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March 28, 2016 6:28 am

Why Is Columbia’s Hillel Siding With an Anti-Israel NGO?

avatar by Ronn Torossian

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The Columbia University campus in New York City. Photo: Columbia.

The Columbia University campus in New York City. Photo: Columbia.

Prominent Jewish scholars and educators have jointly condemned Breaking the Silence (BtS), the Israeli NGO whose true mission appears to be harming the IDF. BtS collects and shares IDF testimonies that spread false allegations of human rights violations, encourage war crimes prosecutions, and vilify the Jewish state.

Furthermore, Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon recently accused the extremist organization of committing “treason” by working to obtain classified information to disseminate as part of their anti-Israel crusade.

Against this backdrop, one wonders how leaders of BtS can be scheduled to speak at the Kraft Center Hillel House of Columbia University on March 31? This is shameful.

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Alan Dershowitz, a former Harvard Law School professor, recently appeared on the Channel 1 Israeli television show Ro’im Olam (Seeing the Worldto discuss BtS. In the interview, Dershowitz described BtS as “acting incredibly irresponsibly by refusing to name sources, by refusing to be specific, by making all kinds of over-general and false allegations… What they’re saying is a combination of out of context allegations, gossip, reported mis-statements, and yet they’re widely believed… The criticisms they’re making could be made of any army in the world.”

Natan Sharansky, the former Knesset member who spent nine years in Russian prisons for his activism as a refusnik in the Soviet Union, took personal offense to BtS’ comparison of their own plight to that of the Soviet dissidents. In an op-ed published in Haaretz, he writes that BtS has bypassed the Israeli judiciary system, instead engaging in an overseas campaign aimed at changing public opinion without any attempt to legitimately file complaints. Sharansky condemns the efforts of BtS, stating that anonymity indicates cowardice, and that Soviet Jews publicly declared their dissension to Soviet authorities, despite severe repercussions, and stood by their beliefs steadfastly during interrogations. He concludes that BtS cannot be considered a human rights organization, because they rely on questionable allegations, and because they lobby overseas to sully the reputation of a democratic government that they choose to sidestep.

Despite the controversy, Columbia’s Hillel is standing with Israel’s enemies — who are being investigated for treason.

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  • Hillels’ babies are perhaps being pressured by their own discomfort. I remember the Edward Said years in the English department. I kept my mouth shut and I should not have.

  • Greta Weinstein

    Unfortunately, this is typical of Columbia these days.

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