Planning on taking a Birthright trip to Israel? A free trip anywhere can be tempting, but it is important to recognize the harmful effects Birthright has on Palestinians. Birthright is not just a free trip; it is a tool to perpetuate the Israeli occupation of Palestine, and it must be boycotted.
What is Birthright?
- Birthright is a free, 10-day trip offered to young Jews (18-32), to visit Israel and the Golan Heights. The goal is to manufacture a connection and a sense of ownership over the land. Sometimes Birthright trips are advertised under a different name to reach a wider audience and make them seem less harmful.
What makes Birthright harmful?
- Propaganda: produces an idealized image of Israel as a project for the self-determination of Jewish people, effectively erasing the occupation from the narrative.
- Whitewashing History: manipulates history by forcing a continuity between historic Judea and the present, erasing the history of Palestine.
- Manipulated by Environment: vigorous 10-day itinerary with little sleep and contact with family. Constantly surrounded by the Israeli military, feigning a sense of danger and emphasizing theIsraeli Occupation Forces’ (IOF) role as protector.
These factors manufacture a calculated narrative about Israel. This tells a story of Arab aggression and Israeli entitlement, rather than one of a colonized people facing settler-colonial violence.
Impact of Birthright
- Facilitates colonization: Encourages Aaliyah* in order to force a demographic majority over Palestinians.
- Ideological Impact: creates lifelong advocates for Israel as Birthright manufactures positive association with Israel based on identity and self-discovery, rather than occupation and apartheid.
- Tool for Occupation: young Jews can travel to Israel for free while most Palestinians are DENIED to travel there. Birthright maintains the structures that deny Palestinians their Right of Return
*term to describe Jewish immigration to Israel for the purpose of becoming a citizen there
You cannot challenge Birthright by taking the trip. Support BDS and BOYCOTT Birthright!
Who is funding and facilitating Birthright in Chicago?
- The Jewish United Fund (JUF) provides funding for Birthright Israel through a partnership between Jewish Federations across North America, private philanthropists, and the Israeli government. It contributes to the funding of Birthright Israel through its Israel Education Center, which is responsible for promoting “Israel education and advocacy in the Chicago area”.
- The JUF has partnerships with a number of universities in Chicago, including the University of Chicago, Northwestern, and DePaul University. Representatives of the JUF’s Campus Affairs department visit local universities to target students and advertise Birthright trips and related events. The department works with campus Hillel organizations, Jewish students groups and other campus partners to facilitate this goal.