keep living by the sword?
Bibi – leave my grandparents out of your politics, Yuli Novak in Haaretz
I work for Breaking the Silence. But why should my grandparents be woken up by a 1 A.M. phone call telling them their granddaughter is a whore? Will anyone end the incitement?
In targeting Breaking the Silence, Ya’alon is killing the messenger, Aeyal Gross in Haaretz
All such tactics have the same goal: To divert discussion from the injustices that left-wing organizations expose into a debate over the organizations themselves.
So what can you do to fight the silencing and incitement?
Invite us to host an intimate lecture in your home>> Info@shovrimshtika.org
Our activities are possible thanks to donations from individuals like you. Every donation will help us continue fighting the battle. Donate now!
In hopes of better days to come,
The Breaking the Silence team
A note here about Breaking the Silence seems in order. If you follow their link to the FAQ page on their website one thing you will notice is a disavowal of the BDS movement. Here is a direct quote from that page
–Breaking the Silence has never supported the movement to boycott Israel, nor have we ever been funded by the movement (and more generally speaking, it’s important to know that the BDS movement doesn’t support any Israeli institutions).
–We believe that the path to ending the occupation must include a vital public discussion on the moral price paid by Israeli society in continuing it.
–We believe that the legitimacy of the State of Israel must be preserved, and that the central factor undermining this legitimacy, in the eyes of the international community, is the prolonged occupation.
Its being opposed to BDS would probably put Breaking the Silence well within the mainstream of Jewish public opinion in America, or at least certainly among the more liberal, left-of-center branch of it. Also, viewing the occupation from the standpoint of the “moral price paid by Israeli society,” rather from than the price paid in blood and human lives by the Palestinians, seems, if I may generalize, to reflect the typical mindset of Israel’s Jewish-American supporters as well. So in other words, Breaking the Silence would probably fit right in, say, at a J-Street conference or possibly a Reform synagogue congregation. How they expect the occupation will ever come to an end without boycott, divestment and sanctions pressures I don’t know, but apparently they fantasize that somehow it will.
At any rate, the fact that in Israel members of this activist group are so widely regarded as “traitors” suggests how far off the cliff the Israeli public has plunged. The choice made to name the group “Breaking the Silence” is probably telling as well. It suggests that no one in Israel, or hardly anyone, is willing or able to deal with reality. The term “loony bin nation” would thus seem an apt, if overly colorful, description.