Readers React: The Birthright travelers who walked off their tour in Israel knew what they signed up for
To the editor: As Americans, we have an inalienable right to express our opinions, political or otherwise. The participants in the Birthright program had every right to express and act on their political thoughts.
As the article stated, the program tries to be apolitical and paid for return tickets from Israel should any participants choose to remain after the conclusion of the tour. If they so desired, they could then visit the Palestinian areas that they deemed omitted for political reasons.
It’s impossible to think that young people are not aware of the innate problems in Israel. They could have declined this most generous opportunity to tour Israel free of charge. Instead, by walking off the tour, they garnered publicity at the expense of generous donors.
Shame on them.
Marianne Bobick, Long Beach
To the editor: Kudos to those young Jewish Americans who walked off their Birthright tours because of the program’s failure to fully address the Palestine-Israel conflict.
While Birthright might claim to be “apolitical,” its very name suggests that Jews around the world have a “birthright” to the Holy Land that the Palestinian Christians and Muslims who live there do not. It is inspiring that these young Jewish men and women refused to be spoon-fed a sanitized version of Israeli society and are determined not to ignore the harsher realities of the conflict.
If Birthright (and the Israeli government) truly want to encourage young American Jews to engage with Israeli society, the best way to do it is to present the unvarnished truth about the conflict and support policies (such as ending the occupation and illegal settlements, and promoting the two-state solution) that will lead to a just and equitable settlement of the conflict.
These young people are too smart to accept anything less.
David Saffan, Santa Barbara
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