How Can AIPAC Give a Platform to ‘Breaking the Silence’?
It is appalling that the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) organized and conducted a panel discussion event for visiting rabbis in Jerusalem last month that gave a platform to the vicious anti-Israel propaganda group “Breaking the Silence” (“BtS”).
Breaking the Silence is notorious for inventing and publishing throughout the world (and giving biased UN investigators) false, unverifiable and anonymous “testimonies” defaming and demonizing the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) as war criminals who deliberately target, shoot and beat up Palestinian and Gazan civilians (See this NGO Monitor report for more information).
BtS also defames Jews living in Judea and Samaria with blood libels (that are then propagated throughout the world), such as falsely accusing Jews living there of “poisoning the entire water supply” of a Palestinian Arab village, and causing the “entire village [to be] evacuated for a period of several years” — neither of which ever happened.
BtS also lectures and displays its false “photo exhibits” and “testimonies” demonizing Israel, and participates in anti-Israel, pro-BDS events in Scotland, Switzerland, the EU Parliament, South Africa, US college campuses and numerous other international locales.
The UN Report of the “Independent” Commission of Inquiry on the 2014 Gaza War quoted extensively from BtS’s false, anonymous “testimonies.” A Hamas press release complained that even more BtS falsehoods should have been included — namely, “explicit confessions” by “many soldiers affiliated to the Israeli organization of ‘Breaking the Silence’’’ of Israeli soldiers’ and officers’ “war crimes” and “direct instructions to target civilians.”
An Israeli Channel 10 study found that in a sample of ten Breaking the Silence testimonies, two claims of beating detainees and shooting innocents were complete lies, two were exaggerated, and four were impossible to verify. Admit Deri, the head of Israeli Reservists on the Front noted: “This is very serious research that was conducted by journalists who previously stated their support for Breaking the Silence, like Raviv Drucker. In the end it came out that the group does lie. . . . We need to exclude this organization [Breaking the Silence] from all forums and not invite them to speak.” (“More proof of Breaking the Silence’s lies,” Israel National News, July 15, 2016).
NGO Monitor estimates that Breaking the Silence receives 65% of its funding from anti-Israel European groups. BtS also receives funding from the extremist left-wing New Israel Fund (which has funded several groups that malign Israel and promote anti-Israel boycotts) and George Soros’ Open Society Institute (Soros is a notorious, self-avowed anti-Zionist.)
Moreover, documents obtained by NGO Monitor (from the Israeli Registrar of Non-Profits) show that several BtS funders (including the British Embassy in Tel Aviv, ICCO (primarily funded by the Dutch government), and Oxfam Great Britain) conditioned their grants to BtS on BtS obtaining a minimum number of negative (anti-Israel, anti-IDF) “testimonies.”
The chairman of the Jewish Agency for Israel, Natan Sharansky (who was a prisoner of conscience in the ex-USSR), wrote: “Breaking the Silence Is No Human Rights Organization – and I Should Know.”
Interestingly, a video clip from the AIPAC/BtS event reveals that BtS knows full well that it is maligning the IDF to promote BtS’ political agenda. In other words, their “human rights” label is a cover to hide BtS’s true purpose. In the video clip, founding BtS member Yehuda Shaul admits, “Very deep inside, at Breaking the Silence, we don’t believe the IDF is the problem. We believe the political mission the IDF was sent to carry out is the problem.”
Breaking the Silence may also be engaging in anti-Israel espionage. Israel’s Channel 2 News recently broadcast a video showing Breaking the Silence questioning ex-IDF soldiers (who were undercover agents) to obtain sensitive intelligence information about IDF security operations, equipment, tactical maneuvers, special forces deployed, and tunnel detection methods used along the border with Gaza — all of which had nothing to do with BtS’ supposed interest in exposing immoral IDF activities.
After the video aired, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated: “Breaking the Silence has crossed another red line. The investigative security forces are looking into the matter.” Israeli Tourism Minister Yariv Levin accused BtS of treason and espionage after the video aired.
BtS’ Facebook posting on July 14, 2016, boasted that “we [Breaking the Silence] took part in a panel discussion organized by AIPAC – The American Israel Public Affairs Committee in Jerusalem, conducted by the director of AIPAC in Israel.”
By organizing and conducting this event, AIPAC gave unwarranted aid, comfort, legitimacy, and credibility to a vicious immoral group that invents and purveys lies that damage Israel and weaken the IDF’s ability to protect Israel and the Jewish people.
Both personally and on behalf of the Zionist Organization of America, I thus urge AIPAC to publicly apologize and disassociate itself from BtS, and publicly resolve not to organize and conduct events with them in the future.
Morton Klein is the President of the Zionist Organization of America.