Netanyahu calls on Belgian PM to cut funding for anti-Israel groups

Netanyahu asked that the Belgian government stop funding, including indirectly backing, organizations like Breaking the Silence that "act against IDF soldiers and against the State of Israel."

A woman reads testimonies during a gathering in Tel Aviv to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the Israeli NGO "Breaking the Silence" (photo credit: AFP PHOTO)
A woman reads testimonies during a gathering in Tel Aviv to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the Israeli NGO "Breaking the Silence"
(photo credit: AFP PHOTO)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with his Belgian counterpart, Charles Michel, on Tuesday, calling on him to cut his country’s support for anti-Israel organizations.
In a meeting in Jerusalem, Netanyahu asked that the Belgian government stop funding and indirectly backing organizations that “act against IDF soldiers and against the State of Israel.”
This request follows Netanyahu’s meeting with British Prime Minister Theresa May in London a day earlier, in which he discussed her country’s support for organizations such as Breaking the Silence and asked her to reconsider funding them.
Breaking the Silence, an NGO that provides anonymous testimonies of soldiers which describe alleged IDF transgressions, has been at the center of controversy in recent months and has been banned from both the Education Ministry and the defense establishment.
Following Netanyahu’s meeting with May, Breaking the Silence took to Facebook and, in a message directed at the prime minister, wrote: “There is only one way to stop us: End the occupation.
“Among all the ‘important’ things that Bibi found right to discuss with the British prime minister, it seems he asked her to stop funding us... really!? Bibi, it’s a shame you wasted your wish on us, because we have other sources of funding,” the organization wrote.
Matan Peleg, CEO of rightwing NGO Im Tirtzu, also issued a statement, saying that in the past few years the UK has “transferred millions of dollars to political propaganda and anti-Israel organizations acting from within as ‘foreign agents’ in every regard.
“The use of political agents of change funded by foreign governments constitutes a blatant infringement on sovereignty, independence and Israeli democracy, and as such this is a significant and important step,” he said.
Peleg alluded to the controversial campaign that his organization ran one year ago, Shtulim (foreign agents), which aimed to raise awareness over the “threat of intervention by foreign European governments,” and said that since then there have been “positive developments.”
“Not only in terms of social awareness, but also internalizing the problem among decision makers and an understanding that we must put in place a worthy policy and legal solution,” he said.
On Tuesday, Sports and Culture Minister Miri Regev called on Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat to cancel a planned lecture by Breaking the Silence, which is scheduled for Wednesday evening at Jerusalem’s Barbur Gallery, a nonprofit that receives municipal funding.
“The Barbur Gallery, which is funded from public money, will not constitute a house for Breaking the Silence, an anti-Israel propaganda organization which spreads lies against the State of Israel and IDF fighters,” she wrote on her Facebook page.
Breaking the Silence CEO Yuli Novak is scheduled to speak at the event and present the organization’s new report, titled “The High Command,” which according to the group will “describe in detail the influence of settlers on IDF soldiers in the territories.”
“Spins on top of spins for a little bit more air time for Miri Regev,” Novak told Army Radio on Tuesday. “I’m guessing that this event will take place and I invite everyone. Even her, by the way.”
The organization also posted a sarcastic statement on its Facebook page with a picture of a seat and the words “Reserved for Miri Regev” written on it.
“Miri Regev, send us an SMS when you are at the entrance – we will try to save you a seat,” the post read.
Peleg also penned a letter to Barkat on Monday asking him to cancel the event.
“This is not the first time that the Barbur Gallery asks to use public resources to provide a platform for anti-Israel views,” he wrote.
He mentioned an event hosted by the gallery two years ago that included an exhibit by Ir Amim, which he said presented “the personal stories of east Jerusalem citizens, while glorifying the activities of convicted terrorists.”
Peleg said he is strongly opposed to providing a platform, based on public funding, to an organization dedicated to denigrating IDF soldiers and that works to undermine and delegitimize Israel’s standing in the international arena.
“When the event is held in a place funded by the municipality and [paid for] out of the pockets of taxpayers, it is unacceptable and therefore you must act immediately to cancel it,” he wrote.
The Jerusalem Municipality told media outlets on Tuesday that it would summon the representatives of the Barbur Gallery for an urgent hearing on the matter Wednesday morning.