Bintel Blog

Birthright Israel’s Palestinian Doppelganger

By Daniel Treiman

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Palestinian nationalism emerged in response to Zionism, so it’s not entirely surprising that Birthright Israel would eventually get a Palestinian doppelganger.

The Jerusalem Post reports:

A new Palestinian NGO is taking a page out of the Jewish educator’s handbook in its search to strengthen the connection of Palestinians overseas to their “historic homeland” and Palestinian society.

The name of the program leaves no doubt as to its intent, or its inspiration. Birthright Palestine is described on its Web site as a “program created by native Palestinians for diaspora Palestinians.”

The program, which will begin its first session in May, is run by the newly established Palestine Center for National Strategic Studies, which says it is a “nonprofit, nongovernmental Palestinian organization” based in the Dehaishe refugee camp in Bethlehem.

The group is not shy about its motivation. Its Web site explains: “Simply coming back to visit the land that your parents or grandparents were forced to flee from is a form of active nonviolent resistance against the illegal Israeli occupation. This is because this simple act opposes everything that the ‘State of Israel’ was founded on (the idea to ethnically cleanse the Holy Land/Palestine of all Arabs, so as to create a purely Jewish state).”

To establish a stronger Palestinian identity, the program is looking to bring first-generation, Western-born participants, 18 years of age or older, to Israel and to the West Bank for educational programs lasting between one and three months.

Birthright Israel, of course, is considerably more pluralistic when it comes to ideology. Groups that sponsor Birthright Israel trips run the gamut from religious right to dovish left to ironic hipster.


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