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‘Slate’ blames Birthright for indoctrinating American Jew who was killed fighting for Israel

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Max Steinberg is a 24-year-old American who was just killed in Gaza, fighting for the Israeli Defense Forces. He visited Israel for the first time in 2012 on a Birthright trip, the program that sends American Jews to Israel, and he drank the Koolaid. His parents had never been to Israel.

At Slate, Allison Benedikt asserts that he was indoctrinated by Birthright to believe he should fight for Israel. And she blames Birthright for his death:

There are many people to blame for Steinberg’s death. There is the Hamas fighter behind the weapon that actually killed him. There are the leaders, on both sides, who put him in Gaza, and the leaders behind all of the wars between Israel and the Palestinians. I can trace it back to 1948, or 1917, or whatever date suits you and still never find all the parties who are responsible. But I have no doubt in my mind that along with all of them, Birthright shares some measure of the blame…

Benedikt quotes Kiera Feldman’s great expose of Birthright and mentions the sexual tourism element of the trips. Her piece refers to Zionism once — the “Zionist claim to the land”– and it never uses the word indoctrination. But it’s about indoctrination. When will 60 Minutes do this story about dubious and dangerous allegiance?

Indoctrination:

[Steinberg’s] mother told the Washington Post that, initially, he didn’t want to go on the Birthright trip, but once he did, it changed him. It was on his group’s visit to Israel’s national cemetery at Mount Herzl that Steinberg saw the grave of an American “lone soldier” who died fighting for Israel and “decided that Israel was where he wanted to be.” He joined the IDF, his father said, because he saw it as an obligation were he to stay in Israel…

And some healthy cynicism about indoctrination:

What makes an American kid with shaky Hebrew and no ties to the state of Israel suddenly decide he is ready to make this sacrifice? Maybe Max was especially lost, or especially susceptible, or maybe he was just looking to do some good and became convinced by his Birthright experience that putting on an IDF uniform and grabbing a gun was the way to do it. That serving and protecting the Jewish people was the moral thing to do, and that the best way to accomplish it was to go fight for the Jewish state. It turns out that it’s not that hard to persuade young people to see the world a certain way and that Birthright is very good at doing it. You spend hundreds of millions of dollars to convince young Jews that they are deeply connected to a country that desperately needs their support? This is what you get. 

Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.

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103 Responses

  1. Mooser on July 23, 2014, 11:03 am

    That poor schlimazel.

    • bilal a on July 23, 2014, 11:11 am

      Defending the Jewish people against terrorism is a noble aim, and military service a selfless action in support of that aim. But that has nothing to do with the blockade and terror inflicted on Gaza.

      Still when the IDF puts 2 Americans into the lead APC traveling into a booby trapped gaza ally way, that;s just too cynical.

      • Mooser on July 23, 2014, 12:52 pm

        “Defending the Jewish people against terrorism is a noble aim, and military service a selfless action in support of that aim.”

        Oh please. “Defending the Jewish people against terrorism is a noble aim”
        Is that what you think is going on in Gaza now?

      • Citizen on July 23, 2014, 3:44 pm

        From what I’ve read, one American-born and bred dual citizen young jew volunteered to become an IDF sniper, killing Palestinian civilians trying to help their children, and the other one drove an armored IDF troop carrier into Gaza. Also, from facts given by the Forward, 37 American Jews gave their life as US troops in Afghanistan and Iraq as of February 2011, in context of nearly 6, OOO US youth soldiers who died as of then; there’s about 2000 US Jewish youth in the IDF now.

  2. just on July 23, 2014, 11:05 am

    The wheels are falling off… better late than never.

    • can of worms on July 23, 2014, 12:12 pm

      This is not ‘the wheels falling off’. This is a ruse. Once again, a big deal is made of one single death of one named Jewish soldier, erasing the individuality and importance of the lives of Palestinian civilians.

      A lot can be said about Birthright especially in terms of class and race, and its methods. But progressives like to expose Birthright’s brainwashing and sexualization of the military while dodging the necessary linkage between
      brainwashing and an [unsustainable] ethnocratic privilege.

      Benedikt:
      “There are many people to blame for Steinberg’s death. There is the Hamas fighter behind the weapon that actually killed him.” (The blamed Hamas fighter behind the weapon was a prisoner of a concentration camp, “bare life” being massacred and abandoned by the international human rights regime.)

      “There are the leaders, on both sides, who put him in Gaza”. (False symmetry can not be tolerated. Hamas didn’t put anyone in Gaza.)

      “I have no doubt in my mind that along with all of them, Birthright shares some measure of the blame….” (yeah, as everyone does who supports zionism.)

      Seriously, how is Israel supposed to remain a ‘Jewish State’ if it cannot maintain its Jewish ‘demographic balance’?

      • Citizen on July 23, 2014, 3:51 pm

        I’d just like to see the US main media tell the US public that a big proportion of Gaza population are refugees from being kicked out of their generationl homes by Israel in the first place. Seems that context is too much to ask of the US mainstream media.

  3. jewishgoyim on July 23, 2014, 11:06 am

    At least he wanted this fight and was wearing a uniform. I’m more concerned about the death of civilians and people who would have rather avoided the fight. He came to the fight and did not see it imposed on him.

    Phil, what’s your take on Rula Jebreal? Why is there so little about her on Mondo?

    • Citizen on July 23, 2014, 3:54 pm

      Rula Jebreal tells U the US main media is totally biased in favor of Israel. It is. She’s now booted out.

  4. ckg on July 23, 2014, 11:11 am

    Thanks, Phil. At yesterday’s press briefing, Said Arikat of Al-Quds asked

    QUESTION: I wanted to ask you about the number of soldiers that have U.S. citizenship. The latest figures show that there are 2,000 Americans serving for the Israeli army.

    MS. HARF: I haven’t – I don’t think we keep figures on that. I don’t – I certainly haven’t seen them.

    Can anyone confirm the 2,000 figure or provide an alternative?

    • bilal a on July 23, 2014, 11:13 am

      given 500K total reserves, what is the probability of 2 americans being among the first dead ?

      • lysias on July 23, 2014, 11:37 am

        What is the probability of them being in the elite Golani Brigadi that was sent to the fore in the fighting? Makes you wonder if there is a policy of putting Americans at risk, in the hope that, if any die, they can be used to drum up sympathy for the cause among Americans.

      • W.Jones on July 23, 2014, 12:27 pm

        There are all kind of weird things and unknowns going on over there.

      • Marnie on July 23, 2014, 1:01 pm

        I have been told Ethiopian soldiers are put in very “hot” spots. I don’t know why, but something tells me, if this is true, that racism is involved, “you’re not really one of us, so you’re more expendable” otherwise known as being “Uriah” (not official, just my idea). If a christian who volunteers dies in battle, he is not buried in the soldier’s cemetary because it is for jews only. However, this apparently was changed as of July 2013 because it got out and some people were upset and it was embarassing…………….

      • a blah chick on July 23, 2014, 1:16 pm

        I remember that. It was some ceremony the IDF has every year to acknowledge the last soldier to die while on active duty. Last year the guy was one of those Russian immigrants. The brass decided that he was unsuitable and had the service for the Jewish guy who had died before him. Everyone got upset and the brass said that they meant no disrespect. It’s just that the ceremony was a religious one and how would look awkward honoring a Christian in this manner.

      • MahaneYehude1 on July 23, 2014, 3:48 pm

        @Marnie:

        I have been told Ethiopian soldiers are put in very “hot” spots. I don’t know why, but something tells me, if this is true, that racism is involved, “you’re not really one of us, so you’re more expendable” otherwise known as being “Uriah” (not official, just my idea).

        One of the bizarre comments I read in MW and I wonder why no one asks you for “source”. I sure you don’t really know the Israeli society and how really things going in the IDF. Until now, Israel announced 32 dead soldiers in Gaza and many injured. If you check the list you will find that all the range of Israeli society is represented, including “Ethiopians” (meaning, Jews from Ethiopian origin, most of them were born in Israel) and yes, love it or not, also Palestinians soldiers are serving in the IDF, serving their country. This high number of dead and injured soldiers shows that we are ready to die to defend our homeland and families, no matter your sophisticated analyses. The Palestinians know it, also MW readers should know.

      • Mooser on July 23, 2014, 9:55 pm

        “This high number of dead and injured soldiers shows that we are ready to die to defend our homeland and families, no matter your sophisticated analyses. The Palestinians know it, also MW readers should know.”

        You poor son-of-a-beeswax, Mehane. Mehane, having soldiers ready to die to “defend our homeland” is no big deal. The Nazis had that, too. What is so depressing is that Israelis don’t want to live to defend their ‘homeland’.

      • eljay on July 23, 2014, 10:03 pm

        >> MY1: This high number of dead and injured soldiers shows that we are ready to die to defend our homeland and families …

        Your soldiers are dying to defend Jewish oppression, colonialism and supremacism in Palestine, Potato-man. There’s nothing noble about it.

      • iResistDe4iAm on July 23, 2014, 11:37 pm

        Marnie says:
        If a christian who volunteers dies in battle, he is not buried in the soldier’s cemetary because it is for jews only. However, this apparently was changed as of July 2013 because it got out and some people were upset and it was embarassing…………….

        Correct, fallen non-Jewish Israeli soldiers (Druze, Christian, Muslim) are not buried in military cemeteries.

        Here’s a summary of the 2013 changes to the regulation governing fallen Israeli soldiers:
        http://www.jpost.com/Defense/Non-Jewish-IDF-soldiers-to-be-buried-in-same-section-as-Jews-319003

        The only change applies to “fallen soldiers of Jewish descent but who are nevertheless not Jewish according to Jewish law”.
        Previously, “fallen soldiers of Jewish descent” had been buried in the same section of military cemeteries but not in the same plot as their fallen Jewish comrades.
        After the change, “fallen soldiers of Jewish descent” will be buried in the same plot within military cemeteries although not in the same row.

        So “fallen soldiers of Jewish descent” have been promoted:
        – from same section but separate plot
        – to same plot but separate row

        One burial policy for fallen Jewish Israeli soldiers (but with separate burial rows for soldiers “of Jewish descent but who are nevertheless not Jewish according to Jewish law”), a different burial policy for fallen non-Jewish Israeli soldiers = Israeli apartheid

      • Marnie on July 24, 2014, 12:40 am

        mh1 – you didn’t read the part where i wrote “not official, just my idea”. I’m sorry but since it’s something I came up with all by my widdle self, i have no statistics or links for you to dispute. I’ve been on this earth long enough to know racism when i see it.

      • Marnie on July 24, 2014, 12:47 pm

        This was the best they could come up with? Even in death, not good enough? So “fallen soldiers of Jewish descent” have been promoted:
        – from same section but separate plot
        – to same plot but separate row.
        Is this 2014 or 1954? It doesn’t matter because israel doesn’t care what the international community thinks.

      • Shingo on July 24, 2014, 5:21 am

        One of the bizarre comments I read in MW and I wonder why no one asks you for “source”.

        That’s almost too funny coming from someone who refuses to provided sources as a matter of principal.

        This high number of dead and injured soldiers shows that we are ready to die to defend our homeland and families, no matter your sophisticated analyses.

        No it doesn’t, it shows that poor schmucks who are forced to serve under Israeli laws are being sacrificed for Netanyahu’s political ambitions. ISrael are not defending themselves, they started the war.

      • MahaneYehude1 on July 24, 2014, 5:44 am

        @Shingo:

        That’s almost too funny coming from someone who refuses to provided sources as a matter of principal.

        Nonsense. I always provide sources like articles and videos. Check my profile before you write wrong information.

        No it doesn’t, it shows that poor schmucks who are forced to serve under Israeli laws are being sacrificed for Netanyahu’s political ambitions. ISrael are not defending themselves, they started the war.

        See my other reply to you in the same subject.

      • Shingo on July 24, 2014, 10:55 am

        See my other reply to you in the same subject.

        I have. Again the poor schmucks who are forced to serve under Israeli laws are being sacrificed for Netanyahu’s political ambitions. ISrael are not defending themselves, they started the war.

        Nonsense. I always provide sources like articles and videos. Check my profile before you write wrong information.

        No, very few and the links are from pitiful sources.

    • Citizen on July 23, 2014, 3:58 pm

      According to The Forward, in February of 2011, 37 US jews died fighting terrorism in US military uniforms in the middle east; at the time nearly 6,000 US military were killed fighting there for that government-claimed reason.

    • Bumblebye on July 23, 2014, 5:07 pm

      I don’t know about US figs, but Channel4 here thinks there are about a hundred Brits in the IDF:
      http://blogs.channel4.com/factcheck/factcheck-britons-fight-israel/18448?intcmp=news_header_factcheck_latest

      “The numbers of volunteers from the UK are small but significant: the IDF told Channel 4 News there are “around one hundred Brits currently serving” in its ranks.

      There is a even a support group for British parents of IDF soldiers called Mahal Mums.”

      Much more at the link.

    • traintosiberia on July 23, 2014, 9:48 pm

      Think for a moment. 2000 soldiers in US military traveling to Syria to join IS or Nusra. The US citizen and French citizen have volunteered to join a fight on behalf of a Government that maintains blockade and occupies West Bank . These fighters are fighting for a cause that is illegal in US laws and in international laws . They are violating Geneva convention by joining the army for a country that is violating hose laws And no one forcing them
      Are they radicalized? Will they attack locals ( as happens in France from JDL ) when they return?

    • ckg on July 23, 2014, 10:03 pm

      Found it. AP article by Julie Watson:

      Marina Rozhansky says there are about 2,000 lone soldiers currently serving in the military. Rozhansky is a spokeswoman at the Israel Consul General in Los Angeles.

      • ckg on July 24, 2014, 9:24 am

        Rozhansky’s 2,000 figure may not be specific to Americans.

      • ckg on July 24, 2014, 9:59 am

        CNN article:

        It’s believed there are approximately 750 Americans currently serving in the Israeli military, according to Friends of IDF, an advocacy organization based in New York.

        I assume then that the 2,000 figure includes non-Americans.

      • ritzl on July 24, 2014, 10:15 am

        @ckg- Keeping in mind that the US is still at war in Afghanistan, others are dying and being maimed so these disgusting people can go kill them some “palis.” Despite what anyone thinks about what we’re doing in Afghanistan, these people are traitors not heroes.

        And I don’t know what kind of oath one has to swear to become an NCO in Israel (the dead guys were both sergeants), but there’s a reasonable chance they had to swear loyalty which means there’s an equally reasonable chance they have relinquished their US citizenship (i.e. are no longer US citizens). Scum.

      • ckg on July 24, 2014, 11:00 am

        @ritzl –I would have thought that too. But consider this discussion Monday of the issue between AP’s Matt Lee and State Dept. Deputy Spokesperson Marie Harf:

        QUESTION: No, you’re going to get the same answer over and over and over. (Laughter). On the IDF – those American soldiers. Is this something that is specific to Israel and the IDF?

        MS. HARF: What? Is what specific?

        QUESTION: Well, that it being – that it is okay or that there’s no problem legally for an American citizen —

        MS. HARF: No, military service in foreign countries usually does not cause loss of nationality or problems since an intention to relinquish nationality normally is lacking, obviously – many times dual citizens or they just have a desire to serve. So usually it’s not – U.S. citizens can lose their citizenship if they perform certain acts working for certain countries or with the intent to relinquish their nationality. But with the IDF, certainly, and with other countries, I can see if I have more details. This is something that happens fairly frequently.

        QUESTION: Well, I’m just thinking – how about Iran? If an Iranian American joined the IRGC —

        MS. HARF: That would be quite different, Matt.

        QUESTION: Okay. So there is a – there —

        MS. HARF: Absolutely there’s a difference. It depends on —

        QUESTION: — there’s a big distinction. Or if a Korean American went to North Korea and joined the North Korean army, that would be a problem?

        MS. HARF: I can guarantee you we would respond very differently.

        QUESTION: Or a Chinese American and the – I mean, where does – is —

        MS. HARF: Where is there a line?

        QUESTION: Yeah, where – or is there one?

        MS. HARF: I can see if there are more details on that.

        QUESTION: Okay.

        MS. HARF: I actually think there are —

        QUESTION: Okay.

        MS. HARF: — rules written up about this. Certainly, service with the IDF is something that many Americans do proudly and we have no issues.

        QUESTION: I understand that. I just want to know about other ones.

        So presumably, it would have been officially a-okay for Americans to have served in the forces that attacked the USS Liberty in ’67.

      • lysias on July 24, 2014, 11:10 am

        So presumably, it would have been officially a-okay for Americans to have served in the forces that attacked the USS Liberty in ’67.

        Or to have been one of the IDF soldiers that assisted in the Sabra and Shatila massacres.

      • ritzl on July 24, 2014, 1:00 pm

        @ckg- Hostage and I went over this several months ago. Harf is parroting the selective case of generic “service.” For that there is no presumption of renouncing citizenship because there is no empowerd loyalty oath involved.

        There IS a loyalty oath involved with commissioned officers so the presumption is (or would be should it ever be enforced) that they are relinquishing their citizenship by taking a specific oath of allegiance to a foreign government and serving in a fiduciary capacity. That’s why Oren had to relinquish his US citizenship, as I understand it.

        The question is whether non-coms have to take a similar allegiance oath, and/or how far down the grades that might become significant enough to indicate a renunciation. Jeffrey Goldberg didn’t have to give up his US citizenship as an IDF corporal, but does a (M/?) sergeant have to take the oath AND have enough fiduciary “command” (I know that’s not the right word) responsibility for that oath to meet the legal criteria as an expression of intent to renounce.

        Hostage might just say, “NO…!” (I miss his insights/clarity.) but it’s not as binary as Harf describes (mostly because she leaves out relevant info in making such categorical statements), imho.

        If I can find our discussion on this, I’ll post a link.

  5. W.Jones on July 23, 2014, 11:11 am

    Is that an eye symbol with a curved upper brow?

    • Donald on July 23, 2014, 11:32 am

      Star of David, I think, with Sauron’s Lidless Eye in the middle for some reason. My best guess.

      Seriously, what is that supposed to be?

      • W.Jones on July 23, 2014, 1:10 pm

        Perhaps. Tolkien’s story about Sauron’s ring bears a close resemblance to the myth of Solomon’s ring, some versions of which claimed that the ring was inscribed with a hexagram. This in turn became a major symbol in magic since medieval times. So when Tolkien wrote about Sauron’s eye he may have also based it on the all-seeing eye symbol used in contemporary magic and religion.

      • MahaneYehude1 on July 23, 2014, 4:18 pm

        The word “Taglit” means “discovery” and the eye in the middle of the Shield of David (Star of David) is watching toward Israel.

      • W.Jones on July 23, 2014, 7:44 pm

        Do you know what is the origin and meaning of the hexagram, or is it purely decorative?

    • Marnie on July 23, 2014, 12:45 pm

      It reminds me, only vaguely, of the symbol for freemasons. FYI, there are freemason temples in israel.

  6. Kay24 on July 23, 2014, 11:13 am

    I do agree that this indoctrination of young American kids, are part of the Master plan. Strange they have made them feel so patriotic to an alien nation, and that you do not see them show such loyalty to the nation that nurtures them. These indoctrinated kids grow up to be the Blitzers, Dan Sensors, Wolfowitzes, Richard Perles (who spied on the US, like Pollard), Elliot Abrams, the Barbara Boxers, Jane Harmons, and all the Israeli firsters, who are willing to send our kids to die for Israel’s constant wars, and Bibi’s war mongering, and have a sick sense of loyalty to Israel as adults.
    Birthright, what BS.

    • jimby on July 23, 2014, 12:01 pm

      @Kay24: You forgot Rahm Emmanuel who was in the IDF. His father was in the Irgun just like Bibi’s father and ass hat Obama chose him for Chief of Staff.

      • lysias on July 23, 2014, 12:32 pm

        Memo Reveals Rahm Emanuel Advised President Clinton To Achieve ‘Record Deportations’:

        On November 20th, 1996, Rahm Emanuel had an idea. Amidst the joy of the re-election of his friend and mentor, President Bill Clinton, Emanuel saw an opportunity for the president to help the Democratic Party maintain a perceived “parity” with the GOP on crime – record deportations. The revelation is contained in recently released documents from the Clinton Library after 12 years of being concealed.

        With a focus on “criminal aliens” Emanuel said Clinton should expand immigration hearings in Illinois, California, New Jersey, Texas, Florida, and Arizona “to claim and achieve record deportations of criminal aliens.” This was to be complimented with a one month moratorium on naturalization to review past files for evidence that those applying might be criminal aliens and should subsequently be deported.

      • Kay24 on July 23, 2014, 1:00 pm

        Of course I forgot Rahm Emanuel. There are lots and lots more, all influencing our policies, and the thinking of the American people.
        We should call them traitors, really. They have corrupted all branches of government, the media, and everywhere a snake can slither into.

    • seafoid on July 23, 2014, 1:30 pm

      The IDF glorifies combat death and they have built quite a cult around it.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8PrS5KDhllY

      “The fallen”. Women who die in combat are fallen women. So is Tzipi Livni.

      There is a special holiday to mark all the Jews killed in Israel’s many wars of choice. Because the army is the central institution in Israeli life.

      And a young death for Erez Israel fighting terrorists is the most mysterious of all. Especially when the lawnmower is responsible.

      Of course the James Dean of IDF death is Netanyahu’s brother.

      • MahaneYehude1 on July 23, 2014, 3:20 pm

        @seafoid:

        Thank you very much for uploading those two videos in MondoWeiss.

      • Mooser on July 23, 2014, 9:59 pm

        “Thank you very much for uploading those two videos in MondoWeiss.”

        Oh yes, they are so convincing. Why, I’m nearly persauded to enlist.
        Seriously dude, you are one crazy hombre if you think there is anything positive in those videos. Of course, they do show the triumph of will-power.

      • Inanna on July 24, 2014, 8:00 am

        Of course, they do show the triumph of will-power.

        I see what you did there Mooser.

      • Jon66 on July 23, 2014, 7:50 pm

        There is a special holiday in America as well to honor our fallen soldiers. It’s called Memorial Day. It occurs in May every year and we have parades. I’m unfamiliar with other countries, but expect that many have ceremonies honoring their fallen soldiers.

      • Jon66 on July 23, 2014, 7:55 pm

        There is a special holiday in America to honor fallen soldiers. It’s called Memorial Day. I imagine many countries do the same. Even Sweden has a Veterans Day.

      • Mooser on July 23, 2014, 10:03 pm

        “There is a special holiday in America to honor fallen soldiers. It’s called Memorial Day.”

        And therefore everything Israel does is just A-okay, hunky-dory! I mean, you have Memorial day, too don’t you?

      • traintosiberia on July 23, 2014, 10:05 pm

        But they don’t glorify death. They celebrate life. They don’t allow cult around the fallen .they don’t fallen cult . They don’t have death cult. They love life,friends,family,and beaches . They enjoy summer and winter.They adore everything living .Above all they don’t send radicalized indoctrinated youth from France or US to die and die to kill . They don’t travel thousands miles to drop bombs on hapless children and turn the bodies into piles of burnt meat .They love the nature and they love to smell the roses in the blossoming desert. Love of life is in the DNA and in The Tanakh.

      • Marnie on July 24, 2014, 1:00 am

        The israelis can’t talk about a “culture of death” and ascribe it to the Palestinians. The display of a myriad of DSM-IV diagnoses by the israels would be funny if it weren’t deadly and ultimately suicidal. Intervention is required ASAP. They are begging to be stopped in their tracks because they obviously are unable to do it themselves (Dennis the menace on meth)

      • Mooser on July 24, 2014, 8:55 pm

        Marnie, the technical name for the mental and behavioral symptoms exhibited by Zionists is “The Ziocaine Syndrome” Since the behavioral changes observed in those suffering from the Ziocaine syndrome often resembled those seen in people who chronically abuse alcohol and cocaine (and hence, the name), early observers tended to think the origin must have a chemical, or even a genetic anomaly. But no, it is pretty generally conceded that the Ziocaine Syndrome is a social disease.
        The Ziocaine Syndrome occurs in what are called “episodes”. Something triggers the Ziocaine reaction, and this leads to a period of vicarious brutality, and grandiosity in general, alternating with periods of whiny paranoia, and intense feelings of victimization . The episode usually ends with what is known as the “Ziocaine Amnesia” which allows them a) to feel no shame at all for what they said or did, and b) come back and say all the same stupid stuff tomorrow.
        There is no known treatment, but remission is possible in individuals.

  7. Maximus Decimus Meridius on July 23, 2014, 11:17 am

    I’m uncomfortable with the current trend of feeling sorry for dead Israeli soldiers because they were ‘indoctrinated’ – even if they grew up on another continent. It seems like another form of Zionist pity for the ‘anguished Israeli solider’.

    This guy was 24, well old enough to make his own decisions. He chose to move to a faraway land and serve in a brutal occupation army. As an adult, there were any number of choices he could have made, but this was his choice. Who knows how many Palestinians he killed, or would have killed if he’d had the chance?

    People are going to criticise me for this, as they did before, but I am not going to mourn this soldier’s death. Choices have consequences, yes, even for Israelis.

    • Donald on July 23, 2014, 11:41 am

      “t seems like another form of Zionist pity for the ‘anguished Israeli solider’.”

      Or it could just be the recognition that young idealistic people can often be misled into fighting stupid and immoral wars.

      • Maximus Decimus Meridius on July 23, 2014, 12:11 pm

        So when do adults actually have responsiblity for their own free choices, do you think?

        This wasn’t a spur of the moment thing. This ‘idealistic’ person signed up for a foreign occupation army whose record of brutality is well known and well publicised. As others have said, he served in the ‘elite’ Golani brigade, a brigade infamous – even by IDF standards – for its brutality.

        We’re hardly talking about a naive innocent led astray. This was an adult well aware of the nastiness of the IDF, but eager to cross oceans to serve in it nonetheless.

      • Donald on July 23, 2014, 1:35 pm

        “This was an adult well aware of the nastiness of the IDF,”

        See, that’s where I suspect you might be wrong. Grow up in the right (or wrong) sort of environment and you just naturally assume that anything you might hear that contradicts some cherished belief is a bunch of malicious lies and he might not have heard anything bad. I don’t know anything myself about the Golani brigade except for its mention at this blog. This guy might have heard nothing but good about the Golani brigade. If he heard it was full of thugs and that made him want to join it, then yes, he was a bad person.

        I expect less from younger adults unless I know what their lives were like and what they should have known. I was a (Christian) Zionist at that age. (It changed very soon after). As people get older, there is less and less excuse, unless their lives are so full of work or hardship they can’t be expected to keep up on current events.

        Anyway, there’s no particular reason why we have to play God and judge this guy. He died. So without further info about what he did or didn’t know, I think it’s tragic.

      • Maximus Decimus Meridius on July 23, 2014, 1:50 pm

        ” This guy might have heard nothing but good about the Golani brigade.”

        Firstly, as mentioned below he had been serving in the Golani for a year and a half. You’re telling me that in that time he had no idea what kind of a regiment he was serving in? He thought their job was to hand out flowers to kids? And even if he was raised in a very pro-Israel environment in the US, he cannot have been entirely unaware of what the IDF has been accused of. Yet he chose to move to a country on another continent and not only sign up for that army, but for a particularly brutal regime. All choices he made as an adult.

        The problem with your argument is that it basically absolves grown adults of all responsibility. You could make the same claim that Netanyahu or Liebermann were ‘brainwashed’. And I don’t buy the argument that ‘young’ people – though more than old enough to have served in an ‘elite’ brigade for over a year – don’t have any responsibility. Where do you draw the line? Is there a sliding scale?

      • Donald on July 23, 2014, 6:15 pm

        “Firstly, as mentioned below he had been serving in the Golani for a year and a half.”

        Well that’s a good point. If he was in it for a year and a half, then maybe he should have known better. I’m hedging, because again I don’t know and don’t feel the need to take a firm stance on someone when there’s no need.

        “Is there a sliding scale?”

        Of course there is. Some people have more information than others, have varying backgrounds and life stories, and if I were God and had to go around judging people as good or evil it would all have to go into the mix. It’s why it’s better to judge actions rather than get into the minutia of whether someone is a terrible person, unless the evidence is really clear. This applies to Palestinians too. I don’t know why someone would join Hamas–never been in that situation. Hamas is an unpleasant rightwing organization with a nasty charter and a past history of blowing up civilians. I gather a lot of Palestinians dislike it, though siding with it now against Israel. But I don’t assume that any given Hamas member is a bad person. Why would I?

        I’m dropping this.

  8. Rational Zionist on July 23, 2014, 11:20 am

    Maybe Ms. Allison Benedikt should visit the country before she lambasts it.

    • Marnie on July 23, 2014, 12:51 pm

      Definitely, then she will be sure that what she surmised was correct. Great idea “rational” zionist.

  9. just on July 23, 2014, 11:27 am

    “Birthright” is an odious name and idea.

    An abomination and an affront to every sentient/thinking human being, especially the Occupied Palestinians and the indigenous Palestinians who are living in Zionist- imposed exile.

    • seafoid on July 23, 2014, 1:23 pm

      Isn’t it?
      I thought Jews were born to show the world how to live .

      • Mooser on July 23, 2014, 3:46 pm

        “I thought Jews were born to show the world how to live .”

        Not just how to live, Seafoid, but how to live it up!

  10. iResistDe4iAm on July 23, 2014, 11:27 am

    Palestinians’ Birthright is the right to NOT die.

    They also teach life, sir!

    • Don on July 23, 2014, 11:47 am

      my goodness…

    • Bob_Salad on July 23, 2014, 1:07 pm

      That was incredible.

      Thank you so much for sharing.

    • Marnie on July 23, 2014, 1:52 pm

      That took my breath away – what strength and what passion!

      • gamal on July 23, 2014, 9:48 pm

        I saw her perform that in Cork city, the mainly Irish crowd went wild.

  11. lysias on July 23, 2014, 11:34 am

    He wasn’t just a common soldier, he was a sergeant and sniper in the elite Golani Brigade. That must mean he was particularly gung ho, and was eager to kill the enemies of Israel.

    • Kay24 on July 23, 2014, 11:49 am

      Talking of snipers I wonder what happened to the sniper/s who killed two innocent Palestinian boys during the Nakba anniversary….conveniently forgotten and most probably the murderer/s in the front lines.

    • lysias on July 23, 2014, 12:34 pm

      Also, he had only been in the IDF for about a year and a half. (He enlisted in late 2012, November, I think.) That’s mighty fast for promotion to sergeant. He must have impressed his superiors with his sniping skills.

      • a blah chick on July 23, 2014, 1:24 pm

        When I enlisted in the US Army in the early eighties I came in as a PFC, (e-3 if I am recalling correctly) that was because I had college under my belt. This guy may have had education that gave him a head start to make sergeant. Then if he aced sniper school he could have gotten another promotion as well. Though I wonder how tough it is to learn to shoot fish in a barrel.

      • lysias on July 23, 2014, 2:20 pm

        After I enlisted in the U.S. Air Force in 1969 as a magna cum laude graduate of Princeton University, it took me about three years to reach an NCO rank. I started as an E-1 (Airman Basic) in basic training. I was at the head of my class in Romanian at the Defense Language Institute and in voice intercept training at Goodfellow Air Force Base. I consistently received high evaluations once I was on the job.

  12. Bob Feldman on July 23, 2014, 11:48 am

    A figure of 1,800 foreign citizens in IDF was posted in some article, I think, but not sure how many of the 1,800 were u.s. citizens.

    Regarding the Birthright project, there’s an apparent link between the funder of NYU’s Steinhardt School of Cultural Education and Human Development (which trains future journalists at NYU in its media program) and one of the original funders of Birthright Israel in the 1990s, Max Steinhardt. Steinhardt has given over $20 million to NYU to fund its Steinhardt school in recent years and in the late 1990s he donated millions of dollars of his Wall Street speculation activity-derived wealth to fund the Birthright project. As Michael Steinhardt wrote in his 2001 book, “No Bull: My Life In And Out of Markets”:

    “…In 1979…I went into partnership with an Israeli businessman, Lehu Veisser. We constructed…industrial parks in…towns, including Kiryat Gat, Natirot, Schderet, and Ofakim, that had been built near the southern border of Israel primarily for strategic purposes…I met Shimon Topor, who eventually became a partner of mine. He became my guide to all subsequent investments made in Israel, some of which have been substantial…

    “I have derived the most satisfaction from my most ambitious…project `birthright israel’…I am of a generation that…had a strong allegiance to Israel…In the spring of 1997…I ran into Charles Bronfman…whose family controlled The Seagram Company…We agreed to each put up $5 million to start developing an organization called `birthright israel.’

    “By the summer of 1998, we had developed a plan that would fund `Birthright Israel.’ In Jerusalem,…Benjamin Netanyahu announced he would commit $20 million a year to the project. The United Jewish Appeal/Council of Jewish Federations agreed to give $20 million a year. In addition, Charles and I said we would raise another $20 million a year on our own. The fund would then have $60 million a year with which to operate. Starting January 1, 2000, 15,000 college-aged Jews would be brought to Israel. In 5 years, that number would double…

    “The New York Times reported in the fall of 1998:…`Jewish organizations plan to start a program that will pay for any Jew in the world between age 15 and 26 to travel to Israel for 10 days. The program, `birthright Israel,’ is expected to cost $300 million over 5 years and will be financed by the Israeli Government, a group of major Jewish donors from North America, and the Council of Jewish Federations.’…

    “…In 1999, Charles and I each wrote a check for $9 million…Our selection procedure gave us a group of some 6,000 college students from around the world. About 4,000 came from the United States and another 1,000 from Canada. We also picked 1,000 kids from 14 other countries…Of the 4,000 Americans, 3,000 came from Hillel…

    “…The kids…met Israeli politicians…A number of them took Jeep trips…through the Golan Heights…After seeing the topography…they were absolutely opposed to giving up the Golan Heights in any peace negotiations…The Golan Heights became theirs simply by visiting. They developed a sense of ownership for this land that most of them had known nothing about prior to the trip…”

    For a video of public domain protest folk song from the late 1970s, “Palestine Lives” that reflects opposition to the mission of the NYU Steinhardt School funder’s “birthright israel” project, readers might be interested in checking out the following youtube protestfolk channel link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LYv4sP0mAak

    • philweiss on July 23, 2014, 11:50 am

      Thanks Bob for excellent documentation!

    • eljay on July 23, 2014, 12:09 pm

      >> “…The kids … took Jeep trips…through the Golan Heights…After seeing the topography…they were absolutely opposed to giving up the Golan Heights in any peace negotiations…The Golan Heights became theirs simply by visiting. They developed a sense of ownership for this land that most of them had known nothing about prior to the trip…”

      Someone else’s land becomes yours simply because you’re Jewish, you want it and, so, it rightly belongs to you. The sense of entitlement is breath-taking, disturbing and sickening.

      It’s no wonder Zio-supremacists hate the thought of justice, accountability and equality.

      • Mooser on July 23, 2014, 10:10 pm

        “Someone else’s land becomes yours simply because you’re Jewish, you want it and, so, it rightly belongs to you. The sense of entitlement is breath-taking, disturbing and sickening.”

        That’s the Ziocaine Syndrome. It’s a behavioral affliction.

    • Rusty Pipes on July 23, 2014, 2:30 pm

      With Bronfman involved in the inception of Birthright Israel, it does make one wonder where all of that money for “educational purposes” from the Holocaust Industry’s shakedown of Swiss banks ended up. One of these days, parents are going to wise up to the cultish indoctrination techniques used by Zionism and be just as cautious about letting their kids go on a Birthright trip as an old-style weekend retreat with the Moonies.

  13. Sycamores on July 23, 2014, 12:08 pm

    Great PR for Israel, many more young Americans on Birthright trips will be indoctrinated by the grave of the American lone soldier Max Steinberg.

    Meanwhile, more than 30,000 people attended the funeral Wednesday for fellow lone soldier Max Steinberg, who was laid to rest on Mount Herzl in Jerusalem. The overwhelming support for the 24-year-old Californian native followed online drives urging Israelis to attend his funeral.

    http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4548586,00.html

    how many young Americans are killing Palestinians because of their indoctrination thru Birthright trips?

    or to put it another way how many Palestinians are getting killed by young Americans indoctrinated thru birthright trips.

  14. Marnie on July 23, 2014, 12:41 pm

    So martyrdom is some crazy thing only Arabs do? This guy sounds like a shahid. He went through an “indoctrination process” (like suicide bombers), became convinced it was his duty to “fight” for israel and then made the sexually-charged “birthright” trip, but the ultimate turn on had to be the pilgrimage to the cemetary and see the “lone” american soldier’s grave along with all the other shahids. I was told this was only something murderous maniacal Arabs do because they love death more than life. Go figure.

  15. ahmed on July 23, 2014, 12:52 pm

    Please delete this comment, the link i posted I think is a parody account.

  16. lysias on July 23, 2014, 1:10 pm

    Col. Raslan Ailan, the commander of the Golani Brigade, who was seriously wounded in last weekend’s battle, has survived and is visiting, in a wheelchair, his troops in the hospital at Beersheba. Ha’aretz: Wounded Israeli soldiers crowd into hospital, surrounded by parents and politicians.

    • OlegR on July 23, 2014, 1:40 pm

      He wasn’t seriously wounded and already returned to command his troops.
      He is a Druze btw.

      • lysias on July 23, 2014, 2:17 pm

        If he was not seriously wounded, why would Arutz Sheva have reported that he was (Golani Brigade Commander Seriously Injured) and why would Ha’aretz have reported that he was in a wheelchair when he visited his wounded troops? Aren’t the Israeli newspapers under military censorship?

      • OlegR on July 23, 2014, 2:35 pm

        They made a mistake.

      • lysias on July 23, 2014, 3:17 pm

        Israeli military censorship let it through, and it was wrong? Ha’aretz made a mistake about his being in a wheelchair? The article reads as though the reporter saw him in the hospital.

      • Walid on July 23, 2014, 3:33 pm

        Yesterday, I saw a news clip of him leaving the hospital all smiles and walking out. He had also been injured at Bint Jbail in Lebanon 2006.

      • Mooser on July 23, 2014, 3:51 pm

        Well, well, of all people, OlegR Well, if this isn’t ‘old home week’!

        Yup, a mistake.

  17. edwardm on July 23, 2014, 2:02 pm

    Nice logo. Looks like the eye of Sauron. Do they give rings out to new recruits?

  18. Jon66 on July 23, 2014, 8:03 pm

    There is a long history of Americans volunteering for allied armies or sympathetic causes. In the Spanish Civil War we had the Abraham Lincoln brigade. In WWII, we had volunteers sneak off to Canada and a small number of pilots who defied US law and fought in the Battle of Britain for the RAF.

    We also had a number of Americans, Jewish and Christian who fought on Israel’s side in 1948.

    • Mooser on July 23, 2014, 10:13 pm

      “There is a long history of Americans volunteering for allied armies or sympathetic causes.”

      Problem is, when it comes to Israel, what seems sympathetic one day turns out to be merely pathetic and simpering the next.

  19. Basilio on July 23, 2014, 9:29 pm

    This reminds me of Muslim youths who are brainwashed by clerics to go and join fanatical groups in Syria. However, Jews who serve in the IDF, even as part of an occupation force, don’t get arrested or charged with anything by say the European countries or the US for being part of an occupation force nor does anyone pay any consequences for being part of a settlement.

  20. wondering jew on July 23, 2014, 10:38 pm

    Here is a paragraph from the article in Slate:
    Birthright says that aliyah—the immigration of diaspora Jews to Israel—is not one of its goals, but like Steinberg, many participants come away with the feeling that Israel is where they belong. Birthright estimates that 20,000­–30,000 of its participants have acted on that feeling by moving to Israel. I have known many young American Jews who have made the same decision—who at 18 decided that they belonged in Israel and, though they’d never considered joining the American military, moved across the ocean to join the IDF right after high school.

    If 20,000 to 30,000 of its participants move to Israel then a few hundred alumni who go into the IDF is really a small percentage.

    Not everyone knows what they want to do with their life at 22. And another thing, there is much vacuousness in the American Jewish lifestyle. To attach some meaning to one’s Jewishness is not something that everyone does, but even if it is not always a religious experience, one would do well to read James on the Variety of Religious Experience and realize that among the humans on this planet there are some for whom the modernity offered by 2014 society is insufficient and some galvanizing experience that gives context to something as major as Jewishness comes along and gives a “religious” purpose to one’s life.

    I am sorry that Max Steinberg’s life was cut short fighting in this war. The war of my youth (that I did not participate in, but witnessed “up close”) was the Yom Kippur War and even though with age and time I consider that war unnecessary in terms of the fact that a less intransigent Golda Meir might have avoided that war by reaching the same deal with Sadat that was reached by Begin after the war, the war itself was forced on Israel by an attack that was truly threatening. The war against Gaza is of a totally different type and as such raises many more questions in my mind about Max Steinberg losing his life for this war.

    But whereas many Jews or even most Jews are ready to toss their Jewishness into a bottom drawer to be removed when convenient, absolutely necessary, on rainy days, or never removed at all, I think Jewishness is a major historical fact that could be a useful tool for the young and to express that Jewishness in America is quite often quite a difficult process and in Israel it is far simpler: come, learn Hebrew, do tzava and become Israeli and express your Jewishness the way millions do, by living in the Jewish homeland. It is a tad too simple, particularly because the conflict with the indigenous is not part of the Jewish expression, but tossing Jewishness into the bottom drawer is not really a valid alternative for some.

    • Mooser on July 24, 2014, 9:00 pm

      “offered by 2014 society is insufficient and some galvanizing experience that gives context to something as major as Jewishness comes along and gives a “religious” purpose to one’s life.”

      What Yonah is trying to say is that there is nothing more Jewish than killing your neighbor and taking his house. Hey, every religion has it’s own little rituals. We like to burn kids alive. No sir, no “putting our Judaism in the bottom drawer” We like that ol’ time religion!

      But if anybody ever asked themselves, ‘will a Zionist sink to excusing murder by using the Jewish religion as an excuse’, well there you go, there’s our Yonah!

    • Mooser on July 24, 2014, 9:03 pm

      “It is a tad too simple, particularly because the conflict with the indigenous is not part of the Jewish expression, but tossing Jewishness into the bottom drawer is not really a valid alternative for some.”

      The “conflict with the indegenous”? Whats a matter Yonah, you afraid to say the word “palestinians”

      And how is it a conflict? What did they do to come into “conflict” with Jewish religious values? Merely exist? Is there nothing you won’t sink to, Yonah?

    • Mooser on July 24, 2014, 9:09 pm

      Hey, Yonah. You want to tell me that all the Jews in AMerica who are speaking up about Israel’s crimes as Jews are “tossing Jewishness into the bottom drawer”

      And uh, BTW, Yonah, you want to explain to me what on earth gives you the right to expound on anybody’s “Jewishness”. You wouldn’t know “Jewishness” if it plotzed in your pupick!

  21. Sycamores on July 24, 2014, 11:13 am

    Mock Israel Birthright blog uses memes to contrast free vacations with violence against Palestinians

    http://stream.aljazeera.com/story/201407240131-0023961?utm_content=buffer81e76&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer

    mock birthright blog on tumblr

    http://birthrightphotos.tumblr.com/

  22. wondering jew on July 24, 2014, 11:22 pm

    Here is Allison Kaplan Sommer smashing and dissing Benedikt’s Salon piece.

    http://www.haaretz.com/blogs/routine-emergencies/.premium-1.607030.

    If I understand her correctly, Benedikt’s thinking goes as follows: if a fairly assimilated American Jew like Steinberg, who, according to his parents, was not very interested in Israel, had no family or friends there, goes on Birthright and then decides to move to Israel, volunteer in the IDF and in a combat unit, no less, it must be Birthright’s fault that he was killed. This begs the question: if Steinberg had been raised, say, in a religious Zionist home, spoke more fluent and less “unshaky” Hebrew and visited Israel on his own – who would Benedikt “blame” for his death? His parents? His rabbi? His school? But since his parents’ very first trip to Israel occurred, as she points out in the opening of her article, when they came to Jerusalem to bury their son, the culprit must of course be Birthright.

    Birthright, as she paints it, is a diabolical scheme cooked up by a conspiratorial Zionist cabal of gauzy Jewish billionaires that takes hapless young mainstream American Jews like Steinberg, waves a magic wand and turns them into flag-waving, weapon-wielding IDF soldiers and then happily marches them into their graves.

    Benedikt – who appears to know little about either Birthright or Steinberg – speculates that “Maybe Max was especially lost, or especially susceptible, or maybe he was just looking to do some good and became convinced by his Birthright experience that putting on an IDF uniform and grabbing a gun was the way to do it. That serving and protecting the Jewish people was the moral thing to do, and that the best way to accomplish it was to go fight for the Jewish state. It turns out that it’s not that hard to persuade young people to see the world a certain way and that Birthright is very good at doing it. You spend hundreds of millions of dollars to convince young Jews that they are deeply connected to a country that desperately needs their support? This is what you get.”

    Like previous hit pieces by Benedikt, this new article was a nice bit of tasty clickbait. As such, it’s already a big success – the responses have come fast and furious: immediately following the Slate publication, writers who have done actual research on the topic have raced to point out some pesky tiny matters that she ignores in the piece – facts.

    In the Times of Israel, Haviv Rettig Gur crunches the numbers, noting that of the tens of thousands of young American Jews have gone on Birthright trips, only a few hundred young adults immigrate to Israel from the US each year and “only a fraction” of these join the IDF.

    Even fewer, it must be said, sign up for a combat unit like Golani and survive the rounds of training it takes to make the cut.

    Mark Oppenheimer a Birthright alum, and frequent critic of Israel, writes in Tablet that …..

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