Breaking the Silence

A few weeks back I was in Molde to talk about Saudi and what life is like for Saudi women. I enjoyed both the talk and the town. But what I found most fascinating is another person who was invited to speak there. His name is Yehuda Shaul. He came as a representative from an organization called Breaking the Silence. What they do at Breaking the Silence is educate people in Tel Aviv and the rest of the world about the horrific human rights violations that the Israeli military commits as it occupies the Palestinian people. The testimonials from veterans are in written and video interview formats. None of it is new to me or to most Arabs. The realities of the creation of the Israeli state on Palestinian land and the inevitable refugees and occupation that it incurred are common knowledge in the Middle East. Something that is unforgettable and undeniable. To bring it closer, it would be as if Germany had succeeded in taking over France, and the French would be excepted to accept it and melt into any of the neighboring European countries as refugees because “all Europeans(i.e. Arabs in our case) are the same.”

Yehuda Shaul

Yehuda Shaul

Initially when I heard Yehuda speak, I had mixed feelings. With my mind I knew he was doing the right thing. But to my heart he remained a soldier who probably stood by as settlers shot at and abused the Palestinians whose land they’ve stolen. His hands were hands that probably killed a few Palestinians. He represented the invader in the Palestinian struggle that my grandfather lost the use of his leg for and that I, like most Arabs, had grown up on and simply know as The Cause. As he talked about Breaking the Silence, it seemed like he was talking about an alternate reality where The Cause was little known and needed awareness raising. Then I remembered the Why do They Hate Us? rhetoric that caught fire after 9/11. I remembered how especially clueless and egotistic the Americans seemed as they went on and on about the Middle East “hating them for their freedom.” When the truth was Americans are hated in the Middle East for their hypocrisy and crudely selective morality. They are hated because they are the number one financial supporter of the violent Israeli occupation. And they are hated because they are the only ones in the UN that could be consistently counted on to veto any attempt of the Palestinians at dignity and a 1967 borders statehood. Yet, here I was listening to an Israeli veteran talk about the occupation and the Palestinians as though he was uncovering a little-known scandal! He talked about how hard it was for him and other soldiers to talk about the atrocities they committed. He talked about the social stigma that people in his organization suffer from. It was enlightening and vaguely familiar. Afterwards I asked him how he thought the Palestinian/ Israeli conflict would end and he said he couldn’t see it ending. Then he pointed out that most milestones in human history were unpredicted and happened just when things seemed hopelessly stagnant. And although it’s been a few weeks since I’ve been back, what he said and Breaking the Silence stayed with me.



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48 responses to “Breaking the Silence

  1. Greg

    Take care of your own country first and maybe stop blowing each other up and the world might listen.

  2. D

    I think the graphic you show is dramatic and says it all. I do not understand how people can see that and not have an understanding why Palestinians are frustrated, angry and feel like they have been violated.

    But I think the most poignant part of your pieces was when you said, “When the truth was Americans are hated in the Middle East for their hypocrisy and crudely selective morality.”

    As a Canadian this is how we often see America as well. We may know many wonderful American people individually but sometimes we look at goes on in the U.S and don’t understand the blatant hypocrisy

    • Michelle Q.

      Very interesting article. I was able to better understand the frustrations of Palestinians but also learn about the organisation “Breaking the Silence”. As a French Canadian woman (Québec), I must say that I agree with D’s commentary and feelings..

    • Admin

      Except the graphic is a pure fabrication of reality and created by propaganda terrorists. It has nothing to do with reality. Israel has never occupied anyone. And that is pure historic fact and truth. Palestinians are not victims of anything. They are terrorists who have forced their way into the country. One can only hope these terrorists will force their way into your country one day and rape and kill your people, and promise to never rest until your entire population is exterminated, and you can listen to lazy persons like yourself who don’t want to research facts, support them in their terrorism. How would you feel then?

      British Prime Minister Winston Churchill noted the Arab influx. Churchill, a veteran of the early years of the British mandate in the Holy Land, noted in 1939 that “far from being persecuted, the Arabs have crowded [illegal mass immigration] into the country and multiplied till their population has increased more than even all world Jewry could lift up the Jewish population.”

      Learn your history before you voice your support to extremist who even raise their children to murder others, and are proud of it.

  3. My non-provocative take:

    Two points that are worth mentioning here, but first, all violations of human rights and dignity are repugnant regardless of perpetrators.

    1—If it were not for the US, Canada would still be colonized glaciers.

    2—The Israeli citizens can do to and say anything about and against their government, including heralding eggs and tomatoes on the faces of their freely elected representatives and the worst that could happen to them is get escorted out of the Knesset.

    They can also put their presidents and prime ministers on trial and in jail for stealing few dimes and for sexual offenses. When their officials retire or resigned, they become lecturers, farmers or researchers.

    How much of this can be allowed or done to Arab officials who never get freely elected or leave office except when they die or get killed?

    What happens to Saudi and other Arab peaceful decedents when they dream or hallucinate of having a conversation with their prophets or meet with reporters and express the need for freedom and social justice in their lands?

    • Liadan

      Why are you taking about Saudis and other other Arabs? They are not Palestinians. Don’t lump all Arabs together. And those rights in Israel? They are only available for Jews, not Arabs.

    • Sekhmet Bast

      Oh yes. And how about the fact that the Israeli judge that put away one of those freely elected representatives (a former president, nonetheless) on sexual offense charges was a Palestinian Arab? I am so tired of the wining about Israel/Palestine. The only Arabs that should have that privilege are the Palestinians themselves. The rest really need to concentrate on cleaning their own houses first and foremost, and dealing with the innumerable abuses that go on in every single Arab country.

    • Michelle Q.

      Untrue, Canada WOULD absolutly NOT be colonized glaciers if it weren’t for the USA. There seems to be much ignorance from the Americans regarding Canada’s history. Non-provocative take can still be taken on a personal (?) level.

      As for the article,the maps on Palestian loss of land since 1946 were very enlightening to me. I understand better the the problems and anger of the Palestinians.

    • Michelle Q.

      Untrue, Canada WOULD absolutly NOT be colonized glaciers if it weren’t for the USA. There seems to be much ignorance from the Americans regarding Canada’s history. Non-provocative take can still be taken on a personal (?) level.

      As for the article,the maps on Palestian loss of land since 1946 were very enlightening to me. I understand better the the problems and anger of the Palestinians.

  4. “I am Sultan Abdul Aziz bin Abdul Rahman alSaud al-Faisal and I conceded and acknowledged a thousand times to Sir Percy Cox, delegate of Great Britain, that I have no objection to giving Palestine to the poor Jews or non-Jews, and I will never ever violate their orders,” read the note signed by King Abdul Aziz.

  5. Breanna

    Do you feel that it is ok to hate Americans for the Palestinian/ Israel conflict ? I hope you do realize how little influence the average American has over these policies or what goes on there . Many Americans have great moral values and truly care about others in foreign countries . I truly enjoy your blog and don’t judge the Saudi people based on some of the obvious injustices dished out by your government . I know you may not feel this way personally, but I think it is very unfair how much Americans are judged . If every individual were judged by the actions of their government, none of us would be respected at all, for a perfect government certainly doesn’t and has never existed .

  6. MizLiz

    While reading the article the thing I noticed is the term Americans and not the American government is used. There is a huge difference. I don’t know of a single person who does not want the Palestinians to have their own homeland. It is their right. We are not a perfect people. But we do know right from wrong. It is the politicians not the average Americans who should receive the wrath.

    Our leaders are a bunch of idiots some of the time. What country would allow a person to go into the legislative branch of government, make laws, retire, and then go to work for the company that they made the laws to benefit. This makes me personally crazy. Then they have a big retirement package from our government plus huge salaries from the companies that they start lobbying for on Capitol Hill.

    What upsets many Americans is the fact that our military industrial complex sells weapons, planes and ships around the world. Plus if you go to any Air Force or Navy base you will see middle eastern pilots being trained as they have been for the past 50 years. Yet when Assad has treated his people as horribly as he has done everyone in your region has looked the other way for years. This I cannot understand.

    Americans can’t change your lives but we sure are cheering on your womens movement 100%, There isn’t a week that goes by that there aren’t stories on the internet and news about your progress. We are all waiting for the driving to begin! That is going to be when the walls come tumbling down.

    I love this website. Keep up the good work!!!

    Miz Liz

    • Breanna Ballman

      Love what you wrote Liz! I feel the same way.

    • zikreyat

      Maybe your friends, think that way Miz Liz, but the majority of Americans support the Israeli government and the US backing them.

      As for Americans “cheering on our women’s movement”, you can just stop right there. See, this is where the hypocrisy of the American government comes in, and you- The American people’s- failure to realize what a snake your government is. The majority of the world hates America (the government, NOT each individual person for all you sensitive people out there), because of it’s violent, war-mongering, hypocritical tendencies. Deal with it, because it’s the truth. Look at what US government did to Iraq and Afghanistan. You came in with your “freedom and democracy” and raped both countries. Besides entering Iraq on total BS claims, it was subsequently balkanized. Hundreds of thousands of CIVILIANS murdered, and no one gives a shit from your side. Chemical weapons dumped on Fallujah. Babies are being born deformed…Women advised not to become pregnant! So how dare your government talked about Bashar’s chemical weapons, when you did the same shit to Iraq. It’s a fact. Same thing happened in Vietnam war…. Agent Orange sprayed on innocent villagers… Not a rare occurrence. Where is the humanity in your government?!

      US government brings Saddam Hussein to power by coup, gives him the green light to invade Iraq, and then ends up hanging him? How does that work?? Same thing in Libya… Same sure Gaddafi was murdered like a dog, and the oil contracts were signed the next day. Then they cover up what really happened at Benghazi consulate attack….

      And that’s not even half. US drones Yemen and Pakistan, killing innocent people and labeling them “collateral”. What a government.

      Take your “cheering” and shove it up your ass, America.

      • zikreyat

        Invade Kuwait, I mean**

      • I don’t know who this was, but it is well said and brilliant. More importantly it is true. And it will take a revolution of those in established government to preven these atrocities from continuing. Syria’s the next domino to fall, and Iran after that. Mission complete. I just worry about the Palestinians that are left behind the wall in the West Bank. I want to know what kind of trick they have up their sleeve to getting their land. So far, the techniques are making their lives miserable as possible so that they just give up; they destroy their olive trees, burn their fields, and kill their livestock. This kind of confrontation and slow genocide can only result in one thing. Israelis taking over the remaining lands of the West Bank.

  7. MizLiz

    Zikreyat, I agree with many of the things you stated. I was very much against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. My belief is that we are not the police of the world, Nor should we expect other cultures to embrace our ideas of freedom and democracy. If Afghanistan chooses to live in the 14th century is does not impact my daily life one bit so why should thousands of young Americans die trying to achieve an unrealistic goal which you so eloquently stated. Chemical weapons should be outlawed by every country on earth, Saddam used them on the Kurds. I won’t run down a list of insane leaders who don’t care about their people. You understand where I am going.

    I also don’t think that weapons, planes and ships should be sold from our country to foreign governments. All of these despots, dictators and leaders who do not subscribe to human rights for all of their citizens should not be able to write a check and get these items to subjugate those in their countries.

    Speaking of Agent Orange. You may want to check you statistics. More US military developed cancer as a result of the spraying as it was used as a defoliant. Matter of fact, General Westmoreland’s (commanding general of VietNam) son, was one of the most visible cases. Only after 20+ years did the gov’t admit that AO caused cancer. None of the veterans could be treated for cancer and birth defects before that.

    Zikreyat, the interesting thing about Americans is we will tell you everything that is screwed up about our government. But we are a kind and generous group of people who will always be there to help if we think the under dog is being pushed around.

    No one can tell me to stop cheering the Saudi Women on in their quest for driving etc. I was in the early womens movement here in my country and saw changes that I would have never believed would happen. So at 66 years old I can do and say what I want.

    Enjoying a cup of tea you would be surprised how much we agree on things.


    • Miz Liz is making her case for how her government cares as little about her as others, and she’s right. Totalitarianism has come to America. Americans couldn’t even hold their gov’t accountable for the events of 9/11, so of course anything subsequent to that would be impossible, too. No accountability to the truth.

      • Breanna

        What I said is not sensitive . It is the truth . Many people hate “Americans” not our government. When someone says ” Americans were hated ” we have every reason to pose that question .

        Why are you so upset that American women want to cheer you on. Why can’t women from all parts of the world wish one another well, regardless of the actions of our governments. I understand that you are angry, but our country isn’t all bad .

      • Isis

        Totalitarianism has come to America because most of the country isn’t paranoid enough to buy into 9/11 conspiracies?

      • MizLiz

        Maxwell, if you read again I didn’t make any mention of 9/11. However, if a foreign country sits on oil reserves the US gov’t conveniently overlooks all human rights issues by that country’s leadership. The only way that will change is if the U S develops alternative fuel sources. We all know that cannot be done overnight. So oil rich nations can keep writing checks and buy all the weapons they want regardless of how they stand on human rights.

      • Nicolas

        What is up with the down votes? We, Americans, have freedom only because of our founding fathers’ U.S. Constitutions. We are protected by the laws, and not necessarily by our government. Our people enforce the laws, and there are some good people in our government.

        Now… 9/11 done by terrorists? Sure if you mean our government. These who pulled 9/11 are the same ones who brought up Patriot Act, and other bills such as SOPA/PIPA (anti-priacy or internet enforcement), and “anti-gun” bill.

        The purpose of Patriot Act and other bills are to slowly bend the U.S. Constitutions and once that strong foundation of our freedom is shattered then we lose our freedom and rights.

        Patriot Act- authorized government to invade our privacy if it’s “necessary”, think about when it comes to elections, we lose the ability to make a honest elections system.

        SOPA/PIPA bills- We people own internet but with SOPA, they take that away.

        “Anti-gun” bill- to take away our right to bear arms. We need to bear arms in case our government turned into some kind of fascism or totalitarianism. (some of mass shootings might be rigged by our government to promote no gun bill)

        It is frustrating how we people keep on objecting on what US government wants to do. I believe the world would be better off with a makeover of our congress. Right now we are corrupted police of the world. We need to remove that image. Let China be a police of the world until we fix our corruption in our government.

  8. Jerry M

    Whatever justice may be, the supporters of Palestine have followed a selfish and stupid strategy. Just think of Syria and Lebanon. They have empowered Hezbollah to keep acting long after Israel left. Or Hamas, they seem to encourage those idiotic rockets. So, Israel keeps creating what amount to bantustans for Palestinians. One can blame the Americans but lets not let the Arabs off the hook, they keep feeding the fire.

  9. Jerry M

    What is called Israel is a very small country. Roughly the size of New Jersey. So, it isn’t as if German took over France, it is as if Germany took over an area a bit smaller than Alsace-Lorraine. Those kind of things have happened in Europe so many times in the last 100 years one might forgive oneself for not taking notice. That doesn’t make it right but it is a much smaller issue than taking over what is a large country. There have been a lot of land grabs in the middle east. The Saud family took over a portion of Arabia and put their name on it. What is called Lebanon could just have well been a part of Syria.

    For some reason the backers of an independent Palestine have never felt that they needed to get any support from the US. Perhaps they are looking for perfect justice but it is poor politics.

    Life and history is not fair. Part of my family came to the US from Ireland in the 19th century (read about the famine in Ireland if you are ignorant of issue). Part came from Russia when it controlled Poland and forbade books being printed in Polish. Oh, well those in the US have move on.

    I think the Palestinians deserve better, not just from the Israelis and the US, but from the Arab and non-Arab backers.

  10. Sekhmet Bast

    Perhaps some day the governments of Arab countries will open up their archives in regards to their entanglements in the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. So far, the only country that has (partially) done so is Israel. The reason for this is because access to those archives would clearly show the wisdom of the old ‘with friends like these’ adage. Middle Eastern governments have consistently made and continue to make what would be a small, regional, economic conflict worse – and that is without even acknowledging the abysmal legal situation to which most of these countries have relegated the Palestinians who ended up within their borders. While Israel absorbed hundreds of thousands of refugees from the surrounding countries, actual real Palestinians – and not some abstract ideological notions – are treated like dirt and denied legal rights by most Arab countries.

    • Admin

      And why are they treated like dirt and denied even access to other Arab countries? Because their governments know that Palestinian people never existed and is a terrorist creation by the early Hamas. They don’t want these people to return to Egypt and Saudi Arabia, where they originated from because they think they will continue to commit terror.

      British Prime Minister Winston Churchill noted the Arab influx. Churchill, a veteran of the early years of the British mandate in the Holy Land, noted in 1939 that “far from being persecuted, the Arabs have crowded into the country and multiplied till their population has increased more than even all world Jewry could lift up the Jewish population.”

      (Video) Hamas Official: Who are ‘Palestinians’? Palestinians don’t come from Palestine. Half are Arabs, half Egyptians:

  11. Alexis B

    I am grateful for that Israeli veteran changing his course and speaking out. We all have choices in our lives. We can choose to change what is, or we can live in a past of wrongs. As an American I am disgusted with some of the things that Americans have done in the name of morality and public security, but in the same breath I think it should be said that all of our nationalities have had failings and shortcomings. As long as blame for past wrongdoings is being thrown at people, we cannot move forward.

    There is a saying in the the States pertaining to conflict resolution: “Throw in everything but the kitchen sink.” Well, I can only walk the steps that I know and as a Christian I try to walk in those that Christ left. I try to live my life simply. I have smiles for my friends and foe. I teach art to inner city children. I support protests against a nuclear parts facility. When a family is in need I offer them what I have. When someone has done wrong to me I offer them my kindness and forgiveness, and I move forward without speaking ill of them, but rather find the things that I can agree with.

    I know as Muslims, you too follow footsteps that lead to love and peace.

    As an American I have many freedoms at home. I feel very blessed, but don’t have any desire to push what I believe on anyone else. I’d rather walk with you than against you. Friendships are so healing and I hope that this is our future.

  12. Skybert

    I am Norwegian, and read your blog from time to time. It’s very enlightening to learn, first hand, about a Saudi woman’s perspective on things. Hope you had a nice stay in Norway, I hope to visit Saudi Arabia some time 🙂

  13. Shawn

    The 40s were a different time as well and the concept of taking land was not uncommon (Stalin took part of Poland and Germany for war booty as well) — we don’t really practice this in the 21st century thank goodness. It also doesn’t really help to refer to a bygone age to settle disputes nearly 80 years later.

    The only solution is a negotiated settlement that preserves the human rights of both people who occupy this area. Isrealis need to start treating the Arabs with dignity and respect though — it’s outrageous what they are doing. It’s also outrageous to hear such xenophobic talk about Jews coming from Arabs regardless of the actions of the Israeli government. The whole situation is far too tribal and violent. I really hate watching human beings act this way.

    I live in the U.S. (yes, I know our government is mad), but the average person is quite nice. I have Arabs (the ladies wear hajabs) in my neighborhood — the Muslim kids play with the Christian kids really well, and I have two jewish families here as well. I am an atheist. We all get along quite well. What’s the problem?

  14. lei y avalie todos los comentaros ,casi todos coinciden con el derecho
    de Palestina a sus tierras . Casi todos estamos de acuerdo q no se sigue
    nombres ( hombres) sino q se sigue IDEAS a pesar q seamos de diferentes credos , musulmanes o cristianos . Soy atea. y en la universidad de Cuba conoci y tuve MUCHOS AMIGOS ARABES y quiero
    ser amiga de todos incluyendo americanos, afganos ,vietnamitas africanos ,bolivianos…. lo q vale son las actitudes !!! saludos a todos en este blog.

  15. Admin

    Thanks for the fake and photoshopped Palestinian map, which is a complete fabricated lie created by muslims. It’s actually turned in reverse, which in reality shows the muslim occupation of Israel and how muslims force their way more and more into their country.

    Maybe you should spend some time actually educating yourself on who is occupying whom in Israel. As anyone in a free society knows, who is not brought up on Arab propaganda and is able to do their own research, the Palestinian people only came into being after 1930. There existed no Palestinians anywhere near Israel or on Transjordan prior to that. The British government records have plenty of evidence and population statistics plus witness accounts from government officials to confirm that Palestinians are illegal immigrants who never originated anywhere from even nearby,

    They are a creation of the Ottoman remnant Grand mufti al-Husseini, and flooded illegally into Israel from Egypt and Saudi Arabia to commit terrorism. Those who came from Egypt and forced their way in, settled in Gaza. And the illegal muslims who forced their presence on the country from Saudi Arabia settled in the West Bank. There is no other reasons for them being there than to murder people. And if they want to live in their own country, well, they should return where they originally came from.

    Cannot imagine anyone in Saudi Arabia would take pity and support illegals who would flood YOUR country with hundreds of thousands of illegals from, say France, who enter the country merely to kill Saudi’s and then lie and distort again and again that they are the true occupants of Saudi Arabia and all Arabs stole their land from them. So they have the right to kill more Arabs. (Although that would be an accurate assessment by Christians, jews and Hindus who had their land stolen and occupied by extreme violence by Arabs who took their land).

    If the rest of the world emulated the endless muslim propaganda, lies and excuses given to persecute and kill other people – there would be not even one of you left.

  16. Admin

    Muslim Cleric: There Was NEVER A “Palestinian People”:

    Now stop terrorising other people, other communities around the world, under the guise of that nasty religion and leave people in peace.

  17. Ron

    You may want to watch this wonderful utube song about women driving in KSA:

  18. you stupid arabs stop killing one another !

  19. you stupid arabs stooop killing one another ! idiots .

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