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April 7, 2016 12:26 pm

Controversial Israeli NGO at Columbia/Barnard Hillel: IDF Soldiers Steal From, Abuse Palestinian Civilians (AUDIO)

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Avner Gvaryahu. Photo: Breaking the Silence website

Avner Gvaryahu. Photo: Breaking the Silence website

A representative from the Israeli “whistleblowing” group Breaking the Silence (BtS) leveled significant charges against the Jewish state and its military in an event last week at the Columbia/Barnard Hillel, according to audiotape obtained by The Algemeiner of the NGO’s March 31 presentation.

In the recording, Avner Gvaryahu, the “Diaspora Programming Coordinator USA” for BtS, can be heard lecturing for about 45 minutes, and then addressing questions for another 30.

In his lecture, which was the source of much controversy, as The Algemeiner previously reported, Gevaryahu described anonymous testimonials from former Israel Defense Force (IDF) soldiers, according to which they took over the homes of Palestinian civilians in the “occupied territories”:

The families were scared to death, we bang on the doors with a feeling of “we’ll show them!,” it’s fanatical…We go into the house and turn everything upside-down … Soldiers yell at old people, one of them had an epileptic seizure, they carried on yelling as the medic treated them … Soldiers went into houses looking for something to steal, one person took 20 shekels, one person said, “What a bum it is, nothing to steal here,” another guy said, “I took some markers just so I could say I stole something.”

Later, he claimed that Israel enforces separate laws for Palestinians and Israelis:

In the area under [Israeli] military control [Israeli] individuals have a bubble around them, allows them to have the laws of an Israeli citizen … You can have two kids throwing stones, an Israeli child and a Palestinian child. If both are caught they will be tried in two different legal systems.

When questioned by a member of the audience about the use of the word “apartheid” in relation to Israeli policy in the disputed territories, he answered, “It’s less important what we call it, as long as we are willing to face it.”

His claims, and those of BtS in general, are widely disputed in Israel, where the group is both under investigation for allegedly collecting classified military information, and is the target of a slander suit by IDF reservists — among them soldiers who served with Gvaryahu. The group has also come under fire for the anonymous nature of its testimonials, which critics claim makes it impossible for them to be verified or for the IDF to properly investigate.

As reported by The Algemeiner, this controversy extends to the US, as well, where many have argued that BtS should not be permitted to speak at campus Hillels. Critics claim that BtS violates Hillel International’s “standards of partnership,” which preclude its working with groups that “delegitimize, demonize or apply a double standard to Israel.” Also as reported, Hillel has denied that BtS programs violate its standards and insisted it would ensure that whenever BtS comes to its spaces, “students hear from other voices challenging BTS’s assertions.”

Hear the full recording below:

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  • Yale

    Stole 20 shekels? That’s about $5. Why would a soldier bother?

  • Breaking the silence, should be called “Our Soldiers lie , with the allusion to benjamin anthony’s NGO ” Our Soldiers Speak”. Ben Dror Yemini in Israel, has investigated claims made bt Breaking the Silence, and interviewed fellow unit members of those soldiers and found that events spoken about , in fact, never happened and were never reported . If such war crimes were never reported to superiors, THAT is a criminal violation in itself. I was a t such a speach, at Princeton University a few years ago, and that soldier claimed that the IDF poisoned the Gazan aquifer. The Gazan aquifer is the same water supply for Israel. Don’t believe anything these Israel haters say.

  • Markus Elkana Brajtman

    These traitors should be brought back to Israel to faces treason charges.

    I wonder what they are being paid by the enemy to lie about the IDF.

    Amazing that 99.9% of the IDF soldiers or reservists, deny that anything like happens
    Why wont they return to Israel and speak up about what their lies are, and face the music?

    Why should they? They are on a good money making racket

  • len

    anonymous testimonials hmmm. This Israeli patriot Mr.Avner or whatever you call him(because after all it doesnt really matters who complains as long as there are complaints)must understand the weakness of his anecdotes when there isnt a real name placed alongside a quote!He would get an F in a research paper in High School but is quite easily accepted in Columbia/Barnard.He seems to have such a young innocent and honest face though!You couldnt possibly think he and his Chevra are just making it up?Clever as the Devil and twice as innocent?

  • Eliot Schickler

    Breaking the Silence are traitors and are JINOs (Jews In Name Only)!

  • It’s very difficult to know what to make of all this. In many aspects of life, one encounters serious lapses in ethical conduct all the time. Often, attempts to right a given situation by going through proper channels meet a brick wall, and retribution against complainants is always possible. Frequently, the only personal solution is to extricate oneself from the situation. Most people, however, are willing to compromise their personal ethics for the sake of expediency.

    I don’t know what the motivation of this NGO is, and obviously it’s very controversial in Israel. I also don’t know about the veracity of their claims. If it appears, though, that the purpose of these presentations is not to demonize Israel but rather to right wrongs, I would give Hillel the benefit of the doubt in terms of hosting them as a way of examining all sides of an issue.