Saturday, May 31, 2008

Breaking the Silence--Israeli soldiers speak

The May 31 issue of the French daily newspaper Le Monde (still one of the world's great newspapers despite years of internal upheavals and cutbacks) includes an article on the latest report from Breaking the Silence, an organization of present and former Israeli soldiers dedicated to testifying about the brutalities and harassment routinely visited upon Palestinians in the occupied territories by the Israeli military. The new report, which is available on the group's Web site (a slightly different version of the site is here) and can be downloaded as a pdf here, consists of testimonies from soldiers stationed in Hebron between 2005-2007, where a small group of Jewish settlers (about 800 according to the Le Monde story) lives in the midst of this Palestinian city. The report was actually issued several weeks ago, so even Le Monde is late with its story; yet I have not seen anything about it in the mainstream American media (if anyone out there has, I would be happy to be contradicted on this.) According to the organization's press release:

"The booklet contains testimonies from almost all of the units who served in Hebron during the past two years. This proves yet again that the incidents in the booklet – incidents of looting, infiltrating houses for no reason, harsh physical abuse towards Palestinians, and firing at Palestinians contrary to any official IDF rules of engagement – are normative, and can not be described as "exceptional"."

The group's Web site includes a great deal of other material, such as videotaped interviews with soldiers about the things they have done and witnessed. Additional information about the group's activities, including a recent exhibition at Harvard and many additional testimonial videos, can also be found here.

News Update: As many of you no doubt are, I am watching the DNC rules committee meeting--in my case on CSPAN's intenet site. Is anyone else as amazed as I that this committee could be made up of people actively engaged in the Clinton and Obama campaigns, which really should automatically disqualify them from being members? I am sure that my naivete will be put straight by someone who can explain why it has to be this way. Nevertheless, it is still shocking to see Clinton's people on the committee going down the campaign's talking points rather than looking for the kind of compromise on the Florida/Michigan issue that Obama's people are trying to achieve. But Clinton's no-compromise, take no prisoners approach is doomed to fail, although has been successful in hurting the Democrats' chances to keep McCain out of the White House.

More Update: I read it in news reports, but to hear Clinton flak Harold Ickes imply that Clinton should take all her Michigan delegates and Obama take zero is stunning for its sheer audacity of hopelessness.

1 comment:

Anne Gilbert said...

The testimonies inBreaking the Silence are among the saddest I've ever seen. My heart goes out to those Israeli soldiers who have to serve in Hebron, and my heart goes out to the Palestinians who have to endure these daily indignities and worse(some of them, I've read elsewhere, actually come from the Jewish settlers who live there, not the IDF0. And what little I read of the testimonies is absolutely shocking, and very, very disturbing.
Anne G