|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?