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Germany's foreign minister calls Netanyahu's bluff — and rightly so

German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel will learn far more from his meetings with B’Tselem and Breaking the Silence.

German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel prior to his meeting with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin in Jerusalem, April 25, 2017. (Yonathan Sindel/Flash90)

German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel prior to his meeting with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin in Jerusalem, April 25, 2017. (Yonathan Sindel/Flash90)

Given an ultimatum of meeting with Breaking the Silence and B’Tselem or meeting Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel very simply made the right choice to forego Netanyahu. And not in order to “defy” Netanyahu, as per a breathless Bloomberg headline, or to give any message at all.

He was right simply because what would he have actually learned from Netanyahu? Those organizations will give Gabriel concrete information: B’Tselem will update him on developments regarding the 50-year-old occupation and its most current manifestations, in the form of data, documentation and analysis. Breaking the Silence will give him human experiences of occupation, and tell the truth about growing attempts to intimidate and suppress the group for daring to oppose Israeli policies.

Now consider the meeting with Netanyahu. The two would probably have complimented each other on their great trade relations, something neither needs to see the other to know. Netanyahu, after all, got his submarines. On the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Netanyahu would have fed him saccharin promises and empty calories about how Israel yearns for peace, without admitting how satisfied society and government are with the status quo.

Netanyahu might have paid tight-lipped service to a two-state solution, while he and his government take all possible measures on the ground to abort a Palestinian state. Netanyahu might have read some tweets from COGAT, which, together with the Civil Administration, governs Palestinian civilian life through the military — perhaps tweets about how kind Israel is to let some trucks pass into Gaza.

He would certainly have cited the cancer patients who were allowed to Israel for medical treatment and caught smuggling tubes of explosive material, or the stabbing attack in Tel Aviv by a teenager on Sunday. And he will expect these incidents to prove why Israel must never ever end the military regime in the West Bank or control over Gaza.

But anyone who cares to look knows that Netanyahu’s Israel is striving to own all the land. Any rational person can see the policies and conclude that Netanyahu — in his own and his ministers’ words — is against a Palestinian state.

Since any regular person can figure this out, not least a bright foreign minister, Gabriel would quickly have gotten bored. Then he might have gotten insulted. Without the meeting, he’s probably in a better mood, and definitely better informed.

Read more:
By nixing German FM meet, Netanyahu ups Israel’s tyranny a notch
Netanyahu looks like a bully, but he doesn’t care

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    1. Firentis

      Presumably he visited because he wanted to get something done and he has ensured that he will go home empty-handed. A few days ago he was complaining that the Israeli government didn’t want to use him as a mediator. He has just demonstrated why that is. He would prefer to meet with people that call the IDF war criminals rather than with the PM of Israel. And those groups would have happily met with him in Berlin since most of their budget comes from Europe and much of that is spent on travelling around Europe promoting the demonization and delegitimization of Israel. I hope he enjoyed his last visit to Israel.

      Reply to Comment
      • Schirmbild

        “Breaking the Silence” and B’Tselem are deeply rooted in jewish tradition. To call them organisations that demonise Israel is bluntly wrong. How can it be wrong to advocate human rights?

        Reply to Comment
        • JeffB

          @Schirmbild

          There is nothing wrong in advocating for human rights. Nor is there anything wrong in their positions. There is however something deeply wrong when citizens in a democracy having failed to convince their fellow citizens of the rightness of their position turn to foreign powers to advance their interests internally. The word quisling comes from Vidkun Quisling having done what they are doing.

          Breaking the Silence and B’Tselem should have refused to meet with the German FM. They should have told him they are Israeli, they represent the interest of Israel and their debate is with only with their fellow Israelis. They neither seek nor even desire foreign allies for themselves so as to more ably put pressure on the state or people of Israel.

          Not doing that was what is wrong with them.

          Reply to Comment
          • Richard Lightbown

            Your post is one of the more extreme instances of Zionist paranoia that I have seen on this site.

            Citizens in a democracy are entitled to freedom of thought and the freedom to express those thoughts to whoever they please, even if expressing those thoughts causes offence to others. It’s a simple test which Israel fails repeatedly and which you clearly do not understand.

            Citing Quisling is similarly inappropriate. He was the puppet ruler the Nazis installed in power to run Norway for them. Quite how you can equate that with B’tselem or Breaking the silence is beyond me. Mahmoud Abbas might legitimately be called a quisling, but no human rights organisation or activist is currently running Israel for the UNHRC or anyone else.

            But I do think that these two human rights organisations are doing a good job of representing the interests of Israel by working for genuine democracy is what is currently an apartheid state. As such they do not need your spurious advice.

            Reply to Comment
          • JeffB

            @Richard

            Vidkun Quisling didn’t start his career as a puppet. Nor do I think that’s an accurate description until somewhere around late 1942. Quisling was a politician who had a series of solid political posts during the 1920s and 30s, working his way up to defense minister, with a solid base of support He tried to form a coalition of rightwing groups to run against the communists and labor party but failed. He led one of the factions, the Farmers’ Party As time went on his own fortunes decreased, his party lost all power and he became a fringe figure. At which point he started aggressively courting Hitler to get support for a coup. Hitler decided to invade and Quisling was installed in power in 1940. As a foreign supported figure he was able to pursue policies that lacked domestic support and became increasingly unpopular in Norway. In other words Quisling was a domestic politician in a democracy who had been powerful but as his policies became increasingly unpopular turned to foreign supporters to advance his causes and found himself not the head of a popular democratic government but rather a despised foreign puppet.

            As for the rest you are being disingenuous. Israel has elections that matter. There is a functioning democracy there. The positions of B’tselem or Breaking the Silence are unpopular. Rather than address the underlying reasons those positions are unpopular and work within the democracy they are bypassing the democracy. Instead they are searching out foreign sponsors who agree with their positions so as to internally advance policies which can’t win today in a fair and free election.

            Don’t conflate agreeing with the position of B’tselem or Breaking the Silence with those means. That aren’t merely expressing their opinion to the German Finance Minister, they are looking for the country of Germany to utilize pressure on Israel so as to advance those opinions within Israeli politics. That is not a method you want to see employed if you want to keep your democracy.

            Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            “Instead they are searching out foreign sponsors who agree with their positions so as to internally advance policies which can’t win today in a fair and free election.”

            No, they are, as Dahlia Scheindlin drives home quite effectively, providing authentic information to the outside world about what is going on in the occupied territories that are outside Israel. So that that those countries, who provide massive support to both parties, can make better judgments about how to engage both Israel and the Palestinians. Remember them? Those non-Israelis “over there”? Quality information that would not otherwise be available to the outside world. These are not state secrets they are spilling to “sponsors.” It is information that has been verified and is authentic. They are exercising free speech. They are not giving the Germans the nuclear codes at Dimona.

            “That aren’t merely expressing their opinion to the German Finance Minister, they are looking for the country of Germany to utilize pressure on Israel so as to advance those opinions within Israeli politics.”

            This is not quite true. They are not looking for the Germans to pressure Israel on merely internal state political matters that are only involving Israeli citizens in Israel. They are a human rights group. They are seeking help with human right violations in the territories. Surely if a human rights group in Myanmar or Tibet sought to meet with the American Foreign Minister you would not want their governments to clamp down on them and outlaw them, would you? Nor would you remonstrate that meeting with them undermines Tibetan or Burmese democracy. You can object that Israel in contrast to Myanmar or Tibet is a functioning democracy but the system that comprises Israel and the territories it occupies is most definitely not a functioning democracy. Far from it.

            Reply to Comment
          • JeffB

            @Ben

            They are a human rights group. They are seeking help with human right violations in the territories. Surely if a human rights group in Myanmar or Tibet sought to meet with the American Foreign Minister you would not want their governments to clamp down on them and outlaw them, would you?

            I’m not sure about the “you want” part. I’m American not Chinese or Burmese. I think the government of Myanmar is a bad governments. In the case of Myanmar I think the people of Myanmar would benefit from weakening of the government. China is a highly authoritarian but pretty good government. In both cases I would understand China or Myanmar cracking down on human rights groups that go outside the system and appeal for American pressure. That’s a dangerous destructive activity in those cases as well. The USA has many times (approaching triple digits) used human rights activists as propaganda props to build support for overthrowing governments. So for that matter has Germany (and Prussia before that), though less recently. Absolutely that would be a real threat.

            Nor would you remonstrate that meeting with them undermines Tibetan or Burmese democracy. You can object that Israel in contrast to Myanmar or Tibet is a functioning democracy but the system that comprises Israel and the territories it occupies is most definitely not a functioning democracy.

            Israel has a functioning democracy. Those groups are Israeli. Those people have full democratic access to the system. The fact that Israel supports a military dictatorship over other people doesn’t change that.

            Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            “China is a highly authoritarian but pretty good government. In both cases I would understand China or Myanmar cracking down on human rights groups that go outside the system and appeal for American pressure. That’s a dangerous […] The fact that Israel supports a military dictatorship over other people doesn’t change that.”

            JeffB, this is revealing of who you are and where your heart (and head) lies, and how you are different from me. From every indication, you will always prioritize nationalism and government authority and power over human rights. You see, if the United States were, on its own soil, engaging in the brutality towards its citizens and its dissidents and occupied peoples that China engages in, I (and +972 Magazine) would be rooting for the dissidents and the human rights activists and I would be rooting for the American dissidents and human rights activists to get outside and contact other governments and NGOs to help them. You don’t think that way. With respect to America, China, Myanmar, or the entity comprising Israel and the territories it occupies. Why am I not surprised? You endorse Le Pen and Putin. You coldly prattle about Huguenots and Belorussians as historical examples of good outcomes. Much of your approach to Israel-Palestine should be seen through the lens you have provided here into your priorities and where your heart (and head) lies.

            Reply to Comment
        • Firentis

          I call it as I see it. These are organizations that have explicitly declared their intention to use anti-Israel propaganda to force international action against Israel. They explicitly produce propaganda for the purposes of demonizing the IDF and the State of Israel. They are explicitly refusing to cooperate with Israeli official bodies to attempt to mitigate the human rights abuses they claim have happened. They explicitly declare themselves as having political objectives rather than human rights goals. These are foreign funded political organizations whose tactics consist of compiling unverified propaganda for use abroad to demonize and delegitimize the State of Israel. In other words, these are foreign funded traitors.

          Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            Their information is not unverified. And Breaking the Silence is not “explicitly refusing to cooperate with Israeli official bodies to attempt to mitigate the human rights abuses”–that is disingenuous in the extreme. When Breaking the Silence started out they quickly discovered that information they provided to Israeli official was not used to mitigate human rights violations. Quite the contrary. It was used to engage in cover ups and to persecute the soldiers who provided the information to Breaking the Silence.

            Reply to Comment
          • Firentis

            Of course they are explicitly refusing to cooperate with the Israeli authorities. They specifically say that they reject this approach. Their excuses why they do it are just cover for their actual activity – to produce anonymous and unverified reports for foreign audience for use as propaganda against Israel.

            Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            https://972mag.com/why-do-so-many-israelis-hate-breaking-the-silence/114763/

            “The second claim is that they don’t hand over their testimonies for investigation by the army. I say: why hand them over? First of all, in its early years the organization did hand over its testimonies to the army. And what happened? They were paid a visit by the military police, which sought to investigate the very crimes they were testifying about, as if they were the guilty party and not their commanders or the army’s policies in the territories. So why hand over testimonies if all it means is that you will be investigated for testifying?

            Add to that the fact that others who decided to air such criticisms from within the army did not have any greater success (like the story of the refuseniks from Israel’s hi-tech intelligence Unit 8200, who first complained directly to their commanders). And the fact that Israel Military Police investigations (which aren’t always even initiated in the first place) only rarely lead to indictments and convictions, as has been documented time and again in our special investigative series “License to Kill.”

            But even if all that weren’t the case, there would still be no need for Breaking the Silence to hand over its testimonies for the army to investigate. The whole point of Breaking the Silence is that the military occupation in the territories is itself the problem, and that injustices are an inherent part of that situation, not exceptional incidents or the result of “bad apples.” So what exactly is the army supposed to investigate? Whether it has been ruling millions of people under a military regime for almost 50 years? Whether that military regime is responsible for inescapable systematic violations of human and civil rights? (By the way, when the army wants to, it knows how to use Breaking the Silence testimonies in order to advance its investigations.)”

            Reply to Comment
          • Firentis

            Are you trying to prove my point for me?

            That article points out that BtS is a political activist group and not a human rights group. It’s activities are designed to produce unverified and unsubstantiated propaganda to be used externally against the State of Israel. In doing so it is sponsored by foreign governments which apparently believe it is legitimate to financially sponsor domestic political opposition in other democracies. The whole pretense of being a human rights group is a fraud. For human rights groups the goal is to protect human rights. For BtS human rights is just a flimsy cover used to support their political agenda. As such they see no reason to cooperate with the Israeli authorities to investigate specific instances. In fact, were such investigations to actually take place it would undermine their attempt to demonize and delegitimize the State of Israel.

            Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            Listen to yourself, Firentis. You are calling substantial numbers of your own soldiers cunning liars; devious, greedy selfish traitors. You are saying that Israel, unlike any other countries, has produced a strange, truly unusual number of low life, traitorous, lying soldiers with base motives. And this in a close knit country that indoctrinates its youth from the cradle in the heroism of its military and martial values. It makes absolutely no sense and lacks face plausibility. The issue here actually is credibility. And plausibility as to who is telling the truth and whether Matar makes a plausible case. I can see absolutely nothing in what you write that contests this fundamental issue.

            “ In fact, were such investigations to actually take place it would undermine their attempt to demonize and delegitimize the State of Israel.”

            Then why hasn’t Israel done this? There is no way you can convince me that the IDF and the Israeli state, if they wanted to, could not and in fact do not easily figure out in quite a few cases what specific incidents these soldiers are talking about, and could not bring all of their investigative and fact finding and propaganda devices to bear on churning out refutations. They do not do so for only one reason: They know these soldiers speak the truth and that trying to go down a road of refuting them would only dig themselves deeper. I think you actually know this is true. I have to believe you are smart enough to understand what I am saying and that there is no honest way out from acknowledging what I am saying about why the IDF and the Israeli state do not, have never, undermined the efforts of Breaking the Silence except to try indirectly demonize them.

            Reply to Comment
          • Firentis

            Israel has conscription. Pretty much the entire secular population serves in the army at one point of another. It is entirely plausible that there a dozen low-life, traitorous people have gone through the IDF and went on to work for BtS. It is pretty safe to say that one can find all kinds of people that have been IDF soldiers. This wouldn’t be the first time that soldiers have turned traitor, especially in a highly politicized country where foreign countries are willing to pay them to do so.

            If you pay people to do a job they are pretty likely to aim to please. Foreign countries are paying BtS to put together reports full of anti-Israeli propaganda and they do so. If they stop producing such material the foreign governments will find someone else to sponsor and they will be out of a job. In economics terms there is a demand here on the part of foreign governments for material to use as propaganda against Israel, and there is a supply of collaborators willing to put such material together in return for a salary.

            If BtS has actual evidence of misbehavior they should hand it over to the proper authorities. Otherwise all they have is unverified and unsubstantiated claims that they are making which they refuse to hand over to authorities and which they use for political purposes to demonize and delegitimize the IDF and the State of Israel. And they do so while being sponsored by foreign governments who believe it is in their interest to apply diplomatic pressure on Israel. As for churning out refutations. This is the “when did you stop beating your wife?” line of argument. If someone has specific accusations they should submit them and they will be investigated. Otherwise it is all hearsay and conjecture. In this case the hearsay and conjecture is the whole purpose because these groups do not have any interest in actual investigations. They are paid per accusation.

            So, to conclude, you have a group being paid to produce propaganda that is used against their own country. It is a group that claims to be a human rights group although it apparently has no particular interest in seeing human rights violations prosecuted or punished. As such it is a marginal political group that despises the Israeli government and is using the international arena as means in fighting against it. In my mind what these groups are doing is a form of treason, albeit one that is tolerated in free countries. What they say is protected under freedom of speech, even if it is unsubstantiated and unverified.

            What wouldn’t generally be tolerated in free countries is the foreign sponsorship of such groups. I expect that in the near future action will be taken to prevent foreign governments from sponsoring marginal extremist political groups because as it stands right now such a situation makes a mockery of sovereignty and democracy with foreign governments trying to illegitimately intervene in domestic politics.

            Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            “I expect that in the near future action will be taken to prevent foreign governments from sponsoring marginal and extremist political groups”

            Let’s put aside the distortion that Breaking the Silence is “sponsored by foreign governments.” And go on to ask who decides what groups are “marginal”? Are “extremist”? You are over the line into pushing for a right wing authoritarian state.

            The rest of your post is to me a big pile of unsubstantiated slander. And it side steps that which was pointed to on April 28:
            https://972mag.com/why-do-so-many-israelis-hate-breaking-the-silence/114763/
            “The second claim is that they don’t hand over their testimonies for investigation….”

            Reply to Comment
          • Firentis

            How is it a “distortion” to point out that BtS receives 80%+ of their funding from foreign governments? That is a fact that they freely admit to and it constitutes sponsorship. How is it slander to point out that it is a political group that raises money abroad for the purpose of creating propaganda against Israel. That too is plain to see. How is it slander to point out that unlike real human rights groups this one has no interest or willingness to actually see human rights abuses corrected but is rather just using the allegations of human rights abuses for its own political goals? This is all clear as day and if you had any semblance of intellectual integrity left you would admit as such. Just because you agree with their agenda doesn’t mean you have to give up all ability to reason.

            Who decides which groups are extremist or marginal? If the vast majority of the population sees a group as extremist and marginal then it is that. And a vast majority of the Israeli population sees groups like BtS as extremist and marginal. And in any case whether we classify them as extremist or marginal doesn’t really matter though since I am not advocating banning such groups. It doesn’t particularly bother me that such groups exist. There are crazies in every society. What bothers me is that foreign governments are sponsoring them and the rest of the alphabet soup of what is seen by the vast majority of Israeli society as extreme, far-left, marginal organizations. The only reason why we are having this conversation about these groups is because they have a foreign-funded megaphone paid for by the European taxpayer. Otherwise they would have just been anonymous venomous trolls rather than people paid to go meet with foreign dignitaries in foreign countries as if they are influential activists.

            The real travesty is continuing to allow foreign governments to provide sponsorship to domestic political actors. And once we rip away this poorly fitting mask of being a ‘human rights group’ that is all that they are – domestic political actors being sponsored by foreign governments that have chosen to illegitimately and unjustly interfere in Israeli domestic politics. This is an affront to sovereignty and democracy and it should and will be stopped.

            Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            “How is it slander to point out that unlike real human rights groups this one has no interest or willingness to actually see human rights abuses corrected but is rather just using the allegations of human rights abuses for its own political goals?”

            That is total unsubstantiated slander on the face of it. Not even minimally plausible.
            And at the same time you have no problem with all sorts of foreign money pipelines funding the right wing. So your proposals amount to political persecution.

            Reply to Comment
      • Joshua Fisher

        No, he just preferred d to meet with the NGOs AND Bibi.
        Any sane person listens to BOTH sides of a story.
        Only autocrats like Bibi, Putin, Erdogan or trump wont like that. It’s NOT gabriel’s fault if Bibi behaves like a toddler.

        Reply to Comment
        • carmen

          Exactly. Any sane person would, and then there’s netanyahoo, who never misses an opportunity to miss an opportunity. Seriously, what’s more important, diplomacy or throwing a fit followed by a snack?
          http://cdn.timesofisrael.com/uploads/2012/12/F090208MF06.jpg

          Reply to Comment
        • Firentis

          It is Gabriel’s fault if he chooses to legitimize and endorse the most extreme and far-left organizations in Israel.

          This argument of hearing ‘both sides’ doesn’t pass the smell test because it suggests that all official visitors to Germany should meet both Merkel and the head of the AfD. Or in France, Hollande and Le Pen. And these are actual leaders of political parties and not marginal organizations that openly call for foreign pressure on their host country.

          This is nonsense. Meeting such groups on a diplomatic visit is spiteful and disrespectful. Gabriel has no chair to stand on. Let him go back to Germany in the disgrace he deserves.

          Reply to Comment
          • Joshua Fisher

            So you little nutcrack compare BTS with a fascist party like AFD, who talks about a “Schuldkult” that “has to end” about the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin?
            No sane person with a functional brain would do that.
            But these fascist wolfes in philosemitic sheep cloth are your allies, I forgot.

            Reply to Comment
          • Firentis

            What happened to listening to the ‘other side’ of the story cupcake? You mean some groups are so outside respectable national consensus that they do not deserve to be heard. Well la di da.

            Lets see. AfD and BtS. One is an organic German political party that millions of Germans voted for. The other is a European-funded propaganda group which explicitly lobbies foreign countries to damage the economy and interests of the State of Israel. Which one is more legitimate for foreign diplomatic visitors to meet with to hear ‘the other side’ of the story? Exactly. Neither. Both are despicable and it would be a diplomatic faux pax to meet extreme organizations far outside the political mainstream after being invited for a diplomatic visit by the government of the country.

            Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            Sorry, Breaking the Silence is as organic and homegrown as it comes. They, Israeli soldiers who have served in the occupied territories, are the quintessence of organic. Tantrums about foreign sources of funding cannot obscure this. Unless you want to say that foreign funding renders any source of free speech inauthentic and inorganic. In which case you should stand outside Bibi’s house and yell and demand that he dismantle that American casino magnate-funded “newspaper” he operates called the Bibiton, and which is as direct and massive an outside interference in Israeli internal democracy as anything.

            Reply to Comment
          • Firentis

            They are as authentic as a foreign-funded organization producing propaganda for foreign audiences for the express goal of causing harm to their own country can be.

            Producing propaganda for a foreign audience for a fee certainly renders such speech inauthentic and inorganic.

            Reply to Comment
          • JeffB

            @Ben

            FWIW here I do think you have an accurate analogy with the Newspaper. It is important for Israel’s national mission to maintain a close relationship with diaspora Jewry. This relationship is also very dangerous to Israeli democracy. A hit worth taking, unlike the German foreign minister. The Jewish diaspora is probably about 6x as wealthy as Jews of Israel. American Jews have tremendous influence on USA foreign policy, especially with regards to Israel. This is also potentially a very strong negative when it comes to pressure. Left unchecked diaspora money, and diaspora clout could undermine Israeli democracy. There are some obvious strains, and as American Jews become ever more Zionist this is likely to get worse not better. On the other hand as American Jews become increasingly Zionist they have stronger familial ties to Israel which means the foreign aspects are ever decreasing.

            The #1 issue that upsets the diaspora is Israeli discrimination against the Jewish denominations most diaspora Jews belong to. American Jews are united from right to left from orthodox to reform to secular we all hate the Israel Chief Rabbi. We’ve been hammering at that for 70 years to no effect. You still have an orthodox body whom even the orthodox can’t stand having all sorts of state power. So you seem to be holding up well against that our foreign pressure.

            Reply to Comment
    2. JefB

      @Dahlia

      If you get the confederation you hope for and foreign powers start assisting dissident groups (like say what Saudi Arabia is doing in Syria) you OK with that? You are playing with fire here in encouraging groups to bypass the democracy and seek out foreign sponsors to advance their policy goals. The USA which is a much stronger state than Israel is, wasn’t able to simply shrug off that sort of attack against our democracy.

      Sigmar Gabriel is potentially doing his job in trying to find cracks in the Israeli democracy, and exploit them so as to advance German policy interests at the expense of Israeli policy interests. I get that you agree with him regarding his particular goal, so I can understand the surface temptation to root for that outcome. But I’d urge you to think about what you are doing here. A nation where various subgroups have strong extra territorial sponsors and loyalties is not something you should be seeking. Such a people might very find itself unable to even have a meaningful democracy because too many of the vital discussions about resource allocation, foreign policy and social direction are happening extra territorially involving the goals and objectives of those non-citizen sponsors . Israel already has an extra territorial relationship with global Jewry, because the whole society has agreed that extra territorial relationship is arguably the purpose of the state. But I think for the health of Israel, regardless of what the outcome is regarding the Palestinians, that should be a sole exception.

      FWIW I would rethink your attitude about this. The point of the 2 State Solution is to preserve the possibility of a Jewish democracy. This behavior becoming the norm is at least tied with the Palestinians in how threatening it could become. It is one of the reasons I support the right’s crackdown on foreign funded non-profits.

      Reply to Comment
    3. Itshak Gordin Halevy

      Bibi has been very clever. First of all it is a clear message to the foreign diplomats. And then he is further marginalizing these extremist organizations.

      Reply to Comment
    4. robochikd

      972 mag also gets most of its funding from the German Green Party.

      Reply to Comment
        • Firentis

          Not hiding that you are a foreign proxy is indeed praiseworthy.

          Reply to Comment
          • carmen

            I guess you’d know; the GoI has perfected it.

            Reply to Comment
          • Firentis

            No clue what you are talking about.

            Reply to Comment
          • Joshua Fisher

            Like AIPAC, the fifth coloumn of right-wing zionists in the USA?

            Reply to Comment
          • JeffB

            @Joshua

            Just to clarify here. If AIPAC is a fifth column then who is the enemy of the United States the Jews are secretly supporting while pretending to be loyal Americans?

            Reply to Comment
    5. Ben

      Much of the contention about Breaking the Silence on this page is predictable and has been covered elsewhere. Dahlia Scheindlin’s writing on this very page actually dispels a lot of the fog being created if one just actually reads what she says. But folks would do well to visit two other pages that illuminate these issues with exceptional clarity:

      Why do so many Israelis hate Breaking the Silence?
      By Haggai Matar
      https://972mag.com/why-do-so-many-israelis-hate-breaking-the-silence/114763/

      Excerpt from an article by Asher Schecter to follow.

      Reply to Comment
    6. Ben

      … ‘“Why abroad?” was the most persistent question Breaking Silence activists were asked in the past week [in December 2015]. Surely, if what they really want is to better Israeli society and the IDF’s conduct, they should approach the IDF and “change from within.”
      This argument is specious. The IDF, which actually did open some investigations based on Breaking the Silence reports, is notoriously oblivious to internal criticism, as are most armies. Also, the onslaught Breaking the Silence activists have been suffering vindicates soldiers who prefer to remain anonymous and talk with the organization rather than become whistleblowers, lest they suffer reprisals.
      But what makes the “why abroad?” truly absurd is that Israel is a country where practically everything is colored by outside interference.
      Politicians on left and especially on right are increasingly funded by foreign donors. Israel’s biggest newspaper, Israel Hayom, belongs to an American billionaire, Sheldon Adelson. Israel relies on the political support of American and European Jews. Right-wing organizations like Im Tirtzu that attack left-wing NGOs over their foreign funding themselves rely on foreign donations. Left-wing organizations and right-wing organizations alike seek audiences sympathetic to their message abroad.
      Yet the question “why abroad?” that looms over the activity of left-wing NGOs in recent years persists, coloring them as “snitches” and traitors from within.
      Possibly, this is a nagging legacy of the shtetl, where Jewish communities were closed off, and surrounded by hostile populations and oppressive state authorities. Partly, it reflects the growing isolationism of Israel, a country that has never held the outside world in much regard, and currently does not even have a full-time minister of foreign affairs.
      But it also implies that Israel’s “dirty laundry” – its military occupation over 3 million people – is its own to air, or not to air, as if the rest of the world (not to mention Palestinians themselves) has no say over this matter, as if Israel itself (and the survival of the Jewish people) was not made possible by the interference of foreign nations.
      However, the true absurdity of the question “why air the dirty laundry abroad?” is the underlying assumption that if it wasn’t for Breaking the Silence, no one would have known that the occupation of the West Bank isn’t very nice.
      The “laundry”, as it were, was already out. And it reeks.
      Mainly, though, asking “why abroad?” is just terribly antiquated. In the age of Internet and social media, there is no “abroad” anymore when it comes to information: Anything that happens anywhere can instantaneously become viral. The simple image of a Palestinian boy being brutally arrested in the West Bank does more damage than a thousand Breaking the Silence reports can.
      Israel can’t win the fight against knowledge, and right-wing politicians know this. “Why abroad?” is the call of their desperation. Really, it’s all they have.’
      read more: http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-1.693493

      Reply to Comment
      • JeffB

        @Ben

        The IDF … is notoriously oblivious to internal criticism, as are most armies

        Nonsense. We 3 good examples during the Obama administration of the USA army changing policy.

        1) Don’t ask don’t tell (homosexuals could serve only if they kept their sexual identity secret) changed to open service and full support (including army chaplains often being willing to perform homosexual marriages)

        2) The treatment of rape. The military was originally very reluctant to not have commanding officers be point people on rape investigations even after numerous complaints. Most feminists and quite a few evangelics disagreed with this policy. A bipartisan group of senators drafted the Military Justice Improvement Act. During the hearings the Pentagon lied about the statistics regarding the incidence of rape. They got their ass chewed out and since then have been collecting and publishing statistics.

        3) Prosecution of military contractors. The Army was quite reluctant to extend military discipline to private contracting companies (essentially high end American mercenaries used by our military) even when their soldiers were engaging in combat like functions. They were pressued after numerous abuses and the Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act was passed. Blackwater / Xe / Acadami is now working mostly in training and with the CIA.

        And there were even more substantial changes having to do with disposition of forces during the Bush-43 administration.

        Militaries in a democracy are just another government body and subject to the same sort of pressures as government bodies.

        ____

        As for why abroad. They aren’t being quoted by activists abroad. They are deliberately hunting out foreign powers to engage in discussion with. That’s not remotely the same thing. Foreign powers can and will conduct intelligence activities in Israel. Israelis assisting them in those activities border on espionage.

        Reply to Comment
        • Ben

          Again, spoken like someone who has not read +972’s License to Kill Series. I understand you say you have. You have the idea that I should have to prove, by court of criminal law standards, that the IDF would be honestly up to such an investigation, but I don’t. The standard here is the past history of the IDF (not of the US army), journalistic standards, and sheer plausibility. If anything, it is you who has to prove the IDF is up to it. Where’s the evidence? There is in fact massive evidence to the contrary in the License to Kill Series. Not only that the IDF won’t properly investigate itself transparently, but that as a matter of internal strategy it is heavily invested in not investigating itself. The only time the IDF-Civilian Administration-government complex is willing to investigate itself is when it is pressured to do so because Jewish persons have been negatively impacted. Palestinian lives? You can’t be serious, JefB. We did not come to these issues yesterday nor were we born then.

          “border on espionage”

          The affair in which the right wing mole group Ah Khan tried to trick Breaking the Silence activists, during testimony gathering, to collect and publish classified operational material, and failed at this, and in fact were the guilty ones, proves your charge is scurrilous:
          https://972mag.com/the-israeli-media-is-branding-breaking-the-silence-as-traitors/118008/

          The shady characters and spies are on the right not left, JeffB.
          Your case fails utterly.

          Do you actually read +972 Magazine or do you just come here to drop off opinions?

          Reply to Comment
          • JeffB

            @Ben

            Your claim was, “The IDF…is notoriously oblivious to internal criticism, as are most armies.” The American examples prove the opposite. The army isn’t an independent entity it represent the society. The Israeli government is a competent government. It can easily change military policy. Yes I’d want to see substantial evidence that IDF policy was in opposition to Israeli government policy.

            The article about the TV show assumes you know too much about Israeli culture for me to have an opinion. One area where we disagree strongly is you tend to assume anytime on the left says something it is both brilliant and truthful while when someone on the right says something it is false. I don’t have your biases which means i can often read things on +972 and not walk away agreeing.

            I don’t disagree that the IDF has lousy standards of conduct on policing. Where we disagree is that this is a policy. My thinking is there is nothing exception about Israel. All over the world soldiers don’t receive the proper training nor do they have the proper resources to conduct policing. By using an army to conduct policing operations you are going to have abuses. The solution is not use the army for policing, but rather have a real law enforcement agency conduct policing. That doesn’t require some conspiracy. It just requires the IDF having the same flaws as any other military asked to do something a military shouldn’t be doing.

            Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            Absolutely not JeffB. Your supposed American example proves nothing. The writer said “most armies.” Not “all armies.” Your claim is a logical non sequitur.

            The army isn’t an independent entity it represents society”

            You got that right.

            “you tend to assume… ”

            Only a few days ago I took issue with Dahlia Scheindlin. Your claim fails.

            “Where we disagree is that this is a policy.”

            We sure do. It is quite evidently a policy, enacted with elaborate tactics and strategy. To reduce what the IDF deliberately practices, with operational precision, to incompetent policing operations is the height of dishonesty. To construe what the IDF has done for fifty years as something they inadvertently do because heck that’s just how armies are, and they are so bad at policing, is so disingenuous that it requires no further reply except to say that you have not and cannot explain why both the Israeli army and its border police are so very good at efficiently “policing” Palestinian Arab protesters but trip all over themselves in inexplicable, sudden attacks of incompetence while policing Jewish perps.
            When I say you talk as if you’ve never read +972 Magazine I mean it. These pages are written by Israelis from an inside, on the ground perspective. They positively reek of authenticity and veracity on the subject we are discussing. You, American, probably never on the ground in the West Bank in your life, pretend otherwise. But your right wing Israeli compatriots here know better and do not do what you do. Ike or Firentis would not be so brazen as to pretend that IDF practices in the West Bank are, aw shucks, just incompetent policing practices. As if the behavior of the border police is any better than the army’s. As if the IDF is as inexplicably incompetent and actually stupid as you pretend it is.

            Reply to Comment
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