A former AP reporter who crusades against the international media’s alleged anti-Israel bias takes aim at the Israeli NGO of veteran soldiers in an article that is long on … well, length. But short on substance.
By Mairav Zonszein and Lisa Goldman
Earlier this month, the Israeli NGO Breaking the Silence released a report about the army’s 50-day incursion into Gaza last summer. Titled “This is How We Fought in Gaza 2014,” it is comprised of more than 60 oral testimonies collected from soldiers and officers. The overriding theme of the eyewitness accounts is that soldiers going into Gaza were given unprecedentedly loose rules of engagement. Many of the soldiers say those orders contradicted the rules and code of ethics they were taught in training, which mandate doing everything possible to avoid harming civilians or their property.
In Israel, the response to the soldiers’ testimonies has ranged from indifference to ambivalence to outright slander. The higher political and military echelons didn’t even acknowledge the report, while the Hebrew media was largely ambivalent. For example, even Haaretz military analyst Amos Harel writes (Hebrew) that despite the organization’s agenda, which he defines vaguely as “leftist,” its claims should not be ignored.
The slander has come from people who, rather than respond to the report itself, try to delegitimize Breaking the Silence by discrediting the soldiers who gave testimonies and questioning their integrity and motives.
A journalist turned attack dog
Matti Friedman, a Canadian-Israeli who was once a reporter for the AP bureau in Jerusalem, now falls on the slandering side of the spectrum. Friedman recently launched his own one-man crusade against what he seems to think is an international conspiracy to churn out gratuitously critical reporting on Israel. He has written several long articles to this effect, and been invited to speak on the topic at events hosted by Jewish organizations in England and the United States.
Friedman’s analysis of the Breaking the Silence report, published in Mosaic Magazine on Thursday, can be boiled down to three main points:
1. The BtS report is propaganda, not journalism;
2. The testimonies not only fail to show loose rules of engagement, but in fact support the army’s claim that it did everything possible to avoid civilian injuries;
3. BtS is dishonest about its political agenda, which Friedman suggests is nefarious.
None of these claims is supported...Read More