The U.S. Department of State sponsored a two-week visit to the U.S. focused on human rights and democracy for a group of 30 high school students from Gaza. Two separate groups of 15 girls and 15 boys were selected because of their outstanding performance in their human rights classes at UNRWA schools in Gaza. Along with their teachers, the students visited Atlanta; Washington, D.C.; and New York City.Hizb ut-Tahrir leaders in Gaza are furious. They warned that the US was trying to "brainwash" Gaza students, and said that this trip is meant to "water down the concepts of Islam and sacrifice in the hearts of the children through the dissemination of the infidel West toxins through the likes of these visits. [It is] an attempt to distort perceptions and introduce them to Western lifestyles and deceptive, abnormal manifestations of civil rights."
While in Atlanta, the students met with former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, visited the Martin Luther King Center, and participated in discussions on conflict resolution, human rights, and democracy. In Washington, D.C., the students received a tour of the White House and Capitol Hill, saw a concert at the Kennedy Center, and had dinner with American high school students and their families. In New York City, the students met with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and saw a Broadway musical.
U.S. Consul General in Jerusalem Daniel Rubinstein met with the group upon their return to discuss their impressions of the United States. Consul General Rubinstein congratulated them, saying, “I hope your experience in the United States will help you as you become the future leaders of an independent Palestinian state.”
They also complained that the trip would make Western culture seem desirable to the students, which is completely unacceptable.