Birthright Israel recently ordered participants to stop meeting with Israeli Palestinian citizens.
I was always concerned about the brainwashing that’s built in to [Birthright] trips.
But I also believe in young people’s hearts and minds; I believe that awareness and exposure can change mindsets. I insist on meeting Birthright groups, I insist on speaking to people who disagree with me.
Birthright is reportedly ordering their trip providers to stop meetings between their participants and Arab citizens of Israel. In their own words, “there is a need for further analysis of this module.”
I read these lines over and over again and could not trace my thoughts fast enough. My responses went from laughing out loud, to wanting to smash the nearest available wall, to being entirely unsurprised.
“Further analysis” on how and if to meet Arabs?
Maybe they mean to say Birthright participants should meet only the properly vetted and defanged “good pro-Israel Arabs,” because they’re scared delicate Birthrighters might be exposed to critical thought? After all, what a disaster it would be to raise a generation of Jews who dare to think critically about Israel.
Birthright is attempting to create a sterile, ideologically “pure” environment, for its participants. But what will happen when they grow up and realize there is so much more than what they have seen on Birthright? Could that dissonance mean they’ll lose faith in this place called Israel? How do Birthright organizers expect its alumni to correlate the false images they saw on a perfect, “clean” ten day freebie with the complexity of the real world?
Let Birthright ban the meetings. It’s better. And it’s more honest of Birthright to just come out and say it: Jews from all over the world, come for a free ride to Israel and don’t worry, you won’t be “contaminated” by meeting 22% of Israel’s population, or any Palestinians at all.
Oh, but wait — who will be cleaning their rooms in the hotels? Who will be driving their buses? Who will be cooking their authentic “Israeli food”? Who will be providing the camels for the compulsory rite-of-passage Birthright pictures? Who will host them in the “traditional Bedouin tent”?
It“s 2017 and it’s hard to believe that I’m saying this — but Birthright thinks Arabs are only good for you when they are your service providers. But to shut up and listen to them as equals? Let’s get rid of that.