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November 20, 2014 5:21 pm

EU, Foreign Funders Maintain Backing for Radical Israeli NGO’s ‘War Crimes’ Allegations Against IDF

avatar by Ben Cohen

Breaking the Silence activist Dana Golan at a meeting in Sweden. Photo: Twitter

As Israel struggles with a renewed wave of Palestinian terror in the Jerusalem area, its political leadership is acutely aware that any military operations mounted by the IDF will – as was the case with the war in Gaza over the summer – be subjected to accusations of “collective punishment,” “racism,” and even “genocide.” And while Israel’s accusers are mainly located outside the country, the activities of some of its unrepresentative, pro-Palestinian NGOs play a key role in fueling the perception that any Israeli military operation is by definition criminal.

One such organization is Breaking the Silence (BtS), which collects testimonies from soldiers who served in the Disputed Territories during the Second Intifada, claiming that the “testimonies portray a… grim picture of questionable orders in many areas regarding Palestinian civilians [which] demonstrate the depth of corruption which is spreading in the Israeli military… Israeli society continues to turn a blind eye, and to deny that which happens in its name.”

Israeli watchdog NGO Monitor, which tracks foreign support for radical NGOs working the Israeli-Palestinian arena, has just issued a critical report on the international outreach of Breaking the Silence from September 2012 to the present.

“BtS makes sweeping accusations based on anecdotal, anonymous, and unverifiable accounts of low-level soldiers,” NGO Monitor asserts. “These ‘testimonies’ lack context, are politically biased, and erase the complicated reality in the West Bank. In addition, they reflect a distorted interpretation of the conflict in order to advance the political agenda of BtS activists, thereby fueling the international demonization campaign against Israel.”

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Significantly, NGO Monitor maintains that BtS plays a central role in reinforcing the so-called “Durban Strategy” – the campaign to delegitimize and subject Israel to Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) as framed at the UN’s notorious 2001 anti-racism conference in Durban, South Africa, which degenerated into an anti-Semitic hatefest.

The fact that BtS remains a marginal influence in Israel itself has not stopped myriad international funders from backing the group. According to NGO Monitor, BtS’s financial supporters, who provided nearly $1 million in 2012 alone, include the European Union, Christian Aid and the Open Society Institute of billionaire George Soros, a veteran critic of Israel who also backs the Jewish leftist advocacy group J Street.

BtS’s emphasis on mobilizing foreign opinion against Israel is reflected in its numerous international activities over the time period covered by the NGO Monitor report, including: A photo exhibition in the German parliament sponsored by the Social Democratic Party, a presentation to the “virulently anti-Israel and antisemitic UN Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, at which the Palestinian deputy representative to the UN asked BtS ‘to do more speaking engagements, particularly in the United States,’ and the publication of a book of testimonies by Israeli soldiers which claims that Gaza, from which Israel withdrew in 2005, remains ‘occupied.'”

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