Matan Katzman

BIU Law student Matan Katzman is the founder and chairman of My Truth, which counters negative images of Israel and the IDF put forth by organizations such as Breaking the Silence.

As a commander and officer in an IDF Reconnaissance Unit, Matan Katzman has served in every conflict against Hamas in Gaza since 2005. But more recently the Bar-Ilan LLM candidate has been very active on another front: defending Israel's image and IDF ethical standards and actions against attempts to slander the Israeli army. Co-founder and chairman of My Truth, an organization comprising IDF reservists who educate about Israeli soldiers and their values, he represents Israel and his fellow comrades-in-arms in speaking engagements locally and abroad, meets with delegations and VIPs, and participates in debates and media interviews.

Last June, when he addressed the European Union Subcommittee on Human Rights in Brussels, he articulately presented his experiences in Gaza, uncovering missiles and ammunition hidden in a Hamas leader's home.

"The IDF is a moral army fighting in an immoral neighborhood," he stressed, noting how Israeli soldiers are engaged in asymmetric warfare against terrorist groups that use Palestinian families as human shields. "In Gaza, our mission was clear – to stop the rocket fire that put over one million Israeli children in bomb shelters. The IDF has a clear policy to protect Palestinian civilian life, even at the expense of compromising the safety of its own missions, as it does when it repeatedly warns civilians about incoming attacks.”

Sitting next to him at that forum was a rep of the NGO Breaking the Silence. "Their message is a litany of horror stories about the actions of IDF soldiers, which are often void of context and unverified," he recalls. "I think they expected to have the floor to themselves, as they normally do when they team up with the Palestinian anti-Israel lobby to address various legislatures. But this time, I was there with my story."

Now in a reserve infantry office, he is completing his LLM and interning in a leading Israel law firm's international corporate and securities department.

"Bar-Ilan gave me the opportunity to grow and to explore my interests, and specifically international law," says Katzman, a regional executive at the StandWithUs Fellowship for the past three years, who aspires to a career in the public sector, possibly in foreign service or Israeli politics. In the meantime, he's right on target: "No longer will delegitimization efforts go unchallenged. That is a silence I, and others like me, will continue to break."