(May 17, 2019 / JNS) Against the backdrop of the Eurovision Song Contest in Tel Aviv, the radical pro-Palestinian group Breaking the Silence initiated its own form of competition this week, offering visitors to Israel guided tours of Hebron.
Israel’s Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan criticized the move, saying on Twitter that “the organization of hate, Breaking the Silence, has once again found time to spread lies against the State of Israel.”
“Here’s a tip,” he said, “Instead of inciting against the brave pioneers in the city of our forefathers, take the tourists on a tour to familiarize them with the Hamas regime’s terrible human-rights violations in Gaza. Or a tour of the Palestinian Authority, that will impress upon them its financing of terrorists and its praise of the despicable murderers,” said Erdan.
BtS tours of Hebron, which it runs regularly, are characterized by an exclusively pro-Palestinian account of the history of the ancient city, the Jewish history of which is first recorded in the Bible.
According to the Jewish community of Hebron, which resides in just 3 percent of the city, under heavy protection by the Israeli Defense Forces due to frequent terrorist attacks, BtS did not approach them or ask them to provide their perspective. In fact, they said, BtS tries to ensure their tour participants avoid any contact or dialogue with Jewish residents.
Concerned that tourists would get a skewed picture from BtS, the Hebron Jewish community, in coordination with pro-Israel, campus-based organization Im Tirtzu, created a series of posters and signs to counter BtS’s message.
The posters addressed issues such as Jewish ownership of land in Hebron, Palestinian terrorism and the veracity of BtS’s past statements.
According to Im Tirtzu representative Yehuda Sharabani, BtS’s sole objective is to humiliate the State of Israel.
“The organizations of de-legitimization who are trying to humiliate the State of Israel … will not help tourists come and see the truth as it is,” he said.
All Im Tirtzu and the Jewish community of Hebron are doing with their messaging effort, he said, is telling the truth.
“In front of the Tomb of the Patriarchs and throughout all the Breaking the Silence patrol points, the truth will be revealed,” he said. “An organization [BtS] whose leaders were caught in lies repeatedly continues its policy of lies. We will stand here with a tradition of thousands of years and reveal the truth to all. ”
Jewish community of Hebron spokesman Yishai Fleisher said the fact that BtS is focusing its efforts on tourists and foreigners is because it knows Israelis aren’t interested.
“After the [recent Israeli general] elections, Breaking the Silence understood that it doesn’t have an Israeli audience—neither voters nor donors,” said Fleisher. “Today, the organization tries to appeal to people from abroad who know nothing and are willing to buy the lies they’re feeding them.”