It’s time to address the issue of how anti-Israel organizations are funded in Israel. The most recent report by a small Israeli NGO, Breaking the Silence, on the conduct of Israeli soldiers during the Gaza War only underscores the urgency of this matter.
“Today, there are a small group of Jews and Israelis who maintain a long tradition of self-loathing by defaming the entire Jewish nation by seeking to portray the Israel Defense Forces – undoubtedly the most moral army in the world – as craven war criminals.”
These are the words of Isi Liebler, former chairman of the World Jewish Congress, the New-York-based international federation of Jewish communities. Here is a great column by this longtime Jewish leader:
“Most of us are thoroughly exasperated with the obnoxious Jewish deviants who are demonizing Israel with their global campaigns, falsely defaming the IDF as monsters and war criminals. Such reprehensible elements were always the bane of the Jewish people. But today the Internet and the global media provide them with the opportunity to inflict infinitely greater damage than in the past, when their impact was more localized.
During the Middle Ages, some of the most venomous anti-Semitic propaganda emanated from self-loathing Jews, principally converts to Christianity, who represented an important element compounding the prevailing atmosphere of persecution, pogroms and expulsion.
In the 19th century, Karl Marx, who was born a Jew, spouted obscene anti-Semitic diatribes which his Jewish followers simply refused to acknowledge. In Russia in the 1880s, it was Jewish Social Revolutionaries who justified pogroms as incubators which would transform the masses into revolutionaries.
After the Bolshevik Revolution, the Soviet-appointed Yevsetskia (Jewish cadres) were more vicious than their gentile counterparts in demonizing and proscribing Judaism. More recently, during the Cold War, Diaspora Jewish communists defended Stalin as he murdered their kinsmen and applauded the Soviet regime which promoted state-sponsored anti-Semitism.
Today, there are a small group of Jews and Israelis who maintain this demented tradition of self-loathing by defaming the entire Jewish nation by seeking to portray the Israel Defense Forces – undoubtedly the most moral army in the world – as craven war criminals.
The principal Jewish group currently promoting this blood libel is a small Israeli NGO, Breaking the Silence, which was established in 2004 with the clear objective of undermining Israel. Its strategy is to defame the IDF, dramatizing “evidence” of alleged war crimes. However their “eyewitness reports” are anonymous, unverifiable and devoid of context.
Many of the alleged “crimes” were subsequently exposed as comprising anti-Israeli chatter with no basis in reality.
Indeed, allegations accusing the IDF of engaging in Cossack-like killing sprees were highlighted in cover stories by Haaretz in mid-2009 and subsequently syndicated as front-page stories in newspapers throughout the world. They were very soon proven to have been without substance. But the damage was done and the climate was created, paving the way for the notorious Goldstone Report which accused Israel of war crimes.
Today we are witnessing a replay. Breaking the Silence has released a 237-page report of “testimonies” by unnamed Israeli combatants describing alleged war crimes during the recent war in Gaza.
Again, citing anonymous sources and without context, these unsubstantiated accusations, which effectively describe the IDF and Hamas as birds of a feather, made worldwide headlines. They undoubtedly represent a curtain raiser for the forthcoming United Nations Human Rights Commission report, which promises to be as biased and as distorted as the discredited Goldstone report. The campaign is also intended to encourage the International Criminal Court to prosecute Israel for war crimes.
Of course war is horrendous, mistakes are made and innocent civilians become casualties. This applies especially in Gaza with Hamas, which aside from launching rockets and digging tunnels to murder and kidnap Israelis, also deliberately used civilians as human shields and located rocket and artillery launching pads and arms depots in densely populated locations including schools, hospitals, mosques and UN shelters.
If Israel had wantonly sought to kill civilians, it would not drop millions of leaflets and telephone hundreds of thousands of civilians urging them to evacuate areas four hours in advance of airborne attacks.
However, that is not to suggest that the IDF, even with its unique moral code of combat, is perfect.
But there are procedures in Israel for dealing with legitimate complaints or infringements of the law.
The judge advocate general systematically investigates every accusation, and there were exceptional cases which led to prosecution of offenders. But there are no cover-ups and there has not been a single case of behavior that could be described as a malicious intent to kill a civilian without cause.
Had Breaking the Silence submitted evidence that was confirmed by the judge advocate general, who then failed to act, they would have been justified in condemning and protesting against the state. But they adamantly refused to either identify those primarily low-ranking soldiers charging the IDF with war crimes or provide details of these allegations to enable their claims to be investigated by the relevant authority.
Yet they have the gall to justify circulating such unverifiable defamatory allegations on the outrageous grounds that whistleblowers would be “punished,” something inconceivable in a country which has a free press and would have a field day if there were an attempt to cover up any such incident.
Under normal circumstances, no responsible reporter or newspaper would risk publicizing such charges if prevented from verifying their veracity. Yet these monstrous libels against Israel are reproduced as though Breaking the Silence was a responsible government instrumentality or a transparent respectable human rights organization.
The problem is compounded by the fact that the bulk of funding for Breaking the Silence comes from anti-Israel NGOs, human rights associations, foreign foundations and European governments, many of whom are engaged in boycott divestment and sanctions (BDS). Some actually made their grants conditional on obtaining a minimum number of negative “testimonies.”
Tens of millions of euros originate from European governments, including the United Kingdom, which would never conceivably tolerate such foreign interference in its own domestic arena by external organizations – especially governmental bodies – seeking to subvert a democratic government under the cloak of promoting human rights. This is documented in detail in a recent NGO Monitor publication titled NGOs, Anti-Semitism and Government Funding.
The demonization and delegitimization of Israel by Jews funded by anti-Israeli groups abroad is neither an academic exercise nor an exchange of views. It is an act of sabotage, endangering the state and as pernicious as sabotaging IDF weapons depots. It would not be tolerated in any other democratic country, particularly one surrounded by neighbors fanatically committed to its destruction.
It is indisputable that the objective of Breaking the Silence is not merely criticism of Israeli policies.
After all, self-criticism, sometimes even extending to masochism, is a central feature of Israel’s robust democratic ethos. However, Breaking the Silence, a small group of disgruntled delusionary Israeli leftists backed by massive overseas funding, is unashamedly demonizing Israel throughout the world and undermining its government. It sends out emissaries to vilify Israel among Jewish and non-Jewish groups, particularly at universities. It is shameful that, purporting to uphold freedom of expression and maintain dialogue, some Hillel bodies even provide platforms for their representatives to defame the IDF.
To besmirch a nation by falsely portraying its soldiers as craven murderers undermines national morale. It is in this context that the proposal mooted by Ayelet Shaked, now justice minister, to require government approval for overseas NGOs to sponsor Israeli political bodies has considerable merit, despite the shrieks that democracy would be undermined.
Just as individuals can resort to legal means to remedy defamation, the state must also defend itself from demented citizens engaged in defamation of their country. This applies especially to Israel, the sole democratic oasis in a region in which barbarism is rampant and whose right to exist continues to be challenged by its neighbors.”
The writer’s website can be viewed at www.wordfromjerusalem.com.
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