Last week, J Street U, the campus arm of J Street, wrapped up its inaugural free trip to Israel for Jewish college students. The “Let My People Know” trip was conceived as a response to protests against Birthright, which does not include meetings with Palestinians on its trips, or discussions about the occupation.
While the debate around Birthright has received significant national attention, there are some Israel tours for college students that are going unnoticed. These trips are led by organizations with explicit right-wing political agendas that have a dangerous potential to affect young US Jews’ understanding of Israel and the occupation in the years to come.
Groups like Hasbara Fellowships (HF) and the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) recruit to their tours Jewish and pro-Israel leaders on campuses. They attempt to inculcate in these leaders support for the occupation and illiberal Israeli policies, such as displacement of Bedouin Israelis from their villages in the Negev.
How do I know? I participated in ZOA and Hasbara tours for campus leaders. I witnessed firsthand their efforts to generate support for extremist policies and their attempts to brand dissent as anti-Israel.
Trump's extremist, maverick pro-settler envoys, David Friedman and Jason Greenblatt, aren't resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. They're fueling it - and Congress should investigate
With ten-pound hammers in their hands and ecstatic religious-nationalist zeal in their hearts, U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman and White House Special Representative for International Negotiations Jason Greenblatt stood underneath the most religiously volatile place on earth, and smashed a wall – and with it, any last semblance of reasonable U.S. policy towards the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Debra Shushan, APN Director of Policy and Government Relations, appeared on a panel for TRT's "The Newsmakers". See a clip of Debra speaking on the Trump Administration's "Peace Plan" and its statements and actions contrary to a two-state solution.
Jerusalem Post: "Jewish Groups to U.S. House: Pass Resolution in Support of Two-State Solution" (June 20, 2019)
The organizations that are standing behind the letter are Ameinu, Americans for Peace Now, Hashomer Hatzair, Jewish Labor Committee, J Street, National Council of Jewish Women, New Israel Fund, Partners for Progressive Israel, Reconstructing Judaism and T'ruah.
Last week, an Israeli armed with nothing but an avocado robbed two banks in the southern city of Beer Sheva. He told the terrified tellers he was holding a hand grenade. And although the average Israeli eats more avocados than anyone elsewhere in the world besides Mexico, Chile, and Peru, the tellers failed to realize that they were being held up by a piece of fruit.
In a couple of weeks, politicians and business people will gather in Manama, Bahrain for an economic “workshop” to raise money for the Trump administration’s Israeli-Palestinian “peace plan” — the so-called “Ultimate Deal” or “Deal of the Century” — which is still under wraps.
Why all the quotation marks? Because Team Trump, the three people the President has appointed to lead this effort, knows that what they have in their hand is an avocado: inedible and hard today, putrid tomorrow.
(This piece originally appeared in the Forward HERE)