"Our Truth” is grass-roots movement of IDF soldiers who want the world to know what it is really like to defend Israel – as opposed to the “out of context stories told by groups like Breaking the Silence, which do not present a full picture to European listeners,” according to Avihai Shorshan, one of the heads of the group.
Last week, Israeli groups were invited to the European Parliament to discuss the experience of soldiers during Operation Protective Edge last summer. The groups included Breaking the Silence, which has as its agenda reporting the “truth” of how IDF soldiers made innocent Gazans suffer, even if it could have been avoided.
But also testifying was Matan Katzman, and IDF soldier with Our Truth, which seeks to present a more balanced view of the experience of Israeli soldiers in the war.
“War is hell on earth,” Katzman told EU parliamentarians. “I lost family and friends. I felt the fear of war. I know how hard it is for both sides, and still I have seen it with my own eyes how we send text messages, make phone calls, send dummy missiles before we attack. When a home becomes a rocket factory it should be called what it is. When a home becomes a command center it should be called hat it is. To allow it to be called different is giving Hamas legitimacy. No home should be used for making rockets. No neighborhood should be used for battlegrounds, no innocent civilians should be used as human shields.”
The IDF, according to Katzman's testimony, went out of its way to protect Gazan civilians – but that is something an EU parliamentarian or resident would be likely to hear from Breaking the Silence, Shorshan said in an interview on Israel's new Channel 20, which broadcasts programs geared to a religious and traditional audience.
“Dozens of IDF soldiers were killed because of the army's code of ethics,” he told interviewer Jacky Levy on the station's news interview program. “Both Matan and I were I the army too, and we are dismayed at how we, the soldiers, are always seen as being on the wrong side. If Breaking the Silence says that they have a right to speak out because they saw their friends killed in battle, then we have a right too.
It is "impossible to verify" Breaking the Silence's stories of IDF “abuse” of the civilian population, said Shorshan. “But even if they are – and those stories need to be investigated – what bothers us is the concept behind of the organization.
“They go around the world and tell stories to people who do not know what is going on here, presenting a small, incomplete part of the puzzle. Thus, they go to Switzerland and tell people there about the suffering of Gazans – without talking about the need to destroy the Hamas terror tunnels, the fact that even in Tel Aviv they were in bomb shelters for 52 days, etc.” said Shorshan.
It may be that Breaking the Silence is sincere – although Shorshan questions that, given that the group receives copious amounts of EU funding “to go and testify before the EU ("There's something wrong with that picture,” said Shorshan) – but the point is that the group is being unfair to Israel when it does this.
“In the war of microphones, we fall in the Hamas's trap," he said. "This is not the way to present the reality of Israel.”