For some, the members of the Israeli NGO calling itself Breaking the Silence (BTS) are “whistleblowers” and human rights activists; for others, they are a tiny group of dangerous messianists who tour the world promoting anonymous and false allegations of Israel Defense Forces (IDF) war crimes. The recent exposé on Israel’s Channel 2 showing how they gather sensitive and potentially classified information on IDF tactics and equipment—far removed from any human rights claims—increased the suspicion and hostility with which they are viewed by many Israelis.
The real problem with BTS is the money they have, provided by irresponsible donors, including European governments and the NIF. Together, these funders give over $1 million every year to BTS under the official façade of promoting human rights and international law among Israelis. These donations enable a handful of activists to buy influence completely disproportionate to their size in Israeli society. With this money, BTS holds events in churches, parliaments, and universities, promoting specious allegations of Israeli “war crimes” and other immoral acts. To make their arguments seem reasonable, BTS activists and their supporters systematically strip away the context of Palestinian terror and thousands of rocket attacks, leaving only a highly exaggerated and fictitious version of Israeli responses.
Whether or not the proposed Israeli legislation is passed, or instead, European governments negotiate guidelines with the government, this will not end the debate on American college campuses. In these cases, one option would be to demand that all such appearances and events with BTS and similar groups include an Israeli who served in the IDF and can present a very different picture. If necessary, the sponsoring organization will have to pay for the costs of ensuring a fair discussion. In that way, BTS will not be given the privileged position it currently enjoys, based on its $1 million budget, and instead of propaganda, college campus and other audiences will be able to hear different perspectives and decide for themselves.