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Birthright dissident calls on 1000s of Jews doing trip to ‘make Birthright uncomfortable’

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The other day we reported the dramatic Birthright bailout, when five American Jewish women left their “Birthright” trip to Israel near the conclusion on June 28 because they had not gotten honest answers to repeated questions about the occupation. As they announced their decision to their fellow travelers, in a video posted on Facebook, the young women were answered with belligerence by their Israeli tour guide, who warned them about the violence in the occupation, and a fellow Birthright participant told them, “You will get killed. You will get raped.”

One of the Birthright-bolters, Bethany Zaiman, a doctoral student in anthropology, has given an interview to David Kattenburg at Green Planet Monitor and answered some questions re the action.

The action wasn’t planned ahead of time, Zaiman implies. She joined the trip as a critic of Birthright hoping for answers. “I was very fortunate on the trip to meet a few other women who had similar reservations and questions.”

Birthright bolters. Bethany Zaiman is in plaid shirt, third from right.

All were stunned that what Zaiman calls the largest Jewish educational program in the world had no ability to deal with the reality, let alone engage Palestinian interlocutors.

Their group left the States for Israel on June 18, and “from the very beginning,” Zaiman asked questions about the occupation. No traction. On the first day of the trip “we drove past the West Bank and the separation wall, and no one even mentioned it,” Zaiman says. “Finally another participant brought it up and the person they were sitting next to… said, Yeah that’s a Trump-sized wall. Which spoke volumes to me about the reality that we were ignoring as we drove by.”

After a few days of adventure– the Bedouin camel ride, the hike, the beach– the group of skeptics asked to have a conversation on the Sabbath about the occupation. “That was actually a disheartening experience.” The guide agreed to have an open conversation, but when the young woman who initiated it said that she was bringing in some Israeli friends to speak, “the tour guide got very angry.”

“You can’t have friends, or foreigners coming in,” he said. The participant responded, “These are Israeli Jewish friends. They want to talk to us about their experience.” Zaiman: “He said absolutely not…. ‘I can’t have anyone coming to contaminate the group’.”

Originally 18 people on the trip showed interest in that discussion. In the end only seven showed up. That’s when the five skeptics decided to leave the trip and join Breaking the Silence for a tour of occupied Hebron.

They didn’t go without making a statement to their fellows. They wanted to engage their Jewish community and explain that it was “morally irresponsible to ignore the occupation” and provide “lies or propaganda.”

“It’s a miseducation and an incredibly problematic one, to be the largest Jewish educational institution in the world, and to not be talking about the occupation.”

When they said they were leaving, the skeptics received various veiled threats about their plans, that they would get killed.

“That speaks volumes about the…. miseducation the young Jewish community is getting about Palestine through Birthright,” Zaiman says.

She elaborated that every time the skeptics had asked about visiting the West Bank, the tour guide had said No. “If I were to walk into the West Bank, I’d be shot in the head.” The skeptics countered, there are illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank, so clearly there are Israelis there.

“Well that’s their choice,” the guide said. “I’d be shot in the head.” He was, Zaiman says, constantly giving the message to trip members that Palestine is “an incredibly violent and dangerous place for Israelis.”

Kattenburg asks, “Were there islands of sympathy in the group?”

“There were not,” Zaiman says.

He also asked her if she saw apartheid in Hebron. Zaiman evades that word, though she notes that she and Israelis are allowed to walk down Shuhada Street, formerly the central street of downtown Hebron, and Palestinians are not.

“I would say that the displacement and emptiness of the area we were in really spoke volumes… speaks to the level of military control… It really was a visceral example of what military control looks like in the daily reality of occupation.”

Why did she go on Birthright and should others go?

She went because she “hoped to engage and make incremental change in the conversations we’re having in the mainstream Jewish community about the occupation.” But as much as the skeptics pushed for that discussion, “Birthright was unwilling to move on their stance…they claimed they were apolitical, all the while selling us propaganda about Palestinians and Israel that was very untrue.” Including a map of Israel without the West Bank marked on it.

Zaiman’s challenge:

“If you are already  signed up for a Birthright trip — I know there are tens of thousands of you out there– please, please, please push, ask questions, make Birthright uncomfortable.”

Because “it’s not acceptable in any way, to be the largest Jewish educational institution in the world and not talk about Palestine, and not engage with any Palestinian speakers.”

And if you haven’t signed up for Birthright, “I would strongly consider not going.” Because the program is not willing to address these questions.

Zaiman concludes saying she’s been involved with Jewish Voice for Peace and IfNotNow. “Now I’m going to get more involved.”

Breaking the Silence issued a statement on the dissenters.

This tour single-handedly provoked outrage in Israel and throughout the Jewish Diaspora. MK Yair Lapid (Yesh Atid) said that this was no less than an attempt to harm the state of Israel and the Jewish people!

Meanwhile, right-wing organizations published the names and faces of the participants, and Birthright blocked a Haaretz reporter from their twitter account after she covered the story.

Clearly, they’re panicking….

One single tour in a sea of ​​Occupation propaganda drove the Right-wing crazy.

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

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40 Responses

  1. Liz
    Liz
    July 3, 2018, 2:43 pm

    This article and the one from the other day about the Birthright dissenters is just fantastic. These young women are on their way to undoing the mythology of Zionism, and hopefully in time, they will use the word apartheid to describe what they saw.

    • JWalters
      JWalters
      July 3, 2018, 5:17 pm

      Totally agree. That was a brilliant information warfare operation, beautifully carried out, and a solid blow for facts and justice.

  2. eljay
    eljay
    July 3, 2018, 3:08 pm

    … Zaiman concludes saying she’s been involved with Jewish Voice for Peace and IfNotNow. “Now I’m going to get more involved.” …

    I sincerely hope Ms. Zaiman makes it past opposing only the occupation and eventually arrives at:
    – opposing Jewish supremacism (Zionism) and the “Jewish State” project in its entirety; and
    – advocating the universal and consistent application of justice, accountability and equality.

    • echinococcus
      echinococcus
      July 3, 2018, 7:03 pm

      Eljay,

      Even as Zionists, these ladies have already done a good job thanks to the stupidity of the Z. Every bit helps, so thanks.

      Also, one wishes you’d follow your own advice, that you’d

      make it past opposing only the” [post-1967] occupation and eventually arrive at:
      – opposing Jewish supremacism (Zionism) and the “Jewish State” project in its entirety; and
      – advocating the universal and consistent application of justice, accountability and equality.

      Entirety means without a 1948 exception, doesn’t it? Otherwise no entirety.
      Also, “universal and consistent application of justice, accountability and equality” necessarily includes a valid act of self-determination of the invaded colonial people, whose judgment, not a decree out of one’s own anatomy, is the only final one.

  3. Citizen
    Citizen
    July 3, 2018, 4:21 pm

    Will those 5 girls have to eat kosher hemlock?

  4. JWalters
    JWalters
    July 3, 2018, 5:50 pm

    The strategy of avoiding all discussion of the Palestian people, the human sacrifices in the “sacred” project, comes straight from the top. Jacob Rothschild, on the 100th anniversary of the Balfour declaration (a letter to his uncle Walter Rothschild), explained why his family had bankrolled the establishment of Israel. It was specifically NOT to rescue Russian Jews, but rather for the “that sacred goal, the return of Israel to its ancestral homeland”. He never mentions the Palestinian human sacrifices made in pursuit of this “sacred goal”.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_FMVhjv42Gs

    Every single Zionist in public life follows Rothschild’s lead on this point exactly. Coincidence or influence?

    Among my Jewish friends I notice a strong interest in Buddhism, and I can see why. It’s been around as long as Judaism (longer if you consider the older yoga tradition from which it grew). It emphasizes compassion for every living creature. It does not advocate genocide, slaughtering every man, woman, and child, leaving “nothing left alive that breathes”. It does not claim an inherent ethnic superiority, with which it justifies treating other people as animals (not having a human soul). It does not teach that a non-Buddhist life is worth less than a single Buddhist fingernail. It does not advocate living in a segregated Buddhist community. It doesn’t try to restrict your marriage partner to only Buddhists. And it doesn’t require you to believe in God if you’re not comfortable with that. You can simply do the practices to calm your inner being and see where that takes you.

    • RoHa
      RoHa
      July 3, 2018, 8:39 pm

      Buddhism ‘does not advocate genocide, slaughtering every man, woman, and child, leaving “nothing left alive that breathes”. It does not claim an inherent ethnic superiority, with which it justifies treating other people as animals (not having a human soul). It does not teach that a non-Buddhist life is worth less than a single Buddhist fingernail …. ”

      See, this is why Buddhism, after all these years, is only the fifth rank religion with only 7% of the world’s population.

      • Mooser
        Mooser
        July 3, 2018, 9:18 pm

        “See, this is why Buddhism, after all these years, is only the fifth rank religion with only 7% of the world’s population.”

        Which is only about 500 million people.

      • RoHa
        RoHa
        July 3, 2018, 9:54 pm

        Negligible.

      • Talkback
        Talkback
        July 4, 2018, 9:12 am

        More like 1.5 million buddhists.

      • Stephen Shenfield
        Stephen Shenfield
        July 4, 2018, 9:33 am

        Buddhism became India’s state religion under Ashoka. But after him the Brahmins pushed back and Buddhism was reduced to the minority status it has had ever since (in India). Dr Ambedkar thought that Dalits are descendants of Buddhists who resisted the reaction and ended up casteless. That’s why he converted to Buddhism before his death.

    • RoHa
      RoHa
      July 3, 2018, 8:48 pm

      “And it doesn’t require you to believe in God if you’re not comfortable with that. ”

      Buddhist teachings have no room for the idea of a creator God of the type preached by the Abrahamic religions. Such Gods as exist are part of the furniture of the Universe (mostly in another room), in the same way that we are. They just have better hair and live longer.

      We can, if we try hard, be reborn as Gods, and Gods can be reborn as humans. Indeed, it is easier for a human to attain enlightenment than for a God. We are not so attached to our hair.

      Indonesian law only permits religions which believe in God in some way or another, so Indonesian Buddhists pretend to believe in God, and the Indonesian government pretends to believe them.

      http://vajra.us/gus_oil_and_water.html

      • echinococcus
        echinococcus
        July 4, 2018, 1:39 am

        Indonesian law only permits religions which believe in God in some way or another, so Indonesian Buddhists pretend to believe in God, and the Indonesian government pretends to believe them.

        While the Birman ones don’t seem to pretend to anything. Same result.

      • gamal
        gamal
        July 4, 2018, 9:49 am

        “Buddhist teachings have no room for the idea of a creator God of the type preached by the Abrahamic religions”

        but interestingly they are identical in practise, the Barmaki kept a Buddhist shrine in Balkh long after their conversion, Balkh where Ibrahim Ibni Adhem was born.

        I am not theorist but a practitioner so what is Muraqabat if not Dhyana, faqr (poverty), riazat (lifes hardships, samsara), zuhd (asceticism),.

        As to God, the creator, lets be clear it can not be being have any plans choose anything be anywhere etc kind of like Dharma, the ineluctable working out of things, in my experience Lamas are quite as tiresome as priests or “imams”…Persian literature is full of Buddhism

        it was Shahrastani in …he died 1100ish ce, who wrote of Buddhists that they are Sufis, Qalandars took over the caves of Buddhists ascetics in Uighur, former Buddhists like many Iranians and Central Asians,

        but I agree Tirthikas and deists cause a lot of trouble, problem is

        “Since nothing ever need be done, there is freedom
        and since nothing occurs, nothing remains

        Since there is no going, the ongoing process of coming comes to an end.

        There is no single thing or duality that occurs by being created.

        Conventional designations do not exist even in the state of confusion

        Their nature is devoid of existence, non-existence, and Karmic process.

        The fruition is timelessly free of ordinary consciousness.

        It is beyond all description, imagination, or expression”

        From the tantra “The Reverberation of Sound”

        or as “The six expanses” puts it

        “within mind itself, in which things manifest within frames of reference,

        whatever establishes these frameworks is pure within its own place”

        thats right people just do nothing, ever, if you can, its gods holy plan.

      • RoHa
        RoHa
        July 4, 2018, 10:54 pm

        “it was Shahrastani in …he died 1100ish ce, who wrote of Buddhists that they are Sufis, ”

        I think it’s the other way round. It is the Sufis who are Buddhists.

        “thats right people just do nothing, ever, if you can, its gods holy plan.”

        So even though I don’t believe in God, it seems as though I try to be a pious follower. If only I could do it without trying!

    • umm al-hamam
      umm al-hamam
      July 4, 2018, 8:19 am

      One can see the application of Buddhism on a state level in one of the Zionist entity’s allies, Myanmar, which is carrying out a project of genocide against minority ethnic groups in the name of religious purity.

      We see this in any state where religious authorities are inextricably linked with the government: Hindu nationalism in India, Jewish supremacy in Israel, Islamic government in Saudi Arabia, Protestant rule in Northern Ireland. The problem is not any specific religion but rather religious rule, which inevitably defines only followers of that religion as true citizens. There is no religion, however peaceful its teachings, which can rule politically over others without violence or oppression.

      • JWalters
        JWalters
        July 4, 2018, 6:42 pm

        “We see this in any state where religious authorities are inextricably linked with the government”

        Thank you for that fundamentally important point. This is precisely why the US Constitution prohibits an official state religion. Any religious organization that acquires money and power, including state power, will attract people hungry for money and power. Some of these many be deluded believers, but many will simply be swindlers of various sorts. Some of this seems to have been going on in this case e.g. http://warprofiteerstory.blogspot.com

  5. JWalters
    JWalters
    July 3, 2018, 7:19 pm

    It’s your birthright – support ethnic cleansing and get a free trip, including a camel ride! If you enjoy the trip you can join the IDF and shoot a Palestinian!

  6. pgtl10
    pgtl10
    July 3, 2018, 11:17 pm

    I find the term “Birthright” pretentious.

  7. Jackdaw
    Jackdaw
    July 4, 2018, 5:50 am

    If these young ladies are so concerned about the ‘Occupation’, than they should just go to a West Bank village and direct their questions to the villagers living under ‘Occupation’.

    But first, the girls need to cover up their skin and hair, so as not to offend the local sensitivities.

    • guyn
      guyn
      July 4, 2018, 9:30 am

      Yet, Ahed Tamimi could get dressed as she wanted.

      And Occupation doesn’t need quotation marks in your comment.

      • Jackdaw
        Jackdaw
        July 4, 2018, 10:08 am

        Show me one single photo of a woman walking around the West Bank or Gaza in shorts and a belly shirt.

        One, and I will make a $36 contribution to Mondoweiss.

      • John O
        John O
        July 4, 2018, 1:49 pm

        @Pheasant

        King Lear, IV, vi

        “Thou rascal beadle, hold thy bloody hand.
        Why dost thou lash that whore? Strip thine own back.
        Thou hotly lust’st to use her in that kind
        For which thou whipp’st her.”

      • oldgeezer
        oldgeezer
        July 4, 2018, 5:52 pm

        lol too lay to check yourself again.

        And not only do you fabricate claims you move the goalposts when called on it.

        All one needs to show is a picture that stands in contrast to your claim Shows hair and skin.

        Never trust a zionist. Rotten to the core.

        As if you would pay 36 lol. Yeah I believe anything you say.

      • Mooser
        Mooser
        July 4, 2018, 6:15 pm

        “Jackdaw” sez:“FYI, I don’t discuss religion or politics with Israelis because I’m polite and because I lack the requisite rhetorical skills. I don’t discuss religion or politics with my close friends either.

        Also, Israeli sabras, lacking my good manners, argue and fight over religion and politics with each other all the time. Who of them, even cares to hear my ‘two cents’?”

        When Israelis can’t talk to each other, they come to Mondo.
        That helps Israel so much.

    • eljay
      eljay
      July 4, 2018, 9:53 am

      || Jackdaw @ July 4, 2018, 5:50 am ||

      Aggressor-victimhood sure is a tough gig, especially when young women dare to offend the aggressor’s “local sensitivities”.  :-(

    • Misterioso
      Misterioso
      July 4, 2018, 10:22 am

      @Jackdaw

      Utterly inane comment. No surprise. At least you’re consistent.

    • echinococcus
      echinococcus
      July 4, 2018, 1:25 pm

      Jack***

      You’re woefully uninformed.
      In post-67 occupation area, the non-religious have no dress code.

      It’s if they went to the real Jewish areas of the Zionist entity that these gals would have to dress “modest”, sit in the back of the bus and walk behind the Man. Under pain of lynching.

      Beside, what’s your beef with people dressing as they please? Like caftans, funny caps, bath towels, turbans, wigs…

    • Pippilin
      Pippilin
      July 13, 2018, 10:50 am

      I visited the West Bank in 2011 with Global Exchange. The group had meals in Arab/Muslim homes, in Arab/Christian homes, bathed in these homes, and slept overnight in such homes. It was never asked to modify its attire to please its hosts. Speak not that of which you are ignorant.

      • annie
        annie
        July 13, 2018, 12:21 pm

        when i was in jerusalem, after spending a week in gaza and a few days in the west bank, i think what surprised me the most was so many jewish women being completely covered. i remember walking around a market in the morning and thinking ‘they are as covered as the women in gaza’. cuffs covering the wrists and the necklines, everything. i didn’t expect it.

      • Mooser
        Mooser
        July 13, 2018, 1:41 pm

        “cuffs covering the wrists and the necklines, everything.”

        Sun reflected from golden stone can give people a heck of a burn.

    • Talkback
      Talkback
      July 13, 2018, 12:01 pm
  8. guyn
    guyn
    July 4, 2018, 8:55 am

    “MK Yair Lapid (Yesh Atid) said that this was no less than an attempt to harm the state of Israel and the Jewish people!”

    Always this conflation. They are frightening in their delusion.

  9. aloeste
    aloeste
    July 4, 2018, 3:49 pm

    fortunately us orthodox make lots of babies and are not antizionist…..

  10. bcg
    bcg
    July 5, 2018, 10:25 am

    @Jackdaw: ” Pics of shorts and belly shirts, I said. I said pics of shorts and belly shirts…Stay focused. Pics of shorts and belly shirts will earn Mondocult $36 for Kool Aid, or matching bandanas or whatever else cult devotees require.”

    Jackdaw, what the hell are you talking about? I presume you’re trying to demonstrate that the Palestinians are primitives undeserving of human rights (I guess), but the thing about human rights – you know, the right to not have your home demolished – is that you don’t need to apply, you get them automatically.

    In my culture we try to guarantee that ever teenager has easy access to an AR-15, and out infant mortality rate is positively third-world. But this doesn’t constitute an argument that Americans shouldn’t have basic human rights because we’re too primitive to handle them.

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