Breaking the Silence (Shovrim Shtika)
July 11, 2013
- Website: www.shovrimshtika.org
- Registered “company for the benefit of the public” in Israel, founded in 2004.
- Breaking the Silence (BtS) “collects testimonies of soldiers who served in the Occupied Territories during the Second Intifadah,” claiming that the “testimonies portray a…grim picture of questionable orders in many areas regarding Palestinian civilians [which] demonstrate the depth of corruption which is spreading in the Israeli military…Israeli society continues to turn a blind eye, and to deny that which happens in its name.”
- Funders in 2012 include Open Society Institute, Broederlijk Delen, Christian Aid, DanChurchAid, EU, Ford Israel Fund (New Israel Fund), ICCO, Medico International, Spain, Trocaire, Norway.
- Direct and indirect government funding in 2011 included the European Union (via Yesh Din, NIS 124,589), UK (NIS 105,178), Spain (NIS 1,223,003); Trocaire (Ireland, NIS 74,683); DanChurchAid (Denmark, NIS 241,061) OXFAM GB (UK, NIS 25,000), MISEREOR (Germany, NIS 245,713), Broederlijk Delen (Belgium, NIS 258,605), CCFD (France, NIS 22,268).
- The NGO was active in promoting “war crimes” charges against Israel after the Gaza fighting in January 2009. These charges were based on anonymous and unverifiable hearsay “testimonies.”
- In 2010 BtS published a highly tendentious book titled Occupation of the Territories - Israeli Soldier testimonies 2000-2010, which claimed to provide a counter to the “official Israeli position” on IDF actions in the territories. NGO Monitor analysis has revealed that this book was rife with methodological problems and appeared to tailor the testimonies to predetermined “analyses” that falsely claimed that Israeli actions are not aimed at self-defense but at “terrorizing the civilian population.”
- This book was later re-published under the title Our Harsh Logic and translated into Swedish, German, and Dutch. The launching of the book in the various languages served as a platform for further demonization and delegitmization of Israel, including accusations of “racism” and alleged “political assassinations” of Palestinians, claims that Gaza is still “occupied,” and implying that Israel is ethnically cleansing “area C.”
- Analysis by Amos Harel in Ha’aretz: “Breaking the Silence...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. The organization has a clear agenda: to expose the consequences of IDF troops serving in the West Bank and Gaza. This seems more of interest to its members than seeking justice for specific injustices.” (July 17, 2009)
- Although claiming to address Israeli society, the NGO’s lobbying and media advocacy focus on international audiences, including presentations in Europe and the United States. Yehuda Shaul, BtS co-founder, defended this practice: “Sometimes, when you want to deliver messages to the inside, you must go outside.”
- BtS members and anti-Israel activists Yonatan and Itamar Shapira were on the “Jews for Justice for Palestinians” boat “Irene,” which sought to violate Israel’s security-based policies regarding naval traffic into Gaza (September 2010).
- During a BtS event at a museum in Sweden (March 2011), Itamar Shapira stated that “We [Israelis] are creating the terror against us.”
- Conducts tours to Hebron and the South Hebron Hills to “witness first hand the dire situation.” Criticized by Israeli police officials for “antagoniz[ing]...settlers in the hope that the settlers will attack them.”
Breaking the Silence Essentials:
- Jewish Student Union Votes to Deny Membership to J Street U, The Daily Californian, October 8, 2013
- Breaking the Silence's International Activities: September 2012-November 2013, NGO Monitor Reports, October 24, 2013
- Breaking what silence?, Gerald M. Steinberg, Jerusalem Post, September 12, 2012
- Breaking the Silence and NIF Tell Australian Jews to "Pay Up and Shut Up", Gerald M. Steinberg and Naftali Balanson, J-Wire, August 30, 2012
- Breaking the Silence Outside of Israel, NGO Monitor Reports, November 29, 2011
- Mouthpieces for Europe, Anne Herzberg and Naftali Balanson, Ynetnews.com, November 20, 2011
- Breaking the Silence in Sweden: "We are creating the terror against us, basically", NGO Monitor Analysis, March 19, 2011
- Breaking What Silence? A Critical Reading of Allegations from "Breaking the Silence" NGO Monitor Reports, February 1, 2011