Criticism of Israel by soldiers is not defamation

By Harold Zwier
Originally published in The Australian Jewish News (AJN) (19 June 2015)
The Counterpunch articles by Dvir Abramovich (AJN 15/5/2015 & 12/6/2015) about Israeli NGO “Breaking the Silence”, are a quite extraordinary attack on an Israeli soldiers’ organisation, whose support for the Israeli state is really not in question – unless one has a political agenda to set one part of the Jewish / Israeli community against another.
Dr. Abramovich is, of course, perfectly entitled to his political opinions, except that when he speaks, he does so as Chair of the B’nai B’rith Anti-Defamation Commission (ADC).
We therefore have to conclude that the ADC, an organisation whose principal aim is to oppose anti-semitism, racism and human rights violations, excludes allegations of human rights abuses when they are made against the Israeli Defence Forces and sees no irony in attacking other defenders of human rights, such as “Breaking The Silence”.
Dr. Abramovich joins some leaders of the Australian Jewish community who seem unable to distinguish between their responsibility to use their leadership position to represent the whole Jewish community in all its diversity, and their need to push a narrow political agenda.
The ADC may well believe that the entire world, including Israeli soldiers’ organisations, are out to destroy Israel and the Jews, but a more proportionate view of anti-semitism comes from our everyday experiences. I think the ADC needs to do some serious self-reflection and I think other communal leaders would do well to reinforce that clear need.

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