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Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Breaking the silence to lie, funded by UNICEF, OXFAM, Norway, Spain and the European Union

Jake Wallis Simons has some disturbing news about 'Breaking the Silence,' the European and United Nations-funded NGO that exaggerates the activities of IDF soldiers in Judea and Samaria. Simons concludes that the Europeans ought not to be funding this organization.
For now, my point is this: I couldn’t shake the feeling that Breaking the Silence was milking it.
It was only a hunch at first. But later, the bias of the organisation became clearer. During a break between interviews, I asked Yehuda Shaul, one of the founders of the organisation, how the group is funded. It was with some surprise that I learned that 45 per cent of it is donated by European countries, including Norway and Spain, and the European Union. Other donors include UNICEF, Christian Aid and Oxfam GB. To me this seemed potentially problematic.
As is the case in all democracies, the IDF is an organ of the state, not a political decision-maker. If the goal of Breaking the Silence was simply to clean up the Israeli military, it wouldn’t be such a problem. Instead, the aim is to “end the occupation”, and on this basis it secured its funding.
It appeared, therefore, that these former soldiers, some of whom draw salaries from Breaking the Silence, were motivated by financial and political concerns to further a pro-Palestinian agenda. They weren’t merely telling the truth about their experiences. They were under pressure to perform.
Indeed, I later discovered that there have been many allegations in the past that members of the organisation either fabricated or exaggerated their testimonies.
The matter became more unsettling when one of Breaking the Silence’s former soldiers accompanied me to Hebron, a thriving Palestinian city in the southern West Bank. This is the only Palestinian city to have a Jewish settlement embedded in its centre, and as such is the most acrimonious and violent place in the region.
We set up our video camera outside an army base in the Israeli sector of Hebron, and I began to interview the former soldier from Breaking the Silence. He was talking about his army service, and came out with the line, “the first time I ever met a Palestinian was when I entered his house in the middle of the night”.
While he was speaking a car drove by behind him, drowning out his words. I said: “Just give me it one more time about how… the first time you ever met a Palestinian was when you kicked down his door in the middle of the night”. This was my mistake; he hadn’t said that he kicked down anything.
He duly repeated it. This time, however, he took my lead and changed his account from “entered his house in the middle of the night” to “kicked down his door in the middle of the night”. On the surface it may seem like a small detail. But when we played back the tape I found the ease with which he exaggerated his story very troubling. We didn’t use the interview.
The next time you're flying on an international flight and you hear that sob story about donating your 'spare change' for UNICEF to 'help kids around the world,' keep  your change in your pocket and tell the cabin crew why. Maybe they'll choose another charity.

Read the whole thing.

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