Monday, May 23, 2016

Breaking the Silence: Without anonymous sources we're finished - Shlomo Pyotrkovsky

by Shlomo Pyotrkovsky

Radical leftists' lawyer says protection of sources is 'to be or not to be' issue; state attorney seeks transparency on anti-Israel claims.

The Petah Tikva Magistrate's Court on Sunday held a hearing on the state attorney's request, which seeks to obligate the radical leftist group Breaking the Silence to give law authorities the details on testimony that the organization publishes.

Breaking the Silence cites the unconfirmed claims of anonymous sources in accusing the IDF of "war crimes," and spreads its alleged testimony around the world. It recently was documented conducting apparently treasonous activities, as its activists questioned ex-IDF soldiers about the army's deployment and operations along the Gaza border.

The state attorney has demanded to receive the full testimonies cited by the organization, including the names of the alleged witnesses and specific details about the incidents they claim to have witnessed.

The IDF has repeatedly protested that the group trades in hearsay as part of anti-Israel propaganda efforts, and that if they were truly concerned about alleged abuses by soldiers they would hand over the cases to the army for prosecution.

Attorney Michael Sfard, who represents the radical leftist organization, told the court in the hearing that if the order obligating the organization to reveal the details is allowed to pass, that will be the end of the group.

"It's to be or not to be," he emphasized, hinting that the anonymity of its sources is the base of legitimacy for the leftist group.

According to the attorney, since Breaking the Silence began in 2004 its activists have worked under the premise that the testimony and claims they receive are to be given protection of sources, even though the group is not a press agency.

Sfard noted that in the past members of the organization argued for protection of their sources and their claims were accepted.

However, he also admitted that members of the organization were never promised that the testimonies they receive will be granted protection of anonymity.

The lawyer claimed in the hearing that the reason the state attorney is seeking to force Breaking the Silence to reveal its sources now is due to "political" motives stemming from the public outcry in the last half-year - that outcry has focused on the group's apparent treason in questioning IDF sources about the Gaza border, and other exposures of subversive activity meant to undermine the state.

In response, the state attorney's representative denounced the lawyer's claim that her office is a "long arm of the politicians," and termed the claim a "conspiracy theory."

The judge ruled against the Breaking the Silence lawyer, requesting that he desist from his claims that the demand for sources is politics, and instead told him to focus on the substance of the case.

Shlomo Pyotrkovsky


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