By Lea Speyer
A top Israeli politician blasted the country’s Haaretz newspaper for its recent appointment of a new chief editor to lead its English edition, who has ties to a controversial anti-Israel activist group.
In a Hebrew-language statement published on Facebook, Knesset Member and leader of the centrist Yesh Atid party Yair Lapid said the appointment of Noa Landau comes in part due to her intimate association with the “Breaking the Silence” organization, which actively seeks to delegitimize the Israel Defense Forces.
“Noa Landau, the life partner of Avner Gvaryahu, the most vocal and radical slanderer from Breaking the Silence, was appointed the editor of Haaretz’s English edition,” he wrote.
Lapid accused Haaretz, an outlet that is widely quoted by influential media outlets and international governments — such as the White House, the US Congress and the European Union — of spreading lies about Israel, including that “the majority of Israeli citizens support apartheid and that Israeli soldiers slaughter Palestinian children.”
With Landau’s appointment, “There is reason to assume that it will now get worse,” he wrote.
“This is further proof (as if any was needed) that Breaking the Silence is not interested in influencing Israeli society from within, but prefers to slander us abroad,” Lapid added.
Lapid’s comments quickly prompted criticism from Left-wing Israeli leaders and his political competitors.
Zehava Gal-On, chairwoman of the Knesset’s far-Left Meretz party, said, “In Lapid’s world, Noa Landau has no personality. She is not an experienced editor, with a history working for Israel’s main newspapers, an impressive [record of] journalistic projects in Haaretz and an Oxford education. No, she is no more than an extension of Avner Gvaryahu, who sent her to Haaretz to trash Israel abroad.”
Opposition leader Issac Herzog demanded Lapid apologize, writing on Twitter, “Whoever preaches hate, against journalists and in general…doesn’t deserve the public’s support. Yair was wrong. Yair should apologize.”
Breaking the Silence says it aims to expose what it alleges are atrocities committed by the Israeli army against Palestinians through publishing testimonies from anonymous former IDF soldiers. The group has been a source of widespread controversy in Israel, and has recently come under government investigation for reportedly collecting military intelligence.
Gvaryahu was the focus of controversy in January after he claimed that when he served in the paratroopers his unit indiscriminately fired on Arab neighborhoods in Hebron using “a machine gun, whose operator would play a sort of video game and shoot at innocent people and vehicles.” Members of his own unit have fiercely denied the allegations, accusing him of spreading falsehoods.
In response to Gvaryahu and Breaking the Silence’s claims, right-wing Zionist organizations launched a public campaign seeking to expose the group’s motives. Gvaryahu quickly became one of the most hated men in Israel.
(c) 2016 The Algemeiner Journal