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Monday, November 21, 2011

Breaking the silence on Breaking the Silence

I am sure that many of you remember the discredited allegations of atrocities committed by IDF soldiers during Operation Cast Lead three years ago that were made by an organization known as Breaking the Silence (Shovrim Shtika in Hebrew). Breaking the Silence is one of the organizations that stands to lose significant funding if the law is changed to prohibit funding from foreign governments or to heavily tax it. And by any objective standard, they deserve to lose that funding, write Anne Herzberg and Naftali Baylanson.
Breaking the Silence describes its mission as “expos(ing) the Israeli public to the routine situations of everyday life in the Occupied Territories....pushing Israeli society to face the reality whose creation it has enabled.” Yet, as NGO Monitor has documented in its report on the frequent international campaigning of Israeli NGOs, BtS conducts a significant amount of its activities outside of Israel.

In the past year, BtS has addressed the Irish Parliament, a crowd in Washington that included the United Arab Emirates UN Ambassador and the First Secretary of Pakistan to the UN, and numerous college campuses in the US, among other similar engagements. At one event in Sweden, BtS activist Yonatan Shapiro even stated, “We are the oppressors, we are the ones that are violating human rights on a daily basis. We are creating the terror against us, basically.”


Another significant problem is that BtS is a patron of several European governments. More than 75% of the organization’s 2010 budget – the last available public documents – came from government funding sources, under the pretense of support for human rights and democracy.

However, as repeatedly emphasized by officials from BtS, “the political significance is the only reason for doing it.” Within Israel, BtS’ political agenda is not illegitimate, albeit marginal. But foreign government support for that agenda is absurd.

It is inconceivable that any European country would accept a situation where another democratic government provided funds to an organization whose primary aim was to trash that country’s armed forces before hostile audiences.

It is therefore hard not to wonder if BtS is a genuine expression of Israeli sentiment, or whether its representatives simply serve as the mouthpieces for Europeans. If the goal is “political,” then is this not a subversion and manipulation of Israeli democracy? It is equally disturbing and offensive that European officials appear to be blind and deaf to these issues.
Read the whole thing.

The World will be a better place if Breaking the Silence ceases to exist.

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