May 21, 2015
Contact: Yakira Heller
“Breaking the Silence” in Zurich: Foreign Events and Foreign Funding
Jerusalem – From June 4 to 14, the Israeli political advocacy group “Breaking the Silence” (BtS) is scheduled to hold an exhibit and series of events at the Kulturhaus Helferei in Zurich.
According to NGO Monitor, this event featuring a highly politicized fringe Israeli organization is inappropriately and immorally sponsored by the Swiss Foreign Ministry, the Municipality of Zurich, and several church groups that are active in nti-Israel campaigns.
“By supporting this event which contributes to the demonization of Israel, the Swiss Federal Government and the City of Zurich use taxpayer funds in violation of diplomatic norms between friendly countries,” stated Itai Reuveni, a researcher at NGO Monitor. “Swiss support for Breaking the Silence contributes to the politicization of human rights that is destroying these universal values.”
As shown by NGO Monitor research, despite claiming and receiving funding in order to address Israeli society, BtS’s lobbying and media advocacy campaigns focus significantly on international audiences, including appearances in France, Norway, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland, UK, and the US. These events feature anonymous testimonies that cannot be verified, stripped of the context of brutal warfare and terrorism targeting Israelis. As a result, a large number of Israelis soldiers have protested the BtS campaigns in Israel, but do not have the opportunities or funds to to present their counter testimonies in Zurich or elsewhere.
NGO Monitor research also reveals that several of BtS’s foreign donors conditioned their grants to the group on its ability to gather a minimum number of “testimonies” that are hostile to the IDF. These conditions further damage the NGO’s credibility.
Reuveni continued: “An event in Zurich will not add to the debate within the Israeli public about the moral dilemmas and complexities of urban combat faced by Israeli soldiers. Instead, Breaking the Silence is exploiting the language of human rights to overseas audiences in order to advance their private political agendas, satisfy donors and contributing to the immoral campaign to delegitimize Israel.”
NGO Monitor, an independent research institution, was founded in 2002 in the wake of the World Conference against Racism in Durban, South Africa. At this conference, 1,500 NGOs formulated the “Durban Strategy” which aims to isolate Israel through measures such as boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaigns, lawfare, delegitimization and demonization.
NGO Monitor (www.ngo-monitor.org), is the leading source of expertise on the activities and funding of political advocacy NGOs involved in the Arab-Israeli conflict. NGO Monitor provides detailed and fully sourced information and analysis, promotes accountability, and supports discussion on the reports and activities of NGOs (non-governmental organizations) claiming to advance human rights and humanitarian agendas.