The mother of the spokesman for the controversial group Breaking the Silence came to his support after politicians accused him of having lied about abusing a Palestinian during his army service.
“This week ended 7 consecutive years of having our sons serve as IDF soldiers in combat units in Judea and Samaria, during the last war in Gaza, and during much of that time, in Hebron,” Dean Issacharoff’s mother, Laura Kam, wrote in a Facebook post that featured a photo of of her son in uniform.
“I am posting this to urge Government and public officials to immediately stop using incendiary and hateful language against any soldier who risked their lives for years to protect their country,” Kam, the owner of a Jerusalem-based public relations firm, added. “Such words undermine any respectful public discussion and are inciteful.”
This week ended 7 consecutive years of having our sons serve as IDF soldiers in combat units in Judea and Samaria,…
Her post immediately garnered media interest. Dean’s father, Israeli Ambassador to Germany Jeremy Issacharoff, tweeted a link to an article in the Hebrew press about Kam’s post.
It was the first time Jeremy Issacharoff, a former deputy director-general at the Foreign Ministry, publicly interacted regarding the fact that his son works for, and is a prominent representative of, an organization many in the Israeli government consider illegitimate.
אמו של דובר שוברים שתיקה לשרים: "הפסיקו להסית"https://t.co/wRSkcsparB
— Jeremy Issacharoff (@JIssacharoff) November 19, 2017
Breaking the Silence gathers and publishes largely anonymous testimonies by former Israeli combat soldiers about alleged human rights violations against Palestinian civilians. Earlier this year, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that he would not meet with visiting foreign dignitaries who also meet with representatives of the group. In August, that position led Netanyahu to cancel a planned meeting with German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel.
On Thursday, the State Attorney’s Office closed an investigation into Dean Issacharoff’s confessed assault of a Palestinian man, saying it had never taken place. Police had opened the probe against Issacharoff after he claimed at a rally in April that he brutally beat the man while arresting him when he served as an officer in Hebron.
In September, authorities tracked down Hassan Julani, the Palestinian they said Issacharoff had arrested. While Julani confirmed that he was indeed arrested in February 2014, as Issacharoff had told police, the Palestinian insisted that no violence was employed in order to apprehend him.
Responding to the State Attorney’s decision on Thursday, Netanyahu tweeted, “Breaking the Silence lies and slanders our soldiers internationally. Today, in case anyone had any doubt, this fact has received further proof. The truth wins.”
Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, who had approached Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit with a request to probe Issacharoff in June, also welcomed the decision to drop the case.
“It turns out that the Breaking the Silence spokesman is a liar defaming the State of Israel in front of the world,” Shaked said in a statement Thursday. “Kudos to his comrades in his company who refused to remain indifferent and were unwilling to remain silent while he lies. It is good that the truth has come to light about this organization, which is making money at the expense of IDF soldiers and Israeli citizens.”
In a bitter debate on Hadashot News (formerly Channel 2) on Saturday with another Breaking the Silence leader, Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely on Saturday called members of Breaking the Silence “liars” and “traitors,” and demanded that the group apologize to the Israeli people for having willfully misled them for years.
Breaking the Silence, however, stood by Issacharoff, claiming that the wrong Palestinian man had been interrogated by police. The group also told The Times of Israel that it had investigated the claims of its spokesman Issacharoff — as it said it does with every testimony it receives from former soldiers — and found witnesses who corroborated his story.
Issacharoff himself ridiculed the investigation as a farce, said the authorities had spoken to the wrong Palestinian, and urged authorities to conduct a more thorough investigation.
In a video statement posted to social media on Friday, Issacharoff repeated the claim he first made at an April rally — that while serving as an IDF officer in Hebron, he repeatedly kneed a Palestinian in the head while apprehending him during a February 2014 protest.
“But now, in a farce of an investigation, the State Attorney’s Office declared that I’m a liar,” Issacharoff said. “Why do you think [the State Attorney’s Office] did not take the testimony of Ruben, the company commander’s assistant who was standing right next to me while I kneed the Palestinians?”
He then showed footage from a video statement released Thursday by his comrade Ruben Silverstone, which corroborated his story. “Perhaps it is because it did not fit the conclusion that the prosecution knew Ayelet Shaked wanted to receive?”
On Saturday, Issacharoff released a second video in which he claimed that police had interrogated the wrong Palestinian. He said that during his interrogation, he had admitted to beating a Palestinian in order to apprehend him, but that he was never shown a picture of the suspect.
“Had they shown me a photo, I would have told them that this is not their guy,” Issacharoff said.