Breaking the Silence Defies Right Wing Threats

7 December 2015

Following threats by right-wing activists, the Be’er Sheva Magistrate’s Court issued an order preventing a lecture by NIF grantee Breaking the Silence from taking place at a local bar. The order followed a request from the Be’er Sheva police, who had received information that right-wing figures planned to violently break up the event, and had said that they would be unable to protect the bar and its patrons.

In response, Breaking the Silence issued a statement: “The Be’er Sheva police is giving a prize to right-wing terror instead of carrying out its role of protecting the public order.” Refusing to give in to the threats, the group held two meetings at local residents’ homes on the same evening. The Be’er Sheva police also arrested a 27-year-old man who allegedly threatened the owners of the bar.

Breaking the Silence did not allow the incident to silence them. The event was moved from the bar into private homes where residents of Be’er Sheva heard the testimonies the IDF veterans had to share.

The connection to freedom of speech was captured by prominent Israeli journalist Tomer Persico: “Does it need to be said again that freedom of expression is measured by cases where what’s being said is provocative? Yes, even in the only democracy in the Middle East. It’s also wrong to complain about Breaking the Silence members lecturing abroad when they are being prevented from speaking in their own country.”

Police also put pressure on a Tel Aviv bar, which was due to host a Breaking the Silence event, to cancel under the pretext of the owner’s lax security procedures. Once again, the pressure failed to silence the group and the event went ahead as scheduled.

Photo credit: Breaking the Silence Facebook Page (source)