Four MKs Removed From Knesset Amid Heated Breaking the Silence Debate

Meretz chair Galon calls left-wing activists 'heroes' sparking fierce response from Yesh Atid MK Aliza Lavie: Breaking the Silence brings 'slime to the surface.'

Olivier Fitoussi

Four MKs representing three of Israel's political parties were removed from a plenary Knesset session Monday evening amid fierce arguments surrounding the topic of left-wing NGO Breaking the Silence.

The incident was sparked by comments from Meretz Chair Zahava Galon who addressed public criticism against the organization, expressing support for its members and calling them heroes. 

"A proper society needs to be proud of such soldiers," said Galon while accusing Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon of joining a campaign of "McCarthyism" and "bounty hunting" against Breaking the Silence. 

MK Aliza Lavie (Yesh Atid) was removed from the meeting after responding to Galon, saying that Breaking the Silence acts in an "ugly and perverse" manner.

"Everything needs to be checked," Lavie conceded, but continued, "Bring facts and evidence. Don't fly at the expense of the New Israel Fund or other leftist funders to stages in the world that open their doors because a hot item is arriving from Israel from the mouth of Hebrew speakers who bring the slime to the surface." 

According to Galon however, "A proper Democracy needs to allow for criticism of those in power and those who silence organizations and those who insist on hounding them and prevents criticism of those in power help aid in the de-legitimization of the State of Israel. 

"These people are heroes, they aren't traitors," she continued. "I want to state clearly and firmly ... Meretz stands by Breaking the Silence."

Her comments caused commotion and MKs Lavie, Mirav Ari (Kulanu), Mickey Levi (Yesh Atid) and Nava Boker (Likud) were removed from the meeting.

Galon's controversial remarks came after Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon wrote on Twitter Sunday that Breaking the Silence has "malicious motives" and said authorities "will harshly fight such movements."

Breaking the Silence responded to his tweets Monday, saying that the defense minister "appointed himself minister of silencing and fearmongering as he joined the path of incitement conducted by extremist right-wing organizations in recent months against democracy in Israel and anyone who dares call for an end to the occupation and settlement factory.