The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has pointed to a new investigative study by Israeli journalists into the claims made by the NGO, Breaking the Silence, showing that, of 10 recent claims of beating and shooting of innocents allegedly committed by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) , two were outright lies, two others were exaggerated, four were impossible to verify and only two possessed any factual basis. The study was released by Israel’s Channel 10, showing that most of BtS’s claims of war crimes are baseless or invented.
Admit Deri, the head of Reservists on the Front, said, “The material [BtS] published affirms what we put forward. 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. In a sample of ten Breaking the Silence testimonies, the project found that two claims of beating detainees and shooting innocents were complete lies, two were exaggerated and four were impossible to verify. Only two of the ten were accurate.” (Benny Tucker, ‘More proof of Breaking the Silence’s lies,’ Israel National News, July 15, 2016).
Breaking the Silence (BtS), usually identified as an organization of Israeli veterans, says its goal is to “expose the Israeli public to the reality of everyday life in the Occupied Territories.” However, BTS’ activities have gone very far beyond this innocuous description. It is made up of former Israeli soldiers who are paid to collect anonymous testimonies and evidences of “crimes” so as to prove that Israel is guilty of “intimidation, instilling of fear, and indiscriminate punishment of the Palestinian population.”
Michael Sfard, the legal representative for BtS, has testified as a paid expert witness on behalf of the PLO in a lawsuit brought by victims of terror attacks perpetrated by the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, the terrorist organization belonging to Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah Party.
Accusations contained in BTS reports are impossible to verify, because the group refuses to hand over their documents, disclose the identity of those making the complaints, or to provide the date or military unit detailed in their accounts, thereby preventing the IDF from investigating the allegations. But it is one of the peculiarities of Israel-related journalism that newspapers will publish just such anonymous testimony if it has been pre-packaged by a political NGO. This enables journalists to admit they have not personally verified particular testimonies while writing extensively about them.
BtS is a radical Israeli NGO, with a budget of nearly four million shekels bankrolled chiefly, by foreign governments, not Israelis. For example, in 2009, BTS accepted 75,000 shekels from Oxfam on the condition that it will interview as many soldiers as possible who will confirm the IDF’s “immoral actions.”
BtS’ current donors include the Danish Lutheran organization Dan Church Aid, the French Catholic group CCFD-Terre Solidaire, the governments of Norway and Switzerland, and many others along similar lines, none of them Israeli. BtS’ funders for 2013-15 donors included: the Danish Lutheran organization Dan Church Aid, the French Catholic group CCFD-Terre Solidaire, the governments of Norway and Switzerland, the Human Rights and International Law Secretariat (joint funding from Sweden, Switzerland, Denmark and the Netherlands), Trocaire (Ireland), Dan Church Aid (Denmark), Broederlijk Delen (Belgium), Christian Aid (UK), Switzerland, France, CCFD (France), Medico International (Germany), Misereor (Germany), AECID (Spain), EU, ICCO (Netherlands), Norway, Rockefeller Brothers Fund, George Soros’ Open Society Institute, New Israel Fund, and others.
BtS also received NIS 1,128,209 from foreign governmental bodies in the first half of 2015, NIS 2,310,020 in 2014 and NIS 1,271,368 in 2013. Another BtS funder has been The Arab Human Rights Fund, which has links to global jihad and the PFLP, and which provided BtS with US$300,000 to craft its 2015 report.
In 2014, 61% of BtS’ annual budget was from foreign (European) governments (direct and indirect combined). In addition, in December 2015, the European Union disclosed that it was providing to BTS an additional €236,000 (~1 million NIS) in 2015-2017, under a project titled “Educating for Change: Human Rights Education in Israeli Society.”
It is generally unheard of for foreign governments to fund organizations that encourage soldiers in another country’s army to reveal military wrong-doing by that country.
In recent years, BtS has expanded its mission statement to in effect cover all Israeli military activities. Thus, in a 2015 report, the group’s staff interviewed over 60 soldiers, yer provided no names or dates. The interviewees gave a number of personal, dirty accounts of military life, but did not actually identify any serious IDF misdeeds, so it included a heartened introduction instead which claimed “disturbing” and “unprecedented” violence directed at Palestinian civilians.
BtS’ May 2015 report, relating to Operation Protective Edge in Gaza in 2014, accuses the IDF of “indiscriminate fire on civilian targets” and “deliberate mass destruction.” In contrast, some of the interviews themselves show the IDF following scrupulous rules, including “roof-knocking,” phone calls, warning shells, warning shots, drones vetting targets prior to a strike to ensure the absence of civilians at the crucial moment.
ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, “The latest revelations about the nature of BtS’ investigations and allegations amply justifies those, like ourselves, who have pointed to years to the dishonesty of this foreign government-funded Israeli NGO.
“The IDF is the most morally upright army in the world, the more so when one remembers that, not only does adhere to the highest standards of military discipline and go to the greatest lengths to protect the lives of civilians, but that it does so in the the most difficult conditions, such as when Israeli citizens are hunkered down in bomb shelters during missile barrages launched against Israeli citizens from Gaza on Israel’s doorstep.
“Indeed, foreign military experts with the widest experience of dealing with the challenges posed by jihadist terrorism emphasize that these terrorists routinely commit the double war crime of ensconcing forces and weaponry in densely-populated civilian areas while deliberately targeting civilians. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey, and Colonel Richard Kemp, former commander of British forces in Afghanistan, have testified to the literally unprecedented efforts Israel has taken to shield civilians from death and injury, despite this.
“Indeed, General Martin Dempsey has said Israel went to “extraordinary lengths” in the 2014 Gaza war to minimize civilians casualties. Further, he commissioned a study to be made of Israeli practices so that the U.S forces in the Middle East might benefit from them.
“None of this is apparent from the constant stream of false, unsourced, distorted and exaggerated claims issues by BtS.
“It is increasingly understood in Israel that BtS is a foreign agitprop anti-Israel operation, not a genuine human rights organization.
“Thus, in July 2015, the leader of Israel’s left-of-center Yesh Atid Party, Yair Lapid, criticized the Kibbutz Movement for inviting BtS, saying, “Here’s another proof –– for anyone who needed one –– that there are some in the Israeli left who have completely lost it.” Lapid described BtS as people who ‘go around the world with foreign sponsorship to badmouth the State of Israel using anonymous testimonies.’”