Breaking the Silence

November 22, 2011 by Ron Weiser
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The Zionist Council of NSW congratulates both the Zionist Federation and Board of Deputies of South Africa for its outstanding work in dealing with the farce that was the session of the Russell Tribunal on Palestine held in Cape Town earlier this month…writes Ron Weiser.

Dr Ron Weiser

Even the well known Judge Richard Goldstone wrote in the New York Times:

“It is not a “tribunal.” The “evidence” is going to be one-sided and the members of the “jury” are critics whose harsh views of Israel are well known”

It should be noted that some of the 24 so called “witnesses” that appeared before the Tribunal included the New Israel Fund’s legal representative and some NIF grantees.

Amongst those NIF grantees that appeared was an organisation called Breaking the Silence (BtS)

BtS misrepresents itself as promoting human rights in Israel, but this small group focuses on European and North American audiences, repeating unsupported accusations of war crimes, as quoted in the discredited Goldstone report.

In March this year BtS hosted an exhibit in Sweden. BtS spokesperson Itamar Shaipra stated “We are the oppressors, we are the ones that are violating human rights on a daily basis. We are creating the terror against us, basically”

There is a general pattern with BtS claims, sensational unsupported allegations with names and documentation being extremely vague, headlines that damage Israel and the IDF, followed much later by reality.

Let’s be very clear. Any abuse of power is to be condemned, especially if it involves the deliberate mistreatment of other human beings.

Israel has a long and proud track record in dealing strongly and effectively with any such incidents that have occurred on rare occasions, in complete contravention of Israeli law and policy.

People who claim to have witnessed such incidents abrogate their duty and moral responsibility by not reporting them in a timely manner and to the proper authorities.

Coming to Australia and making unsubstantiated sensationalised claims about supposed incidents that are alleged to have taken place years previously and were never reported, should be treated with the scepticism they deserve.

We have all learned to be very wary of dramatic allegations of wrongdoing by the IDF which turn out to be groundless.

Some examples: the Mohamed al-Dura fraud in 2000, the Jenin “massacre” in 2002, the UN School “massacre” myth during Operation Cast Lead, the Goldstone Report’s allegation of “deliberate” targeting of civilians (now retracted by Goldstone himself) and so on.

We are sick and tired of reading these allegations on the front page of our newspapers, only to read the retractions months later on page 10.

As Mark Twain famously said, “A lie will travel half way around the world before the truth has even put its boots on”.

Dr Ron Weiser AM is the Honorary Life President of the Zionist Council of NSW







17 Responses to “Breaking the Silence”
  1. ben says:

    The findings are out in a book. Wiser doesn’t bring out a shred of evidece or counterargument to disprove the findings of the commission or the evidence presented before it. Just smear, slander and abuse as the standard hasbara tack.

  2. Otto Waldmann says:

    Juanita, darling,I am very dissapointed !! WHY on earth did you leave out the Uigurs in China, Albanians in Kosovo, Rhutenians in Bukovina, Thrutienians in Hrundistan who have been almost completely exterminbated except for one that I spotted the other Thursday night at Westfield Bondi Junction buying Viagra at 23% off.
    It must be unbearably hot in your ideological kitchen Juanita if you cannot tell the diference between hot pepper cappuccinos and vanilla T bone stakes.
    When WE talk Israel we talk Israel and the environs which happen to be populated by a madding multitude of anti Semitic criminals !! Care to care for a bit of subject focussing next time you spill your ideatic secretions !!!

    • ben says:

      How patronising. And why is Israel insisting on expanding its exclusive settlements among the very same “anti-semitic criminals” ?

      • otto waldmann says:

        Queasy Ben…That’s a hard one !!!
        Indeed, what are we to do with dedicated haters of all things Jewish ?! Listen to the Bens of this world and Jews should pack and leave their own land of some 5,700 year genealogy.Listen to Ben again, if nothing better to do, and allow pursuits of crime to prosper on the same, your land.
        Surely Ben reckons criminal palestinians should be left to their own devices. Good thing Ben is poking his curiosity into a Jewish site. Now he just found out that there is a G-d sent determination to confront what must be corrected !

  3. david singer says:

    To Juanita

    You still don’t get it.

    Palestinian Arab groups in Israel have every right to form themselves into different organizations and agitate for anti-Zionist aims such as changing the flag, replacing hatikvah, calling for a bi-national state and getting rid of the JNF. Israel’s democracy is big enough to tolerate such diverse views.

    The current controversy around NIF is the stupidity of that organisation in asking the Jewish community in Australia to contribute money to fund these groups in pursuit of their agendas to denigrate and delegitimise the Jewish State.

  4. Juanita says:

    Ron, in the 1960’s would you have urged Australians to keep quiet about the lack of rights of Aborigines?– after all, we wouldn’t want outsiders to judge our country to be racist. Likewise, would you have told patriotic Americans to deny there was injustice toward African Americans? Would you have told these patriots to blame civil rights demonstrators for causing trouble, smile for the world camera, and say that everything was hunky dory?

    It seems like this is the kind of denial you are advocating in relation to Israel. It seems like a kind of blindness–as though none of the victims of injustice matter, or should have a voice. Equally worrying, it is as though non-Jews are too stupid to understand that Jews and the Jewish State are the same kind of mixed bag as everyone else . . .

  5. Paul Winter says:

    Naomi Paiss tell us that she is is NIF’s Communications Director and is based in Washington DC and that no one from NIF or BtS addressed the Russell Tribunal on Palestine. Sorry to inform you Ms Paiss, but NGO Monitor reported on 10.11.11, that NIF funded NGOs addressed the RToP and named NIF’s legal advisor, Michael Sfard specifically as a “witness”. Sfard is the same lawyer who was lent to Peace Now in its suit against the JNF on behalf of the Negev Coexistence Forum and he was also the lawyer who led court battle against the village of Migron. Sfard’s and hence NIF’s actions resulted in the destruction of a few houses until the court order was reversed. It was reversed because the Arabs could not show that they had title to the land on which Migron was built.

    • Naomi Paiss says:

      If you rely on NGOM for information about NIF and its grantees, you will frequently be as wrong as they are. Michaell Sfard was not in South Africa, he is not employed by or is the legal representative of NIF, and no other NIF-funded NGO was in South Africa either.

  6. Danny Ginges says:

    If David Landau is at all concerned with the rights of Palestinians, he should give his testimony and any evidence of the violation he witnessed to the IDF military police. There is no statute of limitations for human rights abuses by the military under the Israeli law. This crime should not go unpunished, and the board of the NIF Australia who funded his trip, and whose website espouses their commitment to social justice, should make it their duty to see that the alleged criminals, including Landau who was complicit through his silence, are brought to justice.

  7. Naomi Paiss says:

    As has previously been the case, the author depends on sources which are frequently wrong. No representative of the New Israel Fund or Breaking the Silence testified, gave evidence or participated in the Russell Tribunal.

    I’m the Communications Director for the New Israel Fund, and am based in our Washington, DC office.

    • Ron Weiser says:

      According to the information available – Michael Sfard, legal advisor for several NIF grantees, including Breaking the Silence, presented at the 2010 Barcelona session on the Russell Tribunal on Palestine, and was listed in the original program for Capetown. He was replaced by his legal associate Emily Schaeffer, who also represents several NIF grantees, including PHR-I and Yesh Din.

  8. Frank says:

    Would like to correct Dr Ron Weiser, who it seems did not even bother to read the agenda of the RTP Cape Town session before writing an article about…the RTP Cape Town session.
    If he had read the agenda of the session, he would have found out that no one from breaking the silence appeared as a witness during the 3 days session.

    Also, it is laughable to say that the Jewish Board of deputies did a great job against the tribunal in South Africa. For more info on positive media coverage about the tribunal, check this page:

    Propaganda not facts, as usual from Dr Weiser.

    • Shirlee says:

      I don’t know enough on the issue to make comment either way.

      However Frank I’d say that it’s you that is laughable, not the JBD.

      Your list “info on positive media coverage about the tribunal” is beyond funny and hardly a reliable source of unbiased news.
      Ma’an News
      Electronic intifada.
      The Guardian
      The Tehran Times
      Pal Solidarity
      Palestine Chronicle…………to name but a few

  9. Liat Nagar says:

    What on earth is motivating these BtS people?!! I just can’t get my head around it. Why are they not interested in researching the facts, looking at context and presenting informed opinion? What is motivating them … hatred and malice? If so, why? Not only do we need to know, so too do they.

  10. Paul Winter says:

    Well said Ron. Isn’t it a pity that NIFAu is getting active and that its guest, Landau, confessed that the root cause of his hostility to Israel as it is, grew over the decades from witnessing abuses of the sort BtS is now revealing to the world. And one wonders how a new group can fund a visitor to our shores. But no matter, NIF’s lawyer, Sfard, also acted on behalf of Peace Now in its action against the JNF. All in the interest of purifying Israel and making it return to its founding ethos. The NIF is so Zionistic – if you believe them.

  11. david singer says:

    Kol Hakavod Ron for your timely warning.

    Let anyone accused of wrondoing be investigated by the Israeli military and police and justice be seen to be done by prosecuting those who are alleged to have committed offences.

    Slurs, innuendo and unsubstantiated allegations that denigrate and debase the Israel Defence Forces are disgusting and should be rejected by all fair minded persons.

    Put up or shut up.

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