Breaking the Silence head part of anti-Semitic Facebook group?

Head of far-left organization denies claims he was part of an anti-Semitic Facebook group, which included 'Holocaust deniers and neo-Nazis'.

Tzvi Lev ,

Students attend talk given by Breaking The Silence at Hebrew University
Students attend talk given by Breaking The Silence at Hebrew University
Hadas Parush/Flash90

The head of the far-left Breaking the Silence group denied last week that he had knowingly joined an anti-Semitic Facebook group.

Blogger David Collier had asked why Breaking the Silence head Avner Gvaryahu was part of the 'Palestine Live' Facebook group, a page that often trafficked in anti-Semitic tropes, such as discussion groups debating whether Jews control the world and discussing Israel's complicity in the 9/11 attacks.

According to Gvaryahu, he had been added to the group without his knowledge and had never taken part of the anti-Jewish forums.

"After a right-wing troll attacked me on Twitter because I joined some Facebook group without my permission, I checked to see which other groups I attached and the following is a sample of the results," tweeted Gvaryahu, who said that he had also been added to groups such as "Metta-free dance, Hebron Now and Forever and Forum for Workers and Social Workers".

The Facebook group first became public last week in a 280-page report by Collier. The report claimed to unearth a sordid 3,000-strong social media network of anti-Semitism on the left that included prominent public commentators and politicians such as Jeremy Corbyn, who heads England's Labour party.

According to Collier, Corbyn was a member of the “Palestine Live” group at the time he was elected Labour leader in 2015. The group hosted people such as Max Blumenthal, a controversial speaker accused of anti-Semitism.

Corbyn admitted to being part of the group but denied that he had taken part of the anti-Semitic debates, claiming that his participation was limited to "a suggestion on the vote on recognizing Palestine, which I supported, and inviting a doctor to speak at an event".

Corbyn added that had he seen the anti-Jewish posts "I would have challenged it straight away, but I actually don’t spend all my time reading social media".

Gvaryahu became Breaking the Silence Executive Director in July after former leader Yuli Novak resigned. Breaking the Silence is a controversial NGO which maligns the IDF by having soldiers tell of alleged IDF atrocities in Judea and Samaria during their period of service but has had the veracity of its stories repeatedly questioned.

In August 2016, troops who had served with Gvaryahu in the Paratrooper's published an open letter to criticizing the far-left activist for "accusing us of things which never happened, or which were utterly distorted and whose connection to reality is totally coincidental”.