Breaking the Silence Activity Update for January and February 2011

Breaking the Silence | March 20, 2011 |

Breaking the Silence photo exhibition opens in Hebron, and Stockholm
In the last few weeks, the Breaking the Silence photo exhibition opened at the Tel Rumeida Community Center in the Old City of Hebron as part of events marking the 17th anniversary of the Goldstein Massacre, and at the Army Museum in Stockholm, Sweden. The exhibit, made up of photos taken by soldiers during their military service in Hebron, was first shown in 2004 when 65 soldiers decided to break their silence about their service by “bringing Hebron to Tel Aviv.” The exhibit ultimately led to the founding of BTS.

BTS at the J Street Conference

BTS activist and editor of Occupation of the Territories Oded Na`aman participated in a panel at the J Street annual conference, which took place in the last week of February in Washington, DC. Oded was joined by members of Peace Now and the Sheikh Jarrah Solidarity Movement in the panel, titled “The Revival of the Israeli Left”.

Activity Update for January and February

We recently reviewed our educational activities for the first two months of 2011, and we are proud to report that we have held 65 educational events – which include lectures and tours to Hebron and the South Hebron Hills – reaching 1,375 participants in this period alone.

Education Ministry proposes to sponsor trips to Hebron for all Israeli students

The Minister of Education Gideon Sa`ar recently announced a proposal which would require all Israeli students to visit the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron, seeking to teach students about the Jewish historical significance of the city. As an organization, we have always advocated the importance of visits to Hebron, but not without exposure to the current reality in the city as well, especially the policy of separation which dictates the closures of roads to Palestinian traffic and the shuttering of Palestinian businesses, choking life at the center of what is an otherwise bustling Palestinian city.

Knesset committee asks BTS to help with Israeli PR

Dani Danon, chair of the Immigration and Absorption Committee in the Knesset, and a backer of the bills proposed to investigate funding of Israeli human rights organizations, invited Breaking the Silence to participate in a committee discussion on the threats posed to “Israeli PR” by social networks and user generated content sites such as Facebook and YouTube. “As long as the Occupation is real, it will also be virtually mirrored on the Internet,” writes BTS activist Mikhael Manekin in response.

Update from the Field

Rural communities of South Hebron Hills suffer demolitions and attacks
In the past several months, there have been significant increases in demolitions of Palestinian property, settler attacks on Palestinian residents, and harassment by the IDF in the South Hebron Hills region. Worrying events include: Demolition of 11 water cisterns in the village of Khasem ad Dharej, which does not have water infrastructure, on December 14, 2010 ; demolition of seventeen civilian and public structures, including a school house, in the village of Dkaika on January 12, 2011; assault and arrest of B`Tselem field worker Nasser A-Nawaj’ah, a resident of the village of Susiya, on November 28, 2010 (video footage here); and, most recently, the demolition of five tents and two water cisterns also in Susiya on February 22, 2011.

Tours – Hebron

Hebron is the second largest city in the West Bank and the only one which has an Israeli settlement inside it. The tour explores the results of the principle of separation and the military control in the city.
The next English tour to Hebron will take place on April 11, 2011.

Tours – South Hebron Hills

The South Hebron Hills region is one of the most rural areas in the West Bank, and most of its Palestinian residents are poor, living in temporary structures and subsisting on farming and grazing of flocks. The tour highlights the difficult situation in the region and the complex relationship between Palestinians, settlers, and the IDF which results in, among other things, disposession and the annexation of land.Tours leave from Binyanei Hauma (across from Jerusalem Central Bus Station) at 8:30 and return to Jerusalem at 14:30.
Please bring a hat, snacks, plenty of water and 50 shekels to pay for the bus.

To sign up for a tour, please contact: tours2hebron@gmail.com (Please indicate for which tour you would like to register and tell us a bit about where you come from, where you work/study, and how long you are in the country for.)

Press coverage

New York Review of Books on Occupation of the Territories: “…It’s crucial to see what the occupation really means on the ground—and, apart from actually spending time in the occupied territories, there is no better way to understand this reality than to read the volume of soldiers’ testimonies just published by the Israeli peace group known as Breaking the Silence, a book, in my view, that is one of the most important published on Israel/Palestine in this generation.” – David Shulman, “Israel and Palestine: Breaking the Silence”, 24 February 2011.

Tablet Magazine on Breaking the Silence: “There is no way to maintain an occupation without cruelty and moral squalor. That’s the message of Breaking the Silence: The abuses its members document stem directly from government policy. `On the whole, the military is actually fine,` [Mikhael Manekin] says. `This is not about the settlers. It’s not about the military. It’s about the state.`” – Michelle Goldberg, “Unsettled”, 17 February 2011.

A Soldier`s Testimony

– My main difficulty in Hebron was the settlers, the Jewish community there. The feeling was that we were protecting the Arabs from the Jews. And neither side liked us, but it felt as though the Jews really did whatever they pleased, and no one would care. We were stuck in the middle. I’ll give you an example of something that happened right next to me: I was standing guard duty and one of the outposts summoned a medic on radio. Someone replaced me at the guard post and I ran down, and I see a six-year Palestinian girl, her whole head was an open wound.
– At 44 (a military post next to the Tel Rumeida settlement in Hebron)?
– Yes. The extremely cute child who would regularly visit our position decided that he didn’t like Palestinians walking right under his home, so he took a brick and threw it at her head. Kids do whatever they please there. No one does anything about it. No one cares. Afterwards, his parents only praised him. The parents there encourage their children do behave this way. I had many such cases. 11-12 year old Jewish children beat up Palestinians and their parents come to help them along, set their dogs on them, a thousand and one stories.

AK

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