Right-wing group makes claims against NGO
This is Solidarity of Nations - Achvat Amim
The program organizer called the claims "misleading."
Right-wing watchdog Ad Kan claims that the Achvat Amim program is carrying out demonstrations in Palestinian villages and provoking IDF soldiers, Channel 2 reported on Monday.Achvat Amim, meaning Solidarity of Nations, under the wing of Masa Israel, which is a division of the Jewish Agency, offers 20-something Diaspora Jews a five-month program that promises a chance to “dig deep within the conflict and gain grassroots volunteer experiences,” according to the two-and-a-half minute video on its website.In the video, the narrator introduces Achvat Amim to potential Masa Israel participants as “not your cookie cutter Israel program” over footage juxtaposing scenes of west Jerusalem, the Old City, Palestinian villages and the West Bank security barrier.“It’s for people who are passionate about social justice. Achvat Amim doesn’t shy away from the conflict, instead participants work side by side with both Israelis and Palestinians and directly engage in the day to day realities of the occupation,” continues the narrator. Opportunities to learn about the conflict and receive hands on experience volunteering with such left-wing groups as Ir Amim, Hand in Hand and the Palestine-Israel Journal are also included in the five-month experience.Ad Kan, however, claims that video footage taken by participants in the program reveals members of Achvat Amim volunteering at the “Sumud Freedom Camp” – a Palestinian camp in the South Hebron Hills that was established in May and lasted some 40 days. Footage shows participants involved with the reconstruction of this outpost and clashing with security personnel. Ad Kan CEO Aviram Zeevy told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday: “The great absurdity of this group is the funding. $3,000 per participant is coming from the Jewish Agency, the Israeli government, to go against the IDF and take part in illegal activity, and this shocks us.”Ad Kan conducted a three-month investigation of Achvat Amim’s activities.Achvat Amim organizer Hashomer Hatzair responded in a statement on Thursday night: "Participants of the Solidarity of Nations - Achvat Amim program who took part in activities which have been portrayed in a misleading manner, did so independently, during time which was not part of the organized program."It is important to emphasize that none of them took part in any illegal activity, or any instance of civil disobedience or non-compliance with authorities. Any attempt to assert otherwise is simply incorrect and defamatory. The safety and security of our participants is our top priority and we take that very seriously. "In light of this situation, we are in active conversation and full cooperation with all of the relevant bodies."The Jewish Agency said in a statement: “Masa Israel Journey is an initiative that seeks to strengthen participants’ connections to Jewish life and to the State of Israel. More than 120,000 Jewish young people from around the world have participated in Masa programs since its creation.“Achvat Amim – which draws an average of four to seven participants per semester, out of an estimated 12,500 participants in Masa programs this year – is a volunteer program in Jerusalem, whose volunteers engage in activities aimed at promoting Jewish-Arab coexistence, including by teaching English in the city’s Hand-in- Hand bilingual school.“At the same time, Achvat Amim participants’ reported activities in southern Judea are grossly inconsistent with Masa’s goals and they deviate sharply from Masa’s rules and regulations.“The matter is currently under examination and we are weighing our next steps vis-à-vis the program.”