Left-wing army veterans’ group under fire for Eurovision billboard

Israeli dovish group Breaking the Silence has come under fire for using this year’s Eurovision Song Contest in Tel Aviv to offer foreign visitors tours a chance to see “the reality” of military rule over Palestinians in the West Bank.

The billboard put up yesterday along Tel Aviv’s busiest main road says in English “Dare to Dream of Freedom,” a play on the 2019 Eurovision slogan “Dare to Dream.” It came just a day before the popular annual songfest kicks off in Israel.

Behind the slogan, the billboard shows a picture of Tel Aviv’s Mediterranean beachfront alongside a view of Israel’s West Bank security fence with a military watchtower.

It also invites visitors to “See the Full Picture” with daily free tours to Hebron in the West Bank, starting tomorrow.

Breaking the Silence, which Israel’s right wing has accused of treason, collects and publishes testimony from current and former Israeli soldiers of abuses they say they carried out or witnessed during their service in the West Bank.

The initiative has outraged Israeli political leaders and the local media.

“The despicable hate organization Breaking the Silence again finds time to spread lies against the state of Israel,” Public Security Minster Gilad Erdan tweeted.

A counteroffensive came from Los Angeles-based Israel advocacy group StandWithUs, which is set to put up its own billboard on May 15. It shows pictures of doves, the beach, small children and a Jew and Palestinian walking arm-in-arm, according to the group’s website.

It too offers free tours “to see our open society and how Israel is a beacon of light to the world.” Its itinerary covers the mixed Arab-Jewish city of Haifa in northern Israel, settlements in the West Bank, and the flashpoint Israel-Gaza border.

— with AFP