Over the past month, a strange controversy has been brewing in Israel. Breaking the Silence’s press spokesperson, Dean Issacharoff, has publicly challenged the State prosecutor to charge him with abuse of a Palestinian prisoner while he served in the IDF in Hebron. The far-right government already has BtS and other domestic human rights NGOs in the cross-hairs charging them with being fifth columnists and traitors to the state for their so-called anti-Israel agenda. So the Netanyahu claque didn’t take this challenge lying down.
The State opened an investigation, dredged up a Palestinian who had been assaulted by Israeli forces, but who denied Issacharoff was the culprit. Figures like deputy foreign minister,Tzipi Hotovely then went to town calling Issacharoff and BtW “traitors” and “liars.” Only one small problem: it was the state prosecutor who was the liar. In fact, he’d put up the wrong guy as the ‘victim.’ Issacharoff himself not only found the right victim, who acknowledged he’d been assaulted by him; but he also found a video of the incident (see above).
Naturally, after BtS published its video the State prosecutor announced he’d closed the investigation. Thus the State conveniently absolved itself of any culpability for its crimes against Palestinians.
This is par for the course when it comes to the Israeli hasbara apparatus. It goes into high gear when it feels threatened and/or when it feels it has vulnerable prey within its grasp. The NGO community is the same sort of punching bag for the ultra-nationalist-settler camp that Gaza is: whenever they need to whale on someone to score political points with their base, these are the ‘patsies’ who are the first resort. The reason for this is that political bullies don’t attack people who are as strong as them. They reach for the low-hanging fruit, the ones who have least power and status within Israeli society. Then they knock them around for a few rounds in the ring and raise their right arm in triumph: see, I knocked the bastard out again! Look what a rough tough champ I am!
There’s a further delicious irony in this story: Dean Issacharoff is the son of two of Israel’s most capable hasbara propagandists: Jeremy Issacharoff, the current ambassador to Germany and former deputy ambassador to the U.S. His mother is Laura Kam, the former deputy director of The Israel Project. These are not Israeli dissidents by any stretch of the imagination. They are diehard Likudists who’ve poured out lies on behalf of Israel for years. In fact, it’s rather remarkable that their son harbors the views he does considering his parents’ public personas.
Kam published this post on Facebook begging her erstwhile rightist allies to lay off her son. Here she shows an image of Issacharoff (this picture may be Dean’s brother) as the quintessential Israeli warrior, worthy of respect (in patriotic Israeli terms). She certainly wouldn’t post an image of him as BtS spokesperson. Nor does she defend his human rights work at all. Frankly, this is shameful. But given her conflict between defending her son and protecting her professional interests as a pro-Israel lobbyist, one can somewhat understand the issues facing her.
The Shamai Leibowitz secret transcripts of Israeli diplomatic communications noted that Issacharoff’s father, then deputy ambassador to the U.S., ghostwrote a Boston Herald op-ed attacking Iran. The person credited with authorship was Jeff Robbins, a local attorney active in the American Jewish Committee and other Israel Lobby activities, who fancies himself a “human rights lawyer.” It’s a perfect example of American Jewish leaders willingly being co-opted by the Israel Lobby to shape American public opinion in favor of Israel. And an example of Israel poisoning the well by tainting American Jewish leaders as being tools of Israeli propaganda. I’ve written and tweeted Robbins asking for an explanation of how this happened and he’s refused to answer. Which tells you something.