In advance of a court hearing today regarding the refusal of the political organization “Breaking the Silence” to hand over details of alleged military wrongdoings, including the identities of those who claimed to witness such events, NGO Monitor emphasizes that this organization is not above the law. Non-governmental organizations, regardless of their political agenda, should not be shielded from criticism and cannot claim a right to “immunity” whenever it suits their political objectives. Therefore, they must act in accordance with norms of democracy, transparency and accountability.
Breaking the Silence officials have refused to provide details regarding suspects involved in alleged violations of the laws of war, while at the same time have used these anonymous testimonies to promote a political agenda internationally. The NGO’s attempt to prevent the IDF and the Israeli public from being exposed to the whole truth casts doubt on its stated mission of promoting debate on the morality of the IDF. Instead, Breaking the Silence conducts its one-sided discussions outside of Israel, in forums that do not contribute to the promotion of human rights in Israel.
The responsibility for hiding the identities of the alleged criminals is first and foremost on the funders/enablers, especially those that support Breaking the Silence’s Testimony Collection project. This project constitutes the mainstay of Breaking the Silence’s activity. In it, anonymous testimonies regarding IDF activities and decisions, devoid of context or background, are misused in order to promote political campaigns against the IDF and the state of Israel.
In 2014-2015, Breaking the Silence received NIS 4,587,818 (~$1.1 million) directly and indirectly from foreign governments. The “Testimonies” project was funded by the French Consulate in Jerusalem and Broederlijk Delen (a church-based NGO funded by Belgium). In addition, a publication of testimonies on the 2014 Gaza War was funded by the Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law Secretariat in Ramallah (joint funding from Sweden, Denmark, Netherlands and Switzerland), George Soros’s Open Society Institute, and the church aid organizations Christian Aid (UK), Trocaire (Ireland) and DanChurch Aid (Denmark and the EU).