Breaking the Silence 2.0

July 1, 2013 9:49 am 0 comments

J Street rally in Seattle, Washington. Photo: www.action.jstreet.org.

Once again the fallacies of the Israeli NGO Breaking the Silence (BtS) are making headlines, this time directly from the IDF. Barak Raz, spokesman for the IDF’s Judea and Samaria Division, correctly blasted the group and its actions, stating that “Breaking the Silence is an organization that engages in nothing – but nothing – other than a smear campaign targeting the IDF. This smear campaign has nothing to do with rooting out their observed problem. Furthermore, none of their work helps the IDF (or Israel, for that matter) provide a solution.”

Notwithstanding such criticisms, BtS has become the poster child for groups like J Street and others on many North American campuses that want to engage in “honest debate” about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In reality these groups do nothing more than fuel a skewed view of Israel in order to pressure Israel to succumb to Palestinian demands, thereby only contributing to the isolation of the Jewish state. Further, it is also the pervasive tactic employed by the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS) in their political warfare against Israel.

The adaptation of soft power by the pro- Palestinian camps and far-left Jewish groups is one of the main vehicles used in this political warfare. Breaking the Silence plays a central role in this agenda, now spearheaded by J Street. In 2008, before J Street was founded, BtS was disseminating its message on campuses like the University of Pennsylvania and Harvard through a photo exhibit showing the “egregious acts” of the IDF, mostly in Hebron.

At the time, I wrote that the exhibit was completely one-sided and portrayed Israel unfairly. The presentation lacked any context or proportionality whatsoever.

It did not present – or even attempt to present – the complexity of the political and military situation in the West Bank and Gaza. Rather, the exhibit sought to present a distorted image of Israel, its people and its defense forces. Since then BtS has produced a 431-page publication entitled Occupation of the Territories – Israeli Soldier Testimonies 2000-2010 that claims to “describe an offensive policy that includes annexation of territory, terrorizing and tightening the control over the civilian population.”

J Street, which was founded in April of 2008, is now using the group to cascade its message of “peace and co-existence” to students through BtS. J Street has attempted to sell its agenda as the alternative to the “mainstream” and demand that the tent of the Jewish community stretch to include views that at times are harmful to State of Israel under the guise of openness.

Consequently, according to a statement written by J Street in The Daily Pennsylvanian this past March, “Breaking the Silence is an organization of former Israel Defense Forces soldiers who speak openly about their experiences serving in the West Bank and Gaza. They shed light on the price of military occupation for both Israelis and Palestinians and argue that bringing it to an end is in Israel’s best long-term interests. The most important goal of Breaking the Silence is to foster dialogue and awareness about the facts on the ground. This, above all, is why we wanted to host them.”

The fact of the matter is that Breaking the Silence, as IDF spokesman Raz underscores, is hardly representative of the IDF, and its goal is not to foster dialogue.

Rather, it is an Israeli fringe group funded by mostly non-Israelis to collect testimonies from soldiers who shared their “horrific experiences” while fueling an image of Israel as the worst violator of human rights. A concomitant message used by the pro-Palestinian supporters to sell to the Western media outlets. The difficulty here is that these myths are now being perpetuated by former Israeli soldiers.

Journalist Amos Harel wrote about the group in Haaretz (Gaza testimonies/Diverting the debate from the real issue, July 16, 2009): “Breaking the Silence… has a clear political agenda, and can no longer be classed as a’human rights organization.’ Any organization whose website includes the claim by members to expose the ‘corruption which permeates the military system’ is not a neutral observer. The organization has a clear agenda: to expose the consequences of IDF troops serving in the West Bank and Gaza. This seems more of interest to its members than seeking justice for specific injustices.”

The BtS campaign has taken its cues directly from the Durban playbook, with the goal of discrediting the IDF using repeated accusations of “war crimes,” “genocide” and “apartheid” – all of this is at the core of the Palestinian weltanschauung which is now subscribed to by groups like BtS.

Notwithstanding the above, BtS is welcomed by Hillels and other Jewish groups in order to offer its students a “diverse” point of views when it comes to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. While diversity and openness is a positive attribute of academia this program does not represent a true discourse of the reality but rather one that is aimed to demonize and isolate Israel by Israelis.

Benjamin Franklin once said that “we are all born ignorant, but one must work hard to remain stupid.”

It would behoove such groups to remember Franklin’s words when they consider such “educational programs.”

Mainstream Jewish groups have a responsibility to their stakeholders to establish clear lines that they will uphold while affording their constituents a wide range of opinions that fall within the realm of legitimate debate and public discourse. Being a “big tent” shouldn’t mean killing yourself.

This article was originally published by the Jerusalem Post.

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Book Reviews Personalities Biography Sheds New Light on David Ben-Gurion’s Place in Jewish History

    Biography Sheds New Light on David Ben-Gurion’s Place in Jewish History

    JNS.org – There is one sentence in “Ben-Gurion: Father of Modern Israel” that made me sit up in surprise. I thought that I knew the basic facts about how Israel came into being, but while describing what it was like in the days and hours before the state was declared, author Anita Shapira provides one important anecdote I was not aware of. On the 12th of May, the Zionist Executive met to decide what to do. Moshe Sharrett had just returned [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture US & Canada ‘Death of Klinghoffer’ Actress Compares Met Opera to ‘Schindler’s List’

    ‘Death of Klinghoffer’ Actress Compares Met Opera to ‘Schindler’s List’

    An actress starring in the controversial Met Opera The Death of Klinghoffer defended the show on Tuesday by comparing it to the 1993 Holocaust film Schindler’s List, New York Post reported. “To me, this was like [the movie] Schindler’s List. We make art so people won’t forget,’’ said the actress, who plays a captured passenger in the show and asked not to be identified. The Met Opera focuses on the infamous murder of Lower East Side Jewish resident Leon Klinghoffer, 69. The wheelchair-bound father of [...]

    Read more →
  • Analysis Arts and Culture Beyond ‘Klinghoffer’: Opera’s Composer, Librettist Have Broader Jewish Problem

    Beyond ‘Klinghoffer’: Opera’s Composer, Librettist Have Broader Jewish Problem

    JNS.org – One of the most controversial operas in recent memory, “The Death of Klinghoffer,” debuted Oct. 20 at New York’s Metropolitan Opera. The Met has scheduled seven more performances through November. The first staging did not occur without protest, as about 400 demonstrators—including Jewish communal and nationally recognized leaders—came to Lincoln Center to denounce the anti-Jewish and anti-Israel opera. “Klinghoffer,” the creation of composer John Adams and librettist Alice Goodman, premiered in 1991—with few additional stagings. The opera is based [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture US & Canada Israeli Actress Gal Gadot in Talks to Star in Ben-Hur Remake

    Israeli Actress Gal Gadot in Talks to Star in Ben-Hur Remake

    Israeli actress Gal Gadot is in negotiations to take on the female lead role in the remake of the 1959 classic Ben-Hur, according to The Hollywood Reporter. If the deal is finalized Gadot will play Esther, a slave and Ben-Hur’s love interest. Actor Jack Huston will star as the Jewish prince who is betrayed into slavery by his childhood friend Messala, played by Toby Kebbell. Ben-Hur fights for his freedom and vengeance with the help of Morgan Freeman’s character, who trains Ben-Hur how to win at chariot-racing. [...]

    Read more →
  • Jewish Identity Sports Young Israelis Try to Crowd-Fund Their Way to Major League Baseball Playoffs

    Young Israelis Try to Crowd-Fund Their Way to Major League Baseball Playoffs

    JNS.org – Baseball, hot dogs, and apple pie are the American dream. So why do two young men who have built their lives in Israel have a GoFundMe crowd-funding webpage with the urgent message that they need $3,000 to travel to the U.S. to watch the Kansas City Royals and Baltimore Orioles square off for Major League Baseball’s (MLB) American League championship? Brothers Naftali and Yoni Schwartz, 27 and 25, respectively, are Kansas City natives. Even though they made aliyah with their [...]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Sports Race Cars Speed Through Jerusalem in Amazing Exhibition

    Race Cars Speed Through Jerusalem in Amazing Exhibition

    Some 3,000 years ago, King David probably never imagined cars racing at 240 kilometers per hour (150 miles per hour) through the ancient capital of the Jewish people. But on Monday and Tuesday, October 6-7, thousands of Israelis lined the streets to watch Porsche, Audi, and Ferrari race cars fly through the capital against the backdrop of the Tower of David, the Old City Walls, and other city landmarks. The second annual non-competitive Jerusalem Formula One Road Show had been [...]

    Read more →
  • Israel Sports NBA Superstar LeBron James Says He Wants to Visit Israel

    NBA Superstar LeBron James Says He Wants to Visit Israel

    Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James expressed interest in visiting Israel someday, local news site Cleveland.com reported on Sunday. Speaking to Israeli reporters before the Cleveland Cavaliers’ preseason debut against Maccabi Tel Aviv, the NBA star said he had never visited the Jewish state but “I want to look forward to going there if I get an opportunity to.” When asked by an Israeli reporter if there was “any chance that LeBron James and Cleveland comes to Tel Aviv,” the athlete said [...]

    Read more →
  • Sports US & Canada Florida Rabbi Dominates Former Basketball Star Congressman in Hoops Showdown (VIDEO)

    Florida Rabbi Dominates Former Basketball Star Congressman in Hoops Showdown (VIDEO)

    A Florida-based Chabad rabbi put former basketball star, U.S. Congressman Curt Clawson to shame on the court when the two faced off one-on-one recently. A YouTube video, posted online on Tuesday, shows Rabbi Fishel Zaklos of Chabad of Naples shooting hoops with the Florida politician, who played basketball in high school and at Purdue University in Indiana. The game took place in the parking lot of the Chabad Jewish center run by Zaklos. During the 1-minute clip, Zaklos scores two impressive [...]

    Read more →



Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.