Thursday, December 31

Dilemma - Possible Human Rights Abuse or anti-Israel Activity?

Lately there have been a lot of emotional discussions as to whether the NGO - Breaking the Silence - is investigating soldiers’ testimonies on human rights abuses of the IDF on a defenseless, innocent Palestinian population and using these testimonies to bash Israel internationally. There are people, who define the activities of Breaking the Silence as treasonable or treacherous. Those who do so have no understanding of the word “treason

This word has been used colloquially in Israel to label anybody who does not agree with the Netanyahu Coalition Government line. Netanyahu Coalition pundits are giving “treason” a very wide definition, encompassing those who oppose the government line. Labeling Breaking the Silence and weakening their activity by passing laws that are close to outlawing them is detrimental to Israel’s vibrant democracy.

Breaking the Silence does pose a problem as it can be viewed in two ways:

  1. It can be viewed as a watchdog for upholding human rights of innocent Palestinians in a war situation where Israeli soldiers enter Palestinian homes with search warrants for weapons or signs of hostility and prevention of looting by IDF.
  2. It can be viewed as an NGO whose main purpose is to gain testimony from soldiers, who had served in the various campaigns in Gaza, claiming human rights abuse that are made public, even to countries who seek every opportunity to bash Israel on these issues. Hostile countries do wait for opportunities like this.  

Testimonies of soldiers made public are also available to those, who are hostile to Israel. This, unfortunately, is the price that is paid by a democratic country - the price of openness. This does not negate the importance of watchdog activity by an NGO such as Breaking the Silence. It is no less important that the IDF does examine itself in this sphere, despite the problems, and establish a committee to investigate the authenticity of these soldiers’ testimonies. It is not enough to say that “The IDF is the most moral army in the world.” The function of human rights NGO is to ensure that this statement remains true. This does not mean that all those, who serve in the IDF, have committed crimes against innocent Palestinians.  

If high ranking generals in the IDF, who had served with distinction, such as General Amiram Levin, support Breaking the Silence, we must bear in mind that they know what they are talking about. I do respect the high ranking officers’ decision in supporting Breaking the Silence. If these generals feel the importance of this NGO, who are we to question.   These high ranking generals are not traitors to Israel. They held responsible positions in the IDF and in the intelligence service as well as being entrusted with state secrets. In an ad in the liberal Haaretz daily titled “I too am breaking my silence,” former Shin Bet security service director and navy commander Maj. Gen. (res.) Ami Ayalon, and retired Northern District police chief Deputy Commissioner (ret.) Elik Ron wrote that Breaking the Silence, which is at the center of a fierce debate on the limits of free speech in Israel, strengthens the IDF and its morality.

Most human rights NGOs receive funds from the EU, US and some countries who have a political agenda against Israel. The NGOs involved in pro-Israeli government activities such as Im Tirtzu and other pro-settlement activity beyond the green line, receive funding from private donors (or “philanthropists” such as Irwin Moskowitz) as well as government subsidies. (In 2009, Im Tirtzu’s largest donor was the John Hagee Ministries (JHM) via the Christian-Zionist organization Christians United for Israel (CUFI). Im Tirtzu received US$100,000 from JHM and $34,000 from other sources. In 2010, The Jerusalem Post reported that JHM "expressed deep displeasure" with Im Tirtzu after its campaigns against the New Israel Fund and Ben-Gurion University and announced the cessation of its funding. A JHM spokesman said that Im Tirtzu "misrepresented its focus when they told us their mission was strictly Zionist education."[55]
The group's spokesperson, Erez Tadmor, was found guilty of embezzling munitions from the Israeli military.[56]
The organization was accused of acting in an Anti-Semitic fashion, including emulating Nazi propaganda, in its criticisms of U.S. Ambassador Martin Indyk and of the New Israel Fund.[57][58]  From Wikipedia )
All NGOs, irrespective of political leanings, accept donations from any source sympathetic to the causes they represent. They are not concerned with the origin of donors’ funds. The main point is that the sources should be transparent and be held accountable for the amount of money they donate.

Another evil, racist organization, Lehava, is also involved in preventing assimilation of Jews in Israel with Arabs. They are more militant in contrast to Bayit Hayehudi of its leader, Naftali Bennett, and now the Minister of Education. The latter wants to instil a religious right wing Zionist education in the Department of Education and prevent students from gaining access to books or novels that are about intermarriage between Arabs and Jews. Here the similarity to the Lehava ideology is blatant.

In a democratic country, education should be non-political. Healthy discussion with responsible, objective moderation should be encouraged. The same is true of Breaking the Silence. There should be NGO monitoring of activities (not concerned with security secrets) in the IDF as well as the government law-making process to ensure that democratic values and transparency remains paramount. 

Saturday, December 26

Jewish Radical Terrorism on the Rise

Wedding of Hate and praise for murder
of Ali Dawabsheh, a Palestinian 18 month old toddler
The rise of Jewish terrorism is despicable and cannot be justified under any circumstances. The justification of revenge killings is not Jewish. It is savage and barbaric! It is no less barbaric than Palestinian terror against innocent Israelis. However, we must also be cognizant of the fact that the attitude towards terror by Israelis and Palestinians does differ. The former, apart from the radical “religious” Jewish right wing radicals, condemn Jewish terror towards Palestinians, while the latter encourages it in their education system by dehumanizing the Jews. They even find justification for this in the Quran. The increase of Palestinian lone terrorist acts by stabbing of innocent Israelis and ramming them with cars is considered justifiable and are even praised by Hamas, which is the Palestinian terrorist organization that calls the tune in Palestinian Street. Mahmud Abbas is not a factor at all in stopping terror. The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict is unfortunately becoming more religious-oriented than a land dispute. It is actually a macabre mix of both. This applies to both sides. Radicalism in both Judaism and Islam is on the rise.
Jewish terrorist groups are on the increase. The purpose of this article is to find the roots of this barbaric phenomenon and only by recognizing its source can a solution be found.
We must remember that right wing Jewish zealous radicalism has its roots in the settler movements in the West Bank. It was always mutant. Now the right wing party, Bayit Hayehudi, is in the government with its right wing National Religious Zionist ideology. It overlooked these rotten apples in their midst. One of the Knesset members of this party, Bezalel Smotrich, even is on record writing in his column in a B’ Sheva weekly that attacks carried out by Jews known as "price tag” should not be considered terrorism. It is just serial nationalist crimes”. If this is the case, crimes committed by Palestinian terrorists logically should also be viewed in the same light as “serious nationalist crimes”. With this attitude prevalent in this party, it is not surprising that a mutant strain of their ideology gets taken to extremes by extremist right wing “religious” thugs. Now after the damage is done and Jewish terror has raised its ugly head, Naftali Bennett, the party leader, condemns these acts of terror, which clearly have its roots in the religious, Zionist settler movements, who are now condemning it. The following research comes from Wikipedia - Jewish religious terrorism
“According to a study by the political scientist Noemi Gal-Or, after the creation of Israel, Jewish terrorism has been assessed in Israel as "far less significant" than Arab terrorism.[7]It lasted a few years during the 1950s and was directed at internal Israeli-Jewish targets, not at the Israeli Arab population.[7] There was then a long intermission until the 1980s, when the Jewish Underground was exposed.[7] However, some argue that in the modern era Jewish religious extremism has been greatly underestimated. The phenomena of price tag attacks began around 2008. These are hate crimes done by extremist settler Jewish Israelis usually involve the destruction of property or hateful graffiti, particularly targeting property associated with Arabs, Christians, secular Israelis, and Israeli soldiers. The name was derived from the words "Price tag" which may be scrawled on the site of the attack — with the allegation that the attack was a "price" for settlements the government forced them to give up and revenge for Palestinian attacks on settlers.[8] They have been variously called terrorism, particularly when they result in death. Another modern phenomenon is "revenge" attacks, motivated by a desire for "revenge" against Palestinian terrorism. A particularly egregious example of this phenomenon was the Kidnapping and murder of Mohammed Abu Khdeir, in which a Palestinian teenager was burned to death by an Israeli man and two teenagers. Their declared motive was vengeance for the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teenagers. In July 2015, two attacks suspected to be by religious Israeli Jews occurred a day apart, the first a stabbing attack at a Jerusalem Gay Pride Parade and the second a price-tag arson attack against a Palestinian house in Duma. Shortly after the two terror attacks, one of which killed an Israeli girl and another a Palestinian infant, Israel came under criticism, including from within its government and from the Jewish community in the U.S., for not doing enough to address the threat of terrorism by Jewish extremists. Those saying Israel should be more proactive in addressing Jewish extremism included the ADL and AJC”.
Suspects have been arrested for the Duma attack and the Shin Beth has been interrogating them. The suspects’ lawyers claim that they (the suspects) have been tortured. Amazing that great sensitivity towards torture is displayed towards right wing Jewish suspects of committing terror but issue, especially by those who are right wing. Even the Israeli Government is on record supporting the interrogation methods of the Shin Bet in extracting information from terror suspects in order to indict them. At least, the government realizes now, albeit a bit late in the day, that terror suspects, whether Palestinian or Jewish deserve the same treatment according to the law. The government claims that the interrogation methods used by the Shin Bet are in accordance with the law.
The only way to combat the rise in “religious” Jewish terrorism is in education. The National Zionist Religious camp that is settler-oriented has failed to teach their offspring the importance of human values and dignity of all human beings. They view themselves as having the monopoly in the occupied territories and the Palestinians are inferior. This attitude is no different from that of Palestinian radicals towards the Jews in general. The increase in Jewish nationalism as portrayed by Bayit Hayehudi has undoubtedly also contributed to the increase in Jewish terrorist acts. The monsters, such as Price Tag and Lehava under Benzy Gopstein that are fascist, are rotten apples that have their roots in the National Religious settler-oriented groups affiliated to Bayit Hayehudi. It has boomeranged on them so much so that Naftali Bennett, the Bayit Hayehudi leader and Minister of Education has come out in total condemnation of these Jewish terrorist groups as the damage they have caused to Israel is enormous. This is creating a serious difference of opinion within this right wing party. There are even members in this party, who are not adopting Bennett’s relative “moderate” attitude that supports the work of the Shin Bet in bringing these young racist thugs to justice.
The occupation and the right wing National Religious Zionist Movements that support it must be held accountable for this kippa-cladded, unruly ear locked, hairy scruffy fascist thugs that are involved in arson and terror attacks against Palestinians as well as desecration of churches and mosques. The extremist, hateful, charismatic rabbis of the ilk of Rabbis Dov Lior and Yitzchak Shapira have great influence on the fascist Jewish terrorist movements.

Now these right wing religious settler-oriented Zionist movements are busy wiping the egg yolk from their faces in denial. The roots of these thugs come from these movements and have taken their hate for Arabs a step further. We witnessed the “hate wedding” in the West Bank and this was a shocking example of what is becoming more widespread because of the apathy over the years towards a right wing “religious Judeo-ISIS” cancer that is gaining support by extremists within the settler movement.   

Tuesday, December 22

Right Wing Attacks on Democracy in Israel

Over the years, Israel has been condemned unjustifiably in the UN and by the EU for violations of Palestinian rights. There are so many anti-Israel resolutions passed in the UN as well as the time allocated discussing Israel’s human rights infringements in the occupied territories. I have written many articles on this in my blog. There is no doubt that those, who support anti-Israel resolutions in the UN, have their own political agendas that are not human rights- oriented. The human rights infringements, cruel murders; torture in the name of so-called Islam is hardly an issue in this impotent world body. IS (Daesh) and the various terrorist movements responsible for the heinous acts of terror all over the world for spreading their cause of establishing an Islamist Caliphate, is not even discussed in this “prestigious”, impotent world body called the UN.
Having said that, we must also be introspective, examining ourselves in Israel and cease justifying attacks on those who think differently to the paranoid right wing extremists within our midst. The siege mentality is affecting many Israelis, who are now moving towards the right and extreme right. Israel is now “blessed” with the most right wing coalition in its history as a knee-jerk reaction.
Of course, the various Palestinian terrorist groups, the head of which is Hamas, followed by Islamic Jihad and the Al Aqsa Brigades with their uncompromising attitude of not recognizing Israel’s right to exist, have closed the door to any form of negotiations for peace and a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. This uncompromising attitude by the Palestinians has been prevalent for many years.
Even under the Rabin Government there was no real progress towards peace. There is no denying that Hamas, which is the deciding factor on peace negotiations, and not President Mahmoud Abbas, who is weak and has no power base or Palestinian support. How can Israel conduct any form of negotiations with any Palestinian representative that does not recognize Israel’s right to exist? That is such a basic condition for any negotiations.
Israel’s strength is its democracy. At the same time, even in the tense situation that Israel finds itself, we must ensure that human rights abuse does not occur. Israel faces individual terrorist attacks almost every day. Lone Palestinian terrorists infiltrate into Israel armed with knives and cars. Stabbing of innocent Israelis or car ramming them is considered an honor and is encouraged by Hamas. Those Palestinian terrorists who commit these violent acts must be dealt with by the full arm of the law, even if it means killing them when caught stabbing innocent people.
Despite all these horrifying and tragic terror attacks that we as Israelis face every day and none of us is guaranteed immunity from these attacks. We must ensure that vigilante, extremist right wing groups do not take the law into their own hands and go on the rampage by killing innocent Palestinian citizens in revenge or carrying out acts of vandalism.  It is unacceptable!
We have to maintain our moral standards and find ways to prevent human rights abuse and violence against innocent Palestinian People committed by overzealous individuals in the security forces, whether they are soldiers or policemen. This has nothing to do with politics. It has plenty to do with human decency, irrespective of one’s political views. It is in this sphere that it is necessary that there are watchdogs that ensure that there are no incidents of human rights abuse of innocent people in the course of IDF and Police duty.
The NGOs such as Breaking the Silence, B'tzelem, New Israel Fund and Peace Now are active in this area. Their activities should be encouraged and not condemned. They do have a positive role to play. There is nothing treacherous or treasonable in what they do in ensuring that the IDF remains “the most moral army in the world”. There may be disagreements in their research methods of maintaining transparency, but this must always be open for inspection of validity and accountability.
Their findings are published and the right wing maintains that groups, such as BDS, the EU and countries hostile to Israel, use their findings to bash Israel. It is unfortunate that this does occur. These human rights Israeli NGOs are on record condemning BDS. Their published findings are on the web and open for all interested parties to read. We cannot choose those who read them and there will be those who will use these find
Meet Lehava, the Israeli Fascists Mounting a Vicious Crusade
 to Keep their Women Away from Arabs
ings to bash Israel. This does not make these NGOs treasonable if they publish the truth. They do not harm Israel’s security and they do have the support of many army and former combatants, who had played their part in defending Israel from its enemies in war. This includes former officers and Mossad heads. These people have played a greater part in defending Israel than Price Tag, Im Tirtzu and Lehava, who are stoking the flames of fascism against those who do not hold their world view. Im Tirtzu is a right wing organization that does have the support of Bayit Hayehudi (the party of Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked in the Government coalition).
Im Tirzu activists demonstrate during a rally
 marking the Nakba anniversary at the Tel Aviv University
The task of ensuring that innocent Palestinians are not abused by the IDF is a difficult challenge and the battle for maintaining Israel’s vibrant democracy goes hand in hand. The accusations of the right wing against the moderate left in Israel by accusing them of treason is not constructive and threatens Israel’s democracy.

An end to the occupation can only occur if there is a desire to end it on both sides. Non-recognition of Israel’s right to exist is a non-starter for any form of negotiations, irrespective of whichever government is in power.

Sunday, December 20

Is Israel Slipping into McCarthyism?

Nobody denies that Israel is going through a tough time internationally. The UN passed many resolutions against Israel that are unjustified. The amount of time devoted to condemning Israel at every Security Council or General Assembly meeting is ludicrous. At the same time, the slaughter of innocent people in the Middle East and in many parts of the world by Radical Islamist groups is not even discussed, let alone an international military coalition being built to eradicate this cancer. Israel is constantly bashed for human rights abuses. The UN is an impotent useless organization with many members having double standards with selective agendas when it comes to overlooking human rights abuses and Radical Islamist terrorist groups.

This clip is in Hebrew

Having said this, we must make the differentiation between the Israel bashing and its credibility which all reasonable people should view as contemptible and unjust. Israeli citizens’ have the democratic right not to agree with the ruling right wing Government Coalition, which is the most right wing coalition in Israel’s history.

Israel’s true strength is its democracy and with that the right for us, as Israeli citizens to criticize the government when it shows a 

tendency to erode our right to criticize when we feel that it is necessary.  

The right wing in Israel - the Bibi-Bennett Cartel, ruling the country (as is the common habit of right wing rulers all over the world to seek enemies within the country that they rule and do not share their world view) goes on a witch hunt. They accuse those of different viewpoints, especially those who are sensitive to human rights abuses in the IDF of innocent Palestinian civilians (many of those who are supporters of “Breaking the Silence” have held senior positions in the IDF as well as in the Shin Bet, are being accused of treason and working for the enemy). The IDF is a citizen force composed of soldiers of different viewpoints ranging from right to left.

The IDF is not the "Holy Cow" as one wishes to believe. There are soldiers, who do not always carry out orders according to IDF Protocol and tend to abuse their positions of authority. This does NOT mean that all soldiers do that. In totalitarian-ruled countries, those criticizing the army or government are viewed as traitors. It is a wonderful tactic used for instilling fear into the electorate for gaining power, so much so, that even the President of Israel is viewed as being treacherous. Why? He shared a platform with the NGO “Breaking     the Silence” at Haaretz Q Conference in New York. In a democratic country, transparency is important provided security issues are not. President Ruby Rivlin is a Revisionist of the old Ze’ev Jabotinsky School and opposes the Two-State Solution. At the same time, he is a democrat and is prepared to share a platform with all people in the political spectrum, irrespective of their political views. He views himself as President of all Israel’s citizens irrespective of their race, color, creed or political views and correctly so. This is not acceptable to Im Tirtzu and their allies in the right wing government. They went on a campaign of besmirching him with a hate campaign, tainting him with the treacherous brush.

Reservists and Israelis, who served in the IDF, are coming out in the open admitting their experiences, which in no way compromises on Israel’s security. They are dehumanized and singled out as “traitors” and “implants” (shtulim) serving Israel’s enemies. They even brought out a video clip dehumanizing them. An Israeli NGO that cares about Israel and criticizes human rights abuses DOES NOT mean that it is working for the enemies of Israel, BDS is not influenced by “Breaking the Silence”, the latter are on record of condemning BDS. Attacking me and saying that I am having a "chronic lefty relapse" is not helpful. It is a gut reaction because of my non-political attitude and sensitivity to human rights abuses and cover-ups of those abuses of innocent people. If Israel's enemies see that there is transparency and those responsible for human rights abuses are brought to justice, it only strengthens Israel's credibility and does not weaken it as self-righteous supporters of the Bibi-Bennett cartel believe. There is nothing left or right wing about that. The Bibi-Bennett Coalition attitude of attacking those who do not share their worldview and fear-mongering is similar to the notorious McCarthy era in the US. Hopefully we are not sliding into a similar era. So what if these right wing maligned NGOs get funded by overseas. Im Tirtzu is also getting money from oversea sources such as Christian Evangelists and Sheldon Adelson. The latter also moneybags the Israel Hayom news rag that is Bibi's mouthpiece.

It is irrelevant as from where the overseas donations come. The right wing rulers always need enemies in order to survive. If they cannot find them then they create them and these “enemies” are subjected to witch hunts and imprisonment without trial in extreme cases. In our case the imagined traitors and enemies are banned from addressing schools, which are today under the auspices of a very right wing Education Department, and the IDF in case, “God Forbid”, questions on human rights of innocent civilians are raised.

Thursday, December 17

Right Wing Incitement against the Moderates in Israel

English: Breaking the Silence (BtS) (in Hebrew...
English: Breaking the Silence (BtS) (in Hebrew Shovrim Shtika) logo. Shovrim Shtika is an Israel human rights organization. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
One can heap much criticism on “Breaking the Silence” as well as many other NGOs that are not using accepted methodology in their claims of ill treatment of Palestinian civilians under Israeli occupation. There is a report that Breaking the Silence received money for interviewing soldiers that have served in Operation Protective Edge in July/August 2014 about their experiences of abuse of innocent Palestinian citizens.
Those right wing NGOs such as "Im Tirtzu" and others also receive funds from oversea donors sympathetic to their causes. (Check out NGO Monitor on my Blog page)

Be that as it may, the right to criticize IDF behavior towards a defenseless, innocent Palestinian population in a war situation where justified, should be maintained. The statements of the Minister of Defense, Moshe Ayalon, claiming that the IDF must have internal investigations that are not open to public scrutiny in cases of ill treatment of innocent Palestinians. In other words, if there are cases of soldier abuse, it must be swept under the carpet from the public. Internal investigations of public institutions or in this case, the IDF for individuals, who are suspected of abusing civilians, are bound to result in cover-ups. Soldiers, who are guilty of cruelty towards innocent Palestinians, will go unpunished. Transparency in the IDF does not mean that Israel’s security is compromised. Transparency means the right of the public to know if any abuse against innocent civilians has occurred and that those responsible are brought to justice. It certainly does not mean that the public must be informed of military secrets for obvious reasons. The IDF will be viewed as being sensitive to basic human rights and its claim of being the “most moral army in the world” will have more credibility.

This will also enhance Israel’s world image in the long run that has taken a severe battering because of self-righteous, hypocritical, double standard humanists that are funded by countries that are not Israel friendly. At least the findings of NGO watchdog groups in an atmosphere of openness will make it more difficult for Israel to be accused of human rights abuses at the International Criminal Court.  

Betzelem and Breaking the Silence organizations do have a positive role to play by exposing basic human rights abuses towards innocent Palestinian civilians. Internal inquiries by the IDF usually result in cover-ups, where abuse and torture is suspected. These two organizations are a thorn in the flesh of the self-righteous, ruling right wing coalition. They view them as traitors to Israel and against the IDF. It is an excellent propaganda ploy that the right wing coalition uses to justify themselves and their rule. Some right wingers take it even further. They incite against the moderates on the political spectrum with hate clips and use the social media to condemn watchdog groups sensitive to human rights abuses.

The right wing Israeli Government condemns “Breaking the Silence” and anybody who has contact with them as being traitors that must be put down. According to an Haaretz report 17/12/15, they are the most hated group in Israel.

The President of Israel, Ruby Rivlin, who addressed the Haaretz Q conference in New York shared a platform with “Breaking the Silence” and was severely criticized for doing so. The firebrands of the right wing went on a verbal rampage of incitement against him. Rivlin is no left winger. He exercised his democratic right to share platforms with all members of the Israeli spectrum, irrespective of their political views. He represents all Israel’s citizens, irrespective of their race, color or creed and political views. This of course does not suit the right wing Netanyahu Coalition that claims the moral high ground. They do not like criticism and do all in their power to delegitimize those who do not agree with them by labeling them as traitors that are working against Israel in collusion with Israel’s enemies. Is Israel on the road to becoming a totalitarian state by compromising on democracy? Hopefully this is not the case. However, we must be aware of the danger sign in that direction.

The signs of erosion of democracy are occurring in the Education Ministry. The Education Minister, Naphtali Bennett, has banned “Breaking the Silence” from visiting schools. “Jewish” values or rather his narrow right wing interpretation of them is encouraged and is considered appropriate beyond criticism.

Even Yuval Diskin, the past head of the Shin Bet, believes that “Breaking the Silence” is a legitimate organization that poses no threat to Israel. He admits that he does not agree with their methodology and ideology, but they do serve a positive role. If he admits this then why consider them as hostile to Israel and treacherous? Who are we to judge?