Mission: Hebron, a short film, purports to be an investigative documentary into IDF misconduct. In practice, the film only undermines the Jewish history of Hebron and vilifies the actions of Jewish residents and soldiers there. It is a heavily biased and misleading film and raises concerns about why J Street U Miami, a student group that purports to “educate” students, would screen it.
The opening segment presents Hebron as a Palestinian city and makes little mention of its significance for Jews. Hebron is the second holiest city in Judaism, the most ancient religion of the three Abraham faiths, and home to the world’s oldest Jewish community. To this day, Jews worldwide come to pray at Ma’arat HaMachpela, commonly known as the Cave of the Patriarchs. The tomb is the ancient burial site of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and their wives, Sarah, Rebecca, and Leah – the forefathers and foremothers of the Jewish faith.
The film also suggests the IDF presence in Hebron is nefarious; in actuality, it is there to defend against terrorism and anti-Jewish violence that have, for decades, taken or endangered the lives of Israeli citizens. Unfortunately, such violence pre-dates the establishment of the State of Israel. In the 1929 Hebron Massacre, several Jewish families were brutally murdered by Arab extremists. These extremists responded to calls for violence and “Jihad” by Nazi collaborator and Grand Mufti of Jerusalem Haj Amin Al-Hussein, who attempted to ethnically cleanse Jews from Hebron and Jerusalem. Despite being an important historical event and part of a pattern of recurring violence indicative of the challenges in Hebron, the film only briefly touches on the subject, once again concealing crucial information from the viewer that gives context to the situation in Hebron.
Instead, the film focuses on interviewees’ general and vague accounts of events that are difficult to prove or disprove but are meant to demonize Israelis. The filmmaker collaborated with Breaking the Silence, also commonly known as BtS, a European-funded Israeli NGO that defames the State of Israel through alleged accounts of IDF misconduct from soldiers and “anonymous sources.”
Additionally, as CAMERA’s Ricki Hollander points out, almost every single interviewee in the film is a publicist for BtS rather than the independent witnesses they are purported to be. This comes as no surprise. Fact-checking investigations by reputable journalists have discovered that most BtS claims are utter lies or highly exaggerated.
Breaking the Silence also deliberately withholds identities and details of the alleged acts of misconduct, preventing the IDF Military Justice system and independent investigators from taking action. The BtS website admits their goal isn’t to address the supposed injustices but to discourage Israel’s support amongst the general public.
Given their duplicitous history, accounts by Breaking the Silence in this film should be approached with skepticism and a cautious lens. It is also concerning that this is the second time that J Street U Miami has lent their platform to BtS. In March 2021, the group hosted an event with a member of Breaking the Silence featuring testimonies from soldiers, like those featured in Mission: Hebron.
J Street’s national platform has also been the subject of controversy, often spreading misinformation about the Arab-Israeli conflict, supporting discriminatory, anti-Israel boycotts, and partnering with anti-Israel organizations.
Members of J Street at UMiami should be mindful not to promote a film that attempts to erase the Jewish significance of Hebron and maligns Israel’s efforts to promote religious pluralism and keep its citizens safe.
A slightly modified version of this article was featured in the Miami Hurricane, a campus outlet for the University of Miami.