After the Six Day War a book “Siaḥ Loḥamim” (“Soldiers’ Talk”) appeared, published in English as ‘The Seventh Day’. It contained interviews with some soldiers from a few Kibbutzim, largely conducted by Avraham Shapira and Amos Oz. These interviews exposed some inhuman acts by the army which troubled the interviewees. As the book became well known, read and discussed, various government leaders including Golda Meir, praised it as showing the moral conscience of the soldiers etc. Why? Because this was a way of neutralising its impact and trying to spin the bad news to the advantage of the Zionist state.
(The recent film “Censored Voices” is based on the same interview recordings. I am well aware of the criticisms of the film, but would still recommend it).
That the Breaking the Silence organisation comes under direct attack from many in the Israeli establishment and the public, yet also some gets nuanced praise from some senior military is therefore understandable.
What is not at all acceptable is when other critics of the IDF or Zionism attack these soldiers ‘from the left’. It is absolutely a duty of any solidarity movement to try and break open the unity of the oppressive army and to encourage critical voices from within the military.
I’ve read recent complaints from people objecting to not being allowed to join BTS because they hadn’t served in combat roles! Correct, it’s an organisation for those who have. You want to support the Palestinians? There are dozens of other organisations in Israel where you can use your commendable energies and beliefs – if these people are genuine. Don’t attack soldiers who speak out, we need their stories.
In a militarised, nationalistic society like Israel (and I do know what I am writing about from the inside), it really does take courage to do this. You risk losing your friends and family by taking such a stance, never mind the attacks from those you know are your enemies.