J Street U — J Street’s campus movement — was told recently that its Birthright trip to Israel will not go forward as planned, despite approval from Birthright’s trip provider, Israel Experience.
As Jeremy Ben-Ami, President of J Street, said in a statement this week:
“Our interest is in furthering the mission of Birthright, working with them to meet their criteria, and to bring young people on a trip who are excited by the chance to visit Israel for the first time. If changes in the trip need to be made to meet criteria that are different than Israel Experience had set out, we will work with Birthright to do so.
“For the sake of Jewish unity, we can only hope that this is not a politically motivated decision because a decision to work with pro-Israel groups with one set of views and not another would deeply damage the cause of Jewish unity that Birthright is playing such an important role in promoting.”
Birthright’s leadership says that they didn’t approve the trip because they don’t organize “political trips.” But AIPAC regularly organizes Birthright trips — including one this coming summer.
J Street U students are petitioning Birthright CEO Gidi Mark to “provide more Birthright trips that speak to the values of social justice, democracy, and peace that are so important to young, progressive Jews.”