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