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Sunday, April 30, 2017

New York Times Editorial, "Israel Sees Critics as Enemies": More Obsessive Israel Bashing



In an April 28, 2017 editorial entitled "Israel Sees Critics as Enemies," The New York Times begins by observing:

"The refusal of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel to receive the German foreign minister because of a meeting the German held with a veterans’ peace group is not in itself a major incident in Israeli-German relations. Germany’s history alone ensures it will remain Israel’s staunch supporter. What is troubling, rather, is Mr. Netanyahu’s increasingly illiberal pattern of treating critics of Israel’s occupation of Palestinian lands — domestic and foreign — as enemies.

The flash point in this case was a meeting Germany’s foreign minister, Sigmar Gabriel, held with some nongovernmental groups while on a visit to Israel. One of these groups, called Breaking the Silence, is particularly reviled among right-wing Israelis because it gathers anonymous testimonies from Israeli soldiers about their service in occupied territories, often highlighting hardships imposed on the Palestinians. So Mr. Netanyahu canceled his meeting with Mr. Gabriel, proclaiming that he would not welcome diplomats who met with organizations that, he said, 'slander' Israeli soldiers."

Got it: Breaking the Silence is an Israeli "veterans' peace group." After all, according to the Times editorial, "Breaking the Silence has support from former high-ranking Israeli military officers." Unfortunately, it's not so simple...

As reported by Israel Hayom in a January 17, 2017 newsletter entitled "Breaking the Silence: Shooting soldiers is not terrorism":

"According to a Channel 20 report, [Breaking the Silence's] public relations coordinator, Nadav Weiman, told activists, 'If you shoot at soldiers, you are trying to kill soldiers. You are not a terrorist.'

Weiman made the statements to two activists for right-wing organization Ad Kan who were posing as radical leftists to penetrate Breaking the Silence.

'If there is another country that is conquering your country, the area where you live, you are allowed to use violent means to fight the conquering entity, only ... against soldiers and police officers, but if you stab a soldier at a checkpoint, that is not a terrorist attack,' Weiman said."

As reported by The Algemeiner in a June 15, 2016 article entitled "Newly Released Footage Reveals Controversial Whistle-Blower Breaking the Silence Telling Tourists That Israeli Settlers Poisoned Palestinian Wells":

"A newly released video reveals a co-founder of the NGO Breaking the Silence (BtS) telling tourists that Israeli settlers poisoned Palestinian wells, the Hebrew news site nrg reported on Tuesday.

According to the report, the clip was filmed by an undercover member of the right-wing 'Ad Kan' group, which seeks to expose activities of left-wing Israeli organizations which receive foreign funding.

In the video, which was filmed less than two years ago, Yehuda Shaul can be heard addressing a group of foreign visitors to the southern Hebron Hills in Judea (the West Bank). Speaking in English, he tells the visitors that residents of the Palestinian village of Susiya had only recently returned to their homes after being forced to leave several years earlier, when settlers poisoned their drinking water supply system."

Poisoned wells? Yeah, right.

And also as reported by The Algemeiner in a January 1, 2016 article entitled "How Breaking the Silence Lost Israel’s Trust":

"Breaking the Silence (BtS), which has been controversial for more than 10 years, gained real notoriety following the 2009 Gaza War. BtS — knowingly or unknowingly — questioned Israel’s inherent right to self-defense, and supported efforts to prosecute Israeli officials and soldiers (because allegations published by BtS resonated internationally and were used as ammunition by those siding against Israel). It also emerged at the time that several BtS funders conditioned their donations on obtaining minimum numbers of incriminating “testimonies” against the Israeli army from former soldiers. For instance, a document obtained by NGO Monitor from the Israeli Registrar of Non-Profits shows similar demands from the British Embassy in Tel Aviv, the Dutch church-based aid organization ICCO (primarily funded by the Dutch government), and Oxfam Great Britain (funded by the British government).

Israelis quickly recognized that these so-called testimonies were serving a political objective, one that increasingly was seen as helping defame and demonize Israeli soldiers. In the left-wing daily Haaretz, Amos Harel wrote: “Breaking the Silence…has a clear political agenda, and can no longer be classified as a ‘human rights organization.’”"

Claiming that Breaking the Silence is "is particularly reviled among right-wing Israelis," the Times editorial concludes:

"Israel’s vibrant democracy has always been one of its great strengths, and it is in open and democratic debate — and not in a threatening “with us or against us” posture — that issues as critical to Israel’s future as the occupation must be discussed."

However, as observed by Yair Lapid, chairman of the centrist Israeli political party Yesh Atid in December 2015:

"Criticism is constructive for our society, but there is a significant difference between criticism and defaming IDF officers and soldiers abroad. That is not criticism; that is undermining the foundations of the state. Organizations like Breaking the Silence have crossed the red line between criticism and subversion."

Bottom line: This is just one more obsessive attack upon Israel, lacking any objectivity, coming from The New York Times.

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