Originally published by the Jerusalem Post.
What do radical Israeli groups have in common with their European funders? Last Thursday, Channel 2 broadcast candid camera footage of Breaking the Silence members gathering classified information on IDF operations. The footage was taken by Ad Kan activists.
Breaking the Silence claims to be an organization dedicated to collecting testimonies from IDF soldiers documenting ill-treatment of Palestinians. Posing as soldiers with information to share, Ad Kan activists were interrogated by Breaking the Silence investigators.
Yet rather than question them about how their units treated Palestinians, Breaking the Silence members asked them about troop movements, weapons platforms, IDF cooperation with foreign militaries. The investigators asked what sort of guns an unmanned combat vehicle carried, who controlled the vehicle and whether it was in operational use.
They wanted to know how the IDF discovers Hamas tunnels. They wanted to know when tanks were used in battles and how.
Breaking the Silence’s intelligence operations didn’t stop with post-operational debriefs.
A Breaking the Silence employee named Frima Bobis is filmed telling Ad Kan activists how when she was still in high school, a Breaking the Silence worker advised her where to serve during her military service.
She followed his advice, served in the civil administration’s office in Nablus, and upon her discharge, was able to give Breaking the Silence useful information.
Breaking the Silence hired her shortly after her return to civilian life.
Julia Novak, Breaking the Silence’s executive director, did not dispute Ad Kan’s findings. In her response to the broadcast she gave three defenses for her group’s activities.
First, she said, Ad Kan’s findings are unworthy of attention because it is a “settler” organization.
Second, she said that her group’s noble goal of “ending the occupation” gives it the right to collect and hold classified information. In other words, just as Ad Kan’s support for Israeli control over Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem makes it illegitimate, so Breaking the Silence’s support for ending “the occupation” renders it immune from criticism.
These claims ring familiar. Similar claims were made in January by her comrades after Channel 2’s investigative magazine Uvda broadcast another Ad Kan, report. That report showed members of Breaking the Silence engaging in what appeared to be various forms of criminal activities with members of Ta’ayush. Those activities included tax evasion and unlawfully interfering with military operations as well as assaulting soldiers.
The January report also showed senior Ta’ayush and B’Tselem operatives Ezra Nawi and Nasser Nawaja apparently plotting to turn a Palestinian interested in selling his land to Jews over to Palestinian security services with the full knowledge that they would torture and murder him.
B’Tselem’s response to the January report was first to dismiss its legitimacy. Uvda, the group insisted, was wrong to broadcast the report because it was filmed by Ad Kan investigators rather than Uvda reporters.
B’Tselem’s claim was particularly rich given that Channel 2 makes liberal use of footage B’Tselem provides its reporters.
Just as Novak doubled down on Breaking the Silence’s spying operations, insisting they were legitimate without explaining why, so B’Tselem justified Nawaja’s actions insisting that handing Palestinian land sellers over to the PA is “the only legitimate path available to Palestinians.”
B’Tselem didn’t explain why Nawaja didn’t just get his donor friends to buy the land. The self-proclaimed human rights group didn’t explain why its senior employee couldn’t accept the human right of Palestinians to sell their land to Jews or the human right of Jews to buy land from a willing Palestinian seller.
B’Tselem didn’t explain why it legitimate to turn over innocents to PA henchmen with the full knowledge that doing so will lead to their torture and murder.
It isn’t that the radical Left’s goal of expelling all Jews and IDF units from Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem is inherently illegitimate. It is arguably just as legitimate as the late Meir Kahane’s goal of expelling all Arabs from Judea and Samaria.
But the fact that your goal is legitimate doesn’t give you the right to break the law. In other words, Breaking the Silence is legitimate. Breaking the law is not.
Ad Kan’s revelations are startling not because they call into question the legitimacy of the radical Left’s goal. They are startling because they show that in advancing that goal, radical leftist groups have a distressing comfort level with criminal activities.
And this brings us to Novak’s third justification for her group’s intelligence operations.
Novak said that Breaking the Silence’s activities are permissible because it always gets the Military Censor’s permission before it publishes its reports. But that merely exacerbates suspicions.
If it isn’t publishing the classified information it gathers, why is it gathering it? Whom is it gathering it for? Which brings us to Europe.
According to NGO Monitor, in 2014, 61 percent of Breaking the Silence’s budget came from European governments.
After Uvda broadcast Ad Kan’s footage of Nawi and Nawaja apparently plotting the murder of an innocent Palestinian in January, British legislators demanded that the Foreign Office justify government funding of B’Tselem.
The same parliamentarians could just as easily have asked why their government funds the Palestinian Authority, which murders innocent Palestinians.
In the event, once the media storm passed, things went back to normal for the British and their radical leftist agents.
Will the same pattern follow today? In the aftermath of the ISIS attacks in Brussels, will Europeans demand to know why European resources are being used to fund espionage against the IDF on the one hand, and Palestinian security services that commit murder and support jihad on the other? The upshot of Ad Kan’s revelations, which indicate widespread criminal activity by EU-funded radical groups, is not that these groups are inherently criminal.
But they do indicate that members of these groups have a cavalier attitude – at best – about respecting the law.
In a similar fashion, Europe’s funding of anti-Israel campaigns like its bankrolling of the PA does not make the EU incompetent to deal with the jihadist forces that are presently assaulting its member nations and citizens. But it is true that there seems to be a direct correlation between hostility to Israel and inability to competently fight jihadists. And this makes sense. If you believe that Israel is the cause of the pathologies of the Islamic world, then you will likely be blind to the nature of the jihadist threat and the danger it poses to your nation.
Following the ISIS strikes in Brussels, both Israeli and American security experts spoke bitterly of the ineptitude of Belgian security services. It is not that the forces themselves are incompetent. Rather, the experts said, their political leadership refuses to allow them to take the actions necessary to protect their country.
The Belgians, like their European brethren generally, refuse to deal with jihad. Rather than acknowledge and deal forthrightly with the phenomenon, they seek every possible excuse to ignore it.
According to senior government officials, the Belgians are among the most vociferous foes of Israel in the EU. Europe’s obsessive castigation of Israel is a central aspect of their jihad avoidance strategy. If Israel is to blame for everything, then they can save themselves by pouring billions of euros on the PA and by funding Israeli anti-Zionist subversives.
This position is of course irrational. In clinging to it, the Europeans have enabled the jihadist forces arrayed against them to gather and grow.
Consider the July 7, 2005, attacks in London. Shortly after they occurred, British investigators discovered that Muhammad Sidique Khan, who led the British al-Qaida cell that carried out the attacks, was connected to the British jihadists who carried out the 2003 suicide bombing at Mike’s Place pub in Tel Aviv, adjacent to the US Embassy.
The Mike’s Place bombers were also connected with the radical Left, having toured Israel and Gaza with an International Solidarity Movement group before carrying out their attack.
Yet, just as British authorities ignored the significance of the participation of British jihadists in the jihad against Israel 13 years ago, and disregarded the significance of the post-7/7 revelations 11 years ago, so in the intervening years, as jihadist forces grew and spread throughout the continent, rather than shed their hostility toward Israel and stop blaming it for the jihadist Islam, the Europeans expanded their onslaught against the Jewish state.
The EU’s subversive activities on the ground massively expanded as did its political and economic war against Israel internationally. The EU’s decision to promote economic boycotts of Israel by labeling Israeli products is just the latest indication that as the threat of jihad grows, the Europeans have doubled down on their campaigns to harm Israel.
Is it possible for them to change course? Last week Foreign Ministry director-general Dore Gold visited South Africa. The anti-Israel boycott movement, like the pernicious campaign to libel the Jewish state “apartheid,” was born in South Africa 15 years ago. At the notorious Durban conference on the eve of the September 11, 2001, jihadist attacks, the international NGO movement voted to criminalize the Jewish state.
Since 1994, reports have surfaced of jihadist groups, including al-Qaida, Hamas and Hezbollah, operating training camps in South Africa. The order for jihadists to carry out the 2013 massacre at Nairobi’s Westgate Mall reportedly came from al-Qaida operatives in South Africa.
Last October, South African President Jacob Zuma hosted Hamas terrorism-master Khaled Mashaal for a four-day visit.
During his stay in South Africa, Gold gently tried to explain to his hosts that their support for jihadists and their hostility for Israel would not protect them from the ravages of jihad. But the danger is still too intangible for them. They couldn’t grasp what he was saying.
Now that Europe is paying the price for its refusal to contend with the threat of jihad, will its leaders wake up to reality?
With ISIS now capable of attacking at will in almost every city in Europe, will they realize that the time has come to stop funding Palestinian jihadists and Israeli subversives? Or is it too late for them to change course?
Will they cling to the bitter end to their anti-Semitic delusion that by feeding the Jewish state to the jihadist tiger, he will not come for them?
For Israel, the path is clear regardless of what Europe decides. Our law enforcement bodies need to investigate and prosecute left-wing criminals with the same seriousness they investigate and prosecute all other criminals, regardless of the support they receive from their European funders. And our government needs to pointedly and consistently explain to the leaders of Europe that their assault on Israel will not convince the jihadists to spare them. So far all the Europeans have for their efforts are massacred civilians and shattered defenses.