Breaking the Silence nominated for EU peace prize
Breaking the Silence documents testimony of soldiers who served in the West Bank and Gaza; right-wing group calls on parliament members not to let it win award.
Breaking the Silence, which documents testimony of soldiers who served in the West Bank and Gaza, has been nominated for a European Parliament prize for defenders of human rights.
In response, the right-wing Israeli group NGO Monitor has started approaching individual parliament members, asking them not to let Breaking the Silence win the Andrei Sakharov Prize.
Breaking the Silence was founded by army veterans. It collects and publishes soldiers' testimony about human rights violations in the territories.
Two green party blocs in the European Parliament nominated it for the prize.
Parliament member Daniel Cohn-Bendit, president of the European Greens-European Free Alliance and a leader of the 1968 student uprising in Paris, said Breaking the Silence was nominated because "the Greens/EFA group wants to recognize the bravery of all the individuals involved who work to shed light on the injustices of the Israeli occupation and ensure Israeli society does not simply turn a blind eye."
While "Israel is a democracy, it nonetheless takes enormous courage to speak out and break through the taboos and prejudices surrounding the Israeli occupation," he said.
Meanwhile, the right-wing Israeli group NGO Monitor has begun approaching parliament members, asking them not to let the group win the prize.
Prof. Gerald Steinberg, chairman of NGO Monitor, sent a letter to parliament members harshly criticizing Breaking the Silence.
If the organization wins the prize, Israeli will interpret this as "a continuation of the European exploitation of human rights principles in order to advance one-sided, anti-Israeli policies," he wrote.
Breaking the Silence responded that it is "proud to be one of the organizations under attack by Steinberg, which include the European Union itself, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International."