Daily Israel Report

Hevron Children Tackle Left-Wing Extremists - With Sweets

After years of agitation, harassment by far-left groups, Israeli children harness 'Purim spirit' to tell their side of the story.
By Ari Soffer
First Publish: 3/8/2014, 7:37 PM

Purim in Hevron (file)
Purim in Hevron (file)
Flash 90

In recent weeks left-wing groups have upped their activities in Hevron against the IDF and the Jewish community.

Chief among those groups is Breaking the Silence, a far-left NGO funded by foreign donors (some 45% of its funding comes directly from the European Union), which encourages ex-soldiers to speak out against the IDF to international audiences. Much of the group's activities center on Hevron, where it conducts regular tours and demonstrations, alleging war crimes by both IDF soldiers and local Jewish residents - allegations based almost entirely on hearsay and which have been emphatically rejected as "slander" by residents and the military alike.

Recently, the organization helped bring some 200 people to the holy city to demand the opening of King David Street - also known as Shuhada Street - which was closed to Arab locals after being used as a launchpad for numerous terrorist atrocities against Jewish residents.

But on Friday, as another Breaking the Silence group entered the city's Jewish neighborhood, they were greeted by an unexpected sight: dozens of Jewish children handing out sweets in honor of the upcoming Jewish festival of Purim.

A video released by the Hevron Jewish community shows the moment the bewildered activists were greeted by the children; many of them ignored the gesture, but some took the gifts and engaged with locals.

Community spokesperson David Wilder said the initiative was launched  to combat the "demonization" of the Jewish community of Hevron, and was conducted "in the spirit of Purim" - a festival associated with joy and Jewish unity.

Many activists brought in by extreme-left NGOs are simply ignorant, he said, and such simple gestures were an important way to open them to a different perspective.

"A lot of people who come in have no idea what they're getting themselves into, or who Breaking the Silence are," he said. "They tell a lot of lies and slander the IDF and the people of Hevron."

"We wanted to show that the people of Hevron aren't really what they make us out to be."

Along with the gift baskets were leaflets, in English and Hebrew, entitled "Breaking the Lies", to counter the activities of Breaking the Silence and expose the organization's links with extremism. He said that apart from damaging the reputation of both the Jewish community and the IDF, the misinformation spread by leftist NGOs "also acts as a form of incitement" by riling up local Arabs attacks their Jewish neighbors.

He acknowledged that the reception was mixed, but overall he was pleased with how the initiative went. 

"We hope that some of the people will pay attention not only to what they heard from Breaking the Silence, but also to what we have to say. 

"I think it had a positive effect. There were people who refused and said 'no thank you', but there were people who took from the children and smiled."