Senior police brass hound venue over minor business license violations. Police shut down a similar Breaking the Silence event last week citing right-wing threats against it.
For the second time in a week, Israeli police have imposed restrictions on Breaking the Silence lectures scheduled to take place in private venues. The owners of those venues and Breaking the Silence claim police are silencing the organization’s message in a way that serves the right wing in Israel.
Breaking the Silence is an organization of former IDF soldiers that collects and distributes soldier testimonies about the occupation in order to show Israeli society exactly what it is sending its children to do. It has become the target of numerous right-wing attacks in recent years, including from members of the government.
Three high-ranking police officers, including a station commander, showed up on Sunday at Bar Kayma, a vegan restaurant-bar in south Tel Aviv’s Florentine neighborhood. The police brass asked the restaurant’s management various questions about the Breaking the Silence event planned for Monday. The officers noted that on the event’s Facebook page some 70 people had indicated they planned to attend the lecture, whereas the restaurant’s business license gives it a maximum capacity of 38 people.
“We have been in business for three-and-a-half years, during which we’ve had three to five events each week, most of which have had ‘attending’ numbers far larger than our maximum capacity, and most people don’t actually show up. We once had 1,000 people indicate they were attending. Nevertheless, this is the first time in all of those years that police have come here to talk about our business license,” explained Aharon Porat, one of the managers of Bar Kayma, and a member of the collective that owns the establishment. Police said that somebody reported the event to them.
“The officers said they are only concerned about the safety of the participants, and when we said that it sounds like a political matter they denied it. Then they started talking about all sorts of minor matters relating to our business license, like the fact that name of the manager of the restaurant isn’t up to date and that it’s not okay that we’re using the courtyard as a smoking area. They also said that we are responsible for what happens outside our establishment, on the street, if we turn people away and there are problems.”
After some discussion...Read More