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Friday, July 17, 2009

Breaking the Silence funded by European governments, EU and private Americans

When I sit up, I have coughing fits, when I lie down I don't. That's the reason I have been mostly horizontal for the last day and a half. Actually, I even slept most of the day yesterday (NY Nana will appreciate that - she's always on me to sleep more during the week. Mrs. Carl has long since given up). So you will have to forgive me if this post relies more on linking other people and has less originality in it.

I first wrote about Breaking the Silence in January 2007. At the time I quoted from an Israeli foreign ministry report that said
Sponsored by Jewish and Palestinian organizations, refuseniks representing “Shovrim Shtika” (Breaking the Silence) and “Combatants for Peace” travel to different campuses and Jewish communities in the US, and give audiences their take on what goes on in the territories.

The “Union of Progressive Zionists” and “Brit Tzedek v’Shalom” (Jewish Alliance for Justice and Peace) were among the Jewish organizations that are funding the refuseniks.
As you saw in the headline and will see later in this post, the foreign ministry report is now incorrect. Breaking the Silence is funded by foreign entities - including foreign governments. We'll come back to that. But first let's see what they've been up since 2007.

In early March 2009, Breaking the Silence 'leaked' 'confessions' from IDF soldiers allegedly involved in the liquidation of a terrorist that took place in November 2000 to the British media, which published them with sensationalist headlines. I ripped the story apart at the time, as did others. But that was just a warm-up for what was to come.

Two and a half weeks later, Breaking the Silence released 'confessions' of IDF soldiers who were involved in Operation Cast Lead in December 2008 and January 2009. The 'confessions' involved 'war crimes' against 'Palestinians.' Haaretz (Israel's Hebrew Palestinian daily) published the 'confessions' without having vetted them with the IDF for comment. The 'confessions' turned out to be hearsay, encouraged by the leftist dean of Israel's only secular pre-military academy.

This past week, Breaking the Silence released a new round of 'confessions.' You can read a summary of it here. This is the part I found most curious:
As for Breaking the Silence's motivations, The Jerusalem Post's Amir Mizroch offers an insider's insight on his personal blog on how the group attempted to give Ha'aretz exclusive rights to the story. The paper, in light of its previous embarrassment, did not take the bait and sent the report to the IDF for response. Meanwhile, Breaking the Silence attempted to get the JPost's military correspondent off the story, fearing that the paper would take a critical look at their report. According to Mizroch:
Several days before all this, Breaking The Silence gave out their report to a wide array of foreign media, and not to the IDF to probe into itself, with the caveat that they observe the embargo until after Ha'aretz published the report first. All of which shows their original intent was to get as much uncritical worldwide publicity for their report. Legitimate, sure. Fair? Not so sure.
Breaking the Silence has succeeded in gaining the international publicity that it sought. Many media outlets have also demonstrated their propensity to uncritically publish unverifiable accounts from non-governmental organizations that feed their own unquestioning narrative of Israel and the IDF.
I'm not sure that I agree that it's legitimate or fair, and it certainly isn't if one's goal is to reach the truth (which - silly me - is what I thought news stories were supposed to do) and not to present the news with a certain slant.

There's another great comment about Breaking the Silence here. Make sure to read it all.

JPost reports on Friday morning that Breaking the Silence is funded by several European governments, the European Union and the New Israel Fund, which passes itself off as a 'charitable organization' in the United States.
On Thursday, military sources and NGO Monitor - a Jerusalem-based research organization - raised suspicions regarding Breaking the Silence's setup as a nonprofit limited company and not an amuta, or nonprofit organization. The difference is that an amuta is required by law to publicly declare the identity of its donors. A limited company is not always required to do so.

"From our work, going through the files of dozens of Israeli nonprofits, we feel that groups like this that are not listed [as an amuta] raises a lot of red flags," said Prof. Gerald Steinberg, the head of NGO Monitor.

In response to the claims, Breaking the Silence presented the Post with its donor list for 2008. The British Embassy in Tel Aviv gave the organization NIS 226,589; the Dutch Embassy donated €19,999; and the European Union gave Breaking the Silence €43,514.

The NGO also received funding from the New Israel Fund amounting to NIS 229,949.

In 2007, Breaking the Silence received a total of NIS 500,000, and in 2008 it managed to raise NIS 1.5 million.
Let's do the math. The Euro-Shekel exchange rate was 5.5041 on Thursday (I'm typing this before Friday's rate comes out). That makes the Dutch contribution NIS 110,077 and it makes the EU contribution NIS 239,505 - slightly more than the British contribution. That makes NIS 576,171 just among the EU and the British and Dutch governments, which is more money than the organization raised in 2007. (Isn't it amazing how, with their economy falling apart, the stinking Brits still have money to try to destroy Israel?). When you add New Israel Fund, the total comes to NIS 806,120 or more than half of their donations.

Breaking the Silence ought to be forced to register as a foreign agent.

By the way, the logo at the top is Breaking the Silence's Hebrew logo.

Back to horizontal....


At 3:18 PM, Blogger Lois Koenig said...

I just marked today on the calendar! You made history. ;)

Just feel better.

Refuah Shlema!

Shabbat shalom to you, Mrs. Carl and the family.

At 6:19 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

Israeli NGOs should be prohibited from receiving funds from foreign governments so they will not be influenced by their donors' views towards Israel. It would lessen their bias and raise the quality of their scrutiny of Israel's policies and actions. I doubt those with an anti-Israel agenda would agree to only in-Israel funding. That would eliminate Israeli NGO abuses.


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