Questioning our ‘Birthright’

We write this op-ed as Jewish Tufts students who went on Taglit-Birthright Israel. In sharing some of our experiences, we hope other students may begin to question Birthright. Birthright exposed us to the facts on the ground in Israel/Palestine and forced us to confront and reject the Zionist ideologies we grew up with. It showed us that Israel is doing the exact opposite of what our Jewish values teach us. Birthright led us to stand in solidarity with Palestine.

Julia’s Experience (Summer 2012):

Tzedek, Tzedek, Tirdof: Justice Justice, you shall pursue” were the words I was taught to live by growing up as a Jewish-American. I was also taught I had a “Birthright” to Israel — that I should connect to, travel to and even live there, simply because I am Jewish. My Birthright trip and the two months I spent in Israel/Palestine afterward transformed me into the anti-Zionist Jewish woman I am today. Somehow I saw through Birthright’s propaganda and learned to apply my Jewish values to all people, especially those oppressed in my name. If I had not gone on Birthright, I do not know if I would be in Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) and Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP). Knowing all that I do now, however, I would never have made the decision to participate in Birthright in the first place.

During my Birthright trip, we stayed in a settlement. When I asked about it, I was told that it was not a settlement, because under Israeli law, the settlement was legal and the word “settlement” implies illegality. In reality, any settlement in the West Bank is illegal under international law. To get to Jerusalem from the illegal settlement, we had to pass through a checkpoint. We were told it was a tollbooth. When I asked why we did not pay the toll, I was told we had an E-ZPass. We did in fact have an E-ZPass, but not like the one we have on cars in Boston. Instead, it was our Jewish privilege, embodied by the Taglit-Birthright Israel sign on the front of our bus. As Jewish tourists, we passed right through the checkpoint, while Palestinians attempting to cross it to get to work or to the hospital were stuck in multiple-hour-long queues. In five years, 67 Palestinian babies were born at checkpoints. 36 of them died. That doesn’t happen at tollbooths.

The only experience we had with Palestinians on my Birthright trip was visiting the fake Bedouin tent in the Negev. We sat under the stars, ate on the floor and rode camels. These Bedouin tents are an exploitative part of the Israeli tourism industry, attempting to create a utopian view of Bedouin life in Israel. When I extended my trip, I visited an actual Bedouin village, unrecognized under Israeli law. This means Bedouin in these villages cannot get permits to fix their rundown homes, and the whole village could be demolished at the drop of a hat by the Israeli government. Most Bedouin, including the laborers at the fake Bedouin tents, live in unrecognized villages.

The mission of Birthright is to “create solidarity with Israel” through a free 10-day trip. Instead, Birthright made me into a Palestinian solidarity activist. I saw a small sample of the violence enacted by Israel in my name as a Jew, and I knew I could not stand idly by any longer. I had to extend the pursuit of justice that Judaism taught me to the Palestinian people. Occupation and apartheid are not my Jewish values. When I stand in solidarity with Palestinians, I am doing exactly what Judaism teaches me to do — to seek justice and stand with the oppressed.

Chase’s Experience (Winter 2014):

Going on Birthright always seemed like it was a given — why wouldn’t I take a free trip to Israel, a land that is supposed to mean so much to me as a Jew? The last few years, and particularly this summer during Operation Protective Edge, I began to question the relationship between my Jewish identity and Israel. I found that Israel’s behavior — its military occupation of Palestine and discriminatory laws against minorities — was in opposition to my Jewish and human values. I learned more about Birthright’s funding: Sheldon Adelson, a strong financial supporter of Republican ultra-conservatives, is also the largest single benefactor of Taglit-Birthright Israel. I became skeptical, and even opposed to the whole premise — that as a Jew I have a right to visit Israel/Palestine, while Palestinians are not only denied the same opportunity, but also have restrictions on their travel to and within Israel/Palestine. Knowing I was not the only one with reservations, I found numerous testimonials about the trip, including those offered in “Birthright? A Primer.” In spite of my serious doubts, I felt that in order to have a more fully informed opinion, I needed to “see it for myself.” My decision, however, came with one condition: I would extend my stay and travel in the occupied West Bank.

My childhood friends who had gone on Birthright all returned no more educated about the issues, but certainly more fervent in their support for Israel. My experience was different. I expected to feel alienated by the organizers, but instead they expressed support and appreciation for my contrasting opinions. Additionally, we went to a peace center to talk to an Israeli anti-war activist, Lydia, and a Palestinian lawyer living in Israel, Amir. There, we learned in-depth about how Lydia’s experiences of anti-Semitism as a child in Wales led her to fight racism and injustice in Israel/Palestine, and about Amir’s life as an oppressed minority in Israel. This all-expenses-paid trip, however, was not without serious problems.

While our conversation with Amir at the peace center was very educational, our organizers seemed to not give him the credibility he deserved. They recognized not believing his claims about discriminatory Israeli laws as much as if he were an Israeli Jew. After looking up the laws in question, I found that his statements were entirely true. Later, in Sderot, a city about a half-mile from Gaza, we were taken to a bunker that doubled as a children’s playground. We were shown an incredibly disturbing video that attempted to demonstrate, using graphic imagery and incendiary text, what life is like in a city vulnerable to homemade rocket attacks from Gaza. Instead, it expressed numerous anti-Arab sentiments, completely removing any context from the attacks. This video was never discussed after its presentation.

Perhaps the most absurd part of the tour was the Mega Event. I was caught completely off-guard by the spectacle of it all. Walking in felt like entering a beaming, boisterous rave — be it one that was highly organized, with metal detectors and security at every turn. Large plumes of theatrical fog ushered in Prime Minister Netanyahu, who had just arrived from France after the Charlie Hebdo and Kosher market attacks. Netanyahu pressed that it was not safe for Jews to live anywhere outside of Israel, hammering in to “Make Aliyah! Make Aliyah!” While I felt this attitude completely delegitimized my Jewish experience in the diaspora, most of the other 3,000 Birthright participants applauded his statements. I suppose it is not surprising that I was the only one to boo him.

Even in the best-case scenario, Taglit-Birthright Israel is a fundamentally problematic program attempting to conflate Judaism and Zionism. It would be hypocritical for us to tell you not to go on Birthright, but we urge you to think long and hard about it. Before making any decision, you must understand that engaging with Birthright is an inherently political choice. Please recognize the pain Palestinian students on this campus feel when they see a Birthright advertisement. Remember that Palestinians cannot return to their homes, but that you, as a Jew, have a constructed “right” to go to that same land. Birthright is only possible because of Israel’s violence toward the Palestinian people.

Just as your support for or critique of Israel is not related to your Jewishness, going on Birthright is not an essential Jewish rite of passage. Our Jewish values are what lead us to SJP and JVP. If you go on Birthright, we hope that you will have a transformative experience and learn to honor your Jewish values and the legacy of your ancestors by standing against oppression enacted in your name.


74 Responses

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  1. mxm123
    Mar 05, 2015 - 07:14 AM

    Birthright – Brainwashing by billionaires.

    • A friend
      Mar 07, 2015 - 07:40 PM

      Birthright accomplishes two major goals: it introduces young Jews to the historical Jewish homeland and it introduces them to Zionism. Being a Zionist does not conflict with being pro-Palestinian or pro-two states.

      • mxm123
        Mar 07, 2015 - 08:35 PM

        Your narrative would have more credibility if Birthright and its sponsors dealt more honestly with the Palestinian narrative and Israeli settlements. Every account of the program confirms my view that its nothing more than a propaganda spiel.

        Being Zionist does not conflict with being pro-Palestinian. That is, if you speak up about the treatment of Palestinians. Most major Jewish groups in America do a whitewash of that.

        • A friend
          Mar 07, 2015 - 09:54 PM

          Both Birthright and pro-Israel Americans have been making great strides in approaching Israel and the conflict from a more nuanced, yet still Zionist perspective in recent years. Take Tufts Birthright, for example. Past op-eds were rightly critical of Tufts Birthright for taking students to Kibbutz Almog in the West Bank. Tufts no longer goes there, specifically because Kibbutz Almog is a settlement. Birthright is definitely moving in the right direction. Regarding American Jewish groups, J Street, the pro-Israel, pro-Palestinian, pro-peace, and pro-two states lobby has in the past couple of years transformed from a fringe group to an increasingly influential representative of American Jewry.

          • mxm123
            Mar 08, 2015 - 08:29 AM

            Birthright is engaged in propaganda and brainwashing. They want to present “facts” to students such that its ok to overlook the screwing over of Palestinians. They never go to or discuss whats “beyond that wall”. Thats pure brainwashing.

            Large American Jewish organizations, except for Jstreet and JVP , are engaged in pure deception. And students and the general public through social/new media are catching up to that deception.

          • A friend
            Mar 08, 2015 - 01:35 PM

            The organizers of Birthright do exert great efforts to refrain from connecting the trip to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and whether or not this is just is up for debate. Birthright as an organization does not desire to support any particular political position regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, other than that it is pro-Israel (i.e. it doesn’t instill a love of Likud or a hatred of the Labor Party). To introduce its participants to Zionism does not take away from that intention. Neither can it be called brainwashing. Birthright takes people to major sites within Israel proper, plus the Golan Heights. To travel beyond the Green Line would be to travel into territory claimed by Palestine for a future sovereign state. They no longer travel to Israeli settlements in the West Bank, and likewise they don’t venture to Palestinian towns there. To visit largely Arab towns within Israel proper is not, in principle, against the goals of Birthright; in fact, Tufts Birthright visited Rahat, the largest Bedouin settlement in the world, this past December with the sole goal of learning about the Israeli Bedouin narrative.

            And yes, large American Jewish organizations are increasingly being pressured to demonstrate their seriousness regarding their commitment to the establishment of two states. Regardless, J Street and to a lesser extent JVP have been exploding in popularity among American Jews in recent years, and that is worth noting.

          • shutupandknit
            Mar 08, 2015 - 09:36 PM

            There is nothing serious about Zionism except it’s efforts to erase Palestinian history from the land. Even the Christian Palestinians are being erased, not just the Muslim ones.

          • A friend
            Mar 08, 2015 - 10:36 PM

            Zionism is a national liberation movement for the repatriation of a dispersed and long-persecuted ethno-religious group to its historical homeland. At its core Zionism calls for the creation of a Jewish state *within* the historic land of Israel; it is only some interpretations of Zionism that call for Israeli control of *all* of the land of Israel.

            If there is an organization enabling the erasure of Christian Palestinian history from the land, it is the Palestinian Authority. Since the 1995 handover of Bethlehem from Israel to the Palestinian Authority, the city’s Christian population has dwindled from 40% to 15%. The Palestinian Authority’s failure to protect Christians from frequent attacks on their businesses, churches, and cemeteries, as well as dwindling job opportunities for non-Muslims in Bethlehem, has led to intimidation and emigration. Nazareth is Israel’s largest Arab city and its metropolitan area boasts a healthy, diverse population and serves as a model for religious co-existence in the region (Christians form 30% of the total population of Nazareth). Favorable Israeli policies have transformed Nazareth into the “Silicon Valley” of the Israeli Arab community. Israel is also practically the only Middle Eastern country with a growing Christian population.

          • A friend
            Mar 08, 2015 - 10:51 PM

            The current Israeli government is not innocent either. It would be incorrect, however, to equate Zionism with the current Israeli government’s continued mistreatment of the Palestinians.

          • mxm123
            Mar 08, 2015 - 05:17 PM

            Birthright and major pro-Israeli organization continue the whitewash even today. Any statement to the contrary is wishful thinking.

      • Ken Burch
        Mar 08, 2015 - 07:21 AM

        Actually, it does. Birthright solely reflects the Likudnik interpretation of Zionism, and does not acknowledge either the humanity of the Palestinian people or the legitimacy of any of their grievances. It is nothing but indoctrination into an extreme right-wing interpretation of what Zionism means.

        • A friend
          Mar 08, 2015 - 12:25 PM

          In what way does Birthright reflect the Likudnik interpretation of Zionism? Birthright trips don’t visit Ma’ale Adumim or Ariel to hear settlers’ perspectives. Neither do Birthright trips venture into East Jerusalem, apart from the Old City. Virtually all Birthright itineraries are the same: Tel Aviv, West Jerusalem and the Old City, Masada and the Dead Sea, Haifa, Tzfat, the Golan Heights, and Mitzpe Ramon/the Negev Desert. How do these trips negate the idea that the Palestinians deserve a state?

          When Birthright’s organizers refer to the trip as being “apolitical,” they’re not talking about the connection between Birthright and Zionism, which is strong. They’re referring to how the trip organizers exert the greatest effort possible to avoid connecting the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the trip. Whether or not this is a good idea is up for debate, of course, but as I said, the two major goals of Birthright are to introduce young Jews to the historical Jewish homeland and to introduce them to Zionism.

          • mxm123
            Mar 08, 2015 - 05:16 PM

            When they introduce Jews to the “historical Jewish homeland” and omit that other people were cleansed off that, then that is pure propaganda and brainwashing. Thats like taking a “historical trip to Germany and omitting the story of Jews and their persecution.

            Birthright avoids connecting the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the trip ? Really. The movement openly associates with only those organizations and people that do not question Israeli settlement policy and don not advocate sanctions. That doesn’t sound very apolitical to me. Birthright is nothing more than a front for right wing Israeli organizations that wish to whitewash history.

      • shutupandknit
        Mar 08, 2015 - 09:34 PM

        Do they take the kids to the demolished village of Ikrit? The Christian Palestinian village that the IDF razed and still to this day refuse to make reparations or return the land??
        Do they teach about the Naqba? Birthright is a toxic indoctrination of Hasbara propaganda to get young people to believe that they should give money and legitimize a political state based on their “It’s a Small World” version of a tour.

      • Amir
        Mar 09, 2015 - 10:00 AM

        maybe you should clearly learn the history of what zionism is. Zionism is truly a cancer that is eating away at the Jewish Moral character. I commend those of the Jewish faith that clearly know the difference and speak up against this sickness.

  2. anon
    Mar 05, 2015 - 12:06 PM

    Thank you so much for speaking out about the injustices you saw on Birthright. I hope this serves as a reminder to other students who do believe this is their inherent “right” to question what political and social factors had to come first to allow young Jewish people around the world to come to Israel for free.

  3. George
    Mar 05, 2015 - 03:54 PM

    Glad to see the Daily is becoming like the United Nations. Obsessive interest and demonization of Israel in a world in which all other nations are above reproach.

    • the81kid
      Mar 06, 2015 - 05:40 PM

      It’s sickening and sad that in 2015 some people (like this gentleman above) support killing, oppressing and stealing from people just because they’re not a preferred race. And he also rejects facts and arguments, just turns to name-calling immediately.

    • cezook
      Mar 06, 2015 - 05:57 PM

      It’s what people do when they witness war crimes

  4. A friend
    Mar 05, 2015 - 04:57 PM

    When did being Zionist and pro-Palestinian become mutually exclusive?

    • Geoffrey Feldman
      Mar 06, 2015 - 05:20 PM

      Then what do you think Zionism is, exactly?

      • A friend
        Mar 07, 2015 - 07:32 PM

        The definition of Zionism is to create a Jewish state *within* the historic Jewish homeland. That is why the Jews accepted the 1947 UN Partition plan for Palestine, in which the Jews were given a small sliver of territory on the Mediterranean, plus the largely uninhabitable Negev desert. They accepted the proposal for Jerusalem to be governed internationally. The Zionist founders of the State of Israel were willing to give up much of the land for the Palestinians to govern. Irredentism is an unfortunate aspect of all forms of legitimate nationalism; look at Hungary and Transylvania, Serbia and Kosovo, Spain and Gibraltar, etc. Just like Hungarian, Serbian, and Spanish nationalism, Jewish nationalism is a legitimate movement that should not be defined by *some* Jewish nationalists that promote expansion of Israeli territory. Two-thirds of Israelis, in fact, support a two state solution.

    • haysnoe
      Mar 06, 2015 - 06:02 PM


  5. Esra
    Mar 05, 2015 - 05:43 PM

    great article! Happy to see that there are Jewish Tufts students out there who are trying to raise awareness about the overt connection between Birthright trips and the ongoing colonization and occupation of Palestine by the “democratic” State of Israel.

  6. T
    Mar 06, 2015 - 10:08 AM

    Great piece– your courage is admirable and appreciated!

  7. truth speaker
    Mar 06, 2015 - 12:06 PM

    Nice article but completely wrong. Judaism is not a feel good new age hippy movement. Judaism is about a complex identity that unites millions of people around the world regardless of race or place of birth.
    American jews have been perhaps the most priviledged jews in the world. They live in a bubble that ignores rampant anti-Semitism thru out most of the world. It is this anti-Semitism that in most cases guides the dialogue regarding Israel. What did bombing the jewish Center in Buenos Aires by Hezbollah and Iranian agents have to do in real terms with Israel? Or the shooting of jews by PLO commandos outside temples in Rome and Istanbul?
    We live in a harsh world. More than 60% of the historical Palestinian Mandate is governed by Arabs. Jordan, the entity, that runs this 60%, prohibits jews from owning any type of properties. 800 thousand jews who had lived for hundreds if not thousands of years in what is now the arab jews, where constantly intimidated to the point that they had to leave. Only Morocco and Tunisia broke this pattern.
    If this issue was truly about apartheid, where is the outrage against Egypt and Jordan that also control access to the West Bank? Why didn’t Jordan and Egypt which controlled these disputed territories for two decades not create a Palestinian Country?
    The fact is that successive Israeli governments have sued for peace and have been rejected. Left leaning governments such as Edhud Olmert virtually gave up the entire farm to the Palestinians. The Palestinian leaderships said no – After the 7 day war, Israel sued for peace, promising to exchanged the newly conquered territories for peace. The Arabs responded with their famous three NOs. No peace, no recognition, no negotiations.
    When Israel evacuated Sothern Lebanon, what did it get? A bunch of terrorist thugs who occupied Southern Lebanon and provoked wars by launching missiles in to Northern Israeli cities and abducting Israeli soldiers.
    When Israel evacuated Gaza, and left a first world infrastructure intact, what did the Palestinians do? Did the use this infrastructure as a basis for a new Singapore? No. They starter launching rockets towards Israel, kidnapping soldiers, and voted in a political party whose main objective is to destroy the State of Israel.
    The famous Security blockade, which is also carried out by Egypt, started only after the events previously described.
    Going back to the West Bank and Israel itself Arabs in those areas enjoy among the highest quality of living standards in the arab world and among the highest when compared to other third world countries. They have dozens of universities where they can freely express their opinions and in the case of Israel, can vote freely.
    Yes, descendants of Palestinians who left what is now Israel cannot go and visit Israel thru Birthright. That is a program funded by jews for jews. Period. There are plenty of programs funded by Catholics for Catholics to visit Rome and Israel, and there are also programs funded by muslims for muslims to visit their holly sites.

    • Haha
      Mar 06, 2015 - 02:19 PM

      Lol it was the 6 day war not 7. Try again with the facts cuz all the other ones sr wrong too.

      • Geoffrey Feldman
        Mar 06, 2015 - 05:20 PM

        Which ones EXACTLY – people who quibble, do so because they have no real argument.

      • truth speaker
        Mar 06, 2015 - 09:23 PM

        What other facts are wrong? That the PLO slaughteres jews outside a temple in Rome? Or the bombing of the jewish center in Buenos Aires?

        Or the three Nos? Look it up. Arab league mmeting in Kartum.

        Or tha thte palestiinian leadership sided with the Nazis dirng ww 2 or with the soviets diring the cold war?

        Or a historical fact that Jordan was part of the Palestinian mandate and that the Brits imported the Hussain familty to rule over the east bank of the Jordan river.

        Yes, it was the 6 day war. Soory for the typo.

        I am glad you reduce yourself to pointing out a typo as a rebutal and cannot actually contradict the fact that arabs and iranians have murdered hybdreds of jews around the worlld which had nothing to do with Israel.

        • mxm123
          Mar 06, 2015 - 09:58 PM

          “that the PLO slaughteres jews outside a temple in Rome? Or the bombing of the jewish center in Buenos Aires?” – And the Palestinians who were slaughtered….

          “Or the three Nos? Look it up” – Who started the war.

          “Or tha thte palestiinian leadership sided with the Nazis dirng ww 2 or with the soviets diring the cold war?” – Who was the “palestiinian leadership”. Was there an election.

          “Or a historical fact that Jordan was part of the Palestinian mandate” – Except the UN partition plan does not state so..

          • truth speaker
            Mar 07, 2015 - 01:05 AM

            What does a jew living in Rome or buenos Aires have to do with what happens in middles east? You just made my case, the palestinians and the fanatical muslims murfered them simply becaise they were jewish by definition, ajew living in Buenos Airles is not a zionist.

            As to your denial that Jordan was not part of the Mandate for Palestine by the League of Nations, is completely untrue. The UN partition plan of 1948 did not include what is not Jordan, because by that time, the Brits had already carved it out and had viven it to the Hussain family.

            As I am sure that most plaestinians would agree, history did not start in 1948.

            As to who started the war that is subject to debate. The fact is Nasser violated the armistice by amazing troops in the Sinai whose only intent could be to attack Israel. I truly apologiize that unlike the secondworld war, jews simply did not wait to get slaughtered.

            But before we continue with another pointless distortion of historical facts, answer me this:

            Jordan ruled the west bank and Egypt ruled Gaza prior tp Israel conquering it ( unless you are going to deny this this as well), why didnt they dset up a palestinian state?

          • mxm123
            Mar 07, 2015 - 09:14 AM

            And Palestinians are killed just because they are…..Palestinians. Killing anywhere is abhorrent. Unless you believe some lives are more important than others.

            Jordan was never part of any Jewish Homeland discussion when it was created. People who claim Jordan is Palestine are engage in denial.

            “As I am sure that most plaestinians would agree, history did not start in 1948.” – Legal status on that land did start in 1948 as per the UN Partition plan.

            Nasser did not violate nothing. A Prime Minister of Israel himself admitted as much. The “defensive war” is modern day propaganda. And I apologize to you that i don’t wish to see Palestinians ethnically cleansed and slaughtered by the thousand.

            Firstly what i deny is based on fact. Unlike you.

            Egypt clearly stated it would give up the land. Jordan annexed the land and gave equal rights. Do you read the word Equal ? Or does that miss you.

            The request for a Palestinian state on those lands became formal when the Palestinians realized the Israelis were going to subject them to stateless citizens with no rights. Jordan gave Palestinians full citizenship. Why can’t Israel ?

          • literably
            Mar 07, 2015 - 11:29 AM

            “And Palestinians are killed just because they are…..Palestinians”

            [citation needed]

          • mxm123
            Mar 07, 2015 - 02:09 PM

            Sometimes the truth slips out….


            “On July 24, 2006, it was reported that IDF Radio had broadcast details of orders issued by Halutz:

            “Army chief of staff Dan Halutz has given the order to the air force to destroy 10 multi-storey buildings in the Haret Hreik (“Dahiya”) district (of Beirut) in response to every rocket fired on Haifa,” a senior air force officer told army radio on Monday [July 24].[10][11][12]”

          • literably
            Mar 07, 2015 - 03:24 PM

            Might want to read your own posts, Einstein. I’ll highlight for you:

            Haret Hreik (“Dahiya”) district (of Beirut)
            district (of Beirut)
            AKA not Palestine

            Additionally, even if it WERE in Palestine, it still would not be a killing of Palestinians just because they are Palestinians. It would be a killing of Palestinians because they or their neighbors housed enemy militants. I 100% agree that that principle is completely immoral, and I think that Halutz is a piece of dirt. But that still does not equal the killing of Palestinians because they are Palestinians.

            So when you write dumb crap like that, be prepared to read and write in the language you write it in or shut down your internet browser and go outside and enjoy the sunshine.


          • mxm123
            Mar 07, 2015 - 04:50 PM

            Archimedes, you may want to read history.

            – Dahiya is in Beirut where there are Palestinian refugees.
            – I was asked for a citation were Israel targets civilians. Given. Done.

            Now comes the vitriol. And the Hasbara.

          • literably
            Mar 07, 2015 - 04:55 PM

            “”And Palestinians are killed just because they are…..Palestinians”

            [citation needed]”

            Citation given as to how dumb you are. It’s irrelevant that there are Palestinian refugees. You might want to rejoin the sane portion of the human race in reality, my silly little friend.

          • mxm123
            Mar 07, 2015 - 04:57 PM

            Poor Hasbara child, facts are frightening for you. So you resort to smear.

          • literably
            Mar 07, 2015 - 04:59 PM

            There’s nothing to smear. I asked you to prove a simple statement and you could not. It’s okay; you were lying. Be more careful with your hyperbole next time or you’ll be made to look like a fool yet again.

            Ta ta.

          • mxm123
            Mar 07, 2015 - 05:25 PM

            Citation request. Citation provided. Hasbara child still smearing. What’s new.

          • Ken Burch
            Mar 08, 2015 - 07:43 AM

            ” Nasser violated the armistice by amazing troops in the Sinai”.

            How did he amaze them? Did he wow them with card tricks, a Sinatra medley and his flawless James Cagney impression?

          • Truth speaker
            Mar 08, 2015 - 04:33 PM

            Thank you for pointing out the change the autocorrect function on m phone made.

            Still, a couple of poins, I ve learned from most the posts:
            Mxs points out that is ok to kill Jews anywhere in the world, because just by being jewish, they are guilty of any perceived (real or imagined) by Islamic fundamentals. The Arab-Israeli conflict is not about land, but rather its a war of religions.

            Tufts students who support anti-Israeli groups, are mainly motivated by anti-semitism and have very little knowledge of middle eastern history. They deny facts such as the complete alignment of the plo with the soviets and murdeous regimes. They cannot answer simple questions such as why didn’t egypt and Jordan set up a Palestinian state when they ruled the disputed territores. They seem to ignore all the peace offerings different Israeli governments have made and place the place the blame solely on the Israeli side.
            Some posters who claim that they are jewish, maybe they are maybe they are not, seem to be ashamed of Israel. Yet, i and I am only speaking for myself, are very proud of what Israel has done.

            They have produced more Nobel price laureates in the last five years than all the Arab countries put to get her in the last 50 years.

            The amount of medical advancements that Israel has produced is staggered. Millions of people are fed around the world thanks to Israeli advancements in the fields of agriculture.

            Only second to Silicon Valley, Israeli tech firms have greatly helped to connect the world we would not be having this cyber discussion if it was not for Israeli based technology.

            I am all so very proud that 1 million Israelis absorbed 600 thousands Jews from the Middle East, while the Arab countries continue to amass Palestinian refugees in to camps and deny them very basic rights for political gain. Let’s not forget that population transfers have occurred in many countries, including Pakistan and India.

            I wish for the day, that both sides wake up and realize that this is not a zero sum game. That Jews will forever remain in Israel and that Palestinians will have their own country, and when they do they do not use it to further their mad dream of “throwing the Jews in to sea”.

          • Ken Burch
            Mar 08, 2015 - 05:40 PM

            No, you can’t assume that Mxs actually did “point that out”.

          • truth speaker
            Mar 07, 2015 - 05:25 PM

            So its ok to murder jews simply because they are jewish? Again, explain to me what does a jew living in buenos aires have to do with the arab-israeli conflcit?

          • mxm123
            Mar 07, 2015 - 05:33 PM

            Its ok to target Palestinians because they are not Jews ? Why does geography matter in hatred.

          • Ken Burch
            Mar 08, 2015 - 07:32 AM

            Their was an election for “the Palestinian leadership”(by which I assume the speaker you’re rebutting meant the post of Grand Mufti of Jerusalem-odd fact, before the Brits were given control of the area in the League of Nations Mandate, the title was simply “the Mufti of Jerusalem”-the Brits added the “Grand” for some reason lost in the mists of time-the of Mufti being that of spiritual leader of the Palestinian Muslim community)in the early 1920’s under Lord Samuel, the British governor of the Mandate. In that vote, Haj-Amil Al-Husanyi, whose family had always held the Muftiship, finished fourth-a member of the rival Nashibibi familiy, whose views towards the growing Jewish community in Palestine were much more moderate and conciliatory than those of the Al-Husanyi family-finished first in the voting, but Lord Samuel imposed Al-Husanyi as Mufti against the will of the majority of the Palestinian Muslim community. So yes, there was an election, but the British outsiders, for their own cynical reasons, chose to disregard it.

        • jenn
          Mar 07, 2015 - 01:40 AM

          False flags. Israel wants the world to feel sorry for them. And hate to say this but…..the kosher communists were right hand to Hitler. And now the kosher communists is doing the same thing to the Palestine people. 6 day war uhh more like years war. IDF is still stealing children putting them in jail, raping them. Palestine people cant leave their country because IDF wont allow them. Its disgusting what the kosher communists do spew shit on houses and they are settling on Palestine land. Thats called stealing.

          • truth speaker
            Mar 07, 2015 - 03:52 PM

            Thank you Jenn. You just proved in both of your replies what I wanted to point out. Hatred of Israel is really just good all fashion anti-semitism.

    • mxm123
      Mar 06, 2015 - 05:10 PM

      “More than 60% of the historical Palestinian Mandate is governed by Arabs. ” – Palestine never included Jordan. It is pure fiction.

      “If this issue was truly about apartheid, where is the outrage against Egypt and Jordan that also control access to the West Bank? “- Thats like saying there was no apartheid in South Africa because there were other horrible regimes in Africa.

      “After the 7 day war, Israel sued for peace, promising to exchanged the newly conquered territories for peace. The Arabs responded with their famous three NOs. No peace, no recognition, no negotiations.”

      “Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin acknowledged in a speech in 1982 that its war on Egypt in 1956 was a war of “choice” and that, “In June 1967 we again had a choice. The Egyptian army concentrations in the Sinai approaches do not prove that Nasser was really about to attack us. We must be honest with ourselves. We decided to attack him.””

      • ebross
        Mar 06, 2015 - 09:15 PM

        Palestine never included Jordan? Go to any library (there are at leat two at Tufts) and ask for a map of the Palestinian Mandate

        i am glad to read that people like you really dont know what they are talking about.

        Furtheremore, I agree with the author, where is the outragge against iislamic and palestinian terrorism?

        Lastly, the three NOs are real. Not made up

        • mxm123
          Mar 06, 2015 - 09:55 PM

          “Palestine never included Jordan? ” – Repeat the same lie again and again…..Just look up the UN map for the partition of Palestine.

          “where is the outragge against iislamic and palestinian terrorism?” – Gosh, I wonder why the Palestinians fight back ?

          “Lastly, the three NOs are real. Not made up” – But nice of you to ignore who started the war.

          • Rabbi David Mivasair
            Mar 07, 2015 - 02:23 AM

            The League of Nations drew the boundaries of mandatory Palestine. It was imposed from the outside, pure imperialism, not indigenous to the people who live there.

          • mxm123
            Mar 07, 2015 - 09:01 AM

            Correct. Just as the United Nations imposed an Israel on the people living there.

          • A friend
            Mar 07, 2015 - 08:47 PM

            The 1947 UN Partition Plan for Palestine allocated a small strip of land on the Mediterranean as well as the largely uninhabitable Negev Desert to be part of the Jewish state; the Jews constituted a majority (55%) in that territory. The Jewish Agency also accepted the UN proposal that Jerusalem be governed by an international body (Jerusalem was 49% Jewish at the time). All of Palestine’s major aquifers, including the one that provides Tel Aviv with its water supply, were located in the land that the UN proposed to allocate to the Palestinians. Despite the fact that the territory proposed to be given to the Jews excluded Jerusalem and much of Judaism’s historic sites and was largely indefensible, Zionists lobbied heavily (successfully) to get the White House to accept the plan; the Zionist founders of the State of Israel also accepted the plan. Arab governments and organizations rejected the plan.


          • mxm123
            Mar 08, 2015 - 08:41 AM

            What does any of this have to do with Israeli settlements and apartheid in the West Bank. Nothing. If you want to claim that Israelis were boy scouts during partition, i’ll be happy to contradict with you (Dalet Plan).

          • A friend
            Mar 08, 2015 - 02:11 PM

            No need to contradict me, I’m not denying that the Israelis carried out ethnic cleansing. Regarding the West Bank, however, I’d hesitate to call the current military occupation apartheid, since the intention of both the Palestinian Authority and two-thirds of Israelis is for the West Bank to become part of a separate sovereign state. It’s not apartheid when the two pieces of land being separated are two separate countries. If there comes a day when Israel’s government decides to incorporate all of the West Bank into Israeli sovereign territory, and if on that day the Palestinians living there are not extended equal rights and citizenship, then the situation would be justly classified as apartheid.

            The ongoing support of the Israeli settlements is one of the current Israeli administration’s greatest vices and freezing support of the settlements could be one of the most productive moves Israel can make right now. But it’s important to remember that experts on both sides understand that most of the settler population is concentrated in a few large settlements/settlement blocs that are on or near the Green Line (Beitar Illit, Modi’in Illit, Gush Etzion, Ma’ale Adumim). These settlements are almost guaranteed to become a part of Israel through land swaps in a final agreement. Most other Israeli settlements, with the exception of Ariel, pale in size and influence to those and would likely be dismantled in a final agreement.

          • Mr. Shami
            Mar 25, 2016 - 07:28 PM

            You’re wrong. Palestine included Jordan. In 1921, the Brits removed Jordan.

    • jenn
      Mar 07, 2015 - 01:35 AM

      You are so brainwashed. Omg. You need to research a little more. Israel has kidnapped, killed, spewed shit on Palestine houses, bulldozing homes. Bombing innocent children coming home from school. The Israel people wont let Christian Palestine, Catholic Palestine, jew Palestine, leave their country. Take a walk to Palestine, not the stolen part and not the part where Israel people are settling on Palestine land. You will see a different world. IDF kills and dog attacks Palestine people every day.

      • Gal
        Mar 09, 2015 - 10:04 AM

        Wow. You need help. You are so brainwashed and full of hatred. You need a reality check.

    • shutupandknit
      Mar 08, 2015 - 09:39 PM

      It’s a ethnoreligion due to endogamy. It was a religion before it was a “culture.”
      Aside from which the people living in the Palestinian Mandate many if not most are descendents of Jews who converted to Christianity and some who converted to Islam over two millennia. The Zionists acting like only Jews from the diaspora count is logic lacking lunacy.
      Jesus was a Jew, as were all of the first Christians. Their descendants regardless of which religion they now practice have more rights to the land than a group of people who came in the 20th century to claim the land by force.

  8. Amber Catherine Kerr
    Mar 06, 2015 - 08:00 PM

    Wow, this is a fantastic pair of op-eds from two courageous, eloquent young people. Thank you for speaking out about what you learned during your time in Israel, and please continue to do so. I couldn’t agree with you more that the most admirable expression of Jewish moral values is “standing against oppression enacted in your name.”

    I’m not Jewish, but my husband is; he has never had any desire to visit Israel because he is appalled and depressed by the seemingly endless cycle of violence there. But our daughter (now a bright-eyed, curly-haired two-and-a-half-year-old) may choose to go on a Birthright trip someday. Most of all, I hope that in a decade or two, Israel’s current system of apartheid and oppression will have crumbled, and Palestinians will be able to live as free and equal citizens. If that is not the case, I hope my daughter would use her trip to better understand and speak out against the injustice she sees, as the two of you did.

    Thank you again, and please continue your writing and activism. We need more voices like yours.

    • Rabbi David Mivasair
      Mar 07, 2015 - 02:21 AM

      Hopefully, by the time your daughter is that age, Birthright trips will be a thing of the past and not done any more. And, possibly, Israel too will be transformed into a state that recognizes equal rights for everyone living within it and we once again will be proud to be part of it.

  9. Henry Lesnick
    Mar 07, 2015 - 12:43 AM

    Your eloquence, your sense of justice and your courage are inspiring. The “birthright” is a sham, a key part of a policy of colonial expansion, oppression, ethnic cleansing and geopolitical domination. Your stand against it should be widely known. The future will be made by people like you. You deserve all honor and respect. And thanks.

  10. janbn
    Mar 07, 2015 - 02:55 AM

    Thank you for your honesty and for your lack of fear in expressing what must be said. As a Jew and as a firm believer in human rights for all people, I have long been opposed to Israel’s policy of oppression and occupation. I am glad that you saw beyond the propaganda and were able to make up your own minds. The world needs more people like you.

  11. blfdjlj
    Mar 07, 2015 - 06:01 AM

    There are some good points here, but Students for Jihad in Palestine and Jewish Voice for Jihad are both groups which de facto seek the destruction of Israel. Not anything I support (although I am for ending the occupation).

  12. Lauren Niedel
    Mar 08, 2015 - 01:38 AM

    I cannot encourage my 20 year old Jewish son to take the trip. But I will encourage him to read this article.

    • A friend
      Mar 08, 2015 - 01:49 AM

      Birthright accomplishes two major goals: it introduces young Jews to the historical Jewish homeland and it introduces them to Zionism. Being a Zionist does not conflict with being pro-Palestinian or pro-two states. Tufts Birthright doesn’t even visit settlements anymore; the settlement referred to in this op-ed is Kibbutz Almog, which they dropped from their itinerary more than a year ago. Tufts Birthright also doesn’t limit its exposure to Bedouins to the ‘fake’ Bedouin tent in the Negev anymore. Last December’s trip visited Rahat, the largest Bedouin settlement in the world.

  13. Gal
    Mar 08, 2015 - 12:06 PM

    You went on birthright and you became antisemitic. Shameful.

  14. Gal
    Mar 08, 2015 - 12:13 PM

    You obviously knew what birthright is about but you still took the money, went and came back antisemitic. Quite shameful in my opinion. I hope you return the money. You joined SJP and JVP one of the most antisemitic groups that exist nowadays.

  15. Abigail
    Mar 08, 2015 - 02:59 PM

    Interesting this section censors and deletes opposing views. Let’s see if this will be deleted too.
    The writers of this article complain about brainwashing but they themselves suffer from brainwashing too from opposing students. As stated by SJP and JVP, divide (the jews) and conquer them from within. Debate, do not delete.

    • Scott Geldzahler
      Scott Geldzahler
      Mar 08, 2015 - 03:09 PM


      As a moderator of this section and an Executive Editor of the section, I can assure you that the only time we have deleted comments was when they were offensive and blatantly incendiary. In fact, no comments have been deleted on this article at all as of the writing of this post, nor do we plan on deleting any unless they violate our policy. I refer you to this post for more information:

  16. protestfolk
    Mar 10, 2015 - 10:43 AM

    info about historical background of billionaire wall street speculator and nyu trustee michael steinhardt’s “Birthright” project that might interest Tufts Daily readers:

    Steinhardt also revealed in his 2001 autobiography other ways in which he has apparently historically collaborated with the militaristic Israeli establishment that has historically violated Palestinian human rights:

    “…I also set up the Steinhardt Family Foundation in Jerusalem…I have derived the most satisfaction from my most ambitious…project `Birthright Israel…’ In the spring of 1997…I ran into Charles Bronfman…whose family controlled The Seagram Company…We agreed to each put up $5 million to start developing an organization called `Birthright Israel.’,,,
    “By the summer of 1998, we had developed a plan that would fund `Birthright Israel.’ In Jerusalem,…Benjamin Netanyahu announced he would commit $20 million a year to the project…In addition, Charles and I would raise another $20 million a year on our own…Starting Jan. 1, 2000, 15,000 college-aged Jews would be brought to Israel…In 1999, Charles and I each wrote a check for $9 million…The kids…met Israeli politicians…A number of them took Jeep trips…through the Golan Heights…After seeing the topography…they were absolutely opposed to giving up the Golan Heights in any peace negotiations…”

    According to a July 4, 2011 article by Kiera Feldman (no relation to this writer) in The Nation magazine, between 1999 and 2011 Steinhardt’s “Birthright Israel…spent almost $600 million to send more than 260,000 young diaspora Jews on free vacations” to Israel. The same article also noted that by 2011, “far-right Casino magnate Sheldon Adelson” was “the largest individual donor, having given Birthright $100 million over the” previous “five years,” while “the Israeli government provided Birthright $100 million during the program’s first decade; and in 2011 Israeli “Prime Minister Netanyahu…announced another $100 million in” Israeli “government funding” for NYU Administration funder Steinhardt’s project.

    One reason the militaristic Netanyahu government was so eager to spend $100 million more to fund Steinhardt’s Birthright Israel project in 2011 was perhaps because “after the 2006 Lebanon war, Brandeis researchers found that Birthright alumni were more likely than other young American Jews to view Israel’s military conduct as justified,” according to The Nation magazine article. The same article also described Birthright Israel’s 2000 to 2011 U.S.-based funders in the following way:

    “…Most of them just happen to share hawkish Israel politics. In 1998, during his first term as prime minister, Netanyahu gave the initial guarantee of Israeli government funding. By 2000…at least eight funders were trustees of AIPAC’s think-tank spinoff, the Washington Institute for Near East Policy—including Steinhardt and Bronfman. Casino magnate Adelson…once…broke with AIPAC—for not being conservative enough. Other notables: oil billionaire Lynn Schusterman,…thirty-five-year AIPAC veteran and the purse for many `pro-Israel’ youth initiatives such as the Israel on Campus Coalition,…; diamond baron and settlement construction impresario Lev Leviev; Slim-Fast billionaire 
S. Daniel Abraham, a member of the AIPAC board; and neoconservative philanthropist Roger Hertog, emeritus chair of the Manhattan Institute. Then there’s [now-deceased] donor Marc Rich, a founding Birthright board member, the billionaire oil trader controversially pardoned by President Clinton; throughout his business dealings, Rich gathered intelligence for the Mossad.

    “Several Birthright donors, including family foundations operated by the Gottesmans, Grinspoons, Steinhardts and Schustermans, have also financially supported illegal Jewish settlements…”

    But in an Apr. 29, 2013 article that was posted on The Electronic Intifada website, three non-Israeli Jews who launched the websiteRenounce Birthright called for an end to Steinhardt’s Birthright Israel program, because it is “based on the belief that Jews have a right to settle in modern-day Israel, to the exclusion of the indigenous Palestinians” and “operates under the premise that all Jewish people have an exclusive `right’ to Palestinian land;” while “a Palestinian refugee population of nearly 7 million people is to this day excluded from returning to their lands by Israeli state discrimination.”

    As a late September 2014 press release of the Loyola University Chicago Students for Justice in Palestine [SJP] chapter—that was issued after 15 Palestinian students lined up on Sept. 9, 2014 at a Birthright Israel table on Loyola University’s campus and asked if they, as Palestinians whose families were expelled from villages inside present-day Israel, could also register for a Birthright trip—also observed:

    “…Birthright Israel is an Israeli government-funded program that sponsors free trips to Israel exclusively for Jewish students…Any Jewish student worldwide can register for the program, while indigenous non-Jewish Palestinians are not only ineligible for the program, but often are denied the right to live in or even visit their homeland freely.”

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