Breaking the rules

Breaking the Silence does not aim to encourage reforms in IDF policy.

idf cool 248.88 (photo credit: AP)
idf cool 248.88
(photo credit: AP)
It is clear from its latest report that the goal of Breaking the Silence is not to bring offending soldiers to justice or even to encourage reforms in IDF policy. If these were its goals, it would include names, ranks, facts, place names and dates; it would have released a detailed report to the authorities to encourage an investigation. Without this information, it is impossible to probe the veracity of the claims. The organization's efforts to defame Israel in the international arena are successful. Despite the precedent of previous claims made against the IDF being disproved, and without waiting for an investigation into the allegations, supposedly reputable media organizations such as the BBC choose to report them as fact. Defamation of Israel is the order of the day. Breaking the Silence is misleading in its name and its aim. There is no silence to break. Israel is an open and democratic society that regularly criticizes its own actions, but this one-sided and shoddy report fails to stress the context of the war - a battle against Hamas terrorists hiding behind civilians and it omits names, ranks and facts about soldiers and their stories. THE REPORT writers are keen to thank their funders, which shamefully include the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the British Embassy in Tel Aviv, Christian Aid and OXFAM, two charities which have in the past launched vitriolic anti-Israel campaigns, as well as the European Union which gave them $75,000 to "contribute to an atmosphere of human rights respect and values" and "to promote prospects for peace talks and initiatives." The EU is deceiving taxpayers if it is telling them that their money paying for this shoddy report is helping to promote peace. If members of Breaking the Silence were sincere, they would be presenting accurate facts about terrorism, the goals expressed in the charter of Hamas, the deadly rocket fire coming from Gaza, the anti-Israel incitement and the ways the Palestinians have contributed to perpetuating the conflict and to harming the lives of ordinary Palestinian civilians. If they were sincere, they would be raising awareness about the moral dilemmas the IDF faces. But this vital context is missing from their account. In response to this report, our organization set about filming testimonials and uploading them to a Web site called Soldiers Speak Out - a platform for Israeli soldiers to share their personal combat experiences with the world. The site, created by soldiers to share their personal experiences of serving in the IDF, contains testimonials from soldiers which contrast sharply with the reports of alleged IDF misconduct made by Breaking the Silence. Breaking the Silence is breaking the rules for any kind of serious reporting. Its report is compiled from anonymous "testimony" from up to 30 people. In contrast, the soldiers who feature on our Web site give testimony on camera without their face blurred out and speak from their own personal experience. The IDF has more than 700,000 citizen soldiers and reservists - thousands of whom served in Gaza in the campaign against Hamas - who try to live up to its high ethical standards. Attempting to slander an IDF campaign on the basis of the anonymous reports is ridiculous. It is unlikely that the international media will give the Soldiers Speak Out site the kind of publicity they are currently lavishing upon Breaking the Silence. When it comes to Israel, good news is no news, but, as in previous occasions and despite those who exist to defame the IDF, the truth will out. The writer is Israel director of StandWithUs which educates about Israel through student fellowships, speaker programs, conferences, written materials and Internet resources. Soldiers testimony can be viewed at