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Pro-Israel student tour offers meeting with ‘Palestinian leaders’ between beer and settlements

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All those free trips to Israel that the country’s promoters offer young American Jews are coming under a lot of pressure this summer from participants who say they’re being lied to; and Northwestern University Hillel has responded by offering a “leadership tour” for students later this month that looks like old wine in a new bottle.

The draft itinerary, which I got from a friend, makes it clear that student leaders — apparently from all backgrounds– are to be propagandized to love Israel, but with a little more realism thrown in. Like a flyby in Ramallah with “Palestinian leaders,” on the same day that the students drink beer at Taybeh brewery in the West Bank and do three other events. Also they’ll meet an Arab-Israeli journalist. In between learning about the thriving LGBTQ culture in Tel Aviv, startup nation, and co-existence projects.

So there’s no real doubt about the thrust of this tour. The student leaders are going to visit the illegal Efrat settlement and meet the mayor, and tour the occupied Golan Heights too. This is a propaganda tour with a new veneer.

Here’s the draft itinerary, with my highlights.

Sunday, August 26, 2018
• Depart from JFK Airport in New York…. (Participants should be at JFK [more than four hours ahead of the flight].

Monday, August 27
• Arrive in Ben Gurion Airport…
• Welcome at ancient Caesarea Aqueduct on the Mediterranean Sea
Overnight at IYHA Guest House, Haifa

Tuesday, August 28
• Visit Baha’i Gardens in Haifa
• Visit Achmadiya Mosque in Haifa
• Encounter Druze culture in Carmel village of Ussafiya
Explore history and terrain of Golan Heights on a jeep tour
• Geopolitical introduction to Israel’s neighbors at Mt. Ben-Tal
• Evening Cruise on the Sea of Galilee (time permitting)
• Meet a panel of Muslim, Christian, and Jewish students
Overnight at Kibbutz Amiad Guest House, Galilee

Wednesday, August 29
Visit Ziv Hospital in Tsfat, a leader in emergency medicine and treating Syrian refugees
• Visit ancient Tsfat, the historic center of Jewish mysticism
Travel along the [occupied] Jordan River valley
• Float in the Dead Sea
• Nature walk in Ein Gedi National Park
• Dinner at Jerusalem hotel
Overnight at Montefiore Hotel, Jerusalem

Thursday, August 30
• Visit Temple Mount/Haram a-Sharif
• Visit [occupied] Bethlehem, including a visit to the Church of the Nativity and meeting with the mayor of Bethlehem
Travel to Israeli settlement bloc of Gush Etzion and meet mayor of Efrat
• Meet with an Israeli negotiator involved in Israel’s peace talks with the Palestinian [sic]
Overnight at Montefiore Hotel, Jerusalem

Friday, August 31
• Visit Yad Vashem World Holocaust Remembrance Center
• Experience Machane Yehuda open air marketplace for lunch
• Geopolitical tour of Jerusalem
• Friday night Shabbat (Sabbath) dinner and group reflection at hotel
Overnight at Montefiore Hotel, Jerusalem

Saturday, September 1
• Rampart Walls tour of the Old City of Jerusalem
• Explore Christian and Muslim Quarters of the Old City
Meet with an Arab-Israeli journalist
• Graffiti art tour of Machane Yehuda market at night
Overnight at Montefiore Hotel, Jerusalem

Sunday, September 2
Tour of Ramallah and meet with Palestinian leaders
• Continue to Tybeh Brewery for tour and tastings in one of the first Palestinian breweries
• Stop by Hebrew University Mt. Scopus
• Visit Kids4Peace, a nonprofit organization promoting coexistence among all of Jerusalem’s youth
• Speaker event in conjunction with Northwestern Hillel’s Birthright group (visiting Israel at the same time as the NU Perspectives trip)
Overnight at Montefiore Hotel, Jerusalem

Monday, September 3
• Guided tour of the Israeli Supreme Court
• Visit to Save a Child’s Heart to learn of this organization’s work providing lifesaving treatment to children from around the world
• Explore the ancient port city of Jaffa and browse the Jaffa flea market
Overnight at ArtPlus Hotel, Tel Aviv

Tuesday, September 4
Visit Netiv HaAsara near the Gaza border and take part in a peace project on the border wall
Visit the border town of Sderot
Learn about Tel Aviv’s thriving LGBTQ culture on the Rainbow TLV Tour
• Dinner at an Ethiopian restaurant, where we’ll hear the personal story of the restaurant’s owner.
Overnight at ArtPlus Hotel, Tel Aviv

Wednesday, September 5
• Visit the mixed Arab and Jewish city of Lod and learn about the social justice work of Yahel
Tap into Israel’s start-up revolution at the Tel Aviv Innovation Center
• Enjoy Tel Aviv’s Mediterranean beach
Overnight at ArtPlus Hotel, Tel Aviv

Thursday, September 6
• Meet with leader of the Peres Peace Center
• Visit Carmel Market in Tel Aviv
• Explore models of coexistence with a Muslim cleric and peace activist in Jaffa
• Closing dinner in Jaffa
• Leave for Ben Gurion Airport
• Depart from TLV ….

Birthright is of course the Sheldon Adelson gift trip for Jews 26 and under. Yahel is another Israel promotion organization for young people, chiefly American Jews.

As for the Netiv HaAsara “border wall” peace project, that would seem to refer to a mosaic promoting peace that Israelis have made on a security wall in that community near the Gaza Strip. The wall was apparently built to protect people in Israel from the Strip.

Here is Northwestern Hillel’s public promotion of the trip.

NU Perspectives: A Leadership Journey to Israel and the Palestinian Territories

NU Perspectives is Northwestern Hillel’s new leadership journey to Israel and the Palestinian Territories. The purpose of this program is to educate emerging and current Northwestern undergraduate student leaders about Israel and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, shining an intentional light on complexities and nuances in an immersive and experiential way.

Visit Ramallah, the current capital of the Palestinian Authority, and other areas of the Palestinian Territories to hear from Palestinian leaders and locals.

Learn from, and engage with, a variety of voices and perspectives from the religious, secular, Druze, Christian, Jewish-Israeli, Palestinian, Muslim, and other communities.

Meet journalists, politicians, artists, intellectuals, activists, and other leaders.

Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is senior editor of and founded the site in 2005-06.

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15 Responses

  1. Jackdaw on August 7, 2018, 11:52 am

    What’s the problem?

    The students tour Ramallah and drink Palestinian beer. They visit mixed cities, like Lod and Haifa (where Jews and Arabs get along famously). They visit kids in need and Syrian refugees in hospital. etc, etc.

    God, your shrill complaints know no end.

    • bcg on August 7, 2018, 1:21 pm

      @Jackdaw: The problem is explained in this article “Jewish Voice For Peace Urges Young Jews to Boycott Birthright Israel”:

      See if you can figure it out.

    • Stephen Shenfield on August 7, 2018, 1:28 pm

      Defense minister Lieberman (the bouncer from Moldova) announced on June 29 that Israel will not accept any Syrian refugees on its territory. So who are these ‘Syrian refugees’ in hospital? They must be the wounded Islamist fighters whom Israel treats and then sends back to continue the fight against the Assad regime.

    • John O on August 7, 2018, 2:28 pm

      @Jackdaw. Syrian refugees? Who, where, how long will they stay?

    • amigo on August 7, 2018, 2:41 pm

      “They visit mixed cities, like Lod and Haifa (where Jews and Arabs get along famously). ” jackduh

      Sure Jacduh , as lond as those “Arabs” (Palestinians) are on their best behaviour.

      “They visit kids in need ” jackduh

      I didn,t notice visits to refugee camps.

      “God, your shrill complaints know no end.” jackduh.

      If your annoyed by our complaints we must be doing something right.

      • Jackdaw on August 7, 2018, 4:53 pm


        Most people, myself included, hold all people to an equal standard, but you, Phil and the Mondoweiss cult, are ‘Jew scourers’.

        You and Phil want every Jew to fall prostrate and lick the Palestinian’s feet.

        That not going to happen.

      • amigo on August 7, 2018, 6:15 pm

        “Most people, myself included, hold all people to an equal standard, but you, Phil and the Mondoweiss cult, are ‘Jew scourers’.” jackduh

        “Most people, myself included, hold all people to an equal standard, but you, Phil and the Mondoweiss cult, are ‘Zionist scourers’.”

        There you go .Fixed it for you.

        Btw , I can,t speak for Phil but I certainly have no desire to be held to your standards.Apartheid,oppresssion, land theft, collective punishment,Child torture,ethnic cleansing,Murder,etc,etc,etc,etc.

        No thanks jackduh.

        “You and Phil want every Jew to fall prostrate and lick the Palestinian’s feet.” jackduh

        “You and Phil want every Zionist to fall prostrate and stop shooting themselves in their feet.”


      • eljay on August 7, 2018, 6:36 pm

        || Jackdaw: Most people, myself included, hold all people to an equal standard … ||

        Really? You believe that non-Jews are entitled to do unto Jews the same sorts of acts of injustice and immorality that Jewish supremacists (Zionists) are doing unto non-Jews? Why do you hate Jews so much?!

        Oh, wait a minute, I get it now: You’re being facetious and what you – a Jewish supremacist (Zionist) – actually mean is that you hold all people to an equal standard…as long as Jews are more equal than non-Jews.

        Good one.  ;-)

      • echinococcus on August 7, 2018, 6:39 pm

        The Jackzz misrepresting again:

        “You and Phil want every Jew to fall prostrate and lick the Palestinian’s feet.”

        Dunno about Amigo and Phil, but the whole world is asking something else. Not prostration or licking.

        Just get the hell out of Palestine.

        And stop confusing “Jews” and “Zionists” because people are gonna do the same, too, with interest.

      • amigo on August 7, 2018, 8:16 pm

        “You and Phil want every Jew to fall prostrate and lick the Palestinian’s feet.” jackduh

        I cannot speak for Phil but I don,t think you or your zionist brotherhood are fit to lick the feet of any Palestinian.

      • oldgeezer on August 7, 2018, 9:31 pm


        “Most people, myself included, hold all people to an equal standard, ”

        While likely true for most people it’s a flat out lie about how you conduct yourself.

    • Koshiro on August 7, 2018, 3:08 pm

      It’s billed as a ” A Leadership Journey to Israel and the Palestinian Territories”. Discounting tourism-type events without any discernible cultural or political slant as well as purely organizational events, I count a total of 23 Israel-based events, 3 Palestine-based events and 2 events (visit to “Temple Mount” and “Explore Christian and Muslim Quarters of the Old City”) which could go this or that way.

      A fan as I am of cold, hard, unforgiving numbers, I conclude: This tour has so much of an Israeli bent that its chosen designation, as quoted above, can only be regarded as a deliberate deception. And one need only perform the very simple mental exercise of imagining that the ratio was reversed, with the tour’s self-description remaining the same, plus how you and other apologists would react to that, in order to realize that this is so and that all arguments you care to put forward to deny this fact are irrelevant.

    • lyn117 on August 7, 2018, 5:33 pm

      The problem is the clearly biased and propagandist nature of the tour. Anyone but a blinded Zionist, or Zionist deliberately trying to blind others, would note that.

    • Misterioso on August 8, 2018, 10:42 am


      “They visit mixed cities, like Lod and Haifa (where Jews and Arabs get along famously).”


      “Former Foreign Ministry director-general invokes South Africa comparisons. ‘Joint Israel-West Bank’ reality is an apartheid state”
      EXCERPT: “Similarities between the ‘original apartheid’ as it was practiced in South Africa and the situation in ISRAEL [my emphasis] and the West Bank today ‘scream to the heavens,’ added [Alon] Liel, who was Israel’s ambassador in Pretoria from 1992 to 1994. There can be little doubt that the suffering of Palestinians is not less intense than that of blacks during apartheid-era South Africa, he asserted.” (Times of Israel, February 21, 2013)

      Video: Israeli TV Host Implores Israelis: Wake Up and Smell the Apartheid

      Ronnie Kasrils, a key player in the struggle against the former South African apartheid regime, minister for intelligence and a devout Jew: “The Palestinian minority in Israel has for decades been denied basic equality in health, education, housing and land possession, solely because it is not Jewish. The fact that this minority is allowed to vote hardly redresses the rampant injustice in all other basic human rights. They are excluded from the very definition of the ‘Jewish state’, and have virtually no influence on the laws, or political, social and economic policies. Hence, their similarity to the black South Africans [under apartheid].” (The Guardian, 25 May 2005)

      Shlomo Gazit, retired IDF Major General: “[Israel’s] legal system that enforces the law in a discriminatory way on the basis of national identity, is actually maintaining an apartheid regime.” (Haaretz, July 19, 2011)

      One example of apartheid within Israel:
      “Jewish town won’t let Arab build home on his own land”
      Excerpt: “Aadel Suad first came to the planning and construction committee of the Misgav Local Council in 1997. Suad, an educator, was seeking a construction permit to build a home on a plot of land he owns in the community of Mitzpeh Kamon. The reply he got, from a senior official on the committee, was a memorable one. ‘Don’t waste your time,’ he reportedly told Suad. ‘We’ll keep you waiting for 30 years.’” (Haaretz, 14 December 2009)

      In its 2015 Country Report on Human Rights Practices for Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories, published in 2016, the U.S. Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor acknowledges the “institutional and societal discrimination against Arab citizens of Israel.” (U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor)

      “Construction, Not Destruction”
      “While Israeli Arabs constitute 20 percent of the population, Arab communities’ jurisdictions occupy just 2.5 percent of the state’s land area, and the process of approving new construction in Arab towns takes decades.” (Haaretz Editorial, April 4, 2017)

      The entity known as “Israel” also differentiates between citizenship and nationality, i.e., “Israeli” nationality does not exist, only Jews and non-Jews, and each citizen carries an appropriate identity card. While the implications of this absurdity for discrimination and racism against non-Jews are obvious, it has been upheld by Israel’s Supreme Court.

      The effect of Israel’s blatantly racist “Citizenship Law” and more than fifty other restrictions Arab citizens have to endure is well expressed by writer and Knesset member, Ahmed Tibi, “…dutifully defining the state [of Israel] as ‘Jewish and democratic,’ ignores the fact that in practice ‘democratic’ refers to Jews, and the Arabs are nothing more than citizens without citizenship.” (Ma’ariv, 1.6.2005)

    • Talkback on August 9, 2018, 4:36 am

      Jackdaw: “They visit mixed cities, like Lod and Haifa (where Jews and Arabs get along famously).”

      Yes, yes. Lod and Haifa are perfect examples of Jews and Arabs getting along famously.

      Lod/Lydda: 20,000 Arabs reduced to 700-1,000.
      Haifa: 62,000 Arabs reduced to 5,500-6,000.

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