In the Fight over “Breaking the Silence,” Israel’s Left Seeks to Overrule Israel’s Voters

Dec. 24 2015

In response to recent controversy surrounding Breaking the Silence, an Israeli organization dedicated to “exposing” the IDF through unverified accusations of war crimes, the Knesset is considering a series of bills that would prevent the group from receiving millions of dollars in foreign funds. The Israeli left, now joined by some leaders of the American Reform movement, has charged the bills’ sponsors with subverting Israel’s democracy. But, writes Jonathan Tobin, they have it backward:

Even if efforts to cut off funding to Israeli NGO’s are misguided, what’s at stake here isn’t really the pushback of the center-right majority against left-wing dissidents. Rather, it is the way the Israeli left is seeking to overrule the verdict of Israeli democracy as expressed by the voters in the last fifteen years. . . .

[Those on Israel’s far right] aren’t the only ones upset by those who take sides with anti-Zionists and Palestinians bent on destroying the Jewish state. If Breaking the Silence is reviled by most Israelis, it is because they know the basic premise of the group—that the IDF silences dissent and is carrying out atrocities against Arabs on a constant basis—is a flat-out lie. [Furthermore], Breaking the Silence . . . is regularly hosted on American college campuses and in Jewish communities by those claiming to be supporters of Israel. . . . Given their willingness to support such groups, it speaks volumes about how out of touch with the reality of Israel and its struggle against Palestinian terror many American Jews . . . truly are.

Left-wing supporters of Breaking the Silence are not defending democracy so much as expressing frustration with it. Since the collapse of Oslo, . . . an Israeli consensus has held that more territorial withdrawals such as the disastrous retreat from Gaza would be insane. Most Israelis understand that the Palestinian terrorists aren’t stabbing, shooting, and bombing Jews because of their desire for a two-state solution but because they want to eliminate the Jewish state no matter where its borders might be drawn. They know that groups that seek to undermine the IDF or stop it from taking action against terror are doing neither the Arabs nor the Jews any good.

Read more at Commentary

More about: Breaking the Silence, IDF, Israel & Zionism, Israel and the Diaspora, Israeli democracy, Laws of war

When It Comes to Peace with Israel, Many Saudis Have Religious Concerns

Sept. 22 2023

While roughly a third of Saudis are willing to cooperate with the Jewish state in matters of technology and commerce, far fewer are willing to allow Israeli teams to compete within the kingdom—let alone support diplomatic normalization. These are just a few results of a recent, detailed, and professional opinion survey—a rarity in Saudi Arabia—that has much bearing on current negotiations involving Washington, Jerusalem, and Riyadh. David Pollock notes some others:

When asked about possible factors “in considering whether or not Saudi Arabia should establish official relations with Israel,” the Saudi public opts first for an Islamic—rather than a specifically Saudi—agenda: almost half (46 percent) say it would be “important” to obtain “new Israeli guarantees of Muslim rights at al-Aqsa Mosque and al-Haram al-Sharif [i.e., the Temple Mount] in Jerusalem.” Prioritizing this issue is significantly more popular than any other option offered. . . .

This popular focus on religion is in line with responses to other controversial questions in the survey. Exactly the same percentage, for example, feel “strongly” that “our country should cut off all relations with any other country where anybody hurts the Quran.”

By comparison, Palestinian aspirations come in second place in Saudi popular perceptions of a deal with Israel. Thirty-six percent of the Saudi public say it would be “important” to obtain “new steps toward political rights and better economic opportunities for the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.” Far behind these drivers in popular attitudes, surprisingly, are hypothetical American contributions to a Saudi-Israel deal—even though these have reportedly been under heavy discussion at the official level in recent months.

Therefore, based on this analysis of these new survey findings, all three governments involved in a possible trilateral U.S.-Saudi-Israel deal would be well advised to pay at least as much attention to its religious dimension as to its political, security, and economic ones.

Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Islam, Israel-Arab relations, Saudi Arabia, Temple Mount