Breaking the Silence replies to the ECAJ

August 29, 2012 by  
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In response to a recent publication by the Israeli veteran organization Breaking the Silence, Dr Danny Lamm, president of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, blatantly attacked us – veterans of the Israeli Defense Forces – calling the publication “crude propaganda”….

From Dana Golan [Executive Director – Breaking the Silence]

Dana Golan

Dr Lamm insinuates that the testimonies published by Breaking the Silence are not credible, suggesting that they are manufactured by the organization “solely for their propaganda effect.” The anonymity of the testimonies and the fact that they are allegedly “untested by any kind of cross-questioning” is his sole evidence.

Breaking the Silence is an organization of over 850 Israeli veterans – male and female combat soldiers and officers who served in the IDF in the harshest days of the last decade. Our publications meet the highest standards of investigative journalism. All unusual and exceptional testimonies must be corroborated by two independent sources before publication; and anonymity, as every journalist knows, is a condition for exposure of wrong-doing. As any visitor to the website can see, dozens of veterans have in fact testified without anonymity, their names and faces revealed on camera.

Now we veterans wonder how someone who purports to be a supporter of Israel can make such insidious allegations against us, questioning our loyalty and integrity. How can someone who is supposed to have our backs then attack us from behind? From where, we ask, does Dr Lamm draw the chutzpah to sling mud at us, soldiers who were lying in the mud to protect the country in whose name he swears from afar? We wonder what motivates a Diaspora Jew pretending to love Israel to discredit us, veterans who continue to risk our lives in its defense and give our time and energy to fortify its moral stature.

 

Concern for Israel and its democracy cannot be the factor driving an assault on its civil society. Attacks on Israeli veterans are certainly not motivated by love for Israel and its people, for these veterans are Israel. Dr Lamm’s assault, it appears, must have a different set of motivations. Instead of serving his community and lending support to Israel, he serves his political masters. A vocal opponent of the peace process, it seems that Dr Lamm has forgotten his place as a Diaspora community leader. We would never dare interfere with the internal affairs of his community, let alone in the audacious way in which Lamm interferes in ours.

While the question of whether and to what degree Diaspora Jews should advocate their views on internal Israeli affairs is an open one, beating on Israelis of other political convictions is not. Lamm’s armchair Zionism pontificating from afar, while true Israelis put their lives on the line, imposes certain restraints on his engagement. A decent person would regard this also as reason for some humility in opinion. It is precisely because we have been on the front lines that we understand that the future of our country depends on its moral fortitude no less than on its military might.

It is no wonder that Lamm fails to recognize this as surely the view from Australia is different from that of real-life Israelis who realize the Zionist ideal with their sweat and blood and not merely with their job titles. Zionism, for us, is about the willingness to make bold sacrifices for the security and future of the Jewish state. For impostors like Lamm, it is an instrument for promoting a political agenda, the consequences of which we will have to bear, not him.

Representatives of Breaking the Silence on behalf of our members,

Lieutenant Dana Golan – Border Patrol (Executive Director, Breaking the Silence)

Captain Mikhael Manekin – Golani Infantry Brigade

Lieutenant Noam Chayut – Nahal Infantry Brigade

Lieutenant Oren Kalisman – Special Forces, Paratroopers

First Sergeant Yehdua Shaul – Nahal Infantry Brigade

First Sergeant Avihai Stollar – Kfir Brigade

First Sergeant Tal Wasser – Oketz

First Sergeant Achiya Schatz – Duvdevan

First Sergeant Ayal Kantz – Special Forces, Nahal Brigade

First Sergeant Nadav Weiman – Special Forces, Nahal Brigade

First Sergeant Shachar Zemach – Special Forces, Nahal Brigade

First Sergeant Hillel Cohen – Combat Engineer

First Sergeant Guy Klein – 7th Armored Brigade

First Sergeant Yoni Levi – Special Forces, Givati Brigade

First Sergeant Gil Hillel – Sachlav, MP

Comments

31 Responses to “Breaking the Silence replies to the ECAJ”
  1. Oz Jew says:

    It’s pretty obvious to me whats going on here.

    On the one hand there are a bunch of australian jews who’s jewish identity is almost completely defined by their connection to the holocaust and a distant land, a land they may have visited a handful of times for a couple of weeks each time. Done a UIA “mission” perhaps, met a political leader or two, and think they are now suitable to be spokesmen for regular israelis. They can’t understand a word of hebrew, of course not arabic. But they are staunch nationalists and patriots – living thousands of miles away from their beloved “homeland” which they of course have never really considered actually making home.

    All these anti-BTS comments above are the voice of this mindset.

    These people will NEVER accept criticism of their new messiah Medinat Israel, no matter where it comes from. They will never be open minded enough to consider the possibility that their dreamland may actually not be as pure-white and run by saints as they thought.

    I am a Jewish Australian-Israeli (grew up in oz, moved to Israel, then left eventually to more sane shores), been through the australian zionist education system/youth group(s), Hesder yeshivot. In Israel, I regularly heard similar stories to what we’re hearing from BTS. Those hesder guys were totally and utterly racist against Arabs. They did all kinds of horrible things to (a) pass their time and (b) express their jewish ultra-nationalism. They weren’t ashamed of it either, unlike the soldiers who talk to BTS.

    BTS shows us that it’s not just the ultra-religious-nationalists who are prone to immoral behavior in the army, but all kinds of soldiers who find themselves in trying situations.

    I would advise BTS to not get into a fight with these Australians. They are wearing the most rose-tinted glasses imaginable. Zionism is their religion, and they will totally overlook immorality for it’s sake. Those of us who care about the moral fibre of Israel as much as its physical security want to know the true story. We don’t need another religion to believe in, we need to know the truth.

    • Otto Waldmann says:

      Oz Jew, mate

      let me tellya, youre the coolest most awsemest dude ever ’cause you tellem the way reality, I mean truth and also your cool vision all is !

      Afta readin’ your awsome stuff ( I know I said already awesome before but there is no laws against sayin it more times even in the same sentensse ) I says to meself. This guy has everythin, the whole package. I immediately cancelled ALL me memberships to ALL Jewish ( so to speak, according to me new hero ) organisations, I twiterred half a dozen Rabbis I know and told them to read your stuff and, following that, consider if they should not change their careers to, say, awesome trolls on JWire, I sent another twitter to Aus. Zionist Council and told them that as of the time you posted your genius stuff they dont exist no more and also twitted the Government of Israel advisin’ them that as of the date of the same piece you graced us with, Jewish Diaspora has been cancelled and Israel is on her own plus YOU, who is now no longer in Israel, something, come to think of it , all true blue Jews should do, following your awesome example.

      Mate, dude, youre me hero and although I dont know youre real idetity I reckon I know you. Havent I seen you jaywalkin in the middle of Gerorge St. heavy traffic dressed as vixon with a dozen antenaes springing from your heavily adorned top end gesticulating with meanings only known by yrself and screaming ” I have arrived and youze guys are all now free to leave !!!”

    • Norman says:

      OZ Jew, as I mentioned in an earlier post, I served in the IDF for many years. I speak Hebrew fluently. So I don’t come under the category of the Australian Jews you dismiss with such venom.Yes there are Israeli soldiers who cross the line of good behaviour and actions as occurs in any fighting army. But if the BTS receives such info why don’t they give the particulars to the Israeli authorities who are able to deal with these issues? No, they take these unsubstantiated accusations to foreign lands while funded by foreign organizations and ask them to interfere in Israeli politics and ask them to investigate the IDF. This is outrageous. Can you imagine what would happen if an Australian organization received info about Ausie soldiers transgressing, not passing it on to the Australian authorities, but going overseas and asking the world to investigate the Australian army?

      • Otto Waldmann says:

        Norman

        This fictitious character “Oz Jew” is a compilation of the most offensive, unintelligent conceptual compost a moronic mind, or even a colective of moronic minds, thst can be put together.
        Nothing makes sense. This pretence”Jew” negates the value of an entire Jewish Diaspora, the entire Zionist movement, all those dedicated Jews living outside Israel who care for their country Israel, the very soul of their ( our ) existence. This dismissive arrogance is in itself a denial of this troll’s so called “argument” in…. favour of Israel. The same Israel the same moron has aparently lived in and aparently abandoned for reasons, consistent , in fact, with every syllable of a propper anti Zionist venom -ridden propaganda crap-machine, a typical palestinian manufactured sick mind-set can and does produce.. All this is a principal part of the “discreet” tactics employed by the very Jew haters we witness every minute posted regularly here and in the larger world. It makes me sick to take them seriously. I also posted a comment which takes the mickey off these deficient minds, but it looks like you shall never enjoy reading it, which is a shame…..

        • Norman says:

          Hi Otto. I agree with you entirely, but I felt I needed to reply to Oz Jew’s discusting post.

          • OZ JEWWW! says:

            I’d just like to make a couple of points, and then I think I’m going to leave this be.

            (1) As Norman picked up on correctly, I am indeed only referring to “these” types of people, not ‘an entire diaspora’. I spoke about a ‘bunch’ of people, and was referring only to those type of Australian Jews that think and behave the way I described. I know full well that not all Australian Jews think alike and would not stereotype an entire community in such a manner. Read my post again for confirmation if you so desire.

            In response to Normans point, from what I understand, the whole raison d’être of BTS is to allow soldiers to give testimony regarding their service who would otherwise remain silent on account of them not feeling able to deal with the army because what they are saying is that these issues are systematic and policy based. The point is to ‘break the silence’.

            If an Australian organization interviewed australian soldiers about their service, and the contents of those interviews were damning for the Australian army (and government) then of course I wouldn’t expect the organisation to keep quiet and leave it for ‘the authorities’ to deal with it. They are the problem, that would make no sense a all! The information must get to the public. Everyone has the right to know what is going on, and that is true of Israel too. Or do you prefer to hear only propaganda and censorship?

            (2) This Waldmann guy is a particularly brutal example of the type of person I am referring to, just read a few of his comments on this site to understand the mentality I am talking about (most people aren’t that rabid, but share the sentiments)…

      • Mo says:

        Norman, did you even read the statement before jumping up and down about “unsubstantiated accusations” and trying to obfuscate the issue?

        Read again:

        ” All unusual and exceptional testimonies must be corroborated by two independent sources before publication; and anonymity, as every journalist knows, is a condition for exposure of wrong-doing. As any visitor to the website can see, dozens of veterans have in fact testified without anonymity, their names and faces revealed on camera.”

  2. Otto Waldmann says:

    That certin media org. enjoys irritating the mainstream Jewish orgnistions is not a surprise, not could it be eliminated from a medium that thrives on sensationalism and hides behind “objective” reporting of views.
    That within the larger Jewish fold we can witness hysteria, extrapolations and, mainly, a visceral objection to formal authorities, be it even democratically ellected, is, again, not to be dismissed as an “odd” phenomenon.

    BUT, to allow within the mainstream Jewish structure even a modicum of all of the above moral rejects in the shape and name of New Israel Fund is totally UNACCEPTABLE.
    My good and morally reliable friend ,Paul Winter, has raised the issue of certain important Jewish State roof organisation seemingly protecting the very presence within its structure of relevant elements of NIF and refusing to address their destructive activities thereoff.
    Our first responsibility is to bring our “house” into order and we are yet to see ANY important local Jewish organisation addressing openly and couragously this important issue. NIF are the principal moral supporters of BtS within our fold and they shall continue on their corosive way with impunity unless communal leadership dislpay the spine necessary to curb their activities. Just take a look at their web site ! NIF offers Fairfax the “reason” for stating overtly or otherwise, that media in our democratic society NEEDS to reflect ALL views and that Faifax has no mandatory obligation to present what we call mainstrem. NIF are one of the sources of this epidemic of anti Israel propaganda and they are largely neglected in most of the comments on the BtS.

  3. michael says:

    Spot On Shirlee !!!!!!

  4. john nemesh says:

    This issue of what happens within the the IDF , whether morally correct or not should NEVER have become an automatic Left versus Right issue.

    If there have been IDF transgressions…….( as there must be some in such a large and active organization),
    then one would have expected or even demanded that those citizens /soldiers who have witnessed such transgressions to have …1/ made known these trangressions in REAL TIME , and
    2/ within the infrastructure of the IDF itself.

    To go outside the IDF , and then outside Israel itself is not just airing dirty washing in the public( if it is dirty washing at all!)…but makes any allegation suspect at best, and nothing more than purposeful destructiveness of Israel’s legitimacy at worst.

    To seek and use outside funds(European, 76%), ….

    To seek and use hostile reporters who wish only to besmirch Israel’s raison d’etre such as Ruth Pollard and McGeough of Fairfax, and ….

    To allow itself to be paraded by pro Palestinian organizations which are riddled with racist Jew hating antisemites,

    makes Break the Silence at best a stupidly naive organization willing to be used by Israel’s enemies in order to cut and bleed the jewish homeland,
    but at worst, with BtS in NOT carrying out its purported concerns WITHIN the system of Israeli justice,
    shows itself to be a hollow self serving and morally bankrupt FRAUD.

  5. Rachel says:

    The fact is, Dana, that Breaking the Silence is a tiny minority political group that most Israelis view as extremists.

    For the sake of being transparent and honest, Dana needs to tell us where is the funding coming from to fund their activisities? Travelling and conducting a world-wide propaganda lecture tours is a very costly business.

  6. Shirlee says:

    Sheree
    I hate to burst your bubble but Danny Lamm **DOES** speak for the majority of Jewish Australians.

    Unlike you of the Far Left, we treasure Israel. We know what we have endured down through the centuries as a people to now have a land of our own, which has been denied to us for so long.

    We know the blood sweat and tears that have gone into making Israel the great country She is today. To think we have people in our midst of ‘our own’, who would work against what has been so hard to achieve, makes me sick to the pit of my stomach. I lost an uncle in that fight and to hear people like you appalls me.

    We also know that in military circles globally, the IDF is regarded as the most moral and ethical fighting force in the world. We know for the right inducement many will make false statements.

    With friends like you, we don’t need enemies. Try looking at what else is happening in the world around you and stop working to de-legitimise Israel

  7. Norman says:

    Breaking the Silence is an anti-Israel leftist organisation spreading rumors and lies about the IDF. They claim to be Zionists! Then why did they speak at the Hawke Centre in Adelaide on the 7th of this month, sponsored by who you may ask? Well it the ‘Australian Friends of Palestine’. This organization runs around the world funded by foreign organizations only too happy to have Israelis besmirch the IDF and Israel. I spent many years serving in the IDF and I am ashamed that an organization like ‘Breaking the Silence’ even exists. The most galling thing is that they claim to be Zionist. What a joke!!

    • Nathan says:

      Norman
      I am pleased to assure you that BTS not involved in the recent seminar run by ‘Australian Friends of Palestine’

      Micha Kurz, who spoke at the seminar run by ‘Australian Friends of Palestine’ was one of the Co founders of BTS in 2004 BUT he and the organization parted ways some time ago.

      He holds no office at BTS and is NOT a representative of BTS and his participation was in no way endorsed by or supported by the organization.

      • Norman says:

        Well Nathan, someone should have told that to the Hawke Centre. This was there blurb to University of South Australia students:

        Hawke Centre Forum: Jewish Voices for Peace

        Two Israeli Peace Activists are touring Australia during August to bring their experiences to the debate about the Israel-Palestinian conflict.

        Sahar Vardi is a “refusenik” who was imprisoned for refusing her mandatory military service, Micha Kurz is a veteran of the Israeli Defence Forces, who co-founded Breaking the Silence, an organisation to stimulate public debate in Israel and beyond about current military action towards civilians. Micha is also the founder of Grassroots Jerusalem, an online platform that enables urban and human rights activists and organizations in Jerusalem to connect, share knowledge and coordinate human rights activities.

        Jointly presented with The Australian Friends of Palestine (SA) and the Australian Jewish Democratic Society (Victoria).

        Date:Tuesday, 7 August 2012
        Start Time:6:00 PM

        Finish Time:7:15 PM
        Venue:Bradley Forum, UniSA City West campus, Hawke Building level 5
        RSVP Date:Tuesday, 7 August 2012
        RSVP Contact:www.hawkecentre.unisa.edu.au or phone x20215

        • Mandi Katz says:

          Norman – Micha Kurz Michah Kurz does amazing work in Jerusalem through Grassroots JLM but he was not here as a guest of NIF and has no present involvement with BTS. NIF had nothing to do with his tour. The Hawke Centre blurb refers to his past involvement with Breaking the Silence, which is factually correct.

          • Otto Waldmann says:

            Such ridiculous, naive ( to be kind ), comments, yet unsurprisingly absurd from the NIF ilk.

            Kurtz nothing to do with NIF, but, highly acclaimed by NIF. That has nothing to do with logic which, nothing to do with logic has a lot to do with NIF. In two words ” Micha accomplished !!”

            Mandi Katz, next time you put pen on paper put also brains on text !

          • Mandi Katz says:

            Otto Waldmann – in a personal capacity I heard Micha Kurz speak. I didn’t
            do due diligence on him and I dont know much about what else he said
            elsewhere – I have heard mixed reports. I think his/their choice of organisations to speak to was poor, and I said so to him publicly when I
            heard him speak.
            But this is fact: NIF Australia had absolutley nothing to do with his/their tour directly or indirectly : didn’t arrange it; didn’t promote it; didn’t monitor it.

  8. Norman says:

    Breaking the Silence is an anti-Israel organization.They were in Adelaide at the beginning of the month, speaking at the Hawke Centre. Guess which organization sponsored them. ” The Australian Friends of Palestine” that’s who! This organization is going round the world spreading rumors and lies about the IDF, supported by foreign money and if the lady wants to know, I served many years in the IDF. They are a disgrace!!!

  9. harry joachim says:

    “For impostors like Lamm, it is an instrument for promoting a political agenda”

    Why, pray tell, is Dr Lamm an “impostor”? Because he has taken upon himself the unenviable task of representing Australia’s 100,000+ Jews to the broader community? Because he has devoted many years to clearly and cogently explaining the Jewish and Zionist positions to the media, government, and many other bodies?

    Ms Golan, by slandering Dr Lamm in this way you are in effect slandering all Jews and Israel-supporters in Australia. You should be ashamed of your comment, just like so many of us are ashamed of Breaking the Silence and all the work that you do to undermine Israel as a Jewish and democratic state.

  10. Lia says:

    I find this bts letter an amazing piece of disingenuous chutzpah. They are in Australia precisely to persuade Australian armchair types (I have heard them speak) to persuade our government to interfere as vigorously as possble with the Israeli government – so long as it is in only the direction that they suggest. The letter makes me think they are much more about propoganda and achieving their ends (through us) than telling the truth, and in this area, credibility is everything.

    • Mandi Katz says:

      Lia – no-one from Breaking the SIlence has visited Australia. Micha Kurz who recently visited Australia was involved in founding Breaking the SIlence but is not longer involved in it and does not represent it. So when you say you have heard them speak you are mistaken.

  11. michael says:

    Thank you Australia’s 5 th Column Jews > The best Palestinian/ Arab advocates.

  12. Arnold says:

    Israel has veterans organizations that genuinely act as veterans organizations. It’s odd to see BTS claim that market niche for itself.

    The idea that BTS is breaking some kind of Israeli silence sounds a jarring note for those of us who know from close up about Israel’s very robust, open and almost uniquely unfettered marketplace of ideas. It’s probably easier to sell non-Israelis on the idea of how someone (who?) is imposing silence on BTS members’ viewpoints. They are the beneficiaries of rich funding from (mainly) European sources. Its activists would appear to have little difficulty getting their very distinctive views out into the public space.

    And when they do, not everyone agrees with what they say and how they say it. Readers might want to note the following extract from an Haaretz piece about the group.

    Gaza testimonies / Diverting the debate from the real issue
    [Source: http://www.haaretz.com/news/gaza-testimonies-diverting-the-debate-from-the-real-issue-1.280139%5D
    Amos Harel | Jul.16, 2009

    … Breaking the Silence, founded in 2004 by veterans of the second intifada, has a clear political agenda, and can no longer be classed as a “human rights organization.” Any organization whose website includes the claim by members to expose the “corruption which permeates the military system” is not a neutral observer.

    • Jonathan says:

      Hi Arnold,

      Not sure about your “close-up” credentials there. As robst and open as Israel’s system is, the dehumanising activities of the IDF are undeniable, as they are for ANY military force dealing with a hostile civilian population.

      That is simply an unfortunate fact of life in Israel that many diaspora Jews don’t come to terms with. Probably because they don’t have to live with it up-close, making it easier to ignore.

      Fortunately, incidents that go beyond the bounds of acceptable behaviour in Israel are not as commonplace as Pollard would make out either.

      I don’t think that your 3-year old article from Ha-aretz adds anything to the debate.

      • Arnold Roth says:

        Jonathan, BTS are adored by their admirers. Given Haaretz’s role, and Amos Harel’s, in Israel’s ideological currents, the stinging rebuke in that short extract has real significance. feel free to ignore it, but be assured you won’t have a hard time finding more updated, and more furious, attacks on BTS in the Israeli media. I can help if you like, but don’t confuse my quoting a 2009 extract from the immediate wake of the war in Lebanon with a lack of broad criticism – even ferocious criticism – here in Israel of what the extraordinarily well-funded BTS activists do.

  13. Jonathan says:

    Yet again, BTS has fallen afoul of “lack of context”.

    They have totally misinterpreted Danny Lamm’s attempt to defend Israel against Ruth Pollard’s diatribe.

    Pollard has no interest in any “human interest” stories from Israel other than Israeli opression of Palestinians, which BTS have served her on a platter. She might have balanced her article by commending Israeli society for producing such an organisation.

    I hope that BTS’s “lack of context” is in fact the issue and that their intention was not purely to collaborate with the bigotted views of a journalists in a short-sighted attempt to gain attention. What a tragedy that would be for their just cause.

  14. Danny Ginges says:

    “What motivates a Diaspora Jew pretending to love Israel to discredit us?” A better question might be what motivates a Diaspora Jew pretending to love Israel to support the airing of Israel’s dirty laundry in the international press by funding BtS? The same question could be asked of the European Union, which also funds BtS, but I think we already know their motives.

  15. Larry Stillman says:

    Many people are waiting for a response from Messrs Lamm, Danby and Rubenstein to this letter.

  16. sheree says:

    Thank you ‘Breaking The Silence’ for your immense contributions both as defenders of your country and defenders of morality. I am ashamed that your credibility has been attacked in such a dishonest fashion. Please be aware that no matter how fancy his title as President of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry is, Dr Danny Lamm does not speak for all Jews in Australia. I would like to think he does not even speak for the majority, but these are trying times indeed, both here and in Israel itself!

    • Otto Waldmann says:

      “sheree”
      G-d forbid ECAJ should talk on your behalf and that goes for a few more of your ilk, some of whom have posted right here right now. Thanks for your clarification !

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