Ben Gurion U to host anti-IDF NGO

'Breaking the Silence' event - entitled 'Whistleblowing Through the Ages and Today'- appears to be official endorsed by the university.

Ari Soffer,

Students at Ben Gurion University
Students at Ben Gurion University
Dudu Greenspan/Flash 90

An event scheduled for the end of May at Ben Gurion University is drawing angry condemnations, after it was revealed it would be promoting a far-left group accused of conducting espionage against the Israeli army on behalf of foreign states.

At the end of this month, Ben-Gurion University in Beer Sheva will be sponsoring a conference titled, "Whistleblowing Through the Ages and Today," which will be featuring speakers from "Breaking the Silence." 

Breaking the Silence is a largely foreign-funded organization which collects anonymous statements, allegedly from IDF veterans, of abuse they claim is conducted by Israeli soldiers.

The group says it is doing so to encourage the IDF to be more "ethical," but its critics - including the army itself - accuse it of simply seeking to fuel anti-Israeli propaganda. They note that BtS has refused to ever hand a single case of alleged wrongdoing to military authorities to prosecute, and relies entirely on hearsay.

A court case involving the group is still ongoing, as the IDF attempts to force the NGO to reveal its sources.

The Ben Gurion event was publicized as an official event of the University, which opponents say amounts to providing official endorsement to Breaking the Silence.

In a statement, the Im Tirzu student organization branded the event a "clear violation of the Council for Higher Education of Israel’s decision to prohibit any attempt to politicize academia.

"It is important to note that the vast majority of the participants in the conference are political activists who are affiliated with the radical and anti-Zionist Left."

Im Tirzu CEO Matan Peleg sent a letter to the University’s administration demanding the event be cancelled.

"Ben-Gurion University’s sponsorship of this event constitutes as the support of a publicly-funded institution for an anti-Zionist political organization that deals with defaming the State of Israel and IDF soldiers in Israel and in the world, backed by foreign government funding," Peleg wrote.

In the letter - which was also sent to the Education Minister and the Chairman of the Knesset’s Education Committee - Peleg stated that "by standing together with the foreign agent organization ‘Breaking the Silence,’ the University forms a common front with those who bolster the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, thus legitimizing the industry of lies against Israel."

"The list of participants in the conference speaks for itself – two leading members of ‘Breaking the Silence’ (Yuli Novak and Nadav Weiman) will be speaking alongside various radical Left lecturers and activists who have signed petitions supporting those refusing to serve in the IDF and petitions calling for international pressure to be exerted on Israel. On top of this, the University’s rector will be providing the opening address."

"David Ben-Gurion is turning over in his grave," Peleg fired. "The University that was named after him has transformed into a blatant supporter of ‘Breaking the Silence,’ and in turn strengthens not only the phenomenon of internal delegitimization backed by foreign funding, but also the worldwide boycott movement against Israel."

Many faculty at the notoriously left-wing university have openly endorsed the event themselves.

Meirav, a student in BGU’s Department of Politics and Government, told Im Tirzu that one of the professors in her department even sent an explicit invitation to the students to attend the conference.

"It saddens me to see how time after time the University can sink to a point where it voices explicit support for a radical organization that acts against IDF soldiers," she said.

Amichai, an archaeology student at BGU was also furious after hearing about the event.

"It pains and deeply troubles me that BGU, specifically the Department of Jewish History, chose to organize an event in ‘honor’ of ‘Breaking the Silence,’ an organization that supports and fuels the boycotts against the State of Israel and IDF soldiers.

"Just last year the University’s president, Rivka Carmi, said that she wants to fight against the boycott movement and feels sorry for the University’s professors who have suffered from it. But now she is giving a platform to a radical organization.

"We are not ready to have this event and will fight it. It is a disgrace that our university is providing them with a platform to spread their lies about Israel."




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