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 Commentary In ‘America in Retreat,’ a Real-Life Risk Board

    In ‘America in Retreat,’ a Real-Life Risk Board

    JNS.org – “Risk: The Game of Strategic Conquest,” the classic Parker Brothers board game, requires imperial ambitions. Players imagine empires and are pitted against each other, vying for world domination. Amid this fictional world war, beginners learn fast that no matter the superiority of their army, every advance is a gamble determined by a roll of the dice. After a defeat, a player must retreat. Weighted reinforcement cards provide the only opportunity to reverse a player’s fortunes and resume the [...]

    Read more →
  • Beliefs and concepts Sports Does Working Out With Other Jews Keep You Jewish?

    Does Working Out With Other Jews Keep You Jewish?

    JNS.org – For Daphna Krupp, her daily workout (excluding Shabbat) at the Jewish Community Center (JCC or “J”) of Greater Baltimore has become somewhat of a ritual. She not only attends fitness classes but also engages with the instructors and plugs the J’s social programs on her personal Facebook page. “It’s the gym and the environment,” says Krupp. “It’s a great social network.” Krupp, who lives in Pikesville, Md., is one of an estimated 1 million American Jewish members of more [...]

    Read more →
  • Sports US & Canada Sports Illustrated Profiles Orthodox NCAA Basketball Player Aaron Liberman

    Sports Illustrated Profiles Orthodox NCAA Basketball Player Aaron Liberman

    Sports Illustrated magazine featured an extensive profile on Orthodox-Jewish college basketball player Aaron Liberman on Wednesday.  The article details Liberman’s efforts to balance faith, academics and basketball at Tulane University, a challenge the young athlete calls “a triple major.” Sports Illustrated pointed out that Liberman is the second Orthodox student to play Division I college basketball. The other was Tamir Goodman, the so-called “Jewish Jordan.” As reported in The Algemeiner, Liberman started his NCAA career at Northwestern University. According to [...]

    Read more →
  • Jewish Identity Sports Cycling the Desert: New Israel Bike Trail Connects Mitzpe Ramon to Eilat

    Cycling the Desert: New Israel Bike Trail Connects Mitzpe Ramon to Eilat

    As the popularity of cycling continues to increase across the world, Israel is working to develop cycling trails that make the country’s spectacular desert accessible to cyclists. The southern segment of the Israel Bike Trail was inaugurated on Feb. 24 and offers for the first time a unique, uninterrupted 8-day cycling experience after six years of planning and development. The southern section of the Israel Bike Trail stretches over 300 kilometers in length and is divided into eight segments for mountain biking, [...]

    Read more →
  • Jewish Identity Theater Forthcoming Major Action Movies Inspired by Jewish Comic Artist Jack Kirby

    Forthcoming Major Action Movies Inspired by Jewish Comic Artist Jack Kirby

    JNS.org – With the recent Oscars in the rearview mirror, Hollywood’s attention now shifts to the rest of this year’s big-screen lineup. Two of the major action films coming up in 2015—Avengers: Age of Ultron, which hits theaters in May, and the third film in the Fantastic Four series, slated for an August release—have Jewish roots that the average moviegoer might be unaware of. As it turns out, it took a tough Jewish kid from New York City’s Lower East [...]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Jewish Identity When Torah Teaches Life and Life Teaches Torah (REVIEW)

    When Torah Teaches Life and Life Teaches Torah (REVIEW)

    JNS.org – Rabbi Gordon Tucker spent the first 20 years of his career teaching at the Conservative movement’s Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS) and the next 20 years as the rabbi of Temple Israel Center in White Plains, N.Y. I confess that when I heard about the order of those events, I thought that Tucker’s move from academia to the pulpit was strange. Firstly, I could not imagine anyone filling the place of my friend, Arnold Turetsky, who was such a talented [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Blogs Oscars 2015: Reflecting on Love at First Sight

    Oscars 2015: Reflecting on Love at First Sight

    JNS.org – I’m in love, and have been for a long time. It’s a relationship filled with laughter, tears, intrigue, and surprise. It was love at first sight, back when I was a little girl—with an extra-terrestrial that longed to go home. From then on, that love has never wavered, and isn’t reserved for one, but for oh so many—Ferris Bueller, Annie Hall, Tootsie, Harry and Sally, Marty McFly, Atticus Finch, Danny Zuko, Yentl, that little dog Toto, Mrs. Doubtfire, [...]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Book Reviews Examining America’s First Foray into the Middle East (REVIEW)

    Examining America’s First Foray into the Middle East (REVIEW)

    At the turn of the 21st century through today, American involvement in Middle Eastern politics runs through the Central Intelligence Agency. In America’s Great Game: The CIA’s Secret Arabists and the Shaping of the Modern Middle East, historian Hugh Wilford shows this has always been the case. Wilford methodically traces the lives and work of the agency’s three most prominent officers in the Middle East: Kermit “Kim” Roosevelt was the grandson of president Theodore Roosevelt, and the first head of [...]

    Read more →



Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.