New Law Would Let Soldiers Sue Breaking the Silence

Students attend a talk given by the Israeli foundation, Breaking The Silence, at the Hebrew University in 2015. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

The Ministerial Law Committee on Sunday will discuss a law proposed by MK Yoav Kisch (Likud) that will allow IDF soldiers to sue leftist groups that defame them. The law is aimed specifically at the Breaking the Silence far-left group, which has been involved in numerous “revelations” of IDF soldiers’ behavior in Arab towns in Yehudah and Shomron.

According to the proposal, soldiers will be able to sue the group for defamation of character and slander if they are named or connected to specific incidents pointed out by Breaking the Silence. The law is supported by Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked and Tourism Minister Yariv Levin. According to Kisch, the law will be brought to a Knesset vote on its first reading later in the week after the Committee approves it Sunday. The law will then be sent to committee for further work, and will be brought to the Knesset for its second and third reading only after three months. During that time, Kisch and other MKs will work to increase support for the bill.

“Everything this group does is designed to make Israel look bad,” Kisch said. “Those who act in this way must be made to pay for their behavior.”

Education Minister Naftali Bennett has banned speakers from Breaking the Silence from all schools, even if parents approve such events. A letter sent to parents of students in the Harduf High School district by the Northern District Office of the Education Ministry made clear the new policy.

A report in Yisrael Hayom said that the letter was sent in the wake of a meeting that was set for twelfth grade students at that school several weeks ago, but was broken up by school administrators. The meeting was set to take place as part of a symposium on the Israel-Arab conflict. Parents protested the school’s cancellation of the meeting. The report quoted parents as saying that “to the best of our knowledge, Breaking the Silence is not an illegal organization. It is not the job of the Education Ministry to act as a censor.”