In fact, there has been a virtual cottage industry in the past few years of former Birthrighters writing cynical pieces about how the program is a right-wing, brainwashing operation.
So if Birthright is awful for politicizing the conflict and for not being open-minded enough to handle criticism, what does the other, supposedly open-minded other side do?
Let's look at the application form for the Center for Jewish Nonviolence trip being planned for this summer to the Hebron area.
The application form itself says that it will not allow anyone to participate unless they agree with everything on this checklist:
VALUES CHECKLISTWe are convening a group of individuals whose core values align with the Center for Jewish Nonviolence. Participants in this delegation should agree with the following three basic principles. Please check the following 3 boxes to indicate your alignment with the core values of this project:
If you believe that Israel has the right to defend itself against rockets and suicide bombs, then you are not allowed to go on this trip.
If you believe that people who want peace and security are morally superior to people who (according to recent polls) generally support stabbing Jews, then you are not allowed to go on this trip.
Now, how about the Jews who run this trip? What do they think about like-minded religious Jews going on the trip?
They remain open-minded - in one direction:
Cultural Adaptability and SensitivitySorry! Your Jewish star necklace and yarmulke are symbols not of Judaism but of "settler presence." Never mind that tens of thousands of Palestinians work in Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria for people wearing yarmulkas, or that they go to Jewish medical clinics where people wear such terrible symbols. Never mind that they many attend a "settler university" in Ariel, and even sleep in its dormitory. As international activists, we are entering a place and a culture that are not our own. Mindful of the fact that we will be entering into Palestinian communities with their own culture, we believe that sensitivity and adaptability are crucial to engaging in our work respectfully and responsibly. This may range from dressing modestly (shoulders, knees covered, even in the heat) to refraining from intense public displays of affection. Moreover, it is vitally important to the success of our work that we be understood to be a solidarity rather than a settler presence. Many external markers of Jewish observance -- kippot, tzitzit, jewish stars, etc -- are viewed as symbols of settler presence. We ask all participants to refrain from publicly displaying external signs of Jewish observance while we are in the Occupied Territories.
No, the quasi-Jews of the Center for Jewish Nonviolence says that these Arabs can never live together with proud Jews because they are, deep down, raging antisemites!
All of a sudden, the desire to be open and inclusive stops where people who are actually proud of being publicly Jewish are not welcome on this trip! And not only are these so-called liberals disparaging of proud members of their own religion - they are insulting the Palestinians they are pretending to support by saying that they are too immature to be able to deal with very presence of Jewish religious symbols!
The late Rabbi Menachem Froman, while I hardly agreed with his political views, managed to meet with Yasir Arafat and Hamas leader Sheikh Yassin in his efforts to use spirituality to help bring peace to the region. Somehow his brand of being a proud Jew who openly believed that Jews have the absolute right to live anywhere in Eretz Yisrael (albeit some of it under Arab control) still managed to visit Israel's enemies without shaving his beard or removing his yarmulka.
But Froman would not be welcome on the Center for Jewish Nonviolence trip, even though he was Jewish and even though he believed in every one of the three principles they list. Because the dhimmi Jews who run the trip think that peace comes from having no self-respect and no pride.
In fact, the truth is the opposite.
Look at this from another angle: Would these people who espouse full equality among all humans insist that Palestinians who want to speak in the West to them about peace remove their keffiyehs - because it might offend people with relatives in Israel who were terror victims? Would they tell them to make sure they don't say "Allahu Akbar" because that is what terrorists say before killing people?
No, to these hypocrites who claim that they solemnly support the "equality and shared humanity of Palestinians and Israelis alike" will never, ever make the same demands of Muslims that they do of Jews.
This group is comprised of members of "the entire spectrum of the anti-occupation left" including Jewish Voice for Peace, J Street, Open Hillel, If Not Now, Students for Justice in Palestine, Jews for Racial and Economic Justice, T’ruah, Hashomer Hatzair and others. "We expect participants to come with various understandings of the causes of and solutions to the occupation. This diversity is welcome."
They also offer special scholarships to Jews of Mizrahi origin because, well, they mostly attract "white" Jews and really want to appear to be more diverse than they are.
But they really don't support diversity. Their own application form proves it.
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