delegation met Michael, one of the former Israeli soldiers now active
in the "Breaking the Silence" organization. Originally American, he
immigrated to Jerusalem in his early years. For people like him, he
said, the State of Israel was "a sort of miracle." Joining the Israeli
military was like joining a good college in AmericaÂthe key to
advancement and an enjoyable social life. He did well in the military
and quickly rose to the rank of Lieutenant General.
"Breaking the Silence" started in 2004 as an exhibition with
photographs and stories from disillusioned military personnel who had
served in Hebron. Michael happened to see it in Tel Aviv and now works
full time as one of Breaking the Silence's main representatives. His
military background helps in getting an audience, and he spends most of
his time talking to young people before their military service.
The organization seeks to educate Israelis who "have no clue,"
according to Michael. Most Israelis, he said, seem to be in a sort of
self-induced slumber as to the realities of occupation. They lazily
believe that some form of equality and dignity is possible despite the
occupation, a formula Michael passionately rejects.
Originally "Breaking the Silence" would take tourists to Hebron, but
settlers attacked them and the police eventually kicked out. Now they
take three or four people if they go at all, because such low numbers
do not officially constitute a "group."