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Since 1999, Taglit-Birthright Israel has enabled thousands of young Jewish people around the world to travel to Israel. The nonprofit programme takes participants on an all-expenses-paid journey through the country, but Palestinian rights activists say the trip whitewashes the Israel-Palestine conflict. Critics have also questioned the ethics of the programme, noting the inability of Palestinians in the diaspora to return to their ancestral homeland.
Last summer, a small group of Birthright Israel participants walked off the trip protesting what they called the erasure of "the Palestinian experience." Supporters of the programme, such as writer Ariel Sobel, called it a “stunt”, saying demonstrators used a free trip to make a political statement at the expense of people who might not otherwise be able to afford it. But human rights groups like Jewish Voice for Peace say young Jews should reject the programme entirely. They are using the hashtag #ReturnTheBirthright to highlight the dispossession of Palestinians.
In this episode, we chat with Taglit-Birthright Israel critics and alumni to explore the ethics of travelling to Israel.
On this episode of The Stream, we speak with:
Taher Herzallah @taherherzallah
Associate director of outreach, American Muslims for Palestine
Ariel Sobel @arielsobelle
Bethany Zaiman @IfNotNowOrg
Young American Jews walked off their Birthright tour of Israel. The protest sparked a debate at home - Los Angeles Times
American Jews and Israeli Jews Are Headed for a Messy Breakup - New York Times
Walking Off Birthright? Check Your Privilege - Forward
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