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‘NYT’ publishes long article about Jews protesting ‘Birthright’ over its ‘lies’ about Palestine

Media Analysis

The New York Times published a splendid article today about young Jews walking off the free ten-day Birthright trips to Israel, rejecting them as propaganda. It is already attracting pushback from Israel supporters.

The long article, headlined, “Birthright Trips, a Rite of Passage for Many Jews, Are Now a Target of Protests,” is just about everything we would hope to see in a report on progressives’ misgivings about Israel in the Times. Reporter Farah Stockman’s focus is Risa Nagel, a Seattle woman who “agonized” before deciding to walk off the trip last summer with other disaffected travelers when the hosts didn’t show them the occupation and didn’t allow the delegation to hear Palestinian voices.

A measure of the piece’s effectiveness are all the comments it has already gotten from Israel-defenders saying the young Jews shouldn’t have accepted the trip, paid for by Sheldon Adelson and Haim Saban and the Israeli government among others, unless they were prepared to swallow the political agenda gratefully.

IfNotNow, the young Jewish group that organized the Birthright walkouts, is jubilant over the piece. So is J Street U, which is also quoted in the article, and is leading an alternative liberal Zionist trip next month.

A couple of excerpts show how plainspoken the article is:

One of IfNotNow’s founders, Yonah Lieberman, had helped lead a Birthright trip as an outside volunteer the previous year and said he “saw a lot of lies” about Israel . . .

Ms. Nagel walked down [Hebron] streets that Palestinians are barred from using, even if they own a home there. She saw the Star of David spray-painted on the wall, marking territory. “Seeing the Jewish star being used in that way was so hard,” she said.

Farah Stockman, NYT reporter.

It goes without saying that the report is Inside Jewish Life, and doesn’t include anti-Zionists or Palestinians. Stockman bends over backwards to Israel supporters when she writes that the walkouts have generated “pain and controversy.” And surely it is a measure of the narrow focus that only about ten people walked off Birthright last summer, by our count, out of 24,500 who got the free trip. Birthright fought back against the initial defections last summer and threatened to claw back the cost of the trip from those who left, and the defections appeared to end (IfNotNow did not respond to Phil Weiss’s query last year suggesting the movement was a “fizzle, and raises questions about the efficacy of organizing inside the official Jewish community”). So the Times is amplifying an important but small trend in the Jewish community. And it will surely help IfNotNow’s effort to get more Birthright walkouts this summer.

The article seeks to “balance” the defectors with the voices of those who disapprove of the walkout, including Ben Fields, a participant who loved his trip and says that anyone who claimed to have been surprised by the absence of Palestinians was not being straightforward: “We all know what we signed up for.”

Author Stockman has asked Birthright veterans to get in touch with her to tell her their stories about the trip. Let’s hope she does more about Jewish dissent, and even meets folks who question the need for a discriminatory Jewish state.

Birthright has sent a total of 700,000 young Jews to Israel, on a trip that non-Jews are not welcome on. It has had an enormous impact, and it’s about time it’s getting scrutiny from the Times.

James North and Philip Weiss

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32 Responses

  1. LiberatePalestine on June 11, 2019, 7:53 pm

    The very name «Birthright» reveals the racist nature of the programme. (Maybe it should be renamed «Mess of Pottage».) If you came out of a womb that the Zionist entity considers to have been Jewish at the moment of your birth, you have the «birthright» to a free propaganda-fest in occupied Palestine, all expenses being paid by some Zionist robber barons and the Zionist entity. You also have the «birthright», of course, to «make aliyah» by moving to setter-colonised Palestine and squatting on land stolen from Palestinians. You’re special. You’re superior to the goy next door.

    By contrast, if you came out of a womb that was non-Jewish and Palestinian, you enjoy the birthwrong of being kept out of Palestine for good, or, if you’re «lucky», perhaps a sort of second-class citizenship branded with a yellow star.

    Why should anyone feel flattered by a «birthright»? The very notion offends me. Yet the Zionists, being at bottom nasty racists, regard it as a great honour.

    • Misterioso on June 12, 2019, 9:45 am


      Well said!!

      Of course, the concept of “Birthright” is Zionist nonsense. In fact, with perhaps rare exceptions, e.g., some Arab Jews, modern Jews have no genetic connection whatsoever to the ancient Hebrews.

      Jewish missionaries converted many pagan peoples to their faith in the Middle East, including Palestine, as well as Africa, Asia and Europe, especially during the two centuries preceding Christianity. Also, the Zionist claim that descendants of those Jews have lived apart for nearly two millennia and not intermingled with people outside of their religion is absurd. To quote Polish born David Ben-Gurion (real name, David Gruen): “‘race’ does not unite Jewry since the ancient people dissipated after so much dispersion.” (Philippe de Saint Robert, Le Jeu de la France en Mediteranee ,1970, p.182)

      Renowned historian/anthropologist and “Holy Land” authority, the late Professor Ilene Beatty: “When we speak of ‘Palestinians’ or of the ‘Arab population [of Palestine]‘, we must bear in mind their Canaanite origin. This is important because their legal right to the country stems… from the fact that the Canaanites were first, which gives them priority; their descendants have continued to live there, which gives them continuity; and (except for the 800,000 dispossessed refugees [of 1948 along with the further hundreds of thousands expelled before and after the war Israel launched on 5 June 1967]) they are still living there, which gives them present possession. Thus we see that on purely statistical grounds they have a proven legal right to their own land.” (“Arab and Jew in the Land of Canaan,” 1957)

      Front. Genet., 21 June 2017 |

      “The Origins of Ashkenaz, Ashkenazic Jews, and Yiddish”

      “Recent genetic samples from bones found in Palestine dating to the Epipaleolithic (20000-10500 BCE) showed remarkable resemblance to modern day Palestinians.”

      “The non-Levantine origin of AJs [Ashkenazi Jews] is further supported by an ancient DNA analysis of six Natufians and a Levantine Neolithic (Lazaridis et al., 2016), some of the most likely Judaean progenitors (Finkelstein and Silberman, 2002; Frendo, 2004). In a principle component analysis (PCA), the ancient Levantines clustered predominantly with modern-day Palestinians and Bedouins and marginally overlapped with Arabian Jews, whereas AJs clustered away from Levantine individuals and adjacent to Neolithic Anatolians and Late Neolithic and Bronze Age Europeans.”

      “Overall, the combined results are in a strong agreement with the predictions of the Irano-Turko-Slavic hypothesis (Table 1) and rule out an ancient Levantine origin for AJs, which is predominant among modern-day Levantine populations (e.g., Bedouins and Palestinians). This is not surprising since Jews differed in cultural practices and norms (Sand, 2011) and tended to adopt local customs (Falk, 2006). Very little Palestinian Jewish culture survived outside of Palestine (Sand, 2009). For example, the folklore and folkways of the Jews in northern Europe is distinctly pre-Christian German (Patai, 1983) and Slavic in origin, which disappeared among the latter (Wexler, 1993, 2012).”

      BTW, to state the obvious, even if a Jew living today could miraculously provide definitive DNA or some other unimaginable evidence that he/she is a descendant of the ancient Hebrews, it would in no way entitle him/her to adopt Zionism, take up residence in Palestine and along with other Zionist Jews set about violently and illegally dispossessing and expelling the indigenous Muslim and Christian Arab inhabitants.

      • LiberatePalestine on June 12, 2019, 2:57 pm

        Misterioso, you’re certainly right about the origins of today’s Jews. The Ashkenazim, for the most part, are descended from converts of recent centuries, not from the Israëlites. And Jews, like everyone else, have intermingled with other populations over long periods of time. Unsurprisingly, the Jews of, say, Latvia look rather different from those of Æthiopia. Likewise, Jews also assimilated culturally and linguistically to the surrounding populations. That’s why the Jews in German-speaking areas speak German (Yiddish), those in Arabic-speaking areas (other than occupied Palestine since the Zionist invasion) speak Arabic, and so on, whereas Aramaic (the main language of Jews 2000 years ago) as a native language survives among Jews only where non-Jews also speak Aramaic.

        But Jewishness as constructed by Zionists still counts as a race. With the relatively rare exception of conversion according to a rabbinically supervised process (and note that the Zionist entity accepts only certain Orthodox conversions), Jewishness as constructed by Zionists is a matter of matrilineal descent. That makes it a race in international law, even though others (including many Jews) may not accept the Zionists’ racial category. And that’s why it is quite correct to call Zionism a form of racism.

        In the Bible, «birthright» refers to primogeniture, an institution that most of the world has sensibly abandoned. (It does live on in the laughable European monarchies and in some other contexts.) It’s rather amusing to see the Zionist leaders of this «Birthright» propaganda festival link Jewishness, as they construct it, to the retrograde practice of assigning the entire inheritance to the eldest male child.

      • mondonut on June 12, 2019, 6:34 pm

        @LiberatePalestine, Jewishness as constructed by Zionists is a matter of matrilineal descent. That makes it a race in international law…

        Race is defined in international law as matrilineal? Do you just make this stuff up as needed?

      • eljay on June 12, 2019, 8:15 pm

        || mon donut: … Do you just make this stuff up as needed? ||

        …says the Jewish supremacist (Zionist). Funny stuff, donut!  :-)

      • LiberatePalestine on June 13, 2019, 4:24 pm

        I did not say that race is defined in international law as matrilineal. It is defined by descent. For instance, the UN’s various conventions and protocols on the status of refugees use racial persecution as one factor, and race has been interpreted to cover a variety of groupings rooted in perceived or actual descent. The Zionists’ apartheid régime elevates one group above all others because of its perceived (not actual) descent, so it does discriminate on the basis of race—using its own racial categories. The matrilineal aspect makes no difference.

  2. LiberatePalestine on June 11, 2019, 8:15 pm

    Before anyone marginalises or discredits the ten or so principled young people who walked off this brainwashing tour, let’s take note of some salient facts:

    1) It’s unsurprising that most people go along with the programme of indoctrination. Most people are lazy, uninformed, docile, impressionable, or several of the above.

    2) The people who sign up for this brainwashing tour are likely to be favourably disposed towards Zionism, and even fairly well brainwashed already. They are unlikely to ask questions that will embarrass the Zionists.

    3) Participants have been threatened with being forced to reimburse the cost of their brainwashing (fat chance of that unless the contract provides for it, and even then I’d like to see the Zionist brainwashers try to obtain and enforce a judgement). They have been threatened with expulsion. They have in fact been expelled—hauled off a bus and put into a car bound for the airport, just for asking the «wrong» questions. In light of such threats and punitive measures, participants may think twice about rocking the Zionist boat.

    4) Walking off the brainwashing tour takes courage. One has to leave a group of newfound friends. Defamation behind one’s back is sure to follow. One incurs considerable expenses, quite likely including the cost of an international flight—and a young person in particular may well not have the required money. Trouble may await one at home.

    So I congratulate Ms Nagel and her comrades. They put principle ahead of convenience. They stood up to the Zionist hasbara machine. They refused to be puppets of a criminal settler-colonial régime just because they happened to belong to the Zionists’ master race.

    • Mooser on June 12, 2019, 11:14 am

      Hey, a trip to Israel has great disciplinary value for some Jewish kids. My parents used to threaten me with it regularly.

    • DaBakr on June 12, 2019, 10:31 pm


      “….that most people go along with the programme of indoctrination. Most people are lazy, uninformed, docile, impressionable, or several of the above.”

      You don’t know jews very well. Argumentative. Combative. Definitely into a free trip to Israel but some want the trip and to complain. It’s pretty normal afaic. The times is pretty much rehashing an old story to give a bump to its preferred politics. hooray

      • LiberatePalestine on June 13, 2019, 2:15 am

        Are you serious? Do you really believe that the Times is anti-Zionist?

        If it’s so «normal» for Jews to argue and complain, it’s strange that the Zionist organisers of this propaganda-fest object. Maybe the Zionists «don’t know jews [sic] very well».

      • DaBakr on June 14, 2019, 2:33 am


        I don’t object one bit. The times is the times. It’s been this way since ww2. It tends to lean left, that is all. You know if both zionist and Palestinian activists bitterly complain about the level of bias they must be doing something right. However, that said, I don’t read the times often. So many other places to get news.

        Most jews are zionist so the other comment makes no sense practically. In the anti-Israel MW world it maybe does because they think jews are going to turn against each other

      • Mooser on June 14, 2019, 3:01 pm

        “Most jews are…”

        Because Jews, you see, never change, the Jew today is the same as the proud Maccabees which faced Roman legions without a quail.
        And Zionism is the abiding obsession of all Jews, forever, not just a fad lasting one or two generations, like out-marriage.
        So when we say “most Jews” we know exactly what and who we are talking about.

  3. mondonut on June 11, 2019, 8:34 pm

    ‘NYT’ publishes long article about Jews…

    You may want to make that singular, the only Jew who mentioned lies was Yonah Lieberman.

  4. LiberatePalestine on June 11, 2019, 9:08 pm

    By the way, I appreciate the reference to «marking territory» with the Star of David. Dogs also mark territory by spraying something onto the wall.

  5. CigarGod on June 11, 2019, 10:49 pm

    The cream rises to the top.

  6. wondering jew on June 12, 2019, 9:04 am

    The issue of Israel, also called the Israel Palestine conflict, will probably be the primary Jewish geopolitical issue in the coming 81 years, and as such educating young Jews regarding the conflict is an excellent idea. A well thought out position on Israel-Palestine may occur overnight for some, but for many others it is a journey with many lessons to be learnt and questions to be asked along the way. To include in these lessons and questions an actual experience in the country, no matter what the background music of words of a tour guide, is invaluable (of a value that is difficult to quantify) but of primary importance. Therefore I consider the program a large plus.

    The Hebrew name of the program is Taglit, which means discovery, and this is a far better name than the tendentious name “Birthright.”

    If Peter Beinart were authoring the content of the tour it would include much more education regarding the primary issue of Israel versus Palestine and a lack of voices or experiences that educate regarding that issue is a major flaw.

    Nonetheless a visit to the country is a major step forward in educating Jews regarding this issue of this century, no matter what verbs and nouns are emitting from the mouths of the tour guides.

    The caption in the photo, this is rachel complaining about lies, is not journalism but a parody of journalism aka propaganda.

    • eljay on June 12, 2019, 10:05 am

      || wondering jew: … A well thought out position on Israel-Palestine may occur overnight for some … ||

      But it will continue to evade Zionists, as your post – brimming with supremacist sentiment – clearly demonstrates.

    • Misterioso on June 12, 2019, 10:15 am

      @wondering jew

      Anachronistic “Israel” will not survive the next 81 years. Zionism, a 19th century, colonialist, racist ideology is rapidly rotting within and its adherents are losing their hammerlock on the U.S. and its politicians. All so predictable!

      • DaBakr on June 12, 2019, 10:40 pm


        While respecting your opinion there is no credible way to predict what will happen to Israel. Too many factors to take into consideration. Iran could launch a bomb in the fanatic branch of Shia quest to die martyrs. Or, a fanatical jew could blow up the mosque. Or things will continue along as the future of the world with tech, climate and population will be more of a primary focus instead of one where the entire international community has to be focused on Palestinians as the greatest case of victimhood in 70 years. The USA might not be around in 81 years as far as your line of reasoning goes. It’s all possible but not likely. The most likely scenario is the Arabs in judea and Samaria will either be subsumed into Israel and also form some type of confed with Jordan the true Palestinian nation. Israel doesn’t have to protect the Hashemite dynasty forever and when it stops Jordan will split down tribal lines and west bank Arabs will already have a leg up on how to govern a new Palestinian confederation. Of course this is just another opinion of where an endless conflict is going assuming it’s not breaking into all out war. Like ‘real’ war where nobody is constrained and 10000s on both sides die

      • Jasonius Maximus on June 17, 2019, 11:04 am

        Israel will definitely survive another 81 years. What will not survive is the racist regime in charge of Israel. That regime will last as long as the US Congress wishes it to last. That may take another generation, but it will recede, be pushed into insignificance, or be toppled. The Dershowitzes, Friedmans, Adelsons, Singers, Schumers, Feinsteins, Blitzers, Klein’s, etc of the world will not last forever. They are already dinosaurs living in a completely new world. Still powerful but their numbers are waning and so will their influence.

        That’s not to say that the political influence of pro-Israeli organizations will go with them, but their most games stablished, vocal and influential ambassadors will all but vanish, leaving them in the shadows and firmly behind the curtain, robbing them of public legitimacy.

        The “BDS generation”, whether they support the actual BDS organization or not is infinitely more socially conscious, and is on average 50-60 younger and growing faster and stronger by the day with more access to information and public influence with a single tweet, than the lot of these dinosaurs combined.

        For example, one Instagram video or tweet from AOC, should she decide to go on tour of Palestine this year with Rep. Talib or Rep. Omar, would open more eyes and undo more propaganda than a decade of Birthright Trips, a full term of freshman Congress “junkets” and a full year of favorable NYT coverage. And that’s just one junior congresswoman, who might still be in DC in 20, 30, or even 40 years from now, if the dinosaurs we currently have are anything to go by…

        Even now, with a field of Democrat Presidential candidates of over 20. The criticism and open vocal disapproval of Israeli policies and leadership has been nothing short of unbelievable. The things many have been saying on the issue would have been unheard of just four years ago!

        The world is catching up fast and these dinosaurs cloning on to power and influence are not long for this world…

      • echinococcus on June 17, 2019, 1:33 pm


        “Israel will definitely survive another 81 years. What will not survive is the racist regime in charge of Israel.”

        There’s like a major contradiction between these two statements. “Israel” cannot survive a second without its racist colonialism; there can be no “Israel” if not racist and exclusivist. This, by the very definition of that state. The definition is, seen from the viewpoint of the owners of the land, not a religious or national one but that of an invader state that has brought over foreign invaders to establish their own sovereignty. If there is an “Israel”, there is a racist regime in place, period. Wishful thinking about the lion lying with the lamb because someone signed some papers about some “equal rights” bullshit –the invader having equal rights with the owners, mind you– won’t change this. The other point is that there can be no agreement to a compromise on the part of the Zionists –again, by the very definition of ZIonism. If any solution is to be enforced by exerting, well, force, then it doesn’t make sense to agree to any such limp “equal rights” anyway.

        Palestine is no South Africa, friend. South Africa won a compromise thanks to 30+ years of bitter armed struggle, and an overwhelming majority presence of the oppressed people. And the Whites weren’t messianic fanatic crazies.

        “That regime will last as long as the US Congress wishes it to last.”

        True, that.
        And in that case it is sure to last more than 81 years in the absence of very major US military defeat and humiliation.

    • echinococcus on June 12, 2019, 10:20 am

      “If Peter Beinart were authoring the content of the tour it would include much more education regarding the primary issue of Israel versus Palestine…”

      Of course, and it would be a much more effective instrument of Zionist brainwashing and indoctrination, producing more “acceptable”, (salonfähig, ie presentable) Zionist genocidaires than it does today.
      Keep the Beinarts away. Let’s see the real face of Zionism.

    • Mooser on June 12, 2019, 11:05 am

      “A well thought out position on Israel-Palestine may occur overnight for some” “wj”

      “Polls Show Israel Advocacy Is Divorced From What Most American Jews Want” TPM

      Whether they slept on the question, I don’t know, but we seem to be waking up. Oh, check the comments, too.

      • DaBakr on June 12, 2019, 11:00 pm


        Wait! Now your referring to a “we”? Are you related?*

        *actually, the most recent and up to date DNA and language based research into the genetics of jews finds that ALL jews, Sephardic, Mizrahi and askenaz are basically 10th cousins. Yup. Yuck. Inbreeding with cousins. (We’re all approximatly 30% middle eastern middle Asian and it was the men who started wandering off the reservation marrying all sorts of shicksas from all over the place, blonde redheads and brunettes. Africa to Russia. Uch. Cousins

      • LiberatePalestine on June 13, 2019, 4:31 pm

        All humans are related. The most distant of us are only about a hundred generations apart.

        For that matter, all living entities are related. Yes, you are the cousin—very distant, of course—of my house plants and of Netanyahu’s intestinal bacteria.

      • RoHa on June 13, 2019, 11:19 pm

        “All humans are related.”


    • RoHa on June 13, 2019, 11:29 pm

      “Nonetheless a visit to the country is a major step forward in educating Jews regarding this issue of this century,”

      Jews can get all the education they need on the subject from Moshe Menhuin. No trips needed.

  7. hophmi on June 12, 2019, 1:37 pm

    “Author Stockman has asked Birthright veterans to get in touch with her to tell her their stories about the trip. ”

    Virtually all of them have completely demolished the claims made about Birthright by INN.

    • Mooser on June 12, 2019, 3:55 pm

      “Virtually all of them have completely demolished the claims made about Birthright by INN.” “Hophmi”

      “Hophmi” says so.

    • LiberatePalestine on June 12, 2019, 3:57 pm

      Have they, indeed? They’ve reported that «Birthright» exposed them to Palestinians? that they did not get a one-sided Zionist message? that frank discussion of the Zionist occupation of Palestine was encouraged, or at least tolerated? that people were not harassed or even expelled for expressing disenchantment with Zionism?

      • hophmi on June 26, 2019, 1:02 pm

        If you read the responses, you’ll learn that they do meet Palestinians, that they do discuss the occupation, and that no one is harassed or expelled for expressing concern with Israeli policy in the West Bank; only those who join the trip with the intention of disrupting it for others may face some sanction.

        Well over 600,000 people have gone on Birthright. Virtually no one has been removed from a trip.
        Only a complete moron would believe that they were somehow all neophytes or right-wingers who asked no difficult questions.

  8. Tuyzentfloot on June 24, 2019, 3:24 am

    I’ll put this link here
    “Zionist Colonialism in Palestine” by Fayez A. Sayegh, 1965.

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