Breaking the Silence (Shovrim Shtika)
November 30, 2011
- 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.”
- Direct and indirect government funders in 2010 included European Union (via Yesh Din, NIS 250,975), UK (NIS 528,728), Spain (NIS 1,142,356, including €498,025 for a joint project with ICAHD), joint funds from Switzerland, Sweden, Netherlands, Denmark (NIS 61,403); NIS 800,292 in 2011); ICCO (Netherlands, NIS 213,556), Trocaire (Ireland, NIS 114,225); DanChurchAid (Denmark, NIS 126,037), Christian Aid (UK, NIS 162,073). The UK did not fund BtS among its 2011-12 projects.
- 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.”
- 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).
- 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:
- Breaking what silence?, Gerald M. Steinberg, Jerusalem Post, September 12, 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 What Silence? A Critical Reading of Allegations from "Breaking the Silence" NGO Monitor Reports, February 1, 2011