Former Shin Bet Chief Yuval Diskin Defends Breaking the Silence

In Facebook post, Diskin says it is important to Israeli democracy; Defense Minister Ya’alon sees struggle between majority of Israelis and minority 'trying to drag us into the abyss.'

Ofer Vaknin

The attack on Breaking the Silence and other human rights groups in Israel is “tempestuous, populist and completely unnecessary,” according to former Shin Bet security service chief Yuval Diskin.

In a Facebook post, Diskin wrote that while he opposes the activities of nongovernmental organizations and journalists “who don’t love their country,” after reading nearly every article and report by Breaking the Silence, B’Tselem or the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel, “even if they are aggravating, even if they are often inaccurate and don’t always do their work properly from a professional perspective, their contribution is very important and helps us to maintain the required vigilance about the most sensitive human issues.”

Continuing, Diskin wrote: “We are a country that controls another people in Judea and Samaria and operates different legal systems for Israeli citizens and the Palestinian residents of the area. It’s clear that the situation is very complex. ... It’s good that there are journalists and good that there are NGOs monitoring the activities of the various security agencies operating in the field. ... One doesn’t have to love them, but they are a very important part of every democratic regime and an important part of its strength.”

Meanwhile, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, who earlier this week banned Breaking the Silence from Israel Defense Forces activities, decried on Wednesday what he said was “a struggle between the overwhelming majority of Israeli citizens who seek to live normal lives, and the minority that is trying to drag us into the abyss.”

At a ceremony in which he received an award from the Movement for Quality Government, Ya’alon said, “The citizens of Israel are fighting for the country’s image and its values. This is not a battle between left and right, because in this instance all the sane forces in Israeli society, from all sides of the political map, must be united.”

He said that the threat posed by this issue was more significant than “another truck filled with missiles making its way from Syria to Lebanon. It’s worse than the terror of knives and car-rammings, and it threatens us no less, and possibly even more, than Iran’s nuclear program.”

Regarding the recent criticism by figures in the right of President Reuven Rivlin, Ya’alon said that any incitement against an elected official or the justice system must be condemned. “Whoever undermines the legitimacy of the courts and allows incitement against those sitting on the bench and their decisions harms the rule of law and is liable to bring us to the brink of anarchy,” Ya’alon said.

As for Jewish terrorism, Ya’alon said, “It’s at moments and times like these, when the blood boils and the pain is great, that we must not forget our values. That’s precisely when we are obligated to prevent any harm or attempt to harm innocent people, and to severely punish those who allow themselves to lash out at citizens or members of the security forces. We must curb the impassioned agitators and those who take the law into their own hands in the name of whatever cause, and exercise discretion, maturity, responsibility and patience rather than follow false messiahs who spout rash, empty slogans.”