Rabbinic group, Breaking the Silence join up for tours of territories

(JTA) – A North American human rights rabbinic group and a controversial organization of Israeli Defense Forces veterans have joined forces to offer daylong learning trips to the West Bank and Gaza.

T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights, which represents 1,800 North American rabbis and their constituents, and Breaking the Silence, IDF veterans who speak out about their service in the West Bank and Gaza and advocate against Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, are sponsoring “Go and See” trips for Jewish groups as part of their Israel itineraries.

The aim is to “empower more American Jews to meet both Palestinians and IDF veterans who have served in the territories, to listen deeply to their narratives, and to bring these perspectives into working toward a better future for Israelis and Palestinians,” according to a news release Wednesday.

Breaking the Silence has often come under fire in Israel from the political right and centrefor testimonies, some published anonymously, that accuse the Israeli military of excessive force and corruption.

T’ruah will facilitate the groups during and after the program with the aim of engaging participants in Jewish learning related to the issues, according to the release. Breaking the Silence staff will share their perspectives on how the occupation affects Israelis and Palestinians.

“Of the thousands of American Jews who travel to Israel each year, only a tiny number visit Palestinian areas of the West Bank or hear from Palestinians,” said Rabbi Jill Jacobs, executive director of T’ruah.

“Go and See” will help those who take part to see the “effects of the ongoing occupation and understanding that it is damaging the lives and souls of both Palestinians and Israelis,” said Yuli Novak, executive director of Breaking the Silence.

The groups have already partnered on a trip to Hebron.

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