Breaking the Silence won’t take part in Harvard Israel Apartheid Week

Contrary to reports on a Harvard campus web portal, the NGO will not be hosting a session during the event later this month.

An Israeli soldier stands between an Israeli settler (L) and visitors on a tour held by leftwing NGO "Breaking the Silence" in the West Bank city of Hebron April 19, 2017. Picture taken April 19, 2017. (photo credit: REUTERS)
An Israeli soldier stands between an Israeli settler (L) and visitors on a tour held by leftwing NGO "Breaking the Silence" in the West Bank city of Hebron April 19, 2017. Picture taken April 19, 2017.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Breaking the Silence said it won’t take part in Harvard’s Israel Apartheid Week – or in any other apartheid week – in spite of what is publicized in a portal associated with the university.
According to the website, the second day of Israel Apartheid Week, which is scheduled to take place between March 30 and April 3, is going to feature a session by the Israeli NGO, which denied any involvement.
“Breaking the Silence is not taking part in any apartheid week events and never had any plans to do so. The event in question doesn’t exist as far as we’re aware,” Achiya Schatz, spokesperson of Breaking the Silence, said. “However, we wouldn’t be surprised if [New York Consul-General] Dani Dayan or other supporters of the ‘Trump deal’ would want to attend, as part of their efforts to ‘make apartheid great again.’
“Our position has always been to differentiate between Israel’s legitimate right to exist and thrive on the one hand, and the entirely illegitimate military dictatorship in the occupied territories on the other. We are concerned that apartheid week events create spaces where that distinction is easily blurred,” he further noted.
“Having said that, Israeli officials are now actively promoting an apartheid reality which itself blurs the lines, and our position may therefore have to change in the future accordingly,” Schatz said. helps students keep updated with what is happening on campus. Student organizations can apply to register their profile in the platform and once approved, post their events and keep in contact with their members.
Harvard College Palestine Solidarity Committee, the group organizing Apartheid Week at the university, said “that event was not yet updated to reflect the latest change, which does not include Breaking the Silence. It should now be updated accordingly.”
Israel Apartheid Week attempts to create an equation between the current situation in Israel and that of apartheid-era South Africa.
The events usually become an opportunity for the nastiest display of antisemitic rhetoric, according to the cofounder and executive director of Reservists on Duty.
“Israel Apartheid Weeks are the worst kind of events. They are conducted by organizations that support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel, they spread terrible lies about the country and its military, including stating that IDF soldiers kill Palestinians to harvest their organs,” Amit Deri told The Jerusalem Post.
Reservists on Duty “brings IDF veterans to US campuses to directly challenge BDS and its industry of lies. Through our programs, we train college students and IDF reservists to speak with knowledge and confidence on behalf of Israel.”
Deri pointed out that the primary mission of the organization, which was established in 2015, is to monitor Israel Apartheid Week and to take part in alternative events to counter them.
“We go to the campuses, we bring experienced people who can help shed light on the situation, respond to questions and oppose the lies. We are planning to be at Harvard as well,” he said.
Deri accused Breaking the Silence of playing into the hands of the BDS movement.
“They are a radical organization, they do not represent the Israeli public, they spread misinformation and lies. We represent the consensus. Those who want to hear the truth can find it with us,” he concluded.
Established in 2004, Breaking the Silence describes itself as “an organization of veteran soldiers who have served in the Israeli military since the start of the Second Intifada and have taken it upon themselves to expose the Israeli public to the reality of everyday life in the occupied territories.”
The NGO is considered highly controversial among vast sectors of the Israeli public and leadership, who believe it helps delegitimizing the country, especially for their activism in international forums. Another element that is often criticized is that they based their reports on abuses or violations by IDF soldiers on anonymous sources. Breaking the Silence has stated that it verifies the information it receives but it doesn’t disclose the names of those who report the issues in order to protect them.