J Street U and Birthright: The closest we're getting to the full story

First, J Street U announced they were doing a Birthright trip this summer.
Then, they said then Birthright canceled it.
Then, Birthright said they never approved it in the first place.
So is Birthright telling the real story? Or is J Street U?
According to a new in-depth analysis of the situation from New Voices (full disclosure: I helped edit the piece), the whole picture is more complicated than it initially appears.
Check it out here: No Birthright Bus on J Street.

11 thoughts on “J Street U and Birthright: The closest we're getting to the full story

  1. Now I blame Rachel Russo for everything! That was easy.
    More seriously, I find it much easier to believe both sides if they were communicating exclusively through an intermediary that won’t talk to the press. Maybe the intermediary outright lied, or at least royally screwed up. We’ll never know until they speak up.
    Seems like a weird way to do business, though. If you believe both sides, or at least Birthright’s side, then this whole public fiasco could’ve been prevented with one phone call over the past two months.

  2. What a mess. JStreet U should definitely reapply with this or another trip provider, perhaps making some course corrections in the programming. I actually think a trip to Israel is precisely what many young progressive Jews need, so long as they are presented with balanced perspectives. The only way to challenge the one-sided understanding of many progressive to radical-leftist Jews is through first hand experience.

  3. Here’s an idea. Why doesn’t JSteetU organise a tour to the Happy Valley racetrack in Hong Kong where they can meet JStreet’s biggest donor. Plus all the pork you can eat.
    Besides, Israel is full of sei gweilo’s, so how can Ben-Ami support it?
    Gung hay fat choy! What, don’t you have a calendar? It’s tomorrow, Feb 3.
    Year of the rabbit (not rabbi).

  4. Are you too old to go now? They’re opening it up to unlimited participants now, with massive Israeli government funding. You should definitely go in the spring if you can. It’s a great experience.

  5. I was so disappointed to hear it was cancelled; I was really wanting to go on this trip. Hopefull this can all get straightened out- I can’t imagine either group lying about this. There must have been some massive communication error.

  6. According to the article:
    “We’ve always held axiomatically that we do not deal in politics,” said Jacob Dallal, Birthright’s associate director of communications. “We do not deal in religion. We do not impose religious views on participants. That’s what makes Birthright mainstream.”
    This line seems bogus to me. Birthright may not, but plenty of their other trip providers clearly come with ideological, denominational, and religious slants, not the least of which is Birthright’s largest provider (according to their website), Maayanot, a Chabad run program. You’re telling me that students who enroll in any denominational program are given the same Shabbat prayer options that Hillels traditionally give their students? The same slant on holy sites? I wouldn’t think so. I may not agree with J-Street politically, but I am not sure why, unless this really was just an insane miscommunication, they wouldn’t be allowed to take out a trip…

  7. when my wife went on birthright she also said that there was a push towards religiosity, but she also said it came from a rabbi that was helping lead the trip, not from the organization she went through. could it be that birthright is bring (somewhat) honest and it is the case that they don’t have control over what happens on each bus?

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