“Kill anything”: a new soldiers’ report from Breaking the Silence

Break

The shocking behaviour of the Israeli Defense Force(IDF) in last summer’s slaughter in Gaza is getting fairly wide coverage in the United States (“Kill everything”) —except of course for the New York Times, the “paper of record”. Israel’s media is much more forthcoming here

First some background.

The Hebrew words *tohar ha-neshek *—“the purity of arms” is a concept known to every israeli and believed less and less. Coined by the brilliant Zionist ideologue Bert Katznelson in 1939, it was an attempt to distinguish the Palmach and the Haganah from the terrorist groups Irgun and Lehi who loved to toss bombs indiscriminately in market places. The idea is a good one, an attempt at morality in war. And to be honest it owed its life to the more idealistic strains of Zionism.

In 1992 the Israeli defense force wrote it in its official Ethical Code:

The IDF serviceman’s purity of arms calls for self-control in the use of armed force. He will use his arms only for the purpose of achieving his mission, without inflicting unnecessary injury to human life or limb, or dignity or property, of both soldiers and civilians, with special consideration for the defenseless, whether in wartime, during routine security operations, or in times of peace.”

This is widely believed by diaspora Jewry as it desperately wants to believe in Israel’s morality.

Now Israel’s soldiers are kids, no better or worse than 18-22 years olds anywhere in the world. So we need not demonize them. The fact is they are placed in absolutely horrible circumstances as an army of occupation.Plus they have to navigate the extraordinary propaganda of Israel’s school system in the way it deals with the Palestinians and Israel’s history. Add to this the deep strain of racism in Israel today (read Yoram Binur’s My Enemy, My Self).

It was inevitable that a group of soldiers would begin to say “enough”. This group is called Breaking the Silence, combat soldiers whose unpleasant duty was to work in Hebron, the second largest Palestinian city in the West Bank.You have to visit Hebron to taste real ugliness…170,000 Palestinians and 800 rabid members of Gush Enumim, religious fundamentalists.The role of the IDF is to protect the soldiers and show the natives who is boss. Any human with a scintilla of compassion and integrity would be disgusted with such a brutal job. Among the many decent israelis are a group of soldiers who could not stomach humiliating the native Palestinians. In 2004 in Tel Aviv they mounted an exhibition of testimonies and photographs taken by themselves. The results were not pretty. It was basically washing dirty linen in public, linen well known by the Palestinian populace.

Now, you court danger when you tamper with the myth or the hasbara (propaganda) of Israel that its soldiers are near angels. Give Breaking the Silence full credit.They shocked many citizens and then produced a booklet of their eye-witness testimonies.The only reason I have this book is that I hid it in the middle of my suitcase when exiting the country. Others were not so lucky in the “only democracy in the Middle East”. Border guards were snatching these books from all the pilgrims and tossed them in a huge barrel. Now the book is on Amazon. Censorship hardly ever works.

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And now, after the 4th dirty assault on Gaza, especially the last one in the summer of 2014 the truth is out. Many soldiers can no longer lie about their brutal modus operandi. There is no more covering up the fact.The purity of arms is an obscene lie.

Here is a summary of the coverage

On May 6 a new report based on testimonies of Israeli soldiers concludes the massive civilian death toll from last summer’s Israeli assault on Gaza resulted from a policy of indiscriminate fire. The Israeli veterans group Breaking the Silence released testimonies of more than 60 Israeli officers and soldiers which it says illustrate a “broad ethical failure” that “comes from the top of the chain of command.”

As Britain’s Guardian stated:
Despite the insistence of Israeli leaders that it took all necessary precautions to protect civilians, the interviews provide a very different picture. They suggest that an overarching priority was the minimisation of Israeli military casualties even at the risk of Palestinian civilians being harmed.

More tomorrow.

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1 Comment »

  1. 1
    mushafta Says:

    The first casualty of war that everyone knows- the suppression of the truth. Glad to hear that someone is publishing it!
    Great job Ted!


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