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Selling Out My Birthright

Alex Halperin discusses the darkside of the birthright israel experience in New Voices.

Also in New Voices this month, a ring-side play by play of the Neuwirth/Seidler-Feller rubmle.

Shlomo: Ladies and gents, stepping into the fray from the red corner we have hawkish pro-Israel activist and free-lance journalist Rachel “Talons of Steel” Neuwirth.
Menachem: She doesn’t look happy. And, yes, she’s challenging him. She’s taken the Dove-inator aside!
Shlomo: We’ve got a live one here folks. Neuwirth just hit Seidler-Feller with the claim that Nusseibeh told Saddam Hussein to launch Scud missiles at Israeli cities.
Menachem: A devastating rhetorical blow!
Shlomo: Don’t count the rabid rebbe out yet. Whoa, this thing’s really getting heated.
Menachem: Folks, it’s difficult to tell from our angle. But it looks like the rabbi just grabbed Neuwirth’s arm while she said he was “worse than a kapo.”
Shlomo: Hard to say which came first.

Well, it’s kinda funny.

14 thoughts on “Selling Out My Birthright

  1. i happened to be on a birthright trip the same time…attended that same ‘mega event’. i was on the israel experts trip..which was actually supposed to be the outdoorsy one, but because so many people were canceling at the time they had to combine them all. anyway, i would definately agree about the “doing it”, but well..when was the last time you went to a jewish social event that you couldn’t get some if you wanted to..and i guess i would call that bad, but whatever..
    anyway in my trip there was plenty talk about etheopians in particular.
    it was my understanding that the normally the program had including free time in tel aviv, and some interaction with arab israelis, but this was excluded from my group as well. i did know a few people that snuck out to the local bars, and booty calls, but if you got caught i think they sent you home.
    aside from thinking that the mega event was a terrorist wet dream…especially after the bombing that i found out about while i was in line. i thought it was pretty cool. got to see sharon speak, and meet people from around the world. there were some crappy comedians and other stuff i could have done without..but so what.

  2. It was “cool” to see Sharon speak…you mean Ariel Sharon? The murderer. The war criminal…cool…interesting.
    Anyone ever see the Battle of Algiers? Great flick. Anyone ever read The Wretched of the Earth? Good book. The point is that colonialism is not a good thing. Perhaps we should take a lttle time to remember that.

  3. http://www.zeek.net/politics_0306.shtml
    “Zionism ultimately has many features of colonialism. But it lacks several other, essential ones. If we wish to say that not all features are necessary, and that having only some is sufficient, then we must add that not all colonialisms are the same, not all colonizers are equal, and the solution to one colonial context is not valid for all. Israel quite simply is not Algeria, and both Arabs and anyone interested in a peaceful solution must recognize where the similarities between the two cases stop. Israelis, unlike French colonists, cannot “go home.” Moreover, unlike France, which never had any reason to be in Algeria in the first place (Charles X invaded in 1830 to distract public attention from his failed domestic policies, not unlike America’s recent foray), Jews have very urgent reasons to be in Palestine, of which the Holocaust is only one. Any bid to decolonize all of Israel is not acceptable. “

  4. That’s a thoughtful quote, however, of course, I have my questions.
    “Jews have very urgent reasons to be in Palestine, of which the Holocaust is only one.”
    -I’m not at all religous so I’ll never be won over with an argument that goes back to the bible and I think that given the different religious beliefs and inclinations of people that an argument that ends in such a place is quite chauvanistic. So if that is one of the reasons, I think we could just assume unbridgable ideological differences along with a totally different perseption of “history”, “time”, and “entitlement”. Furthermore, if it were the case, that all groups who underwent genocide, of which Jews are not the only ones as we well know, were able to pick a spot on the map and become aggressive colonialists, then I wonder what the world would look like. But then I still wonder what the world looks like, so I suppose at least that part wouldn’t change.
    “Israelis, unlike French colonists, cannot “go home.”
    -Well, I think that is simply not true. It seems to me that everyone in “Israel” came from someplace thus they very well could “go home” to that place if they so chose. The only thing is that they wouldn’t necessarily be going home to a relgiously exclusive state per se. Of which later seems inherently unhealthy to me as well as unrealistic as the current situation would suggest.

  5. ^ But that’s just the way I feel about it. I don’t want to sound mean or bitter or anything. So I’ll jusr wish everyone a Happy New Year 🙂

  6. I was on a birthright trip at the same time last year and attended that same mega event. What I remember the most about that event was not the speech by Ariel Sharon and not the dancing and all the people I met there, but all the cell phones that were ringing right before the show. I remember people calling home to tell their parents that they were ok and weren’t hurt in the latest suicide bombing that killed 23 people that day. I remember people crying on what should have been one of the best nights of our lives.
    As far as the trip goes, for every unappreciative Alex Halperin, who did not have to go on the trip if he did not care to listen and learn more about Israel there were 10 kids like me, who loved every second we spent there and would have loved to go back again this year.

  7. The(A)utonomist: You don’t have the slightest idea what you are talking about. You are just stringing a bunch of cliches together.

  8. >Well, I think that is simply not true. It seems to me that everyone in “Israel” came from someplace thus they very well could “go home” to that place if they so chose.
    you are gonna have to elaborate on this because i don’t understand it. also, if you could explain the use of quotation marks.

  9. auto — you’re exhibiting your ignorance of middle eastern and jewish history. not that i expect you to be well-versed in these subjects, being that you’re a non-jew and that you’re relatively new to this topic. that your introduction to israel-palestine has come solely from anti-zionist/pro-palestinian/and vehemently anarchistic/anti-government sources does not help matters either.
    israel is the historic homeland of the jewish people, whether you care to admit that fact or not. and i don’t need to base this on consensual hallucination nor religious scripture, i can do so simply by showing you archeological artificts which clearly demonstrate the presence of jews in the land from time immemorial. jewish people were the primary inhabitants of the region from 3000 b.c.e., through the 17th century, c.e., when the ottomans conquered the region. at that point judaism began to thrive across europe and latin america (whereas life under ottoman rule was harsh and not conducive to a thriving jewish community) and ‘palestine’ (a name given to the region by its roman conquerers as an insult to the jews) hit the backburner. it was then that the arabs began outnumbering the jews in the region. come the late 1920s, there were about 800,000 arabs inhabiting the territories captured from the ottomans by the british in world war i that came to be known as british palestine, at which time both jewish and arab residents were known as palestinians.
    it was in the late 1800s that zionism began to flourish as a philosophy, in response to the ongoing pogroms, explusions, and repression jews faced all throughout europe. jews–primarily socialists–believed that they had a right to self-determination and statehood, particularly because of their pariah status. they thus embarked on a mission to return to palestine, which was, traditionally, for over 5,000 years, their ancestral homeland. the arabs thus had control of the region for only a couple of hundred years, though many arab ‘clans’ had lived in the region since the establishment of islam. those arabs were likely jews themselves before converting to islam, however.
    when anti-semitic violence erupted across europe in the 1930s and the mass-immigration of jews to palestine began, that’s when all hell broke loose. the zionists determined that, in order to obtain statehood, they would have to outnumber the arabs, and to do so quickly. and, by 1945, they had accomplished their goal. and they had done so legally. legally, but not tastefully. since the world zionist congress formed the jewish agency for palestines, the jewish national fund (a component of the jewish agency) had began acquiring land for jewish settlement. they did so by approaching absentee landlords and purchasing tracts of land that were inhabited by poor arabs. by offering these landlords prices they otherwise would have never dreamed of, they easily managed to displace a sizeable portion of indigenous peoples. they bought their houses out from under them. it was legal. but it was a shitty thing to do. but hey–at least they weren’t pushing ’em into ovens, which is precisely what was happening to these jews at the time. what the fuck would you have done?
    now, your statement about israelis “going home” is an ignorant one, because as i’ve already stated, there have always been jews living in israel/palestine. there are many jewish ethnicities, but the two most prominent are the ashkenazim and the sephardim. sephardim are mediterranean jews–they are arabs and spaniards. they are as authentically jewish as you can get (ie., non-white), and had their own language, beyond hebrew, known as ladino, and they thrived under islamic rule in spain until the inquisition, when they were forced to convert to catholocism. many of them then fled to latin america, but others returned to palestine, where there was already an established sephardic community. the people you’re beefing with, really, are the ashkenazim–the white european jews who are descendants of the ancestral jewish homeland, but have less of a claim to the region due to their years in diaspora (a state that was forced upon them by imperialists like the romans, the byzantines, the greek-syrians, and the ottomans, but which was factually never of their own voltion–how nice of you, however, to punish jewish people for trying to come out of a funk imposed on them by their enemies). these are your colonialists. these are your immigrants. these are your dispossesors.
    these are people that are running from fucking gas chambers and ovens with six million members of their families stacked in piles behind them. if their survival demands the disposession of 250,000 arabs–well, to personalize the issue, you’re talking about me, my family, my heritage. i can either shadily buy someone’s house, or go unto my death.
    in the words of private joker in kubrick’s full metal jacket, “the dead know only one thing. it is better to be alive.”
    israel was granted its independence from britain which controlled the region that it conquered from the ottomans who conquered it from x who conquered it from y who conquered it from z and so on. if you want to talk about who it belongs to, all i can say is, show me a canaanite and i’ll show you a rightful heir. otherwise, shut the fuck up and look history in the face. israel is and always was the home of the jewish people, and likely shall forever be until the extinction of jews from the face of this earth.
    and if the arabs aren’t willing to co-exist with the jews, who, up until the modern age didn’t stand a chance of survival in the world, fuck ’em, let ’em move.
    i’ll advocate an end to the occupation; i’ll advocate the cessation of military violance; i’ll advocate full citizenship and equal rights for palestinian arabs who are willing to recognize israel and live in peaceful coexistence with israeli jews; i’ll support peace initiatives; i’ll support any number of things that will bring about peace and coexistence. but i will never, ever, ever in a million fucking years deny israel’s sovereignty, its jewish heritage, nor its right to exist, because to do so would be to deny my own personal right to existence, self-determination and religious freedom, which is something no non-jewish nation has ever wholly guaranteed and protected for jewish people.
    don’t you fuckin’ put israel in quotes on my website buddy. that’s like putting me in quotes, as though i don’t legitimately exist. and thus you have fallen prey to the very same antisemitic rhetoric as old as judaism itself that has cast itself in the form of secular humanist liberalism and radical left values. it is antisemitism, through and through.
    also, another thing, jews (by their own law) do not force their religious beliefs on anyone, so please, stop trying to force your lack of religious beliefs on everyone else. it’s entirely fascisistic and disrespectful and negates of one of the most fundamental human rights–the right to believe whatever the fuck you want.

  10. ya know, i like satanism better than atheism because, hey, at least it’s a theology. at least they believe in something. athiests only believe that everyone who believes in god (be they a theist, a panentheist, or pantheist) is an idiot and that their most cherished lucid, transcendental, and meaningful experiences are just meaningless hallucinations wrought by their eagerness to make their existence for meaningful than it really is. they are nihilists and fatalisits. they believe in nothing except the superiority of their own intellect. and frankly, it sickens me.
    don’t believe in god, fine, but don’t shit on 5,000 years of amazing culture just because you don’t get it.

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