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Sunday, July 26, 2009

Holland reconsidering funding Breaking the Silence

Holland is reconsidering its funding of Breaking the Silence, the organization that two weeks ago released 'confessions' to 'war crimes' by anonymous IDF soldiers who were involved in Operation Cast Lead. It was the second time Breaking the Silence had released 'confessions' from IDF soldiers, and in each case the 'confessions' were based on rumor and hearsay.

Ten days ago it came out that Breaking the Silence is funded by, among others, the Dutch embassy in Tel Aviv, the British embassy in Tel Aviv and the European Union. Now, the Dutch embassy is reconsidering its support. Its funding came to €19,999 or about NIS 110,000.
Acting on instructions from the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem, the Israeli ambassador to the Netherlands, Harry Knei-Tal, met last week with the director-general of the Dutch Foreign Ministry and complained about the Dutch embassy's funding of Breaking the Silence.

The Israeli ambassador suggested that the Netherland's funding of the organization should be terminated. "The Dutch taxpayer's money could be better used to promote peace and human rights," a source quoted Knei-Tal as saying.

According to sources familiar with the situation, Dutch Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen - considered one of Israel's staunchest supporters in the European Union - did not know that the embassy in Tel Aviv was funding Breaking the Silence. He learned about it after the organization's funding sources were published in an article in The Jerusalem Post.

Sources say Verhagen reproached senior figures in the Dutch Foreign Ministry upon learning this and gave instructions to launch an internal investigation on the matter. It showed that the embassy in Israel gave Breaking the Silence 19,995 euros to help put together its 2009 report, which discusses Operation Cast Lead and was released earlier this month. Had this figure been five euros higher, it would have required approval from The Hague.

The director-general of the Dutch Foreign Ministry told the Israeli ambassador that in light of the probe, funding for Breaking the Silence would be reevaluated because of the political sensitivities of the issues covered by the organization.
This is the difference between having a foreign ministry in the hands of Avigdor Lieberman and a foreign ministry in the hands of Tzipi Livni. Livni would never have instructed the ambassador to go to the Dutch foreign minister and ask to put a stop to the funding. If Lieberman stays foreign minister for a few more years, maybe Israel's hasbara (public relations) can be cleaned up.


At 8:08 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

consider? they viraled something based on anonymous conjecture

At 10:00 PM, Blogger mrzee said...

Were there any comments in the Israeli news from the British and EU trying to justify their funding?

It seems only in Israel can foreign governments directly fund political organizations opposed to the government and have it treated as normal. If something like this happened here in Canada, it would cause a major diplomatic incident.


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