JTA on Birthrighter Expulsion

The JTA has chimed in on Birthright’s eviction of the young California woman who planned to attend Birthright Unplugged following her Birthright experience.

Its program is meant to build Jewish identity, officials say, and if participants are using the trip for other purposes, birthright reserves the right to turn them away.
But a co-founder of Birthright Unplugged — the name of the program in the Palestinian territories, a clear dig at the birthright israel brand — says that by denying Sierra a ticket to Israel, birthright simply confirms the need for alternative programs.
But while Birthright Unplugged launched a campaign to call attention to the incident, here’s the kicker: birthright learned about the woman’s plans from her mother, who — apparently out of concern for her daughter’s safety in the Mideast — forwarded them an e-mail in which her daughter details her itinerary and explains that if birthright israel learned of her plans, she would be dropped from its upcoming trip.
The spat highlights some complex questions with which birthright must contend: how to keep out those it does not see as its target audience while remaining open enough to meet its goals; and whether or not keeping out people like Sierra, who was seeking to explore the political issues in Israel as well as her Jewish identity, is the most effective way of furthering the program’s goals.

Full story.

6 thoughts on “JTA on Birthrighter Expulsion

  1. Maybe she could get a free ticket from the ayatolla of Iran or perhaps King Saud. I am sure they would be willing to provide her a ticket since she is a supporter of their cause.

  2. sierra: i want to hear both the israeli and palestinian side of the story.
    sierra as j hears her: i want to destroy the state of israel.
    if simply desiring to hear the palestinian side of the story is enough to destroy the state of israel…

  3. It seems that part of birthright’s decision was related to safety. If, God forbid, something should happen to Sierra while visiting the West Bank, there may be a liability issue because birthright bought her the ticket to get there in the first place.

  4. i would wager that if someone had said they wanted to go to gush etizyon to check out yeshivot after birthright, the org wouldn’t have blinked.

  5. Just for the record, the “J” of comment 1 isn’t me (the usual J). And while I don’t automatically assume that Sierra supports the Saudis or Iranians (not that I would bet against it either), I don’t think something like Birthright Unplugged is the way to get the “Palestinian side”. The best way to do that would be to have each participant accompanied by a translator roam the West Bank, drop in unannounced at mosques, political rallies and other public gatherings, read the newspapers and listen to the radio, and strike up conversations with random Palestinians. And if this experience leads to a lifelong disgust with Palestinians, that’s the way it goes.

  6. actually j, in my experience, a lot of people who go on these encounter tours walk away with a very cynical view towards the palestinian narrative. they hear the rhetoric, usually can see right through it, and leave disillusioned and even more depressed.

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