I cannot believe, in these difficult times for our beloved homeland, Limmud UK gave a voice to the anti-Israel, anti-Jewish, and self-hating “Breaking the Silence (BtS)” NGO and allowed them to present their lies at Limmud UK conference recently in Birmingham. Matam Barmoy, an IDF officer who was fighting Hamas in Gaza up until recently, had to be escorted out of the conference after staging a protest about the screening of a BtS propaganda film.
I served in Lebanon, in Gaza, and the territories as a soldier in a front-line combat unit. I have served for many years in milluim (reserve duty) and am currently on the Gaza front in the “Swords of Iron” war against Hamas. I went through rigorous training and took many courses in the army. I have participated in numerous military operations in all areas of our state and beyond her borders, and I must declare that I never received an “illegal order.” I never took part in any activity that deliberately harmed innocent civilians. Every briefing I participated in before going out on a mission, no matter how small or large, stressed the importance of guarding the values of the IDF. I am extremely proud of my own service and of all those who served with me. I was privileged to be with the best of the best of the people of Israel.
I am proud of our state, of its open democracy. I think that there is a way and space to speak and have an opinion on what happens in the state and in the IDF. The way is not through lies or financial support of foreign countries and organizations and dragging the name of the State of Israel, its army, and its citizens through the mud. There is room to criticize the IDF, but the criticism should be made fairly and honestly. Namely, to provide all known information and sources to the IDF’s investigative bodies, who do their job, honestly and faithfully, of investigating every case that oversteps the boundaries of the commands and spirit of the IDF.
The NGO “Breaking the Silence,” which receives financial support from international organizations, some of whom openly deny Israel’s right to exist, does not work that way. A large part of its claims, in addition to being paid for, are anonymous, with no identifying information, nor are they delivered to the IDF’s investigative bodies, rather transferred directly to international bodies hostile to Israel and the IDF. The organization does not cooperate in investigating its claims, preferring to spread these malicious stories unchecked abroad.
During my IDF service, deliberately not harming innocent civilians was always in the front of my mind. I would rather die myself than deliberately kill innocent civilians. Colonel Richard Kemp, CBE, a preeminent British military expert, who was the Commander of British Forces in Afghanistan, and recently visited my unit on the front lines in Gaza, noted that:
“The Israeli army have taken greater steps than any other army in the history of warfare to minimize the harm to innocent civilians in a combat zone.
The reality of the IDF is the mirror opposite of the image that is projected by the “Breaking the Silence” NGO. Throughout my extensive IDF service both in the regular forces and in reserves, and including the current war against Hamas in Gaza, I can categorically state with a clear conscience that I have never received an illegal order and have always avoided harming civilians.
At a time of almost universal national consensus and the backing and understanding, both in Israel and the Jewish diaspora, of the necessity of the IDF campaign to rid Israel of the Hamas terrorist threat, this was not the time to promote a fringe anti-Zionist and self-hating organization at a Jewish educational conference, which is supposed to promote unity.
The writer is a Jewish educator, author, and licensed tour guide. His latest book is Jewish Journeys: The Second Temple Period to the Bar Kokhba Revolt: 536 BCE-136 CE (Koren Publishers). He is currently serving as a reservist in the IDF as a combat medic in Gaza.