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When ‘Broad City’ Went On Birthright, and taught us all a lesson about American Jews and Israel

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When Ilana and Abby from Broad City announced last week that they were going on Birthright Israel, my heart sunk.

For those who haven’t been watching, the show follows two young women from New York as they make their way through life in Manhattan. Main characters Abby and Ilana are Jewish, and their heritage is a central part of many of the show’s gags. Much like Golden Globe-winning Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, the characters’ New York Jewish heritage is neither fetishized nor exoticized but is instead a well-integrated part of the humor throughout.

Last week’s episode showed the pair running to catch a flight, the destination of which was kept a secret right until the end. But we soon figure out that their “Birthmark” trip is actually Birthright Israel, the all-expenses paid 10-day trip to Israel offered free to all young Jews worldwide ages 18-26.

The critiques of Birthright are numerous, and just this week a new Jewish-led effort to stop American youth from signing up for this transparent propaganda tour was released. The heart of the problem is that Israel is built on the dispossession of Palestinians from their homeland, and today more than 5 million Palestinians who were driven out of their homes in 1948 and their descendants are still refugees. Israel forbids Palestinian refugees the right to return to their homes, in direct contravention of international law. Thus, while Israel allows Jews born anywhere on Earth to move to Israel and automatically gives them citizenship, Palestinian refugees – including those born in what is now Israel – are forbidden from returning.

With a budget of nearly $50 million a year, Birthright has taken hundreds of thousands of Jewish youths over the last two decades on its whirlwind trips to Israel. Critics charge that Birthright conflates Judaism and Zionism and encourages unconditional Jewish support for Israel by offering a misleading and blatantly propagandistic narrative of Israeli history that erases Palestinians while glorifying Israeli atrocities.

Like it or not, however, Birthright is a major part of Jewish life worldwide today, and it’s not surprising that this virtual rite of passage is increasingly making it into the media.

To my pleasant surprise, Broad City addressed Birthright – and the Jewish American relationship to Israel – in an extremely critical way. The episode’s critique highlights the sea change in US popular opinion on Israel that has occurred in recent years, particularly how common public criticism of the country has become among American Jews. If Bernie Sanders’ recent comment on the need to treat Palestinians with “respect and dignity” was a major opening in the political realm, Broad City’s Birthright episode is its pop culture equivalent.

Broad City didn’t just go on Birthright; they spent 21 full minutes mocking it. The show called attention to the disturbing militarization of Israeli society and attacked the idea that American Jews must necessarily feel a commitment to a country that tries to represent itself as the state of the Jewish people. And all of this was done in Broad City’s classic brand of humor, without ever seeming too preachy or even political.

From the moment the episode begins – showing the pair stuck on a plane full of (really annoying) teenagers accompanying them on the trip – Abby and Ilana can’t stop making fun of Birthright. On last week’s episode, the tour guide explained that the trip was oriented toward the “reproductive future” of the Jewish people, after which participants began chanting “Jews! Jews! Jews!” to Ilana and Abby’s horror. The gag continues this week, as the trip ends up looking like an extended, in-person, and even more awkward version of J-Date. Trip participants are seated according to marriage eligibility, which involves pairing male and female Ivy School graduates with each other (and forcing Abby and Ilana apart).

One of the participants proposes to the girl sitting beside him right there in the plane, having brought a wedding ring just in case. Meanwhile, Ilana gets in an argument with the tour leader, during which he admits that he couldn’t care less about marriage but gets a commission for every couple that gets hitched, and a bonus if it happens on the plane before arrival.

Abby soon realizes that she has had her period and is in trouble because all of her tampons are in her carry-on bag, which she was forced by the El Al look-alike airline to check in. The pair devise a plan to snatch a box of tampons they notice in the plane kitchen, but in the resulting chaos end up physically restrained and arrested by the stewardesses who felt the two were acting suspicious.

The episode ends with Abby and Ilana being interrogated at Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv, probably one of the few times in US history that an Israeli interrogation has been shown in a comedic format. The show thoroughly mocks Israel’s approach to security – which has been widely criticized as excessive and particularly racist – and makes the two interrogators look like over-zealous buffoons.

It’s hard to miss the irony of the fact that Abby and Ilana’s first experience in their purported “Jewish homeland” was far more akin to the welcome that Palestinians or others of Arab and Muslim heritage get if they try to visit.

Indeed, while critiques of US media portrayals of Israel often focus on the fact that Israelis are humanized but Palestinians and the occupation totally ignored, in Broad City we don’t even get to that point. The only Israelis we meet are the two security agents – and they end up deporting our protagonists straight back to the US.

On the plane back, flying under armed guard, Abby and Ilana look at each other and say:

“Israelis really like their guns. Guns are so gross. I’m really glad we’re going back home.”

The two pause for a full second or two, and together say “Hm,” putting an extra stress on the words.

They continue:

“There’s actually this restaurant on Steinway that makes falafel that I heard is even better than the real deal. Let’s just go there.”

The pair assert that New York is their home, and nothing Israel can do or say can change that fact. What seems like a simple statement is actually a powerful challenge of Israel’s claim to be the be-all and end-all of Jewish identity.

Much like the worshippers at a French synagogue who responded to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech imploring them to move to Israel by loudly singing the French national anthem, Broad City has boldly refused to allow Israel to define their Jewish identity and in so doing has powerfully debunked the narrative that being Jewish is necessarily associated with the country.

It’s hard to imagine a Birthright episode of this fabulous, feminist stoner comedy going any better.

About Alex Shams

Alex Shams is an Iranian-American journalist based in Bethlehem, Palestine and a PhD student of Anthropology at the University of Chicago. Follow him on twitter @SeyyedReza.

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63 Responses

  1. hophmi
    hophmi
    April 25, 2016, 10:51 am

    It’s so interesting that more than 400,000 people from 66 different countries have gone on Birthright, and yet, you always highlight the tiny number of critics who make the same silly arguments about how the trip pushes marriage on its participants. It only confirms that like most trips geared at teenagers and young adults, a number of the people who participate are the angry types who would doubtless find a way to be unhappy in some way.

    And as usual, this critique leaves out just about every possible nuance about Birthright. First of all, there isn’t one kind of Birthright trip. There are dozens of different trips, including trips that focus on environment issues, trips that focus on hiking, trips that focus on politics, trips run by different denominations, etc. Focused trips like these, rather than the garden variety 10-day nutshell tours that attract the annoying teens (newsflash: teenagers are known to be loud and annoying), tend to have less participants focused on hooking up and traveling to the beach.

    In the real world, of course, Birthright is seen as a major success for connecting Diaspora communities with their heritage, and other countries have emulated the model of providing low cost trips for their Diasporas. http://college.usatoday.com/2014/07/16/birthright-doesnt-always-mean-israel/

    • eljay
      eljay
      April 25, 2016, 10:58 am

      || hophmi: … First of all, there isn’t one kind of Birthright trip. … ||

      Fundamentally there is just one, and it’s all about Jewish supremacism in/and a religion-supremacist “Jewish State” in as much as possible of Palestine.

      || … Birthright is seen as a major success for connecting Diaspora communities with their heritage, and other countries have emulated the model of providing low cost trips for their Diasporas. … ||

      While other countries may provide low-cost trips for their “diasporas” – people originally from or up to n generations removed from their respective homelands – Israel, AFAIK, provides low-cost trips to people…
      – who have undergone a religious conversion to Judaism; or
      – are descended from someone who underwent a religious conversion to Judaism,
      …regardless of how tenuous or non-existent their ties to Israel might be.

      Does Israel offer Birthright tour to its non-Jewish Israeli “diaspora” – that is, to non-Jews originally from or up to n generations removed from Israel?

      • a blah chick
        a blah chick
        April 25, 2016, 12:29 pm

        Did you notice how hopmi used the word “nuance”? That’s one of the hasbarists’ favorite words whenever they are forced to offer tepid or mild criticisms of Israel. I’m still thankful he didn’t say “it’s complicated!” That’s another favorite.

      • Donald
        Donald
        April 25, 2016, 12:56 pm

        He could up the ante by talking about complicated nuance. That would set us all back on our heels.

    • annie
      annie
      April 25, 2016, 12:29 pm

      you always highlight the tiny number of critics who make the same silly arguments about how the trip pushes marriage on its participants. It only confirms…. a number of the people who participate are the angry types who would doubtless find a way to be unhappy in some way.

      your comment suggests the idea birthright encourages hooking up or marriage is not only “silly” but comes, primarily, from angry people.

      http://forward.com/opinion/israel/166159/is-birthright-more-than-freebie-trip/#ixzz46r9ckPJ4

      Currently, the “success” of Birthright is measured by the likelihood that its participants will marry another Jew and raise future children within the Jewish faith. While it is sometimes lampooned as a “two-week hook-up fest,” this model should not be dismissed so flippantly — it does influence rates of in-marriage. The last two reports from the Jewish Futures Project demonstrate that Birthright participants are more likely to in-marry and convert spouses. And as those numbers increase, Birthright also influences decisions concerning religious education for participants’ children.
      These decisions regarding marriage and the family are, according to the report, “key indicators of their commitment to remain part of the Jewish collective.”

      maybe the the Jewish Futures Project is made up of a lot of “angry” people.

      • hophmi
        hophmi
        April 25, 2016, 1:27 pm

        “That’s one of the hasbarists’ favorite words whenever they are forced to offer tepid or mild criticisms of Israel”

        You’re right, nuance is not the best word. It’s too intellectual for this crowd. Better I should say that the piece ignores the positive experiences of the vast majority of people who go on Birthright and basic facts about what the program is.

        I will repeat what I usually say when I read this sort of critique. The first is that I hope that any American who makes it remembers to present the Native American history of the land they reside on when they have visitors, and endeavors to prepare visits to Native American reservations.

        The second is that I yearn for the day when a state of Palestine is able to offer Birthright trips for the Palestinian Diaspora.

      • Mooser
        Mooser
        April 25, 2016, 2:30 pm

        “I will repeat what I usually say…” “Hophmi”

        Yup, you will. You most certainly will.
        The problem must be that you haven’t said it enough.

      • Mooser
        Mooser
        April 25, 2016, 2:40 pm

        Oh, BTW, “Hophmi”, is a colonial history, a period of slavery, the dispossession of natives, and a century of mandated discrimination a necessity to a growing nation like Israel, or just nice additions to Israel’s history?
        I mean, maybe Israel could try getting along without them.

      • bryan
        bryan
        April 25, 2016, 2:47 pm

        Hophmi – “Better I should say that the piece ignores the positive experiences”

        All I know is that a lot of Zionists brought up to believe this is home seem to react pretty badly when they see the reality on the ground, and it seems as if Birthright plays a major part in Jews rejecting their supposed heritage. Perhaps a racist, colonialist, militaristic, intolerant society isn’t the best nursery for complicated nuance.

    • Laurent Weppe
      Laurent Weppe
      April 25, 2016, 6:59 pm

      you always highlight the tiny number of critics who make the same silly arguments about how the trip pushes marriage on its participants

      [Pedant mode]
      Actually, critics don’t argue that birthright trips pushes marriage: critics argue that birthright trips are the brainkids of paranoid white dudes terrified at the prospect of brown-skinned plebs outbreeding them who thought that the best way to “preserve their demographic advantage” is to push teenagers to have unprotected sex with their distant cousins during a state-sponsored summer camps.
      [/Pedant mode]

      • hophmi
        hophmi
        April 26, 2016, 7:25 am

        Brown skinned? You mean Mizrahi Jews?

      • Laurent Weppe
        Laurent Weppe
        April 26, 2016, 7:18 pm

        I know you’re trying to derail what I said by denying the palestinian elephant in the room, by the fact is that it’s a bit of an open secret that a good chunk of the ashkenazi bourgeoisie holds the Mizrahim in contempt. Kinda like how many rich white Christians feel no sincere kinship toward blue-collared white Christians and depict them behind closed doors as dangerous rabble that needs to be kept in check.

        So to be frank, I wouldn’t be surprised if it turned out that a certain number of Birthrights promoters are not-so-secretly thinking “The Mizrahi plebs are outbreeding us! The Mizrahi plebs are outbreeding us!

    • Xpat
      Xpat
      April 26, 2016, 9:18 am

      “In the real world, of course, Birthright is seen as a major success for connecting Diaspora communities with their heritage”

      Where is the research to back your claim? What is the control group? Imagine what fantastic programs, staffing and content could be developed in Jewish communities with $50m. What heritage are Birthrighters connected to (assuming this is so) and is that a good thing? I hope that’s intellectually nuanced enough for you.

      Birthright has succeeded in making Birthright participation a marker of Jewishness in casual conversation.

      A leader of Birthright tours tells me there is no follow up with participants when they get back home. Why bother? the Israel indoctination has happened already. Who cares about “Diaspora” Jewish identity after that.

      • hophmi
        hophmi
        April 26, 2016, 11:17 am

        The Cohen Center at Brandeis has done a good deal of research on Birthright participants; the program itself has been the subject of study both on the subject of whether Birthright enhances the Jewish identity of participants and whether the model of offering a free trip enhances tourism and homeland connections.

        Here’s the report of a recent study on Birthright participants who went during the Summer of 2014. https://www.brandeis.edu/cmjs/noteworthy/DiscoveringIsraelatWar.html

        Here’s the general webpage. You’ll find that the vast majority of the participants have a positive experience. https://www.brandeis.edu/cmjs/researchprojects/taglit/index.html

        Here’s a link to academic literature. I haven’t read it, but it’s probably a good starting point: http://nyupress.org/books/9780814748176/

        “A leader of Birthright tours tells me there is no follow up with participants when they get back home. ”

        It depends on what you mean by follow-up. There’s a Birthright Alumni community that has regular meetups. The Jewish Enrichment Center works fairly closely with them; I don’t know whether JEC was specifically set up for Birthright alums or not. I’m sure that Birthright’s email lists are also accessible by Jewish organizations that target Jews in the 20’s, like Moishe House.

        I don’t know whether Birthright participants fill out surveys or not, but there are many points of contact for them when they get back to the States.

        “What is the control group? Imagine what fantastic programs, staffing and content could be developed in Jewish communities with $50m.”

        The Cohen Center studies generally compare participants and non-participants.

        I have no doubt that we could develop great programming with $50m, but there’s no great shortage as far as I know. We have lots of terrific programming in the Jewish community. The main priority, however, should be day school education. If we got our act together and offered every American Jewish child an affordable, high-quality, Jewish day school education, there would be no great need for Birthright. This is a uniquely American problem. In most other countries, Jewish schools, like other parochial schools, are government subsidized and/or paid for through a communal tax, and thus, far less expensive than they are in the United States. There are a lot of ideas out there on how to make this happen; one proposal that has been experimented with is a fund to ensure that no one is paying more than 20% of AGI in tuition; another is a superfund, and another is the Chabad approach, which is to establish no-frills non-denominational schools that keep expenses down through cutting out expensive extracurriculars like sports. The joke is that day school tuition is like birth control in the Jewish community. Most people outside of very religious chassidic and haredi communities, where academics is given short shrift and extra curriculars aren’t a concern, can’t afford to send more than a child or two to day school.

      • Mooser
        Mooser
        April 26, 2016, 6:06 pm

        “In most other countries, Jewish schools, like other parochial schools, are government subsidized and/or paid for through a communal tax, and thus, far less expensive than they are in the United States.”

        Oh, there’s a model for America. Private religious schools, funded by the government.

  2. wondering jew
    wondering jew
    April 25, 2016, 11:31 am

    They never got off the plane at ben gurion airport. the plane turned around midair so that they could be brought back home.

    I am a big fan of the show and therefore laughed at the interplay between Ilana and Abby and their different levels of Jewishness and despite my support for Israel and support for the idea of birthright (although i prefer its hebrew name taglit which means discovery and is less political and freighted than the english name, and realize that there is a superficiality to much of what i have heard about birthright) i was able to put aside my politics and enjoy the show. the fact that mw publishes a post that adds zero insight into the characters of abby and ilana and focuses on anti zionism is utterly predictable.

    • Donald
      Donald
      April 25, 2016, 12:55 pm

      “fact that mw publishes a post that adds zero insight into the characters of abby and ilana and focuses on anti zionism is utterly predictable. ”

      The fact that a blog which is about Israeli oppression of the Palestinians and is anti-Zionist would publish a piece about a sitcom episode in terms of its anti-zionism is utterly predictable because it is what the blog is about. This point you’re making isn’t as devastating as you seem to think. In fact, it’s rather a head scratcher as to why you think it’s a point at all.

      I’m sure there are other places online where you could read about the characters on your favorite TV shows.

    • Siegfried al-Haq
      Siegfried al-Haq
      April 25, 2016, 1:24 pm

      You’re wrong. They are shown being interrogated on the ground before they are sent back on another flight. And then in the last scene when they are on the flight, Abby has her precious luggage on board with her. It’s clear that they landed, underwent the “Palestinian” treatment, and had their asses deported back to NYC, where they will go to Steinway to get felafel from an Arab.

      • wondering jew
        wondering jew
        April 25, 2016, 5:13 pm

        there was a shot of an airplane making a u turn. originally they had planned to film in israel but because of the recent unrest they decided not to, the location of the interrogation was based upon the original script that would have included much more of israel. if you watch the episode again you will see the shot of the airplane making a u turn. the combination of shots inconsistent with this narrative are indeed confusing.

        donald- the headline of this article promised more. it promised something. this was nothing. i am a fan of abbie and ilana. i am also a fan of arguing about the middle east. possible to do both. but not based on this article. this person might never have seen ilana and abbie before, just like apparently you. you’re going to tell me you don’t need to see it you read about it on “angry arab’. is that your next line.

        the interrogation of american culture from the larry david episode on palestinians to this broad city episode reveal a superficiality regarding mainstream culture that is not impressive.

      • Mooser
        Mooser
        April 25, 2016, 5:58 pm

        “you’re going to tell me you don’t need to see it you read about it on “angry arab’. is that your next line.”

        Isn’t “Yonah” a nice guy? He even writes the responses to his own comments, so nobody else has to bother.

      • Donald
        Donald
        April 26, 2016, 8:35 am

        I read the script of the movie we argued about and as I expected its politics were accurately described by the numerous critics– I was even familiar with many of the incidents in the film. And on the politics, Asad AbuKhalil was right. That’s all I cared about. I could explain that ten more times and it wouldn’t matter.

        In this case I’ve said nothing about the show except to point out the inane nature of your criticism of this post. This blog could be about all sorts of other things, but when we wander off the main purpose it is usually to talk about something related–US foreign policy or racism, Syria, etc… There is no reason to see it become a place where the characters in your favorite shows are given a deep analysis, but you seem to think you are scoring a point with this. You are sometimes unfairly attacked here, I think, but you also write some silly churlish comments.

  3. a blah chick
    a blah chick
    April 25, 2016, 12:32 pm

    I’ve never seen the show but I kind of wished they’d turned Abby and Ilana loose on the streets of the Only Democracy in the Middle East. The finale under Beersheva skies with a couple of Bedouin youths could have made for interesting TV and given Adelson a heart attack.

    • Marnie
      Marnie
      April 26, 2016, 12:26 am

      That’s lovely! (I actually don’t even think Adelson is alive – he and his dear wife seem like zombies to me. )

  4. lonely rico
    lonely rico
    April 25, 2016, 2:22 pm

    The episode ends with Abby and Ilana being interrogated at Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv, probably one of the few times in US history that an Israeli interrogation has been shown in a comedic format.

    For some, the reality at Ben Gurion Airport would seem to be less amusing.

    The Easiest Targets

  5. Ossinev
    Ossinev
    April 25, 2016, 2:49 pm

    @YF
    “despite my support for the idea of birthright (although i prefer its hebrew name taglit which means discovery and is less political and freighted than the english name”

    So you support the idea of birthright therefore you support the idea that those born in what is now Israel have the right to return to their places of birth. Great news for Palestinian refugees or am I missing something. Do please explain.

    So you prefer the hebrew name taglit allegedly meaning ” discovery” in English. What pray exactly are these ertswhile “birthright trippers” meant to discover. Could it be that the country which they magically have an automatic right to emigrate to is a Fascist state dressed up to look like a “Western” democracy . Do please elaborate eg will they be encouraged to “discover” the delights of negotiating West Bank cattle gate checkpoints and perhaps get sightseeing flights over scenic Gaza.

    Perish the thought that this harmless educational initiative becomes “freighted” with political associations and is criticised as being eg a Zionist superscam. Hate for it to be weighed down with such anti – semitic baggage.

    • wondering jew
      wondering jew
      April 26, 2016, 8:11 am

      osssinev- Yes, i realize that the Palestinians are against the Jewish population living in their land and bringing over tourists touting the results of the nakba as positive is antithetical to their urge for independence, the freeing of a yoke.
      zionism, israel are the primary jewish issues today in 2016. i prefer that jews be as educated as possible with this issue. so i consider the birthright program a boon. the entire story is not a blessing, and i can dig that. but it is a fact and a primary fact of jewish life and ten days in israel is an introduction to the subject which is great for every jew to have.

      • eljay
        eljay
        April 26, 2016, 8:29 am

        || yonah fredman: … zionism, israel are the primary jewish issues today in 2016. i prefer that jews be as educated as possible with this issue. so i consider the birthright program a boon. … ten days in israel is an introduction to the subject which is great for every jew to have. ||

        Fuck the Palestinians (and justice, accountability and equality): Ten days of indoctrination of Jews by Jews paid for by the (war) criminal and religion-supremacist “Jewish State” of Israel is “great for every jew [sic] to have”.

        That’s a hell of a message. Let me guess: Your honour is loyalty.

      • wondering jew
        wondering jew
        April 26, 2016, 11:48 am

        Eljay- your attitude-the more alienated the jew the better. My attitude-the more educated/knowledgeable the jew the better. In fact polls show that alienated/ignorant/uneducated jews are m ore likely to support what you consider the acceptable position on i/p. And in fact very few educated nonalienated jews adopt Peter beinart’s position which is closest to my own. Nonetheless I like to talk to yehudim about this issue and the more educated and knowledgeable the better for the purposes of my conversation. Yes the slant taught on birthright is slanted the wrong way. But still I prefer to talk to people who know something, and though some know a lot without ever visiting, the vast majority are ignorant and a ten day trip despite the slant can begin to chip away at that ignorance

      • eljay
        eljay
        April 26, 2016, 12:24 pm

        || yonah fredman: Eljay- your attitude-the more alienated the jew [sic] the better. … ||

        Alienated? Non-Israeli Jews who are more than n generations removed from Israel are not Israelis. Israel is not their “birthright” or their “homeland”.

        Why do you want non-Israeli Jews to alienate themselves from their actual homelands?

        || … My attitude-the more educated/knowledgeable the jew [sic] the better. … ||

        What about “more educated/knowledgeable the non-Jew the better”? Shouldn’t non-Jews also “know something”? Perhaps Israel should also offer birthright trips to non-Israeli non-Jews.

        Or perhaps Israel should offer birthright trips to Jewish and non-Jewish non-Israelis up to n generations removed from Israel. Israel is their historic homeland – for real, not in the pretend Zio-supremacist sense – so they are the ones who should “know something” about it.

      • Mooser
        Mooser
        April 26, 2016, 4:07 pm

        “Eljay- your attitude-the more alienated the jew [sic] the better.”

        You are so right, “Yonah”. It must be “eljay’s” fault. He must be getting to Jews and influencing them.
        Whatever it is, it certainly couldn’t be their experience as Jews which is alienating them. It must be some non-Jews influencing them, alienating them.

      • eljay
        eljay
        April 26, 2016, 6:20 pm

        || Mooser: … You are so right, “Yonah”. It must be “eljay’s” fault. He must be getting to Jews and influencing them. … ||

        And I didn’t even know I was doing it!

  6. Blake
    Blake
    April 25, 2016, 4:17 pm

    ‘Birthright’ is defined as a ‘natural or moral right.’ I don’t see anything natural or moral in the heist of Palestine

  7. Pixel
    Pixel
    April 25, 2016, 5:05 pm

    Within the past week, I overheard in two separate instances, two different friends…one 60 years old and the other 30… who have always self-identified as Jewish, tell others when it came up in conversation, that they were not Jewish.

    When I asked each why they said that, they backpeddled on really ever having been Jewish.

    I was more than shocked.

    • YoniFalic
      YoniFalic
      April 25, 2016, 5:31 pm

      I am ashamed that I ever thought of myself as “Jewish” and that I was ever Israeli. I imagine that this feeling will grow as more and more people come to understand the crimes of Zionism and of the State of Israel.

      • Steve Grover
        Steve Grover
        April 26, 2016, 5:43 pm

        Hey Yoni Falic,
        Alex Shams writes: “Thus, while Israel allows Jews born anywhere on Earth to move to Israel”

        As the Space Program becomes more and more successful, people will spend years in space and visit other planets. There will be people born in space and on other planets as a result. Some of the people born in space or on other planets will be Jews. They too should be able to move to Israel just like me. Unfortunately YoniFalic the growth of the Space Program is too slow for this to occur in my life time. But, who knows? Maybe it will happen during yours. You’ll read the headline “First Jew born in Space makes Aliya!”

      • James North
        James North
        April 26, 2016, 7:06 pm

        Mooser: Stop it already. Stop pretending to be a person named “Grober” and posting items like this one.

      • Mooser
        Mooser
        April 26, 2016, 10:49 pm

        “Mooser: Stop it already. Stop pretending to be a person named “Grober””

        You really know how to hurt a guy, don’t you, “North”? That’s twice, too. I wouldn’t be unhappy if it was the last.

      • Mooser
        Mooser
        April 27, 2016, 6:28 pm

        “They too should be able to move to Israel just like me.”

        And yet you stay in Chicago.

  8. MaxNarr
    MaxNarr
    April 25, 2016, 7:22 pm

    So what? We have seen anti-Israel and anti-Jewish movies and television ever since the Nazi era. What’s new? Nothing. Not news. Not funny.

    • Citizen
      Citizen
      April 25, 2016, 10:13 pm

      @ MaxNarr

      Why don’t you give us a few examples? We must have missed them all.

      • MaxNarr
        MaxNarr
        April 26, 2016, 11:59 am

        The eternal Jew, The Passion of the Christ, Jenin Jenin, 60 Minutes Christians in the Holy Land, Valley of the Wolves,

      • Mooser
        Mooser
        April 26, 2016, 4:00 pm

        “The eternal Jew, The Passion of the Christ, Jenin Jenin, 60 Minutes Christians in the Holy Land, Valley of the Wolves,”

        Praise G-d, the Almighty, who arranged events such that I did not have any coffee or food in my mouth when I read “MaxNarr’s” comment. I think I unshipped a rib from its moorings as it was.

  9. talknic
    talknic
    April 25, 2016, 9:33 pm

    “The heart of the problem is that Israel is built on the dispossession of Palestinians from their homeland, and today more than 5 million Palestinians who were driven out of their homes in 1948 and their descendants are still refugees. Israel forbids Palestinian refugees the right to return to their homes, in direct contravention of international law. Thus, while Israel allows Jews born anywhere on Earth to move to Israel and automatically gives them citizenship, Palestinian refugees – including those born in what is now Israel – are forbidden from returning. “ http://mondoweiss.net/2016/04/when-broad-city-went-on-birthright-and-taught-us-all-a-lesson-about-american-jews-and-israel/#comment-165716

    Highly in-accurate.

    Officially, from the UN

    “Refugees from Israel- controlled territory amount to approximately 711,000”

    At the time Israel controlled its own territory AND territories the Israeli Government said on May 22nd 1948 were

    “outside the State of Israel” … “in Palestine”

    Of that 711,000, only those who’s normal place of residence was within Israel’s officially proclaimed and recognized boundaries had/have RoR to Israel.

    Based on the estimate that only about 20% non-Jews remained of an approximate 397,000 non-Jewish population (according to the Jewish Virtual Library), we can estimate that some 317,600 non-Jewish citizens were dispossessed from Israeli territories.

    The other approx 393,400 of the initial 711,000 non-Jewish refugees, and their lineal descendants, had/have RoR to non-Israeli territories as they stood @ 00:01 May 15th 1948 (ME time) per the official Israeli Government proclamation http://www.trumanlibrary.org/whistlestop/study_collections/israel/large/documents/newPDF/49.pdf

    • Jackdaw
      Jackdaw
      April 26, 2016, 2:15 am

      The UN count surely included non-displaced Arabs who claimed to be refugees in search of a handout from the UN. If the UN asked a refugee his family’s size, the common sense thing to do would be to exaggerate the size in order to get more handouts.

      See Martha Gellhorn
      http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/1961/10/the-arabs-of-palestine/304203/

      • annie
        annie
        April 26, 2016, 4:21 am

        jack, your ridiculous 1961 propaganda article (“The children are taught hate, the Garden of Eden stolen from them by murderers; their duty is to live for Return and Revenge.”) — you do understand nakba denial is not allowed at mondoweiss? it is a banning offense:

        . Sitting in his neat office, with my guide, the principal of the school (a former member of the Palestinian police), and the camp leader, I listened to the first of what became an almost daily Mad Hatter conversation.

        It went like this:

        “The Arab countries invaded Israel in 1948 to save the Palestine Arabs from being massacred by the Jews.”

        “Were there massacres? Where?”

        “Oh, yes, everywhere. Terrible, terrible.”

        “Then you must have lost many relatives and friends.”

        This, being a tiresome deduction from a previous statement, is brushed aside without comment.

        “Israel overran the truce lines and stole our country. We left from fear. We have a right to our property, which brings in 47 million pounds a year in income. If we had our own money, we would need nothing from UNRWA. Our own money is much more. We do not have to be grateful for the little money spent on us. We should have our own.”

        “Then, of course, you want to return to your property and to Israel?”

        “Not to Israel. Never to Israel. To our own country, to our own part.”

        “But didn’t the Jews accept Partition, while the Palestine Arabs and the Arab governments refused?”

        “Yes, yes. And England protected the Jews. An Arab was arrested if he carried a pistol only to defend himself, but Jews could go through the streets in tanks and nothing happened to them. Also, England told the Arab states to attack Israel.”

        The principal of the school then spoke up. “In our school, we teach the children from their first year about their country and how it was stolen from them. I tell my son of seven. You will see: one day a man of eighty and a child so high, all, all will go home with arms in their hands and take back their country by force.”

        On this warlike note, we left.

        Mad Hatter conversation?

      • talknic
        talknic
        April 26, 2016, 6:05 am

        @ Jackdaw – – Martha Gellhorn’s opinion has no foot notes, no references.

        Cute.

      • Jackdaw
        Jackdaw
        April 26, 2016, 4:38 pm

        @talknic

        Please show us another article from The Atlantic that contains footnotes.

        talknic?

        talknic?

      • talknic
        talknic
        April 26, 2016, 9:19 pm

        @ Jackdaw April 26, 2016, 4:38 pm

        “Please show us another article from The Atlantic that contains footnotes”

        Do you really expect any credence by pitching an unverified propaganda opinion piece against a post containing verifiable, official information and simple maths?

  10. DavidHeap
    DavidHeap
    April 25, 2016, 10:57 pm

    A detailed description of Taglit, without so much of the marriage hook-up angle, but plenty of critique, from a Canadian participant:
    http://rabble.ca/features/series/my-taglit-birthright-israel-experience

    Being deported home sounds like the safer option, really.

  11. yourstruly
    yourstruly
    April 26, 2016, 1:25 am

    birthright

    food and sustenance
    a roof over one’s head
    health care
    education
    the company of family and friends
    not being a displaced person

  12. Ossinev
    Ossinev
    April 26, 2016, 12:12 pm

    @yonah freedman

    “So you support the idea of birthright therefore you support the idea that those born in what is now Israel have the right to return to their places of birth. Great news for Palestinian refugees or am I missing something. Do please explain” is what I said.

    So are you or are you not in favour of those BORN in Israel and their families having the BIRTHRIGHT of return to their native lands and villages – viz Palestinian refugees in Jordan,the Lebanon and the Palestinian Diaspora ( ie post 1948 and not post AD70 ).

    I can`t see any fence sitting options on this one – it`s a yes or a no IMHO.

    Will await your response.

    • wondering jew
      wondering jew
      April 26, 2016, 2:33 pm

      Ossinev- I do not favor a blanket right of return. I favor negotiations that will result into something akin to the beillin abd rabbo negotiations aka Geneva agreement of 2003.

      • Mooser
        Mooser
        April 27, 2016, 12:19 am

        ” I do not favor a blanket right of return.”

        That’s right, “Yonah” we do have our reputation as a conquering religion to think of! If we let all those Palestinians back in, people will say: ‘The Jews have gone soft’.
        And besides, a future of denying return to Palestinians gives every Jewish child something to look forward to.

  13. Liz
    Liz
    April 26, 2016, 1:10 pm

    I was really disappointed with this episode of Broad City and must say that I think this essay – while really well written – seems more of what one would have hoped to find in the episode. I have to disagree that Abby and Ilana portray what it’s like to be Palestinian by being denied entry to the land. At the end, they say they can’t wait to go home–and they do go home to their pretty privileged twenty-something lives in NY. They make light of the charges against them. I think it’s a stretch to say that the Israeli soldiers who act as buffoons are really showing the militarism of Israel. Ilana and Abby never mention the word Palestine or Palestinians. They are able to board the flight at the last minute. It is true that they mock the over-sexualizing of Birthright, but that’s about as far as it went. I think it was a missed opportunity for these young Jewish female stoners.

  14. Xpat
    Xpat
    April 27, 2016, 11:45 am

    hophmi –
    You avoided my question: “What heritage are Birthrighters connected to (assuming this is so) and is that a good thing” as does the Brandeis study you cite. In fact, the Brandeis questionnaire is heavily weighted towards confirming the assumption of Birthright that Israel=Judaism. The respondents, graduates of Birthright, seem to have gotten that message too.
    Your call for Jewish Day Schools is quixotic. It’s also not true that money for non-Zionist education is abundant as you see. On the contrary, “Israel studies” programs at universities cannibalize Jewish studies programs. Funds are extracted from existing Jewish studies to budget Re’ut scholars and other Hasbara projects.
    As for Birthright’s popularity: a free foreign trip with guided tours, affirming a disdain for Arabs and the superiority of the Jews plus hook-ups with hot Israeli soldiers with a nod from one’s parents and rabbi – what’s not to love?

  15. henspert
    henspert
    April 27, 2016, 2:18 pm

    I stopped watching hollywood movies in 1970s. Is this article about a movie? Who would write an article about a movie wjen we are involved with human rights. Stop supporting hollywood.

  16. Ossinev
    Ossinev
    April 28, 2016, 1:45 pm

    @Yonah Friedman
    ” I do not favor a blanket right of return. I favor negotiations that will result into something akin to the beillin abd rabbo negotiations aka Geneva agreement of 2003.”

    Thank you for response but I am afraid I find it to be a little bit coy. If you do not favour “A blanket right of return” the implication is that you accept the justification for some limited right of return ergo you accept the injustice of the expulsion and the ongoing denial of the right of the native people to return to their land. If you do indeed favour a” limited” ROR what are your criteria / parameters ?

    With regard to “the beillin abd rabbo negotiations aka Geneva agreement of 2003”. This was never an agreement. It was a set of PROPOSALS FOR AN AGREEMENT discussed between “representatives” of the Palestinians and an eclectic range of Israeli political and retired/reservist military figures. It was still born at the time and thirteen years on is a ludicrous concept given the rampant expansion of illegal Israeli settlents in East Jerusalem and the Occupied Territories.

    Returning to the main issue.A question:

    Ahmed Mohammed = hypothetical Muslim Palestinian refugee in Lebanon. Driven out of his native land in 1948 where his family had lived for many centuries.

    David Solomon = hypothetical Jewish resident of New York whose family emigrated to America in the late 19th century from Eastern Europe where they had been residents for many centuries and had never set foot in what is now Israel.

    Taking into account basic logic and basic morality which of these two deserves to be allowed to live in what is now the land of Israel ?

    Please clarify/give the reasons for your choice.

  17. Ossinev
    Ossinev
    April 30, 2016, 10:42 am

    @yonah friedman
    Still waiting for a response. Am keen to know which of the two ( Ahmed or David ) you opt for and why.

  18. joan
    joan
    May 17, 2016, 2:46 am

    You conveniently left out the following facts 1) that the overwhelming majority of refugees left because the Arab and Muslim governments told them to because it would only take a few days to wipe out the Jewish nation. There were cases where the Haganah forced residents to leave, but the majority left because their leaders told them to. 2) Those who stayed enjoyed equal rights and protection under Israel law and have legal recourse if they feel they are being discriminated against. Arabs serve in the Parliament, police force, IDF and work and study along side Jews in the universities, hospitals, schools, etc. 3) In 1947 Israel accepted the UN Partition Plan and the Arabs rejected it. 4) 850,000 Jews were expelled from Arab and Muslim countries upon the creation of the State of Israel. Israel welcomed these refugees. Why didn’t the Arabs do the same for their brothers? 5) There have been Jews in Israel for thousands of years. Even after the expulsions there still remained Jews in the community, long before there was Christianity or Islam. During the exiles Jerusalem remained the most important city and Jews face it while praying. I’m sure that many people who spout hate towards Israel have good intentions but are just ignorant of the facts, all of which have been documented. Please educate yourselves, come for a visit. We are not perfect; no country is. But we are not the evil empire.

    • Mooser
      Mooser
      May 17, 2016, 12:13 pm

      “You conveniently left out…”

      Everybody on your best behavior. Ms. Peters is here.

      • just
        just
        May 17, 2016, 1:00 pm

        lolol!

    • eljay
      eljay
      May 17, 2016, 2:27 pm

      || joan: You conveniently left out the following facts … ||

      Israel:
      – was born of Jewish terrorism and the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from their homes and lands;
      – was established as a religion-supremacist “Jewish State” – a state primarily of and for Jewish Israelis and non-Israeli Jews rather than a secular and democratic state of and for all of its Israeli citizens, immigrants, expats and refugees, equally;
      – has been stealing, occupying and colonizing territory outside of its / Partition borders and oppressing, torturing and killing Palestinians for almost 70 years (and counting);
      – refuses to end its occupation and colonization of Palestine;
      – refuses to honour its obligations under international law (including RoR of refugees);
      – refuses to accept responsibility and accountability for its past and ON-GOING (war) crimes; and
      – refuses to enter into sincere negotiations for a just and mutually-beneficial peace.

      I’m sure that Zio-supremacists who defend the “Jewish State” of Israel have unjust and immoral intentions because they know the facts, all of which have been documented, and they just don’t care.

  19. Ossinev
    Ossinev
    May 17, 2016, 12:50 pm

    Dearest Ms Peters ref:
    “I’m sure that many people who spout hate towards Israel have good intentions but are just ignorant of the facts, all of which have been documented. Please educate yourselves, come for a visit. We are not perfect; no country is. But we are not the evil empire”

    Given a stark choice between spouting hatred and spouting crap you have clearly opted for the latter.Regular doses of Ziomeds clearly make the going easier.

    As for the facts do you mean Ziofacts or real facts ?
    http://www.counterpunch.org/2004/01/16/an-interview-with-benny-morris/

    As for perfection without sounding too hateful I really do believe that there are situations where Israelis can claim a unique and world leading level of perfection as in an IDF medic taking PERFECT aim and shooting dead a prone on the ground defenceless human being and JSILi leaders stating that he had a PERFECT right to do so.

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