Breaking the Silence (Shovrim Shtika)
|Registration||“Company for the benefit of the public” in Israel, founded in 2004.|
- In 2020, total income was NIS 8.9 million; total expenses were NIS 8.6 million.
- Donors include: Switzerland, France, Norway, AECID (Spain), CCFD (France), Trocaire (Ireland), Dan Church Aid (Denmark), Broederlijk Delen (Belgium), Christian Aid (UK),Medico International (Germany),
Misereor (Germany), , EU, ICCO (Netherlands), Luxembourg, Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Open Society Institute, New Israel Fund, and others.
- Based on financial information submitted to the Israeli Registrar of Non-Profits, in accordance with the Israeli NGO transparency law, Breaking the Silence received NIS NIS 37,459,709 from foreign governmental bodies in 2012-2022. (See table below for detailed funding information).
- According to annual reports, donations from foreign countries comprised 55.6% of total donations from 2017-2019.
- In 2018, the Dutch government granted €191,840 to Breaking the Silence.
- In 2018, the Dutch government published project information regarding this grant. One of the objectives was efforts to encourage “diaspora Jewish communities to voice their opposition to the occupation.” Breaking the Silence was also to use Dutch funds to “increase opposition in the international arena to Israel’s prolonged occupation of the oPt” through challenging “key international public figures…to respond.”
- During this grant period, Breaking the Silence was a key partner in the US-based organization’s IfNotNow’s campaign targeting Birthright Israel. In 2019, following a Freedom of Information request, the Dutch government released documents from Breaking the Silence stating that Breaking the Silence held a “10-day seminar for 15 young Jewish diaspora leaders from If Not Now.”
- In 2017, the European Union approved a €269,975, four-year grant to Breaking the Silence for a project designed to increase “Israeli security forces personnel (ISFP) accountability for forcible home entries in line with democratic standards and international humanitarian and human rights law.” This project and the rhetoric surrounding it are part of a wider “lawfare” strategy of pressing “war crimes” cases against Israeli officials in foreign courts and in the International Criminal Court (ICC).
- The project is being carried out in partnership with Physicians for Human Rights – Israel (PHR-I) and Yesh Din.
- In 2015-2020, the New Israel Fund (NIF) authorized grants worth $2,615,291 to Breaking the Silence.
- In 2018-2022, Breaking the Silence received $320,000 from the Rockefeller Brothers Fund.
- Breaking the Silence (BtS) “collects testimonies of soldiers who served in the Occupied Territories during the Second Intifada,” 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.
- Active in promoting “war crimes” charges against Israel. These charges were based on anonymous and unverifiable hearsay “testimonies.”
- 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.”
- 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.”
- In October 2021, Breaking the Silence was a signatory on a statement condemning the decision by the Israeli Ministry to designate six Palestinian NGOs as terrorist organizations. According to the statement, “The Minister of Defense’s designation of prominent Palestinian civil society organizations, among them our colleagues in the Palestinian human rights community, as terrorist organizations, is a draconian measure that criminalizes critical human rights work.”
- In 2018-2020, Breaking the Silence, Yesh Din, and Physicians for Human Rights – Israel (PHR-I) were implementing partners on an EU grant regarding Israel’s “forcible home entries.” (See more on the grant above.)
- According to the funding appeal, “…the military justice system grants nearly complete impunity for Israeli security forces personnel and their conduct” regarding “Forcible Home Entries (FHEs)” (emphasis added). The project intended to address these supposed deficiencies by “Appealing decisions to close investigations on a case-by-case basis” and “Filing petitions to High Court of Justice on specific cases and principled matters” (emphases added).
- As part of the project, in November 2020, the three NGOs published a joint report titled “A Life Exposed: Military invasions of Palestinian homes in the West Bank.” The report, which discusses the “practice of raiding Palestinian homes in the West Bank (excluding East Jerusalem),” falsely claims that “The existence of two legal systems that apply to two separate national groups, as illustrated in this report in the context of the rules governing entry into the private domain, supports the claim that Israel is committing the crime of apartheid in the West Bank” (emphasis added).
- In July 2019, Breaking the Silence was a signatory on a letter to the President of the German Bundestag calling to revoke a joint resolution defining BDS campaigns against Israel as antisemitic.
- In 2017, Breaking the Silence published the book Kingdom of Olives and Ash, “to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, this anthology explores the human cost of the conflict as witnessed by…notable writers…in collaboration with Israeli NGO Breaking the Silence.” The book is part of Breaking the Silence’s campaign to create international pressure on Israel.
- In June 14, 2016, Israeli new site NRG published a video documenting BtS co-founder, Yehuda Shaul, telling tourists in Israel that “Yeah, One of the villages, this village actually, its new that they came back, because few years ago the settlers basically poisoned all the water cisterns of the village…” This allegation is completely unsubstantiated, and was never proven. It appears to be based on a single compliant from 2004 which investigated by the Israeli police and was closed due to lack of evidence. (See below: Anti-Israeli campaigns using Breaking the Silence).
- On January 11, 2016, Israel’s leading nightly news program on Channel 2 aired footageof Ezra Nawi, a radical activist from the NGO “Ta’ayush,” visiting the offices of Israeli NGO Breaking the Silence (BtS). There, a BtS employee provided Nawi with NIS 1,400 in cash. It is unclear what services were rendered to warrant such a payment, but Channel 2 showed footage of Nawi writing checks for Palestinians, ostensibly for taking part in protests that he, himself, planned.
- In May 2015, NGO Monitor revealed that following the 2009 Gaza conflict, several BtS donors conditioned the transfer of money to the group on its ability to gather a minimum number of incriminating “testimonies” against the Israeli army.
- The report of the UN Commission of Inquiry (COI) on the 2014 Gaza War, headed first by William Schabas and then by Mary McGowan Davis after the former’s resignation over his undisclosed paid work for the PLO, quotes extensively from anonymous testimonies of Breaking the Silence. After the report was published, Hamas terror organization published a press release where it claims that “the report ignores the explicit confessions on war crimes the Israeli soldiers and officers made during and after the aggression, in which they stated they had received direct instructions to target civilians. Many soldiers affiliated to the Israeli organization of ‘Breaking the Silence’ confirmed such Israeli orders.”
- 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.”
- Breaking the Silence is part of a network of NGOs that promote artificial and manufactured definitions of apartheid to extend the ongoing campaigns that seek to delegitimize and demonize Israel. (Read NGO Monitor’s Policy Paper “False Knowledge as Power: Deconstructing Definitions of Apartheid that Delegitimise the Jewish State.”)
- In February 2022, Breaking the Silence signed a statement defending a report published by Amnesty International accusing Israel of apartheid. According to the statement, “The debate around the crime of apartheid of which Israel is accused, and its geographical scope, is not only legitimate, but absolutely necessary. We wholeheartedly reject the idea that Amnesty International’s report is baseless, singles out Israel or displays antisemitic animus.”
- In May 2021, Breaking the Silence participated in a conference in the Israeli Knesset titled “After 54 years: Between occupation and apartheid.”
- In December 2020, Breaking the Silence and The Israeli Centre for Public Affairs (a new NGO employing former Breaking the Silence staff) published “Highway to Annexation,” repeatedly accusing Israel of constructing an “Apartheid Road.”
- In March 2020, Breaking the Silence alleged, “Israeli officials are now actively promoting an apartheid reality which itself blurs the lines, and our position [of not participating in ‘Israel Apartheid Week’ events on campus] may therefore have to change in the future accordingly.”
- On its website, Breaking the Silence distorts the principle of “complementarity,” a legal principle that states that the ICC is only authorized to investigate when a country’s judicial system has proven unwilling or incapable of prosecuting cases that fall within the ICC’s jurisdiction. Breaking the Silence attempts to discredit Israeli courts and investigations, stating that the “investigation of low-ranking soldiers allows Israel to present a semblance of objective investigation mechanisms before international investigative bodies. With regard to international law, this could prove to be an obstacle in launching external investigations of Israeli actions. Low-ranking soldiers are thus being used as ‘human shields’ by policymakers facing international demands for external investigations.” (emphasis added)
- In February 2021, Breaking the Silence Executive Director Avner Gevaryahu published an article titled “The best way to avoid an ICC probe: Don’t commit war crimes.” In the article, Gevaryahu alleged that “Military operation after military operation, Israel has ignored the black flag — a warning sign of immoral orders which ought to be defied — that flies over the rules of engagement dictated by its government cabinet and the IDF’s top brass.”
- On May 13, 2015, the Israeli news site Ynet reported that ICC Prosecutor Bensouda expressed a desire to utilize Breaking the Silence publications: “Bensouda said her office was trying to get a copy of the [Breaking the Silence] report ‘to see how it can assist us in the preliminary examination phase’” in her review of the 2014 Gaza war.
- In a May 8, 2015 interview, Breaking the Silence’s Avner Gvaryahu explained, “our role is to publicize testimonies. If someone in Israel or abroad sees fit to use our materials, they are welcome to do so.”
- In January 2021, two IDF soldiers filed a lawsuit against Breaking the Silence and a former member of their tank crew for defamation and “spreading lies and fabrications.” According to the lawsuit, the defendant provided Breaking the Silence with “false testimony, fabricated or edited the events in a way that their actions, which were done in accordance with guidelines and operational needs, were completely taken out of context and depicted as cruel war criminals.”
- In March 2020, Ad Kan, on behalf of a group of senior IDF commanders, filed a petition with the High Court of Justice demanding the Attorney General open an investigation into Breaking the Silence for allegedly “collecting sensitive military intelligence that, if made public, could put national security at risk.” In October 2020, the High Court of Justice dismissed the case.
Foreign donations based on annual financial reports (amounts in NIS)
2018-2020 amounts based on NGO annual financial reports; 2021-2022 amounts based on quarterly financial reports submitted to the Israeli Registrar of Non-Profits.
|NGO Development Center-NDC (France, Sweden, UN Women, World Bank)||1,312,353||1,719,376||1,289,812|
|Medico International (Germany)||56,100||56,535||58,256||62,520|
|CAFOD (United Kingdom)||173,738||89,212||94,402||92,587|
|Sigrid Rausing Trust||418,095||417,986|
|Rockefeller Brothers Fund||213,204||213,960|
|Open Society Institute||690,000||705,030|
|Foundation for Middle East Peace (FMEP)||35,289||34,702|
All Articles about Breaking the Silence (Shovrim Shtika)
- The problem with Breaking the Silence Galit Lev-Harir, December 2, 2019
- Truth, Hebron and “Breaking the Silence” Ahron Shapiro, AIJAC, October 16, 2019
- Breaking The Silence: The AIJAC perspective Colin Rubenstein, AIJAC
- Opinion: Who are B'Tselem and Breaking the Silence Serving? Gadi Taub, Ha'aretz, May 13, 2017
- Netanyahu Asks British PM May to Stop Funding Anti-occupation Group Breaking the Silence Barak Ravid, Ha'aretz, February 6, 2017
- Breaking the Silence's Myths Busted Matan Katzman, The Times of Israel, July 18, 2016
- The Latest Matti Friendman, Mosaic Magazine, May 14, 2015
- Op-Ed: Breaking the Silence: Sabotaging Israel from Within Alex Grobman, Arutz Sheva