Salon has entered the fray on the Birthright Unplugged controversy, elevating the story from an internal Jewish matter to one of national attention.
Taglit is not too thrilled with these developments, mainly because it funds the ISM volunteers’ travel to Israel. “It is taking advantage of the Jewish money that sends people to Israel, exploiting this money to promote an agenda which is not the agenda of the people who funded Taglit,” says Mark. Potential candidates who are discovered to have a “hidden agenda” are not allowed onto the trips.
But “birthlefters” have no qualms over misused money. They say the idea of a blanket Jewish birthright to Israel is fundamentally flawed, given that countless Diaspora Palestinians are accorded no such right. “Billions of dollars are used to give free trips to American kids and if the Israel government funds it then that comes through the U.S., people’s tax dollars,” says Gordon. She sees anti-occupation work as a good use of that money. Others point out that in the P.R. battle between pro-Israelis and pro-Palestinians, the former has huge resources while the latter “has to do bake sales to fund our next event.” Moreover, says Gordon, “If Birthright is going to weed people out according to politics, then it’s not really about Judaism anymore.”
(c/o Amy K.)