...There are today about 200 countries in the world. Presumably there are as many regular militaries, not to mention thousands of militias and armed groups which sow death and terror without attracting any cameras. And curiously, the army of Israel is probably the only one in the world to enjoy the privilege of being monitored by an organization whose sole goal is to make the world believe that Israeli soldiers are bullies who violate human rights cheerfully and methodically.
26 June '14..
Three years ago, Motti F., the second-in-command of an Israeli Defense Forces infantry division, was on patrol in the Palestinian village of Hawara when his car was blocked by a traffic jam. He ordered his driver to bypass the other vehicles and saw an agitated crowd, crying and screaming. Approaching, the Israeli officer saw a baby of some five or six months lying on the road unconscious. He ordered the onlookers to move and began reviving the child, who regained consciousness a few minutes later. "The Palestinians hugged and kissed me, it was very emotional," he recalls.
Do you get to see such images on your screen? Do you ever see Israeli soldiers sharing a sandwich with Palestinian children? Helping an old man cross the street? Trying to revive a wounded terrorist they shot? These are not isolated cases, but the standard applied by the IDF 99 percent of the time. What you do get to see or hear is the so-called "evidence" provided by a small group of soldiers committed to highly ideological goals, who created an organization called "Breaking the Silence." They travel around the world to denounce actual or alleged violations of human rights committed by Israeli soldiers. This blight on the image of the IDF is always welcome in the climate of political correctness that prevails in the globalized world.
There are today about 200 countries in the world. Presumably there are as many regular militaries, not to mention thousands of militias and armed groups which sow death and terror without attracting any cameras. And curiously, the army of Israel is probably the only one in the world to enjoy the privilege of being monitored by an organization whose sole goal is to make the world believe that Israeli soldiers are bullies who violate human rights cheerfully and methodically.
"Breaking the Silence" has no sister organization around the world; and if such a thing does exist, its activity is restricted to the country in question, which is why we have never heard of it. Proof that the real purpose of this organization is to besmirch Israel abroad is to be found in the fact that it publishes materials in different languages.
Soldiers who are sick and tired of being designated as war criminals, as was the case in the pure propaganda film "Jenin, Jenin" by Mohammad Bakri, have decided to react. The "Blue and White Human Rights Association" is out to challenge the monopoly of the far left NGOs on the defense of human rights. It began to gather thousands of testimonies of soldiers which portray the IDF in a way never seen in foreign media, or even in some Israeli media. The project is entitled "Moral Voice - Evidence from Soldiers on the Ground." The stories do not attempt to conceal the complex situation in which Israeli soldiers in Judea and Samaria face provocations on a daily basis, but they demonstrate what many already know: Israel's army is probably the most moral in the world and no country is entitled to lecture Israel on this point.
This project does not deny errors of judgment or problematic attitudes, but unlike "Breaking the Silence," it puts into perspective what is the standard and what remains the exception. And when there is a problem, the group's volunteers pass the information to the IDF rather than to foreign media, because their purpose is to right what wrongs there may be in an army engaged in war and not to offer a distorted picture of their army abroad.
Organizations such as Breaking the Silence do not seek to solve problems but to ride the wave of Israeli and international bias against the IDF and increase international pressure on the Israeli government. So do practically all NGOs operating in this sphere.
A different witness account, that's never been reported in any media, casts a different light on the issue and shows how unfairly the image of the IDF has been tarnished. In 2008, fighting raged between Fatah and Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Hamas terrorists killed their Fatah "brothers" without mercy. Aaron D., an IDF officer, says that one day some 200 Fatah members who were being pursued by Hamas militants ran towards the security fence separating Gaza from Israel, asking to enter Israel in order to escape their pursuers. Ironically, they sought protection from the very soldiers they keep accusing of every possible crime.
In fact, they knew they would be safe on the Israeli side even if they also wish the demise of this country. The IDF even set up a mini field hospital on the spot, with military doctors and nurses, to treat those among them who were wounded. The most seriously injured were taken to Israeli hospitals in the region, even as Hamas operatives kept firing mortar shells at them.
Shraga Blum is an independent journalist. He publishes a weekly press review in the "P'tit Hebdo" and political analysis on Israeli-French language sites.