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Friday, March 18, 2016

Exposed: 'Breaking the Silence' collects intelligence on the IDF - Does it reach their European masters?

Greetings from Boston where I have been working all week, and where the Sabbath does not start for several more hours. I will be here until Sunday morning. Sunday is a travel day, but I'm not heading back to Israel just yet. I'm heading West... (and should have WiFi access on the plane, so you may see a few more posts on Sunday). And for those who watch the weather reports, it looks like I will once again escape a serious winter snowstorm by the skin of my teeth, God Willing.

For those of you who have forgotten 'Breaking the Silence,' they are an organization that claims to be dedicated to exposing IDF abuses of 'Palestinians' in Judea and Samaria. They are funded by European governments, by the European Union (which awarded them the prestigious Andrei Sakharov prize) and by private American citizens (as well as by UNICEF and OxFam). Br'eaking the Silence' interviews discharged IDF soldiers and debriefs them regarding their IDF service. Or so they claim. It now seems that they do a lot more.

You might recall that recently, an organization called Ad Kan (Until Here) turned over video evidence to Israel's Channel 10 about human rights violations by 'human rights' groups Taayush and B'Tselem.Spreading the wealth, the group handed over material on 'Breaking the Silence to Israel's Channel 2, which reported on it Thursday night (link and video in Hebrew). The material shows that 'Breaking the Silence' is collecting military intelligence which has no connection to 'human rights' violations in Judea and Samaria or anyplace else. And the unanswered question is 'with whom does 'Breaking the Silence' share that intelligence material?' That intelligence material could clearly and presently endanger the State of Israel.

Here's a summary in English.
In its investigation, Channel 2 cited unpublished testimonies from Israeli soldiers that were obtained by the right-wing NGO Ad Kan, which sent some of its members to join Breaking the Silence undercover. The report claimed that Breaking the Silence collected “operational and intelligence” information about IDF activities from both current and former soldiers.
Channel 2 also broadcast videos of Breaking the Silence asking soldiers “questions [that] appear to revolve more around their operational activity rather issues regarding Palestinians and human rights.”
While Breaking the Silence says it gathers anonymous testimonies from Israeli soldiers about the IDF’s purported human rights abuses, these testimonies have been previously criticized as being unsubstantiated and lacking context. In recent months, the group has come under increased scrutiny over the ethics of its practices.
In the wake of the new Channel 2 report, Breaking the Silence denied any wrongdoing and emphasized that it works closely with Israel’s military censor. Breaking the Silence CEO Yuli Novak added that several organizations and members of the Knesset were trying “to silence” her group.
And it seems that the next group to come under scrutiny may be 'rabbis' for 'human rights.'
In How Non-Governmental Organizations Became a Weapon in the War on Israel, which was published in the February 2016 issue of The Tower Magazine, Gerald Steinberg, president of NGO Monitor, wrote about a subsequent investigative report involving Breaking the Silence and Nawi.
The broadcast became headline news and the fallout continued for weeks. Nawi was arrested at Ben-Gurion Airport when he tried to flee the country.
A few days later, a follow-up program aired more hidden-camera footage, this time showing Nawi with officials from two other prominent “human rights” NGOs—Breaking the Silence (BtS) and Rabbis for Human Rights (RHR). Both groups were shown giving money to Nawi, who then handed out checks to Palestinians, apparently for taking part in violent demonstrations. RHR claimed that Nawi was paid for providing transportation services. BtS denounced everyone involved in the program as “Stasi,” a reference to the notorious East German intelligence service.
Steinberg observed that even before the broadcast of Nawi with representatives of Breaking the Silence, there was growing criticism of the group across the political spectrum in Israel.
Prior to the Uvda broadcasts, BtS and its patrons were the particular focus of growing anger among many Israelis on the Right, center, and even the center-Left. This anger followed a major jump in the visibility of BtS, which reflected the group’s million- dollar budget. BtS events in churches, universities, and national parliaments around the world featured “anonymous testimony” that alleged systematic immorality by IDF soldiers, with no corroborating evidence.
In response, hundreds of IDF reserve officers petitioned the Minister of Defense, demanding that BtS activists be barred from speaking on military bases. In parallel, relatives of terror victims and fallen soldiers demanded that Education Minister Naftali Bennett prohibit BtS from speaking to high school students. NGOs like B’Tselem were also criticized. On Israel’s popular Saturday night satire program Gav Hauma, host Lior Schleien did a ten-minute routine based on the issue, primarily lampooning BtS and related NGOs.
I'm amazed that B'Tselem is allowed to speak on military bases.... But what Professor Steinberg says about anger coming from 'even the center-Left' is true. Yesh Atid party leader Yair Lapid has accused 'Breaking the Silence' of digging under the foundations of the State of Israel, and causing it both internal and external damage (link in Hebrew).

For those of you wondering why Israel feels the need to stop foreign governments from financing its NGO's, this is another data point.

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At 11:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Foreign gov'ts and NGO's -- Hmmm -- seems I recall General Giap writing in his memoirs about having decided, subsequent to the Tet disaster, to take a crap shoot and wait and see if the US anti-war movement would win the war for him. Can anyone say "Winter Soldier"? Can anyone say "Secretary of State"? Giap is probably smiling in his grave.


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