A public reading of Breaking the Silence testimonies in Tel Aviv to mark 10 years since the organization was founded, June 6, 2014. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Breaking the Silence banned from Israeli’s school and from official meetings

PNN/Jerusalem

The past few months have been a scary time for human rights activists within the 48 borders. Israelis working for organizations that support the Palestinians human rights are being silenced.

On Tuesday, the Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said that he had banned Israeli veteran group Breaking the Silence from participating in any official activities with the Israeli [occupation] forces, Israeli media reported.

Yaalon’s statement was made on social media, where he called the left-wing veteran group hypocrites spreading “false propaganda” against Israeli [occupation] forces and the state of Israel in attempt to “delegitimize” them.

He also declared that “if the people of ‘Breaking The Silence’ were really bothered about our morality, as we care and pursue our moral values, they would work alongside the IDF directly, and not blacken our soldiers’ image abroad.”

Also on social media, Breaking the Silence responded to the comment stating that the group has been under attack for the past several months, “through a pre-meditated campaign, in which members of the extreme right-wing, including Israeli parliamentarians and elected officials, along with public figures and right-wing organizations, are trying to silence both us and every debate related to the 48-year-long occupation.”

After Ya’alon’s decision, the Israeli Education Minister Naftali Bennett (Jewish Home) has moved to bar Breaking the Silence from operating within Israel’s school system.

He stated that “Breaking the Silence’s activities lead to the slander of Israel abroad, as they have set themselves the objective of harming their brethren who protect us,” he added. “Lies and incitement against the IDF – not in our schools.”

 

According to the Breaking the Silence’s website, they are “an organization of veteran [Israeli] combatants who have served in the Israeli [occupation] military since the start of the Second Intifada and have taken it upon themselves to expose the Israeli public to the reality of everyday life in the Occupied Territories.”

To date, the organization has collected  testimonies from over a 1,000 Israeli soldiers who have served in the occupied West Bank, Gaza and in the occupied East Jerusalem since September 2000. They hold lectures, house meetings, and other public events which bring to light the reality in the Occupied Territories through the voice of former Israeli combatants.

If that was already not enough, earlier this month, right-wing Knesset members from the Likud party proposed a bill that would limit foreign-backed NGOs from working within the 48 borders. The purpose of the bill is reportedly an attempt to curb the influence of left-wing NGOs on Israeli policy and public opinion, both domestically and abroad.

The proposal is one of several bills which have been criticized by Israeli rights’ groups such as Breaking the Silence, B’Tselem and Peace Now.

Also on this last Tuesday, a new video entitled “Foreign Agents – Revealed!” was released by Im Tirtzu, a neo-Mccarthyite, extreme right-wing group notorious for its public attacks against Israeli left-wing academics and organizations.

In 2013 an Israeli court ruled that the group bears similarities to a “fascist movement”. Its leadership enjoys ties with Likud and Yisrael Beitenu politicians.

According to +972 Magazine, the video plasters the faces of the heads of four Israeli human rights organizations — The Public Committee Against Torture in Israel, Breaking the Silence, B’Tselem and Hamoked: The Center for the Defense of the Individual — directly accusing them of being “planted” by different European entities (Holland, Germany, Norway and the European Union, respectively) to aid and abet “terrorists”.