L.A. Israeli Consul General To Foreign Ministry: UPZ And Breaking The Silence Programs Harm Israel’s Image And Must Be Stopped
January 31, 2007

We hope AJCommittee,AIPAC, ADL, Conference of Pres.,
Hillel, JNF, JCPA, Shusterman Foundation will act

An article in Israel’s largest newspaper Yediot Achronot (Jan. 28, 2007) stated that an internal Israeli Foreign Ministry Report strongly criticized the “Breaking the Silence” campus programs sponsored by the Union of Progressive Zionists (UPZ). (The UPZ was formed by Meretz USA, Labor Zionists Alliance, Hashomer Hatzair, and Habonim Dror. Breaking the Silence is made up of many IDF soldiers who refused their orders to serve in Judea & Samaria (West Bank).)

The report said, “The willingness of Jewish communities to host these organizations and even sponsor them, is unfortunate. This is a phenomenon that must not be ignored.”

The report urged for action to be taken against these organizations, saying, “their negative effect on Israel’s image must be stopped.”

This report was prepared by Los Angeles Israeli Consul General Ehud Danoch and Consul for Media and Public Affairs Gilad Millo and was sent to the Foreign Ministry and all of Israel’s representatives in North America.

ZOA President Morton A. Klein said, “Now that the L.A. Israeli Consul General’s Office and other officials of the Israeli government have demanded that these hateful anti-Israel programs sponsored by UPZ must not be ignored and must be stopped, we urge those organizations that voted to allow UPZ to remain a member of the pro-Israel umbrella group Israel on Campus Coalition (ICC) change their vote, and finally remove UPZ from the ICC. An Israeli official told me that these are Israelis against Israel funded by Jews, and that the Arab/Muslim groups are using them to blacken Israel’s image.

“The organizations to whom we make this respectful appeal are American Jewish Committee, AIPAC, ADL, JNF, JCPA, Conference Of Presidents, HIllel, the Shusterman Foundation. (AISH Hatorah has already changed its vote and now urges UPZ to be removed from the ICC.)

“Many of these groups have, as part of their own mission, an agenda to fight incitement against Israel. Why then are they permitting this incitement against Israel to go unchallenged and even legitimized by allowing its sponsors to remain part of the pro-Israel umbrella called the ICC. And these harsh attacks by Jews against Israel have much greater credibility than harsh attacks against Israel by Arabs and are therefore more dangerous.

“The ICC is a pro-Israel umbrella group whose mission is to “foster support for Israel on campus,” promote “Israel advocacy,” and “counter the worrisome rise of anti-Israel activities on college campuses.” In December 2006, the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA), a member of the ICC, expressed concern that the Union of Progressive Zionists (UPZ), another ICC member, has been sponsoring a program on campuses that harshly and falsely criticizes Israel for human rights abuses against the Palestinian Arabs. The UPZ-sponsored program — called “Breaking the Silence” — omits historical facts, provides no balance or context, and promotes outright falsehoods about Israel. The ZOA acknowledged the UPZ’s general right to promote this hateful program, but not as a member of the ICC, which was set up to build support for Israel and reduce anti-Israel intimidation and harassment on college campuses.

“Examples identified by the American Jewish Congress from Breaking the Silence’s Web site demonstrate how the program demonizes and incites hatred of Israel. Israel is condemned for its alleged “violence and law-flouting.” The IDF is condemned for supposedly ordering its soldiers “to shoot to kill unarmed people without fear of reprimand.” Allegedly, Israeli soldiers “who stick to morality are the exceptional,” not the norm. And Jewish settlers purportedly “inflict the purest evil on their neighbors.”

“Dr. Ilan Benjamin, a Professor of Chemistry at the University of California at Santa Cruz, and an Israeli who served in the IDF, attended the program when it came to his campus. In a letter to the ICC, Professor Benjamin said that “the presentation was neither fair nor balanced, but was rather unabashedly anti-Israel.” According to Professor Benjamin, “there was almost no mention of why the Israeli Army is inside Arab towns. [The program’s speaker] dismissed the notion that security checkpoints prevent a large percentage of the suicide bombers, despite extensive data about this… . [S]tudents who attended the event did not get a crucial point of information necessary for a critical understanding of the conflict, namely, that Israel is in a state of war with a terrorist organization imbedded in civilian neighborhoods.”

“Professor Benjamin recounted that “[d]uring the question period, some of us tried to raise issues which could bring a modicum of balance and accuracy to the discussion, but the speaker refused to answer these on the grounds that he did not come to discuss politics (?!).” To make matters worse, at the program’s conclusion, the speaker “encouraged the audience to think what they could do to ‘continue the resistance to “The Occupation” and bring the Israeli army to the international court of justice.’”

“The program uses highly inflammatory photographs, including one of soldiers lounging near a young man who sits blindfolded and handcuffed. The program does not mention that Palestinian terrorists deliberately hide in civilian neighborhoods, providing a context for Israeli soldiers’ presence there. There is no reference to the fact that blindfolds and handcuffs are used so that suspected terrorists will not be able to identify the military bases to which they are brought, for the protection of the Israeli soldiers who are serving in the area. The program does not mention that Palestinian terrorists have already murdered almost 2000 Israelis and maimed 15,000 more. There is no reference to the fact that Israeli soldiers do not deliberately target noncombatants, and that more than any other army in the world, the Israeli army’s policy is one of restraint, committed to taking every possible measure to prevent harm to civilians. The program does not address the Palestinian Arab society’s culture of hatred against Jews and the State of Israel, which is promoted in its media, schools, camps and religious sermons.

Further evidence of the UPZ-sponsored program’s hostility toward Israel is the fact that the program is frequently co-sponsored by such anti-Israel groups as Muslim Student Associations and Amnesty International. In addition, a number of anti-Israel websites have links to the “Breaking the Silence” website.

The United States Commission on Civil Rights, an independent bipartisan federal agency, recently recognized that anti-Semitism, including Israel-bashing, is a serious problem on our campuses. We therefore agree with the LA Israeli Consul General’s office that the pro-Israel communities must not add fuel to the Israel-bashing fire by allowing the UPZ programs the credibility and legitimacy of being a part of our pro-Israel ICC umbrella.”

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