The head of the Israeli NGO, Breaking the Silence, has broken his own silence regarding his membership of a Facebook group where antisemitic posts were shared.
Avner Gvaryahu, executive director of the NGO - which publicises the testimony of Israeli army veterans who served in the West Bank – was challenged over why he was part of the Palestine Live group “together with Nazis and Holocaust deniers”.
Mr Gvaryahu responded in a tweet that people who asked that question were “trolls who don’t understand how the internet works”.
Mr Gvaryahu went on to state that “a right-wing troll attacked me on Twitter because I was attached to some Facebook group without my permission.”
Facebook allows people to be added to groups without their permission.
He also provided examples of other groups he had been added to without his knowledge, which included “Metta-free dance, Hebron Now and Forever and Forum for Workers and Social Workers”.
In a report published on Wednesday, David Collier, a blogger on antisemitism, exposed the activity of Palestine Live, showing large number of antisemitic messages and links posted in the group, including many from conspiracy theorists and Holocaust deniers.
Mr Gvaryahu was added to Palestine Live last month by Elleanne Green, one of the group’s founders. There is no suggestion that Mr Gvaryahu had interacted within the group.
However, as writer Marc Goldberg pointed out on Harry’s Place, the pro-Israel news site: “It’s unlikely that Elleanne Green could have added him to the group if they hadn’t been Facebook friends at the time.”
Ms Green appears to have a long history of sharing antisemitic conspiracy theory articles, both on her own Facebook page and within the Palestine Live group.
Eran Efrati, the former head of Breaking the Silence and a Board member of the far-left Jewish Voice for Peace group, is also a member of Palestine Live.
Unlike Mr Gvaryahu, he has interacted within the group. After being praised by Ms Green as “a truly good soul”, he responded, telling her that he was “working on new testimonies from” Gaza about “massacres” and “the use of chemical weapons”. He also told her he was “going to South Africa for [Israel] Apartheid Week in March”.
Breaking the Silence describes itself as an “organisation of veteran combatants who have served in the Israeli military since the start of the Second Intifada and have taken it upon themselves to expose the Israeli public to the reality of everyday life in the Occupied Territories.”
However, some former soldier have expressed doubts about the veracity of some of the reports published by the organisation, almost all of which are anonymous.
In 2016, a letter from a number of Mr Gvaryahu’s former comrades in the IDF’s Orev Paratroop unit described his testimony of his time in the army as “accusing us of things which never happened, or which were utterly distorted and whose connection to reality is totally coincidental”