Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Project Israel- Breaking the Silence

During our pilgrimage to the Holy Land we had the great fortune to meet with Avihai Stollat, who works with an organization called Breaking the Silence. BTS collects and shares the stories of former Israeli soldiers (every citizen, male and female, is required to serve) telling what they did in the Palestinian territories at the orders of their government.

Our group spent about an hour in conversation with Avihai, and with his permission I recorded our interaction and share parts of it with you here.

(I will be sharing my own reactions to this encounter in context of what I learned during my time in the Holy Land, but my commentary is best reserved for another time. For now I want to let Avihai speak for himself, which you will see is very powerful.)

Avihai began by telling us about his own experience serving in the IDF in the Palestinian Territories.





Avihai then answered questions from the group. First he was asked about the kinds of stories he has heard from other soldiers.



He then answered my question about what he was taught growing up and in his military training about the relationship between Israel and Palestine.



He also shared about the Israeli government's reaction to BTS' activities.



Avihai shared about his very limited exposure to Palestinians prior to joining the military.



He told us about the diversity of opinions amongst Iraelis regarding the Palestinian conflict.



Because the state of Israel is often associated with the word "Zionism", Avihai reflected on the many different ways Israelis understand that term.



On a related note, he also reflected on how he understands his Jewish identity and Israel's role as a Jewish state.



Each person in our group was profoundly moved by our conversation with Avihai Stollat and the witness of Breaking the Silence. I hope these videos have given you a sense of what we experienced.

My thanks to the General Board of Church and Society of the United Methodist Church and The Society for Biblical Studies for the opportunity for our group to have this transformational experience.

1 comment:

Teri Nilson said...

and thank you so much for sharing! Don't you just want to shout this from the rooftops?