In 2018, the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs provided a number of grants to Israeli non-governmental organizations (NGO), including $218,000 to Breaking the Silence for “bilateral support.” The government documents specifically note how the Breaking the Silence project will adhere to Dutch foreign policy objectives, including supporting “change agents” and “freedom of expression.” (See Appendix 1.)
One of Breaking the Silence’s objectives listed in the funding document states that its efforts will include encouraging “diaspora Jewish communities to voice their opposition to the occupation.”
This objective marks a major escalation in the NGO political agendas funded by European governments, and is reflected in a number of specific activities.
During this grant period, Breaking the Silence was a key partner in the US-based organization’s IfNotNow’s campaign targeting Birthright Israel. IfNotNow, which describes itself as a “movement working towards an American Jewish community that stands for freedom and dignity for all Israelis and Palestinians by ending its support for the occupation,” organized individuals to “walkoff” their Birthright Israel trips in “protest” during the summer of 2018. Breaking the Silence is seen escorting participants off their trips and taking them on tours of the West Bank.
Additional objectives listed in the grant document include contributing to a “strong, value based, anti-occupation voice in the Israeli media” and cultivating “a cadre of Israeli opinion shapers that are motivated to promote a value-based opposition to the occupation” and a “public and political environment more receptive to HR and anti-occupation messaging.” Breaking the Silence will also use the Dutch funds to “increase opposition in the international arena to Israel’s prolonged occupation of the oPt” through challenging “key international public figures…to respond.”