Breaking the Silence Is Indispensable to Israeli Democracy

Instead of giving in to incitement and violence, police must do their duty to protect the organization.

Israeli reservist Ido Even Paz, center, guiding visitors at the "Breaking the Silence" exhibition at the Kulturhaus Helferei in Zurich, June 8, 2015.
Israeli reservist Ido Even Paz, center, guiding visitors at the "Breaking the Silence" exhibition at the Kulturhaus Helferei in Zurich, June 8, 2015.Credit: Reuters

Breaking the Silence is a critical NGO for Israeli society because it insists on revealing the occupation’s injustices and the immorality of Israeli soldiers’ actions in the territories. That’s also why it is seen as a headache by many people, even the police, who should protect the group from those threatening it and trying to harm it.

Last week the Be’er Sheva Magistrate’s Court barred a local pub from holding a Breaking the Silence presentation, after the police had already made it hard for the pub’s owners and the group to hold the event. The police made demands including limiting the event to 40 people, keeping a list of attendees, and hiring two security guards at either the pub’s or the group’s expense.

The group complied but refused to take responsibility for events outside the pub, a demand that was illogical and unreasonable in the first place. In any case, even though talks between the parties were still underway, the police went to court to secure a restraining order.

This week the group planned an event at the Bar Kayma restaurant in Tel Aviv. A day before the event,police showed up and sought assurances that the number of participants would not exceed the limit stipulated on the eatery’s license.

According to the owners, this was the first time police had visited the place in the three and a half years since it opened. The owners also said the police took great interest in the license’s details – noting, for example, that the owners section had not been updated and the courtyard served as a smoking area even though this wasn’t noted on the license.

In the end, the Tel Aviv event took place. But despite the presence of policemen, a right-wing activist struck one of the participants. The police’s actions convey that the group doesn’t deserve a platform because giving it one exposes the venue to institutional harassment.

Police concerns about the safety of people at Breaking the Silence events is understandable given that these events are often accompanied by threats and violence. But instead of fulfilling their role of upholding democracy, first and foremost freedom of expression, the police are trying to stymie the organization rather than the people threatening it. They’re boosting the people who seek to terrorize, silence and intimidate.

Breaking the Silence is indispensable to Israeli democracy. Instead of giving in to the atmosphere of incitement and violence that has been fueled in recent months — by elected officials and media people as well — the police must do their duty and protect the organization, its activists and activities.

Click the alert icon to follow topics:

Comments

SUBSCRIBERS JOIN THE CONVERSATION FASTER

Automatic approval of subscriber comments.

Subscribe today and save 40%

Already signed up? LOG IN

ICYMI

נתניהו עם כיפה שחורה על הראש נשען בשתי ידיו על הכותל

Israel Is Heading for Its Most 'Jewish' Election Ever

An El Al jet sits on the tarmac at John C. Munro International Airport in Hamilton, Thursday, in 2003.

El Al to Stop Flying to Toronto, Warsaw and Brussels

FILE PHOTO: A Star of David hangs from a fence outside the dormant landmark Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh's Squirrel Hill neighborhood in 2021.

American Judaism Is in Decline. That's Great News for American Jews

Crowds at Israel's Ben-Gurion International Airport, in April.

U.S. Official: West Bank Entry for Palestinian Americans Unrelated to Israeli Visa Waivers

Haaretz spoke with several people who said they had fled Ukraine, arrived in Israel,  and were asked to undergo DNA tests in order to establish paternity.

'My Jewish Grandmother Has a Number on Her Arm, Why Does Israel Greet Me This Way?'

People taking part in the annual "March of the Living" to commemorate the Holocaust, between the former death camps of Auschwitz and Birkenau in Oswiecim, Poland, four years ago.

It’s Not Just the Holocaust. Israel Is Failing to Teach the History of the Jews