Why does Breaking the Silence work outside of Israel?
BTS’s primary mission is to advocate with Israelis inside Israel, and this is where it deploys most of its resources.
But its work outside Israel is also important for a number of reasons:
Both the government and settler organisations advocate abroad – why should an anti-Occupation organisation be any different? There are many Israeli organisations, some sponsored by the Israeli government itself, who advocate fiercely in support of the settlement movement and the Occupation, including with foreign governments, policy influencers, and diaspora Jews. BTS considers it important for these people to be exposed to the alternative viewpoint. Not only settler organisations have the right to advocate abroad.
In the age of the internet, it’s impossible to limit information to a country’s borders. Soldiers’ testimonies, once published, cannot be confined within the borders of the state. In the 21st century, it makes little sense to speak of geographic boundaries for information dissemination. It is important for overseas readers of this material to have access to BTS representatives, hear about the context in which, and the purpose for which, they do their work, and make their own informed judgments.
The conflict between Israel and the Palestinians is a significant international issue, with the involvement of the US, the UK, the EU, Russia, the UN, and the Arab League, as well as of diaspora Jews. Given this reality it is important for BTS to engage with all stakeholders. In Australia, all major political parties actively consider and debate their policies vis-a-vis Israel, and Australian groups routinely weigh in to shape them according to their interests.
By its actions in advocating abroad, Breaking the Silence is demonstrating to the world that there is a broad spectrum of opinions within Israel about the occupation, and is showcasing the vibrancy and energy of Israeli democracy. Its representatives are the living, breathing reality of the fact that Israel is the only democracy in the region. We believe that demonstrating the strength of Israel’s democracy is the most effective response to those who seek to delegitimise Israel, including the BDS movement.
The BDS movement aims to silence Israeli organisations, including those, like Breaking the Silence, promoting an end to the Occupation. Breaking the Silence representatives advocating abroad demonstrates that the best way to bring about an end to the Occupation is by working alongside, rather than boycotting, those within Israel who are working to achieve the same objective.
Conversely, it is unhelpful for the Israeli government and diaspora communities to seek to silence Israeli organisations like Breaking the Silence – because that is simply doing the BDS movement’s work for it.