With the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel gaining momentum nationwide, especially on campuses, it’s no surprise that some corporations and pro-Israeli groups are concerned about the growing pro-Palestinian movements.
Israeli soldiers will speak on an upcoming PR campaign organized by StandWithUs organization to polish the army's tarnished image in light of numerous UN war crimes allegations. Shown above are real pictures of the Israeli army edited into a promotional flier distributed by the StandWithUs organization; the pictures do not represent the actual organization or the campaign,however. GRAPHICS: TAAN
UN reports including the Goldstone Report about the January 2009 siege on Gaza by Israel that was released in September 2009 and a UN report released this month examining Israel's attacks on an aid flotilla in international waters against activists in May both alleged numerous war crimes committed by Israeli soldiers. The Israeli army also upholds a blockade and occupation against the Gaza Strip that British Prime Minister David Cameron called a "prison camp."
The Michigan tour stops will feature speeches by two soldiers named Omer and Shai. They will visit Michigan State University in Lansing on Oct. 19 and The University of Michigan-Ann Arbor on Oct. 20.
“Trophy photos” taken by Israeli soldiers with dead Palestinians who had been abused became a widespread phenomenon in 2004 according to the daily right-wing Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronot as reported by The Christian Science Monitor.
“Such a tour is intended to undermine the growing BDS efforts on American campuses. As you know, the University of Michigan-Dearborn (UM-D) Student Government passed yet another divestment resolution last year, and will likely approve one this year as well,” said Dr. David Skrbina, professor of Philosophy at UM-D.
Michigan-Dearborn was one of numerous universities that have passed resolutions in support of boycotting companies that allegedly support Israel's military.
“The Israeli army has not been facing good press within the media regarding the flotilla attacks and with how they treat the Palestinians in occupied Palestine,” said Mahde Abdallah, a senator in the UM-D Student Government. “Them coming to polish their image is just showing that they're worried about the pro-Palestinian movements on campuses in the US.”
StandWithUs contends they're simply wishing to impart knowledge, using both this tour and their
Eden Abergil, an Israeli soldier, ended up in hot water over the above picture posted on Facebook that showed her smiling in front of blindfolded Palestinian captives.
“We created this website because a few isolated allegations from ‘anti-war’ Israeli soldiers are being used to defame the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF),” said Roz Rothstein, co-founder and CEO of Stand WithUs. “Yet the IDF has over 700,000 citizen soldiers and reservists who try to live up to its high ethical standards. The IDF impartially judges all alleged violations, and punishes offenders.”
StandWithUs reports that the two soldiers who are visiting the campuses have received honors in the military and have upheld all the moral codes of the Israeli Army.
Skrbina doesn’t think this tour will help the image of the Israeli army much, however, as evidence continues to mount against their declarations of upholding a high moral standard.
“They have an uphill battle, thanks to Israel's war crimes in Gaza, the West Bank, Lebanon, and at sea,“ he said. "They are sponsoring this 'tour' by two IDF soldiers to argue that Israel is only 'defending itself'… and to show that the soldiers are really 'nice guys'. Any soldiers who are involved with enforcing an illegal occupation are clearly not 'nice guys'.”
For more information, visit www.soldiersspeakout.com