CU-Monitor© 2018

Breaking the Silence Demonizes Israel at Columbia University Hillel

Alexandra Markus

The Algemeiner

Sun Apr 03 2016

On Thursday night, at Columbia University, Breaking the Silence (BtS) was well-received by a group of about 100 excited college students.

The former soldier who represented BtS was Columbia graduate student Avner Gvaryahu, who is getting a Master’s Degree in Human Rights, and is the controversial organization’s Diaspora Programming Coordinator for the United States.

In his hour-long speech, Gvaryahu accused Israeli MK Oren Hazan of “tricking us into trying to publish classified information,” and claimed that a group of Israelis was placed to “spy on anti-occupation groups.”

“We found four people who sat down and lied to us in their testimonies, but because we do our work well, we caught that and made sure it wouldn’t be published,” he said.

He did not directly counter the claims, substantiated on video, of BtS members trying to obtain from former Israeli soldiers classified information about military operations that had nothing to do with human rights, as reported by The Algemeiner.

Gvaryahu gave what appeared to the untrained ear to be a sobering speech about the activities of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) in the West Bank and Gaza, describing in great detail a slew of egregious acts some of which would seem to amount to war crimes, emphasizing that the goal of BtS is to end the “occupation,” not Israel. He spoke of soldiers ransacking Palestinians’ homes, manhandling elderly people, ignoring those with medical conditions, looking to steal, and other offenses. Nevertheless, he stated that BtS does not support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel, and they feel themselves to be “patriotic Israelis,” even in questioning the purported “morality” of the IDF. (To the often floated suggestion that the IDF is “the most moral army in the world,” Gvaryahu scoffed and said, “I’ve never heard about any ‘moral army Olympics.’”)..

Breaking the Silence Demonizes Israel at Columbia University Hillel