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Why is Matti Friedman so mad at Breaking the Silence?

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

An IDF post inside a Palestinian home (photo: breaking the silence)

An IDF post inside a Palestinian home (Photo: Breaking the Silence)

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 by evidence.

Friedman’s working assumption, embodied in the title of the piece, “The latest Breaking the Silence report is propaganda, not journalism,” is strange, considering that Friedman himself writes, “[t]he activists from Breaking the Silence aren’t journalists.” Indeed, they are not journalists, nor have they ever claimed to be. They are activists. Breaking the Silence is an organization founded by normative, patriotic Israelis, many of them from religious backgrounds, who served in combat units during their mandatory army service. Uncomfortable with acts they committed under orders, they founded the organization after completing their military service, to expose what they had experienced.

Who is the one parroting a narrative?

Friedman bashes the international press for unquestioningly quoting from Breaking the Silence’s report, but then he himself repeats the army’s talking points, giving the impression that he did not really read the testimonies — or, at least, not with much attention. For example, one soldier mentions in passing that his unit entered a certain area of Gaza after the army had dropped leaflets that warned of an imminent attack. According to Friedman, the leaflets are evidence that the army took measures to avoid injuring civilians. But in fact, the soldier giving this testimony is talking about having used heavy, imprecise weaponry in high-density civilian areas. More importantly, we know from the testimonies of Palestinians and NGO workers in Gaza that the leaflets and SMS messages warning of an imminent attack were often of no use to them — because they had nowhere to go, because members of their family were physically incapacitated, or because they had no transportation.

Take Friedman’s former colleague Ibrahim Barzak, AP’s veteran bureau chief in Gaza and a former Nieman Fellow at Harvard University. Barzak fled his family home with his wife and two small children after it was hit by a shell or missile. But then the house they took refuge in, in another part of Gaza, was also hit. And so was his car. After that, even if he had had somewhere to run to, he had no way to get there. This was the case for tens of thousands of Palestinians in Gaza during last summer’s war. There was simply no safe place. And with all the borders sealed, there was no escape.

Furthermore, given that over 500 children were killed and given that, even by conservative Israeli estimates, half the dead were non-combatants, it’s not credible to claim that soldiers adhered to the army’s code of ethics, which calls upon them to “…maintain their humanity even during combat [and] do all in their power to avoid causing harm to [civilian] lives, bodies, dignity and property.”

But surely the ugliest and most dishonest claim in Friedman’s piece is that there is no silence to break:

“The idea that there has been “silence” about Israel’s actions in its conflict with the Palestinians cannot be taken seriously; over the past two decades, probably no international story has been covered more than this one.”

In fact, the Hebrew media rarely reports about Gaza unless there are Israeli soldiers in the territory or rockets coming out of it. Otherwise, the only sound you hear about the Hamas-ruled coastal territory in the Hebrew media is a deafening, roaring silence. Israelis who receive their information from the Hebrew media rarely see reports about the humanitarian crisis there — the hundreds of amputees, the thousands of homeless, the hundreds of thousands of children suffering from debilitating PTSD. As for what actually went on during Operation Protective Edge last summer, most Israelis will not give credence to Palestinian testimonies, the international media or UNRWA reports, so BtS testimonies are in fact the only firsthand, Israeli source that is not the IDF spokesperson — but is from within the IDF.

Friedman casts doubt on the credibility of soldiers who give testimonies because many of them redact their identities. Friedman has lived in Israel long enough to know that there is a huge taboo against criticizing the army, the country’s most sacred institution. Those who speak out are marginalized, even within their own families, and sometimes threatened with physical harm, as Breaking the Silence’s members can attest. Who can blame a soldier for wanting to speak the truth without risking bodily harm or his place in his community?

They didn’t know what they were doing

Friedman also suggests that the soldiers who approached BtS somehow did not know what they were getting into: “I am willing to guess,” he writes, “that in many or most cases the answer is no: these soldiers did not fully understand whom they were talking to, or what they were participating in.” How patronizing.

BtS has been around for over a decade. It has published many testimonies, most of which can be read or viewed on its bilingual website, along with an explanation of its mission and dozens of testimonies. And not all of them are anonymous. According to BtS, in many cases soldiers took the initiative and offered to give testimonies.

It’s a global anti-Israel conspiracy

And, of course, there is the tired old accusation that BtS is colluding with European donors to discredit the Israeli army. Friedman surely knows that all Israeli NGOs, regardless of mandate or political affiliation, are largely funded by money raised abroad from foundations and individuals. There is almost no culture of philanthropy in Israel.

We have to wonder what it is about these testimonies that frightens Friedman so much that he cannot even address their substance. Breaking the Silence is trying to show what military rule over another people for so long does to an army, and what acts are committed when soldiers are given loose rules of engagement. In a democracy, the guiding assumption is that one has the right to criticize government policy. One has the right to dissent. A good citizen (and a good journalist for that matter) should engage with that criticism — not silence it. For all his preaching about journalistic integrity, Friedman appears to be a man with an obvious agenda who disingenuously presents himself as a detached journalist.

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    COMMENTS

    1. Ginger Eis

      Here is just ONE of the answers to your question, Mairav Zonszein:

      US$300,000 for Jewish Head On A Silver Platter

      “Breaking The Silence” was paid hundreds of thousands of US dollars by mortal enemies of Israel for its “report” that actually contains nothing – albeit nothing that can’t be easily shown to be a hoax. “Im Tirtzu reveals that an Arab-Palestinian Foundation based in Ramallah called the Arab Human Rights Fund (AHRF) ordered andfinanced Breaking the Silence’s report. The AHRF provided Breaking the Silence with US$300,000 to write the report, said Im Tirtzu. “Last August, the fund approved emergency funding at the request of partner organizations who approached the fund regarding this issue,”

      http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/194995#.VVe6Jrntmko

      Reply to Comment
      • Ben

        Eis, how’s that again? An Arab human rights fund can’t fund a report about violations of Arab human rights? Says who? Where’s the scandal? You might have avoided inadvertently undermining your whole argument and validating Mairav’s whole argument by selecting an article that did not actually begin with “IDF tattletales….”

        Reply to Comment
        • BigCat

          “Bias”. You got it, partly – that is. At least Bar managed to drive that one through your thick skull during the last round of discussion on the same subject. The AHRF is a branch of the PLO. Heck, why should Hezbollah, HAMAS, the PFLP, Islamic Jihad, etc. not finance their own “investigation” of the IDF? All they need to do is to register an organization and paste “human rights organization” on their letterhead. Where would the “bias” be in that one? Wow, so easy .. that!

          Reply to Comment
    2. Tony Riley

      It would be nice if 972 went against the grain once in a while and asked what Hamas hopes to achieve by starting wars it can never win. With Morsi about to be executed, Hamas may soon have to deal with an Egyptian invasion. With BTS, there is certainly reasonable doubt about its motives.

      Reply to Comment
    3. Bar

      “The slander has come from people who, rather than respond to the report itself…”

      Um, you can’t slander someone who is anonymous.

      Anyway, and more to the point, how is one supposed to respond to the report when all the supposed “soldiers” who supposedly “testified” are nameless and do not include ANY identifying time, location or unit related to the supposed incidents they supposedly described?

      Oh, wait, as a reporter you cannot possibly report in good faith on such claims since all you have to rely on is the word of a foreign and Palestinian-funded NGO that has for years claimed the IDF commits crimes. As evidence, it provides many anonymous reports. When it provides named and videotaped reports, they are typically vanilla and, at best, indicative of a failure of the soldier in question, not of the system.

      What Friedman is ably and correctly pointing out is that reporters from reputable publications that, unlike 972, do not seek to advocate for one side or another but are supposed to be reporting news with a modicum of respect for journalistic practices, are, like the author of this piece, reporting about this report as if it’s factual. Yet, they have no way of verifying anything. They don’t know if a single “testimony” by any soldier is true, actually happened or whether this soldier has a reason to lie.

      Friedman’s complaints are not only legitimate, they’re accurate.

      Oh, and regarding the question of the number of casualties indicating the BTS report has merit, why don’t you take a look at typical civilian/combatant ratios in other conflicts with built up areas and see how Israel’s actions in Gaza – where Hamas makes things even harder than in other places by wearing civilian clothes and operating from civilian centers – compare? I think you’ll find that this argument fails.

      Reply to Comment
    4. Ginger Eis

      The Breaking The Silence “Report” is a severe case of falsification; a hoax

      1. The entire “report” contains NO names:
      2. The entire “report” contains NO dates;
      3. In all instances the day and time of an alleged incident are missing;
      4. It is UNKNOWN whether or not the “witnesses” exist or just made-up;
      5. It is UNKNOWN whether or not the “witnesses” are IDF-soldiers, if they in fact exist;
      6. It is UNKNOWN whether or not the “witnesses” served in Gaze in 2014, if they in fact exist and are IDF-soldiers;
      7. It is UNKNOWN whether or not the “witnesses” witnessed with their own eyes anything that could remotely be construed as a violation of the laws of war, if they in fact exist, are IDF-soldiers and serve in Gaza in 2014;
      8. The “accounts” provided by BTS are all HEAVILY EDITED versions (!) of alleged actual “accounts”, many of which amount to absolute nothing. The editors manipulated what the alleged “witnesses” “testified” to, to suit the purpose of the BTS-editors: smear and demonize IDF-soldiers and the Jewish State!
      9. Beyond that, the report is fatally internally inconsistent on key issues. The alleged “testimonies” do not match the primary claims of BTS, for example the claim that “there were no rules”. In fact the alleged “testimonies” provided a litany of rules and precaution taken by the IDF to minimize civilian casualty to the absolute minimum – most often at the cost calling off IDF-operations and letting terrorist go free only to come back to kill IDF-soldiers!

      The above is just A FEW of the fatal issues with the BTS-report Matti Friedman is concerned about. Said report is comparable to a baby that was born dead. It lacks any form of evidentiary value and as such completely useless – from the legal point of view. Unfortunately, there will be (closet) anti-Semites, etc. who are willing to pay millions of dollars just to smear, demonize and delegitimize the Jewish State and give her a black eye and there will always be Jews who are all too willing to accept that money and sell-out their own and folks like Mairav Zonszein support that! My heart aches.

      Reply to Comment
      • Ben

        Quite simply, you, not Noam or Mairav, are smearing people, Eis. Shades of Herr Stürmer! And the language of mobsters! See my comment below to Bar regarding all these so called “unknowns.” You know, Yehuda Shaul says he knows how angry he makes people and he understands their anger and he’s ok with that. Have you listened to his Nov., 2014 talk in Seattle yet?

        Reply to Comment
    5. Ben

      I think neither Eis nor Bar is coming to grips with the facts laid out by Mairav: these are normative patriotic Israelis, often from religious backgrounds; the public is persistently indifferent or hostile to anything that undermines sanctification of the IDF or mentions suffering on the other side; the public will persecute soldiers who do not redact their names; all NGOs in Israel are normally funded from abroad; etc.

      The truth is that Breaking the Silence reeks of credibility and integrity. That, I believe, is why it’s hated. Not because of some supposed lack of credibility or sinister motives. No credible evidence for this supposed lack of credibility has ever been produced. The critics, moreover, never ask themselves, what if these reports are true? Yehuda Shaul, founder of Breaking the Silence, is a normative patriotic Israeli. As normative as it gets. Normative but rare in his independence, fortitude, self-confidence, presence of mind. None one’s yet touched this video of his talk. I think because you know only too well that he is credible, careful, balanced, truthful and basically un-impugnable. And nobody’s fool:
      https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=JxHE4KrLvj0

      Note to Bar: Give us the putative “reason to lie” soldier after soldier here has? Because ALL the rewards are for staying silent. Also, the one man we know did lie, MK Oren Hazan (an MK!) was detected right away by BtS’s routine vetting and checking process, and BtS did not publish his lies.

      Reply to Comment
      • Bar

        As far as I can tell, we don’t know that a single soldier truly testified in this Gaza report. What is so hard about this that they all need to stay anonymous? Most of the “testimonies” aren’t that serious or terrible. The excuse of the “taboo” would be more convincing if some of the soldiers would identify themselves. However, to suggest that NONE would because of “taboo” or “fear” is simply BS.

        Reply to Comment
        • Ben

          In fact there are hundreds of videos showing soldiers doing just that. Testifying. Their faces are blurred but you and I both know those are real soldiers tellng what they saw and heard with their own eyes and ears. Unless one wants to get simply fantastical and claim, with zero credibility, that Breaking the Silence secretly hired a bunch of actors and screenwriters, hid them in a secret underground warehouse, and staged hundreds of such videotaped interviews, and no one, not one, ever spilled the beans on them and blew the whole shebang wide open. If you want to allege that go ahead but do not expect anyone to take you seriously thereafter. Look, Breaking the Silence does not have to prove to you that these interviews are not fraudulent. Neither do we. Believe whatever you want. The vast majority of independent-minded and unbiased people will not read these reports as the least bit fraudulent–quite the contrary. That’s your problem. Breaking the Silence does not have a problem.

          Reply to Comment
          • BigCat

            1. “The critics, moreover, never ask themselves, what if these reports are true?”

            You are admitting, Brian Ben David T. Dekkers, that you don’t know if “these reports are true”. That’s a huge admission.

            2. “Their faces are blurred but you and I both know those are real soldiers tellng what they saw and heard with their own eyes and ears”.

            No, ONLY YOU “know” that. And in fact you don’t know anything at all. If you dispute that, pls. provide your evidence. Wishfully wanting something to be “fact” does not turn “wishes” into “facts”.

            3. “ Unless one wants to get simply fantastical and claim, with zero credibility, that Breaking the Silence secretly hired a bunch of actors and screenwriters, hid them in a secret underground warehouse, and staged….”

            Even YOU can’t rule out this scenario you yourself created, can you? Woof!

            4. And yet, you proceeded to claim:

            “The truth is that Breaking the Silence reeks of credibility and integrity. That, I believe, is why it’s hated.”

            Ok, Benny, cite examples and the page number where your examples are contained in the BTS-report!

            Let’s have that debate right now and I will show you that your examples are incredible, unfounded and amount to nothing but nothing.

            Let the duel begin….. Benny.

            Reply to Comment
          • Bar

            I’ve watched dozens of these BTS videos. Most of the time, they’re just some soldier confessing something bad that he or she did. Most of the time, whatever they did isn’t that terrible. Most of the time, they don’t even know why they did what they did since they weren’t of a rank to know. It’s meaningless, overdramatic hysterics.

            And none of it applied to the completely anonymous Gaza report for which BTS received a donation of $300,000 – a third to a quarter of their budget – from a Palestinian NGO.

            Reply to Comment
          • BigCat

            Brian Ben David T. Dekkers will soon respond with the same old recycled mumbo jumbo he has been ranting over and over again ad nauseam; there will be no new arguments and no new ideas but most definitely running around the same old endless circle. Wait for it….

            Reply to Comment
    6. Josef

      Accusing domestic NGO’s of having ‘foreign’ influence or funding was a strategy Russia recently used to suppress opposition to Government policies. Russia copied this strategy from African dictator states whom used it throughout the 1970’s and 80’s. If Israel implement McCarthyism it will only encourage domestic extremists within Israel whom are far more dangerous to the State of Israel than Palestinians.

      Reply to Comment
    7. Ginger Eis

      There are a lot of factual errors and logical inaccuracies contained in this article by Mairav Zonszein and Lisa Goldman that one does not even know where to start. Take for example this claim:

      1. “Friedman (…) repeats the army’s talking points, giving the impression that he did not really read the testimonies — or, at least, not with much attention. For example, one soldier mentions in passing that his unit entered a certain area of Gaza after the army had dropped leaflets that warned of an imminent attack. According to Friedman, the leaflets are evidence that the army took measures to avoid injuring civilians. But in fact, the soldier giving this testimony is talking about having used heavy, imprecise weaponry in high-density civilian areas.

      This is a confused and upside-down-logic. It seem that Mairav Zonszein and Lisa Goldman did not really read the testimonies — or, at least, not with much attention.

      2. Here is why:

      a. As Mairav Zonszein and Lisa Goldman acknowledge, the “army had dropped leaflets” on “high density civilian areas” and “warned of imminent attack”;
      b. The army had called the local residents of “high density civilian areas” on THE TELEPHONE to vacate before the attack;
      c. The army had hijacked local radio- and television transmission to the local residents of “high density civilian areas” and broadcasted to the residents to vacate before the attack;
      d. There are ample documented evidence (even from al-Jazeera) that the residents left as asked;

      Given the Above, the claim that “heavy, imprecise weaponry was used in high-density civilian areas” is just empty, meaningless and nonsensical. The IDF did more than is required under International Humanitarian law and the laws of war and was free to employ heavy weaponry in those areas against terrorists who were operating from tunnels deep underground beneath civilian homes and firing rockets, RPGs and mortars from within- or the immediate vicinity of civilian homes!

      3. The IDF did what no other army has even done in the entire history of mankind. The United States Armed Forces don’t even come close in this regard!. Ms. Zonszein and Ms. Goldman failed to understand all of the above. Matti Friedman did and is correct in his analysis.

      Reply to Comment
      • BigCat

        Bruce, I have watched your video and here are the facts:
        a) It proves wrong the claim that the alleged “soldiers” in the bts-report have to remain anonymous, because they fear for their lives, etc. The two soldiers in your video are living as free as the birds in Israel today.
        b) Your video does not deal with the Gaza war in 2014 and has nothing to do with the bts-report.
        c) Your video contains no crimes/violations of law. Here is a transcript of an example of the BIG CRIME Avichai Sharon “testified” to:

        “most of the missions that my unit was given were arrest operations, search operations, taking over cities or towns or villages and sometimes you would continue the same place for a few days searching going from one house to the other searching taking over houses as observation points or arresting people. Our routine was that we never know where we gonna be from one minute to the other….one night we could be in Nablus, the next thing could be in Gaza, the next thing could be in Hebron. And at a certain point you just lose track of where you are, who you are and what you are doing, because you disrupt people’s lives and on a daily basis and for me that was the most …uhm… I think when I look at it today, when I reflect on it today as someone who couldn’t do that during your military service, because you can’t really livi in a denial way of life where you can look at what you are doing, you can’t really reflect on it. but when I reflect on it today, I can say that was the deepest example of corruption.”

        That’s right, Bruce, the crime is “disrupting people’s lives”, while fighting terrorist organizations! This is what you are excited about? Oh dear…! Moving forward, the soldier then begins to make claims about stuff he has no- and could not have personal knowledge of, for example, the killing of a number of Palestinian policemen following the murder of 6-IDF soldiers at a check point and the orders given to the Officers and the Commando Units he himself was not even part of and was not present when the alleged orders were supposedly given, etc. Is that what you are so excited about, Bruce??

        Reply to Comment
      • Ben

        You are so right. There is nothing like the soldiers themselves to cut through a lot of nonsense. Here’s what I saw and heard:

        –Two soldiers who know what they’re talking about what and they’re talking about what really goes on

        –No “anonymity”. Avichai Sharon. Noam Chayut. Yehuda Shaul.

        –What they did and saw done IS that terrible

        –They WERE of a rank and in a position to know and those outranking them told them anyway, and they are not idiots.

        –It is NOT “meaningless, overdramatic hysterics” — neither what these two men say nor what any of the other men recorded say — and I frankly think there is something wrong with someone who says it is

        –The loudest, clearest revelations: (1) It comes from the top, not from ‘bad apples’ and ‘bad apples’ is a crafted subterfuge; and (2) the people back home, the parents, the Israeli public, the American public, DO NOT KNOW what is going on. What is being done in their name.

        –Hence, the unique and indispensable role of Breaking the Silence.

        –History, Israeli history, will in my opinion see these men as patriots. As true heroes. With uncommon strength.

        –These two guys are very likable and admirable. And credible. All Israelis should be proud of them.

        Reply to Comment
        • BigCat

          “–No “anonymity”. Avichai Sharon. Noam Chayut. Yehuda Shaul.”

          Indeed. That shows that soldiers can claim what they want without fear of anyone or anything. That demolishes the claims you made before and the claims made in this article.

          “–What they did and saw done IS that terrible”

          His BIGEST CRIME was “disrupting people’s lives”, while fighting terrorist organizations. If you disagree, PLEAS tell me what you consider the biggest crime he committed. PLEASE.

          You are really pathetic. Go find a job and quit this psychotic fixation on- and obsession with Jews and Israel. Worry about yourself and your own country first. Worry second about the people who are being killed around the world right now before fixating about Jewish affairs that are no way no how any of your business, moron.

          Reply to Comment
      • BigCat

        Bruce, I have watched your video and here are the facts:
        a) It proves wrong the claim that the alleged “soldiers” in the bts-report have to remain anonymous, because they fear for their lives, etc. The two soldiers in your video are living as free as the birds in Israel today.
        b) Your video does not deal with the Gaza war in 2014 and has nothing to do with the bts-report.
        c) Your video contains no crimes/violations of law. Here is a transcript of an example of the BIG CRIME Avichai Sharon “testified” to:

        “most of the missions that my unit was given were arrest operations, search operations, taking over cities or towns or villages and sometimes you would continue the same place for a few days searching going from one house to the other searching taking over houses as observation points or arresting people. Our routine was that we never know where we gonna be from one minute to the other….one night we could be in Nablus, the next thing could be in Gaza, the next thing could be in Hebron. And at a certain point you just lose track of where you are, who you are and what you are doing, because you disrupt people’s lives and on a daily basis and for me that was the most …uhm… I think when I look at it today, when I reflect on it today as someone who couldn’t do that during your military service, because you can’t really livi in a denial way of life where you can look at what you are doing, you can’t really reflect on it. but when I reflect on it today, I can say that was the deepest example of corruption.”

        That’s right, Bruce, the crime is “disrupting people’s lives”, while fighting terrorist organizations! This is what you are excited about? Oh dear…! Moving forward, the soldier then begins to make claims about stuff he has no- and could not have personal knowledge of, and the orders given to the Officers and the Commando Units he himself was not even part of and was not present when the alleged orders were supposedly given, and what someone else told him, etc. Is that what you are so excited about, Bruce?

        Reply to Comment
    8. Françoise Pinteaux-Jones

      ‘he writes, “that in many or most cases the answer is no: these soldiers did not fully understand whom they were talking to”‘ What are we to infer from that? Are we to suppose that, had they known, they would not have been as incriminating, or in other words that soldiers may well have admitted to questionable behaviour when they were confident it would not reflect badly (We know they have: some Facebook entries were edifying to say the least). so it’s all about good Israeli soldiers not letting the cat out of the bag. Not their story but whom they tell it to – interesting.

      Reply to Comment
    9. Ginger Eis

      There are a lot of factual errors and logical inaccuracies contained in this article by Mairav Zonszein and Lisa Goldman that one does not even know where to start. Take for example this claim:

      1. “Friedman (…) repeats the army’s talking points, giving the impression that he did not really read the testimonies — or, at least, not with much attention. For example, one soldier mentions in passing that his unit entered a certain area of Gaza after the army had dropped leaflets that warned of an imminent attack. According to Friedman, the leaflets are evidence that the army took measures to avoid injuring civilians. But in fact, the soldier giving this testimony is talking about having used heavy, imprecise weaponry in high-density civilian areas.

      This is a confused and upside-down-logic. It seem that Mairav Zonszein and Lisa Goldman did not really read the testimonies — or, at least, not with much attention.

      2. Here is why:

      a. As Mairav Zonszein and Lisa Goldman acknowledge, the “army had dropped leaflets” on “high density civilian areas” and “warned of imminent attack”;
      b. The army had called the local residents of “high density civilian areas” on THE TELEPHONE to vacate before the attack;
      c. The army had hijacked local radio- and television transmission to the local residents of “high density civilian areas” and broadcasted to the residents to vacate before the attack;
      d. There are ample documented evidence (even from al-Jazeera) that the residents left as asked;

      Given the Above, the claim that “heavy, imprecise weaponry was used in high-density civilian areas” is just empty, meaningless and nonsensical. The IDF did more than is required under International Humanitarian law and the laws of war and was free to employ heavy weaponry in those areas against terrorists who were operating from tunnels deep underground beneath civilian homes and firing rockets, RPGs and mortars from within- or the immediate vicinity of civilian homes!

      3. The IDF did what no other army has even done in the entire history of mankind. The United States Armed Forces don’t even come close in this regard!. Ms. Zonszein and Ms. Goldman failed to understand all of the above. Matti Friedman did and is correct in his analysis.

      (re-post!. +972mag censure is at it again. ignore if the original miraculously emerge)

      Reply to Comment
    10. Swedish Chef

      Yes, there is going to be friction when there is a military occupation. And your point is? Shouldn’t there be motivation for thr occupied to be part of a negotiated solution? Don’t infantilie them too much, they may surprise you when you quit patronizing them

      Reply to Comment
    11. Dave

      “A journalist turned attack dog”?
      I read Matti’s Piece. His criticism while sharp is insightful and always retains a respectful tone. (He certainly does not call his opponents “dogs”).
      The current piece fails to address much of Matti’s piece and misrepresents some of his points. The interested reader may read the original here:
      http://mosaicmagazine.com/observation/2015/05/the-latest-breaking-the-silence-report-isnt-journalism-its-propaganda/

      “There is almost no culture of philanthropy in Israel.” Really?! I am personally acquainted with many Israeli people and organizations involved in charity.

      I wonder if the moniker “journalist turned attack dog” should be attributed to someone else?

      Reply to Comment
      • Richard Lightbown

        ‘“There is almost no culture of philanthropy in Israel.” Really?!’

        Certainly there are a few gaps in the repertoire. The latest figure for overseas development assistance I’ve seen (2013) shows that Israel gave 0.07% of gross national income. That’s ten per cent of the UN target. And yeah sure, Russia gave less percentage wise (and ONLY Russia gave less than Israel) but heck, even Greece gave 0.13%, and as everybody knows they’re nearly destitute.

        And don’t bore me with the military hospital in Nepal either. That PR stunt is already back home. In country for all of 15 days I seem to recall. Back on standby now for the next PR stunt. You got a humanitarian disaster, Israel is ready and waiting to pose for the cameras and then get the heck out of there (average time about three weeks) before it costs too much.

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    12. Johanan

      Let’s wait for the day the Palestinian’s establish their own ‘Breaking the Silence’… oh wait atrocities against Jews are the foundation of public life in Palestine.

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