NGO Monitor and AIJAC respond to Breaking the Silence

March 24, 2014 by J-Wire Staff
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Israeli advocacy group Breaking the Silence’s Yehuda Shaul criticised comments made by NGO Monitor and AIJAC on J-Wire about the ABC 4 Corners program which focused on the treatment of Palestinian children by the IDF. They respond to Shaul.


From Professor Geral Steinberg, President of NGO Monitor:

Gerald Steinberg

Gerald Steinberg

The ABC Four Corners programme on the treatment of Palestinian children is part and parcel of the ongoing political warfare through which a number of radical and often marginal non-governmental organizations (NGOs) seek to demonize Israel. In his attempt to defend the central role of one such group — Breaking the Silence (BTS) — Yehuda Shaul continues this warfare, through the gross exploitation of human rights principles and the distortion of international law.

Mr. Shaul conveniently omits many facts that are inconsistent with his personal crusade, starting with the fact that his activities are part of “the Durban NGO strategy”, adopted in 2001 with the explicit objective of promoting the “complete isolation of Israel as an apartheid state.” In the context of this dirty war, self-appointed warrior-activists the front-line aggressors carry the heavy weapons of demonization.

Another inconvenient fact is that the money that BTS and its NGO allies receive from European governments and the New Israel Fund is officially provided in order to contribute to the debate “within Israeli society”, and clearly not for touring the world, including Australia, with false allegations of Israeli war crimes. A thousand videos and a million pages of “testimonies” are irrelevant when they are based on unverifiable and second-hand allegations, stripped of the context of Palestinian mass terrorism.

Similarly, by selling these second-hand and unverifiable allegations to reporters looking for quick and spectacular headlines, as in this case, Mr. Shaul and his friends are avoiding precisely the actions necessary for a moral agenda. If they had a real case, they would present the evidence to the Israeli authorities and public, where the charges and their credibility could be investigated.

A few years ago, Judge Richard Goldstone had the moral courage and honesty to renounce the 500 page “report” that bears his name. This indictment, as part of the Durban strategy, was based on false and unsupported allegations designed to demonize Israel, including many that came from BTS and other fringe Israeli NGOs. Instead of pursuing his own personal and immoral war against Israel in Australia, Mr. Shaul could learn about about morality from Judge Goldstone, among many others.

From Jamie Hyams and Ahron Shapiro: The Australia/Israel and Jewish Affairs Council

Ahron Shapiro

Ahron Shapiro

Rather than undermine AIJAC’s criticism of Breaking the Silence’s role in ABC’s biased Four Corners report “Stone Cold Justice”, BTS founder Yehuda Shaul’s rebuttal actually strengthens it in key respects.

Shaul shows how key allegations aired on the program by Lyons are old – some going back to incidents that were alleged to have occurred almost a decade ago.

BTS’ collection of unsubstantiated and hyper-critical testimonies may appear large, until you consider that they are cumulative over many years and therefore actually don’t amount to very many annual claims on average at all. It is disingenuous to use recycled allegations to attempt to malign today’s IDF.

Jamie Hyams

Jamie Hyams

AIJAC has its own IDF veterans on our staff, past and present, whose knowledge of IDF regulations are at least equal to Mr. Shaul’s, though we don’t normally wear it on our sleeve or use that point to try and win arguments.

However, since he relies so heavily upon his military service to lend credibility to his narrative, let’s go there.

Mr. Shaul is well aware that the vast majority of IDF veterans find his organisation offensive, as its very name implies that the millions who have worn the uniform are covering up for what he calls “systematic” immoral and unethical practices by the IDF by maintaining “silence” about them. According to Shaul’s perverse narrative, only he and his friends are honest Israelis.

We reject this formulation, not out of some sort of blind loyalty to Israel, but because the countless veterans we know and trust vehemently insist that while individual abuses doubtless occur, no such “systemic” policies exist. Call them the “silent” majority.

As AIJAC has said repeatedly, like all militaries, the IDF is neither infallible nor beyond reproach, and all allegations of wrongdoing in its ranks must be investigated.

Through its fundamentally flawed methodology and questionable actions, however, “Breaking the Silence” appears to show little interest in contributing constructively to the process of safeguarding the IDF moral code it claims to uphold. Rather, its thinly veiled, political goal appears to be geared primarily towards increasing domestic and foreign pressure on Israel to implement an immediate and unconditional withdrawal of IDF forces and expulsion of Israeli civilians from the West Bank – regardless of the consequences to Israel’s security.


One Response to “NGO Monitor and AIJAC respond to Breaking the Silence”
  1. At first I thought I was reading a speech by Joe McCarthy. No- it was Geral (sic) Steinberg!

    Then from AIJAC we get a Rogets Thesaurus defense of the IDF, using a string of synonyms to ‘offensive’ and a repitition of the arguments of the settlers.

    I give the article a D- for robustness and substance.

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