Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely told the Israeli embassy in Switzerland to take action against an upcoming exhibition by an Israeli organization that gathers testimonies by IDF soldiers alleging abuse of Palestinians and war crimes by Israeli forces in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
“I sent an instruction to the Israeli embassy in Switzerland to immediately review ways to act against the exhibition by Breaking the Silence,” Hotovely said, according to a report by the Hebrew-language news site NRG.
“We will not be complacent when an organization whose whole purpose is to tarnish IDF soldiers acts in the international arena in order to cause serious damage to Israel’s image.”
The Breaking the Silence exhibit is scheduled to open in Zurich later in June, and received funding of some NIS 100,000 ($26,000) from the Swiss government and the city municipality, the report said.
“The Foreign Ministry will continue its extensive actions against organizations that are acting against Israel, at home and abroad,” Hotovely declared.
Andrei Bolog, president of the Zurich Jewish community, said that although opposing the exhibit, local Jews would not act against it.
“Yesterday we had a meeting and decided not to ask our government to prevent the exhibit,” Bolog told NRG. “It is not our affair. We don’t represent Israel. True, we won’t be present at the exhibit, but we will not act to prevent it. That is the job of the Israeli ambassador.”
A group of IDF reservists from the Emet Sheli (“My Truth”) organization that seeks to counter Breaking the Silence and other similar organizations, sent a letter on Monday to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Public Diplomacy Minister Gilad Erdan and Hotovely drawing attention to the exhibit.
“We, reserves combat soldiers who fought in Operation Protective Edge, just like in other operations and wars in the past, declare that we no longer intend to remain silent while the IDF, its soldiers and those who were killed, are defamed in streets around the world by Israeli organizations,” the organization wrote.
“We were very surprised at the Swiss government’s involvement in the campaign against IDF soldiers. The Swiss government and the Zurich municipality contributed NIS 100,000 to an anti-Israel event that at its heart is an exhibit by Breaking the Silence.”
Emet Sheli claimed Breaking the Silence has received NIS 3.5 million ($910,000) over the past three years from the governments of Denmark, Switzerland, Sweden, Holland, Spain, France, the European Union, Belgium and Norway.
Founded in Israel in 2004, Breaking the Silence publishes testimonies, almost always anonymous, by Israeli soldiers who recount their experiences serving in the West Bank and their interactions with the Palestinian population there, as well as in eastern Jerusalem, Lebanon and Gaza. Breaking the Silence’s founders have said they wish to end Israel’s occupation of the West Bank.
Breaking the Silence has garnered controversy in Israel, with supporters crediting the group with raising awareness to what they consider to be the immorality of occupation, and critics accusing it of spreading falsehoods and helping Israel’s enemies to weaken and isolate the Jewish state.
Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.