Warring Views

Photo Essay

By Richard Silverstein

Published February 28, 2008, issue of March 07, 2008.
  • Print
  • Share Share

Breaking the Silence, a group of Israeli army veterans dedicated to public education about the effect of Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories, is hosting exhibitions this month in Philadelphia and Boston of images photographed by Israeli soldiers during active duty in the West Bank.

While the group takes no political stand on resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, it solicits testimony from former active-duty soldiers about their military service and the impact it has had on them and Palestinians. The current exhibitions consist of 100 photographs, a video loop of recorded statements from soldiers and written testimony about their experiences. Unlike a typical photo exhibition, there will be two guides available to answer questions from members of the viewing public.

Mikhael Manekin, a co-founder of the Israeli group who served as a lieutenant in the Golani Brigade, says the group wants to “challenge critics to listen and converse” about the occupation. He emphasizes the group’s willingness to talk to anyone no matter what their point of view.

The group is not without critics. Last year, the Union of Progressive Zionists sponsored a speaking tour of the United States for Breaking the Silence members, which caused the Zionist Organization of American to protest UPZ’s inclusion in a national Jewish campus coalition. And last year, Yediot Aharanot reported that Israel’s Los Angeles consul general, Ehud Danoch, wrote a bristling report for the foreign ministry accusing Breaking the Silence and similar veterans’ groups of being “bankrolled by Palestinian groups.” It urged the government to take unspecified action against such groups’ members to stop their “negative effect on Israel’s image” abroad.

Manekin calls those charges “ridiculous,” arguing that “presenting Israel as a perfect Disneyland actually hurts the nation’s image among impressionable youth” on college campuses, who will see through such manipulation. He claims that a more balanced, mature approach would actually resonate better with such an audience.

Among the groups co-sponsoring the exhibition are Americans for Peace Now, Brit Tzedek v’Shalom, Hashomer Hatzair, the Union of Progressive Zionists, the Open Society Institute and the Foundation for Middle East Peace. It has been on view at the Rotunda in Philadelphia and will be next seen at the Harvard University Hillel from March 1 to 16.






The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • “I don’t want to say, ‘Oh oh, I’m not Jewish,’ because when you say that, you sound like someone trying to get into a 1950s country club, “and I love the idea of being Jewish." Are you a fan of Seth Meyers?
  • "If you want my advice: more Palestinians, more checkpoints, just more reality." What do you think?
  • Happy birthday Barbra Streisand! Our favorite Funny Girl turns 72 today.
  • Clueless parenting advice from the star of "Clueless."
  • Why won't the city give an answer?
  • BREAKING NEWS: Israel has officially suspended peace talks with the Palestinians.
  • Can you guess what the most boring job in the army is?
  • What the foolish rabbi of Chelm teaches us about Israel and the Palestinian unity deal:
  • Mazel tov to Idina Menzel on making Variety "Power of Women" cover! http://jd.fo/f3Mms
  • "How much should I expect him and/or ask him to participate? Is it enough to have one parent reciting the prayers and observing the holidays?" What do you think?
  • New York and Montreal have been at odds for far too long. Stop the bagel wars, sign our bagel peace treaty!
  • Really, can you blame them?
  • “How I Stopped Hating Women of the Wall and Started Talking to My Mother.” Will you see it?
  • Taglit-Birthright Israel is redefining who they consider "Jewish" after a 17% drop in registration from 2011-2013. Is the "propaganda tag" keeping young people away?
  • Happy birthday William Shakespeare! Turns out, the Bard knew quite a bit about Jews.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.