Silence in the time of chaos - The Hindu BusinessLine
At the time, Novak was the executive director of Breaking the Silence, an Israeli anti-occupation group that collects testimonies of Israeli soldiers operating in Palestinian territories. Chai had been active with the group for a year and a half, visiting their office on a weekly basis, and had grown close to several staff members. People were automatically suspicious. It was awful. He went on to become a legislator with the ruling Likud Party.
For Breaking the Silence, the discovery of a network of spies was just the tip of the iceberg. The attacks have included incitement and threats. They have been called liars, traitors, and enemies. For the right, the attacks against Breaking the Silence make sense. Disclosure: I did some freelance translation work for them several years ago. The state has put a heavy price tag on calling for an end to the occupation, and Breaking the Silence has found itself on the front lines of this battle. Those lines have become increasingly clear ahead of an April 9 election that is essentially a referendum on how much further right Israeli society will go.
Breaking the Silence was founded in the summer of , during the Palestinian uprising known as the Second Intifada, by a group of 64 discharged soldiers who had completed their military service in the West Bank. The ex-soldiers had a hard time coming to terms with the things they did and wanted to speak out. The first booklet of testimonies, which debuted along with a photo and video exhibit in Tel Aviv, focused on what the former soldiers did and saw between and in the West Bank city of Hebron. A gray city lined with checkpoints, concrete barricades, and barbed wire, Israeli settlers, protected by hundreds of soldiers, live among , Palestinians in Hebron, making it a flashpoint for Israeli-Palestinian tensions.
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The booklet shed light on this Disneyland of occupation — where Israeli control over and abuse of Palestinian people, space, movement, and property is unmistakable — and brought it into the heart of cosmopolitan Tel Aviv. Smoke and fire caused by explosions from Israeli military operations is seen on the outskirts of Gaza City on Jan. In addition to gathering testimonies and conducting tours in West Bank flashpoints, Breaking the Silence holds educational events and salons. Like other Israeli anti-occupation groups, Breaking the Silence is supported largely by European funds.
While it often gets lumped in with the human rights community because its work exposes the violations of Palestinian human rights, Breaking the Silence puts a mirror up to Israeli society, highlighting the price being paid by Israelis themselves as occupiers. But they are a small organization. Still, the group has created an unprecedented archive of testimonies from individual soldiers and crosschecked data about IDF operations and policies that would otherwise have never seen light.
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The group expected some backlash to the report — like denunciations by politicians and efforts to discredit the testimonies — but the near-daily barrage of attacks, threats, and legal steps against them in the following months caught them off guard. The State Attorney asked a court to order the group to reveal the identities of the soldiers who provide testimonies, which are almost all anonymous.
The State Attorney eventually withdrew the claim, and the court closed the case. A media misinformation campaign targeted the group amid concrete threats against its offices, its staffers, and some of their relatives, and even the owners of venues who hosted their events.
It alleged that the organization was collecting classified military intelligence that could undermine national security, and that it had planted one of its own activists into the IDF in order to collect such information. The latter is a baseless claim considering that every non-Arab Israeli — regardless of politics or affiliation — must enlist in the army.
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The footage showed Breaking the Silence staff members interviewing the infiltrators as they do with everyone who provides a testimony , asking many detailed questions about their military service. The Channel 2 reporter suggested — with no evidence — that these questions were possible grounds for espionage. Within a couple of hours after the report aired, at p.
The investigative security authorities are looking into the matter. He did not provide any evidence but rather highlighted that they receive funding from European governments. The herd-like cacophony of accusations drowned out the fact that some significant figures did come out in defense of the organization, including former IDF Gen.
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Channel 2, despite a demand by the group, has yet to retract the report that set the accusations off. On February 26, Breaking the Silence launched an exhibit of testimonies in Brussels, coinciding with the 25th anniversary of the massacre of 29 Muslim worshippers at the Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron by American-Israeli extremist Baruch Goldstein. T he concerted attacks on Breaking the Silence have taken a toll.
Others still said they experienced panic attacks, though they were quick to note that their ordeal pales in comparison to the lives of Palestinians under occupation. Her work with Breaking the Silence has created rifts in her personal relationships.
go to site While at a wedding in , an officer in the IDF reserves recanted his offer to give her a ride home after learning that she works for Breaking the Silence. Novak, who spoke to me in her first interview since leaving the organization in early after five years as its director, said she is still processing what happened. I was very careful. The Sound inside the Silence invites us to consider sound as an event in itself that enhances our imagination, by extension confirming the importance of what we hear to the way we perceive and understand the world.
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