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White House Officials meet with Anti-IDF Israeli Leftists

Why did  Obama National Security  and State Department officials meet  with Israeli leftist NGO Breaking the Silence to provide maligned ‘testimonies’ of IDF reservists about allegations of “revenge firing” on Palestinians during last summer’s Operation Protective Edge?  Especially, since testimonies of fellow serving IDF reservists who appeared on IsraelChannel 2 in early May 2015 said the ‘testimonies” were a pack of lies.  Earlier this week Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely called out the Swiss Foreign Ministry for funding a photographic exhibit mounted by Breaking the Silence.  This is not the first time for an Israeli objection to foreign programs funding  programs of  the leftist group.  A prior episode occurred following  the 2009 Operation Cast Lead when groups in The Netherlands, Switzerland and the UK launching similar disinformation efforts maligning IDF self-defense operations against the rocket wars in Gaza perpetrated by Hamas.

Breaking the Silence was formed in 2004 during the Second Intifada.  NGO Monitor reported the following sources of the group’s funds:

2013/4 donors include the European UnionMisereor (Germany), Broederlijk Delen (Belgium), NorwayAECID (Spain), Dan Church Aid (Denmark), ICCO (Netherlands), CCFD (France), Human Rights and International Law Secretariat (joint funding from Sweden, Switzerland, Denmark and the Netherlands), Sigrid Rausing Trust (UK), SIVMO (Netherlands), Rockefeller Brothers FundOpen Society InstituteNew Israel Fund, and others

Based on financial information submitted to the Israeli Registrar of Non-Profits, in accordance with the Israeli NGO transparency law, BtS received 992,901 NIS from foreign governmental bodies in 2014 and 1,271,368 NIS in 2013 (accessed March 15, 2014).

In 2008-2013, the New Israel Fund (NIF) authorized grants worth $560,428 to Breaking the Silence (200820092010201120122013).

Received two grants from the Rockefeller Brothers Fund totaling $145,000 (2012-2015).

Matt Duss, President of the Foundation for Middle East Peace, known for its agitation against Israeli settlement policies in the disputed territories, escorted the Breaking the Silence representatives to both Obama NSC and State Department Human Rights meetings.  This is another instance of Israeli leftists being given entre by the Obama Administration seeking to delegitimize the conduct of IDF front line soldiers during combat in Gaza against the rocket and terror tunnel wars of Hamas.  This has infuriated Ministry of Defense and IDF commanders from the platoon level on up to the Chief of Staff.

Here are excerpts from a Ha’aretz report about yesterday’s Breaking the Silence meetings in Washington:

Senior White House officials met this week with members of the left-wing NGO Breaking the Silence. The meeting, the first of its kind, dealt with testimonies that the organization had collected on alleged human-rights violations by the Israel Defense Forces during last summer’s war in Gaza. The meetings were held a few days after Israel’s Foreign Ministry tried to get a Breaking the Silence exhibition to be held in Switzerland canceled.

Matt Duss, president of the Washington-based Foundation for Middle East Peace, organized the meeting between Breaking the Silence representatives and members of the White House National Security Council.

The meeting did not take place at the White House but at the offices of an American nonprofit in the capital.

A Breaking the Silence representative also held a separate meeting at the State Department with senior officials in its human rights bureau.

Duss told Ha’aretz that during the meetings, Breaking the Silence presented its recent report last summer’s Operation Protective Edge in the Gaza Strip. Obama administration officials reacted with a great deal of interest, Duss said, asking “many questions about the vetting process of the witnesses, the testimonies and the fact-checking.”

According to Duss, the fact that both White House staff and the State Department held meetings with Breaking the Silence shows that the organization has an open door to the administration.

“It is in line with what Obama said recently. These are the shared values between Israel and the United States – wanting to improve our society,” said Duss. This is Washington recognizing “they are young Israeli patriots who are trying to improve their society,” he added.

An Obama Administration official said: “U.S. Government officials met with Breaking the Silence, as we routinely meet with a range of actors from official and non-official international groups, including from civil society.”

The State Department also responded, “Officers from the State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor met with a representative from the Israeli NGO Breaking the Silence. The State Department regularly meets with a broad array of political and civil society organizations from various countries worldwide.”

[…]

Israel’s ambassador to Switzerland, Yigal Caspi, lodged a protest with the Swiss Foreign Ministry over it, and asked that donations and support for a group that deals with the “defamation of Israel” be halted.

Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely, who this week called for action against the Breaking the Silence exhibition, said the organization “is working against Israel from within,” adding, “We will not ignore it when an organization whose whole purpose is to defame IDF soldiers works in the international arena to seriously damage Israel’s image.”

In early May 2015 several soldiers and officers who served in a tank unit appeared on Israeli Channel 2.  The Algemeiner reported their contrasting comments disputing testimonies acquired by Breaking the Silence.  The soldiers spoke on Israel’s Channel 2 to give their side of the story to counter the testimonies compiled by Breaking the Silence.

One soldier called the report “a wicked story” and a “stab in the back.”

Another soldier, Lt. Oren (a pseudonym), was a platoon commander in the 7th Brigade during the previous Operation Cast Lead, which began in late 2008. The Breaking the Silence report claimed that one of the tank commanders in Oren’s platoon carried out a “revenge attack” by targeting civilian houses in Gaza.

Oren refuted the claim, saying “this nonsense about ‘fire on the house that you want for revenge’ is simply a total lie.”

He said “it is very hard for me to believe that one of ours said something like that, definitely not someone who was there.”

Oren, who was personally involved in the operation, told a different story.

He said that any “revenge” incident might have occurred after Armored Core Capt. Dmitri Levitas (26) was killed in battle, but that the Breaking the Silence testimony “simply is not true.”

He said despite the fact that he and his fellow soldiers were severely affected by the death of Levitas, “we maintained combat ethics.”

“While it’s true there was heavy [IDF] fire, this fire was directed at positions from which we were being fired upon, or suspicious locations,” he recalled.

IDF tanks only fired “in accordance with procedure, and after a very strict identification process,” he said.

Oren emphasized that despite “losing a great commander and friend … we still abided by shooting procedure.”

A decade ago I attended a presentation at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut by an IDF Sgt, a refusenik reservist. Anti-Israel and BDS leftist group Jewish Voices for Peace (JVP) sponsored the event at Wesleyan. The IDF reservist had served a term in a military jail for refusing to serve with his unit in the disputed territories during the Second Intifada.  The packed amphitheater lecture hall was filled with attentive students and some faculty listening to the reservist rationale about why he refused to serve because of alleged human rights problems occasioned by Israeli occupation.  When it came time for Q&A I raised my hand, was recognized by the moderator.  I asked the refuseniks IDF Sgt. if he knew anything about the group he was marching with at his next stop in San Francisco. He said, “no”.  I told both he and the audience that ANSWER, the sponsoring group was rabidly anti-Semitic.  I explained that the ADL considered A.N.S.W.E.R one of the leading anti-Israel and Anti-Semitic groups in the US.  A.N.S.W.E.R stands for Act Now to Stop War and Racism.  The ADL also considered  the JVP on the leading anti-Zionist groups in the U.S. The refusenik sheepishly smiled and scurried off in a clutch of admiring students and faculty for refreshments shepherded by his JVP minders.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the New English Review.

Media Manipulation of the Jerusalem Synagogue Murders

In the wake of the horrific news of the slaughter at the Kehillat Yaakov synagogue in Jerusalem, we convened an on-air discussion on 1330WEBY in Pensacola. During the broadcast word came of the fifth death, an Israeli Druze Border Policeman. A sixth victim of their barbarous attack is reported to have fallen into a coma. This was as a result of the Islamikaze attack by two cousins from the Jabel Mukaber section of east Jerusalem, Odei Abed Abu Jamal, 22 and Ghassam Mohammed Abu Jamal, 32, equipped with guns, knives, and meat cleavers. They were members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine allegedly motivated by Jewish threats to the Haram al Sharaf/ Temple Mount. They were shot dead by the two Israeli police at the blood spattered horrific scene inside the synagogue in Har Nof that took the lives of four rabbis, three dual citizen Americans and a Briton. In the aftermath of this heinous attack, sweets and cookies were distributed in Gaza City while Palestinians there celebrated the grisly murders of the rabbis at Kehillat Yaakov synagogue in Jerusalem.

The ‘we” included  WEBY Your Turn host and general manager Mike Bates, this writer  and Rabbi Eric Tokajer of Brit Ahm Synagogue in Pensacola, host of WEBY program, “In the  Beginning.” This summer we did several programs to update the Gulf Coast listener audience of the threats to Israel during the 50 day IDF Operation Defensive Edge.  The rocket and terror tunnel war was launched by Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad in the wake of the murders of three Jewish Yeshiva students by Hamas operatives masquerading as observant Jews.  They were killed while hitchhiking home near Hebron. That series of radio discussions culminated in the launch of a local Federation sponsored Stand for Israel rally in historic Seville square with hundreds of attendees.

Prior to the segment, Bates and I looked at two disquieting videos of President Obama’s remarks regarding the slaughter at Kehillat Yaakov synagogue.  One was produced by CNBC, while the other was the raw AP news video. Conspicuous by its absence in the former was President Obama’s morally equivalent lines in his statement, “Too many Israelis and too many Palestinians have died”.  Breitbart drew attention to Obama’s remarks in the raw AP video, Obama Responds to Jerusalem Synagogue Attack: ‘Too Many Palestinians Have Died’. However, as Rabbi  Tokajer observed during the opening moments of our discussion, CNN had an earlier breaking headline of the grisly synagogue attack, “Two Palestinians shot Dead by Israeli Police “. This while sweets and cookies were being handed out and Palestinians celebrated in Gaza.  I drew attention to the deep links between the Obama White House and major media illustrated by Deputy National Security Advisor and spokesperson, Ben Rhodes, whose brother David heads CBS News. As one aspect of that, I referred to the  editing of reportage by former CBS correspondent Sheryl Atkisson over the Benghazi episode that she chronicled in her  new book, Stonewalled: My Fight for Truth Against the Forces of Obstruction, Intimidation, and Harassment in Obama’s Washington.

Early on in the radio discussion, I drew attention to one of the victims of the synagogue slaughter, Rabbi Moshe Twersky, son of revered Chassidic Rabbi Isadore.  As a native of the Boston area I spoke of the esteem the Twersky rabbinic dynasty was held in, reflected in the naming of the new Harvard Judaic Studies Center after Rabbi Isadore, its founding director. Rabbi Jonathan Hausman of Ahavath Torah Congregation in Stoughton, Massachusetts commented in a Skype IM exchange, that “Moshe’s father was the Talner Rebbe. A giant.”  The Twerskys were an important Rabbinic dynasty that The Forward pointed out in an article melded both Chassidic and Modern Orthodox Judaism.  Rabbi Moshe Twersky’s grandfather on his mother’s side was Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik, a renowned Jewish scholar who founded the Maimonides School from which Rabbi Twersky graduated.

During the segment we discussed the incitement and duplicity in the condemnation by PA President Abbas that was quickly seized upon by the President Obama and the mainstream media.  Abbas, as Bates pointed out was serving in the tenth year of an initial four year term as PA President, had stoked the violence in Jerusalem in the wake of an American born Palestinian youth murdered by three Israeli youths. Bates said that the Jewish perpetrators had been arraigned and doubtless will be prosecuted for their crime.

 Rabbi Tokajer commented that perhaps behind this current wave of violence lay a reality when he pointed out that “according to a recent survey by Near Eastern Consulting 75% of Palestinians do not accept Israel’s right to exist and reject a two state solution.” He noted that Administration had repeatedly accused PM Netanyahu of stoking the Palestinian violence through announcements of new housing construction in Jerusalem. To which Bates replied this criticism was unwarranted as there was a project that set aside nearly half the units for Arabs.

That was exemplified by the contretemps during the October 2014 Netanyahu visit with Obama in the Oval Office. over the announcement of 2,610 units in Givat HaMatos.  White House press spokesman Josh Earnest expressed deep concern with construction of “settlements” in “sensitive” areas of east Jerusalem. Further Earnest said , “This development will only draw condemnation from the international community, (and) distance Israel from even its closest allies”, a clear reference to the Administration. Israel PM Netanyahu at a New York press conference later the same day disputed the comment saying, “Arabs in Jerusalem purchase homes freely in the west of the city and nobody says that’s forbidden. I don’t intend to tell Jews that they can’t buy homes in East Jerusalem.” It was left to Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat angered by the White House attack who issued this statement:

I say this firmly and clearly: building in Jerusalem is not poisonous and harmful – rather, it is essential, important and will continue with full force. I will not freeze construction for anyone in Israel’s capital. Discrimination based on religion, race or gender is illegal in the United States and in any other civilized country.

Our discussion then focused on Abbas and Jordan’s upset at Jewish claims that they are entitled to pray on the temple mount, which is also shared by Muslims as the fourth most revered Mosque in Islam. Turning to the religious conflict over the Temple Mount, Bates, who had his first visit to Israel in March 2014, referred to the sign that Jews were not permitted to pray on the Temple Mount, the Noble Sanctuary/Haram Al Sharaf as Muslims refer to it. He mused that the spot is revered by Jews as well as Christians as the Dome of the Rock is the mythic location of Abraham’s attempted sacrifice of Isaac, the Akeda in Hebrew, but had been aborted by Angels carrying instructions from Ha Shem.

We pointed out the contemporary conflict over Jewish rights to pray on the Temple Mount in the shooting of another American –born Israeli   victim of Palestinian violence, Rabbi Yehuda Glick, head of the Temple Mount Faithful that seeks civil rights for Jews to pray there. Glick was assaulted at the Menachem Begin Heritage Center in late October 2014 and shot three times by a Palestinian Islamic Jihad operative, Mutaz Hijazi, who after fleeing the scene on a motorcycle was tracked down and killed by Israeli Border police.

The continuing denial of Jewish and Christian rights to pray on the Temple Mount under Israeli law can be traced to the key role that the legendary Moshe Dayan played in urging the Knesset to pass legislation ceding control over the Temple Mount to the Waqf or trust appointed by the King of Jordan, hence the role played by King Abdullah in the current contretemps. Meanwhile the Muslim appointees have done everything possible to destroy the heritage of Jewish presence by excavating under the Haram al Sharaf/Temple Mount.

Rabbi Tokajer brought up the issue that the myopic delusion of a peace settlement between Israel and the PA based on the 1949 Armistice Line.  He said that there is no reason for a division of unified Jerusalem given that a Palestinian State already exists, Jordan.

We brought up the matter of the UAE’s designation of a host of terrorist groups that included, Al Qaeda, ISIS, the Muslim Brotherhood and two of its US affiliates, the Council of American Islamic Relations (CAIR) and the Muslim American Society (MAS). The question was brought up about both the UAE and Saudi Arabia having major financiers underwriting these terrorist groups.  Rabbi Tokajer pointed out that Arab society is based on loyalty to family, clan and tribe; hence, you could have subjects of Arab states  who would view their contributions to  these designated terrorist groups as  simply  Zakat  or Charity  in support of following the way of Allah, jihad. Bates asked how Saudi Arabia and the UAE could control that. I responded by saying  perhaps the US Treasury Undersecretary  for Finance and Terrorism might advise them, as  we apparently know  who are these financiers are.

When the question of what Israel might do, we referred to American –Israeli Vic Rosenthal suggestions in his blog, Abu Yehuda.  Rosenthal’s suggestions included the Knesset passing a Basic Law declaring Israel a Jewish State, Annexing Area C that includes Judea and Samaria, leaving Areas B and D on the West Bank as an autonomous entity with 98 % of the Palestinians in the West Bank. However that still left the matter of dealing with the ironic situation of disloyal Arab Muslim Members in Israel’s Knesset engaging in seditious acts seeking to foster the destruction of the Jewish State. Then there is the ISIS wannabe Israel Arab Muslim Sheik Real Salah of the Northern Branch of the Islamic Movement inciting violence against Jewish, Christian and Druze citizens seeking to declare a Caliphate to supplant Israel. The Knesset might adopt legal proceedings to be conducted to deprive citizenship and eject such individuals. That is, if the Israeli High Court doesn’t overturn it.

On the matter of what the new GOP controlled US Congress might do when the 114th session begins on January 3, 2015, we offered some suggestions. Congress might seriously   consider defunding the Palestinian Authority.  It might deny US funding for reconstruction of war torn Gaza. That might raise the question of depopulating Gaza, allowing voluntary transfer elsewhere in the region. Something that Egypt and other Members of the Arab League had heretofore barred.  Now Egypt has effectively created a buffer zone in the Rafah gap destroying housing and smuggling tunnels, isolating the residents of Gaza. Perhaps, if this fantasy occurred Gaza might serve as a safe haven for persecuted Middle East Christians.

Listen to the 1330 WEBY “Your Turn” discussion, Segment 1Segment 2, Segment 3 and Segment 4.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the New English Review.