Advocacy group Yachad has strongly rejected criticism of its decision to co-host controversial “anti-Israel” lobby group Breaking the Silence at its Independence Day celebration on Tuesday night.

Yachad's Israel tours, which aim to provide participants with a broad understanding of the conflict.

Yachad’s Israel tours, which aim to provide participants with a broad understanding of the conflict.

The event, held with the New Israel Fund, featured, among others, former IDF officer Avner Gvaryahu, director of public outreach at Breaking the Silence – which was this week accused of “promoting a distorted and unfair portrayal of the IDF”.

According to Middle East media watchdog NGO Monitor, the group sought war crimes charges against Israel in 2009 for its action in the Gaza Strip.

Yachad director Hannah Weisfeld told the Jewish News: “Along with the New Israel Fund, we were delighted to mark Yom Ha’atzmaut by celebrating the work of inspiring young Israeli activists who work on a variety of social justice issues. We can think of no better way to mark Yom Ha’atzmaut than by celebrating Israel’s vibrant and flourishing civil society. The significant number of students and youth movement workers and leaders who attended the public event is a testament to how much the work of Israeli civil society inspires the next generation of British Jewish Zionists.”

However, Michael Dickson of Israel education organisation StandWithUs UK said he was “dismayed” by the event. He added: “Breaking the Silence is a fringe group, representing a tiny minority of Israelis. The timing of was insulting to Israelis and supporters of Israel who were  commemorating Yom Hazikaron and Yom Ha’atzmaut.

The Zionist Federation’s Alan Aziz told the website Arutz Sheva: “It is surprising to think that, at a time when Israel and Jews worldwide commemorate the immeasurable sacrifices that the Israel Defence Forces have made for our people, Yachad would think it appropriate to promote the one organization whose raison d’être is condemning the IDF – condemnation they know will be gleefully championed by the worst of Israels enemies. The ZF calls on all sides of the community to be more united in support of Israel especially at this time of year.”