birthrightpic.jpgLike many, I am troubled by Birthright Israel’s decision to not allow Jews to attend a Birthright Israel program if they openly declare intentions to piggyback a Birthright Unplugged program afterwards.
I am troubled by this policy because it doesn’t go far enough.
All participants should be required to agree not to attend any anti-Israel program while on a trip that Birthright Israel has paid for.  Reneging on that agreement should constitute a breach of contract, and the participant should have to pay the full value of the plane ticket, room and board, and all financial expenditures provided for them on their trip.  Parents should be required to co-sign this clause, and be held financially liable if the agreement is broken.
Birthright Israel is sponsored by members and organizations of the American Jewish community. They have every right and a responsibility to their brand and their donors to set limits on who goes on their program. The very name “Birthright Unplugged” reveals disdain for the Birthright program, and demonstrates the predatory tactics of their recruitment drive
Additionally, while I am usually a big fan of encouraging young Americans to waltz into a geo-political conflict in a region they have never been before and decide what needs to change (cause we know everything, we’re Americans!), it is important to ask who is Birthright Unplugged, and what do they stand for? 
They certainly take pains to portray themselves as lesbian hippies concerned with social justice and human rights, and suggest  their own counter-culture marxist orientation is in line with the thinking of the leaders, if not the masses, of the generally Muslim led anti-Israel movements.

…many of us have chosen not to speak about our sexuality with our Palestinian hosts, even though we felt it was important to come out to our international comrades. 

As if this is a conflict between Left and Right.
And they know this isn’t the source of conflict, no matter how much time Mermelstein spent fighting all sorts of real and imagined forms of “racism” in her previous work. And they have one and only one solution. And it isn’t a drum circle.
The problem for this group is the State of Israel in its entirety. Their solution is to dissolve the Jewish state.  Absolutely nothing less will do for these women.
Come and Hear,
On the staff bios page, founders Dunya Alwan and Hannah Mermelstein boast that they are both members of the International Women’s Peace Service.  Note the language of an “apartheid wall.”  This is simply ridiculous. The fence is clearly a precursor to disengagement.  They know this.  They are concerned that unilateral disengagement might solve Israel’s demographic problem, and alleviate pressure from the international community.  So they call it something it is not in order to preempt its success. Apartheid is a hot and sexy concept, but it has nothing to do with this fence, which also serves as a defensive barrier to prospective infiltrators seeking a bus ride to eternity.  
There is nothing “international” in the focus of IWPS.  It is specifically dedicated to the destruction of Israel.  The first thing on the links page is to the Palestinian Right of Return Coalition.  
This is not because it is a human rights issue.  This is because that alone would do the trick of achieving a “one state solution.”
Some of the links in Birthright Unplugged are revealing as well.  Like to the Electronic Intifada, which contains a whole section of equivocation on why they don’t address the issue of suicide bombings.  Except for the real reason.  That they don’t want to their lose credibility with Islamic Fundamentalists.  And let’s not forget their link to our good friends at the International Solidarity Movement.  My, oh my, what a wonderful feeder Birthright Unplugged might prove for ISM.  Birthright Unplugged might be cautious to avoid conflict with the IDF, but a certain portion of their campers will certainly be interested in going to the next level, that is to say, to ISM.  Of course, ISM claims they are only interested in non-violent resistance.  In war zones.  But in a war zone, accidents will eventually happen.  And then you have martyrs.  Young, western martyrs. And those are a gold mine.  Can you imagine what a Jewish martyr would be like for ISM?  Oh, the blogs, the plays, and the endless crocodile tears that would follow.  See? This is about the Zionists, not Jews.  Many Jews are against Zionism.  They are also killed by Zionists!
And where is the transparency about whom, exactly, is backing Birthright Unplugged?  What are they afraid of?  Are there, perhaps, donations and cooperation from organizations that would discredit the claim that these are “Jewish” trips?
There have always been collaborators among the Jewish people.  And yes, in case there is any doubt, Birthright Unplugged is intent upon cultivating collaborators. 
What is horrifying to me are the comments on the last post by Jews who should know better but who are shockingly ambivalent about Birthright’s proper decision to remove Sierra from the list of participants. 
Don’t you see how we are being played? Did you not have Jewish grandparents? 
What is the matter with you people? This is basic stuff.  Don’t sponsor free trips half way around the world to those seeking to literally stand with the enemies of Israel against our own people. Let Hamas pay for such free trips.  And don’t take an ambivalent position about funding such a thing.   It’s an absurd suggested Jewish communal policy.  Say it.
A clear cut response is required.  Non-Zionists must stand in solidarity with Birthright Israel.  It is, overall, a good program.  A great program. Perhaps the best program the American Jewish community has created in decades. 
Long live Birthright Israel, and may she never be unplugged.