Storytime: why we’re going to Birthright HQ on April 5th

IfNotNow
IfNotNow
Mar 29 · 3 min read

I want to tell you a story and it starts two years ago, this week.

1,000 of us had just converged on AIPAC, a lobbying group that hides the Occupation and fosters unconditional support for Israel, in the largest demonstration against the institution in history. We were invigorated and exhausted; sleepless nights prepping combined with the adrenaline that comes from blockading a conference will do that to you.

Headlines and videos popped up everywhere talking about the young Jews who’d taken on AIPAC, one of the most powerful lobbyists in America, and proven that AIPAC and it’s pro-Occupation agenda did NOT represent our progressive Jewish values. We’d taken a huge step.

Fast forward two years, and that historic protest — along with years of organizing from our partners and allies — has made AIPAC so toxic that many presidential hopefuls skipped their annual event. It’s an amazing accomplishment, and another sign that we are winning.

In one week, we’re taking on a similarly destructive and out-of-touch Jewish establishment — Birthright.

On April 5 hundreds of young Jews are taking their banners, signs, and outrage to Birthright’s headquarters in NYC. Just as we demonstrated that AIPAC doesn’t represent progressive Jewish values, we’re showing that Birthright fails to educate young Jews about the Occupation and we’re over it.

This moment has been coming for over a year. It started with a few of us meeting with Birthright participants in airports to give them tools and information to ask questions on their trips.

Then, over the summer, millions watched 13 Jews walk off their Birthright bus in protest of how the trip hid the Occupation and silenced questions. And then this past winter, Birthright kicked off 3 participants using a new policy that basically forbids people for asking questions about the Occupation.

As we keep asking for Birthright to confront the crisis of the Occupation, they keep pushing back harder and harder, because they know that our movement is growing.

Now, students at schools across the country, including Brandeis, the University of Michigan, UC Berkeley, UChicago, Northeastern, UT Austin, Harvard, Brown, and Bryn Mawr, are organizing and building power on their campuses.

These students immediately started taking action demonstrate to their local Hillel — and other Jewish orgs entangled with Birthright — that we won’t tolerate the erasure of the Occupation and Palestinian suffering.

So far these students have held teach-ins, hosted mass meetings and calls, dropped banners at their campus centers, launched campus wide petitions, and delivered letters at the front doors of their on campus Jewish orgs.

Their asks are simple — Birthright must confront the crisis of the Occupation and stop serving as a tool of right-wing donors.

We’re giving Birthright until April 5 to choose: listen to us, a generation of Jews demanding that Birthright confront the crisis, or side with the right-wing donors and continue enabling the human right horrors that Palestinians live under every day.

Wherever Birthright stakes its flag — whether on the side of human dignity, or on the side of their donors — we will take their answer back to our Jewish community and make it clear that there is no middle ground.

Our story has been leading up to this moment, April 5th, when Birthright will have to show its true colors. They’ve been hiding the Occupation from their participants for too long — this is their last chance.

If you’d like to support this historic moment, you can sign up here. Either way, you’re seeing our story unfold in real time and April 5th is the next big moment.

The INNside

Updates and analysis from inside the Jewish movement to end the American Jewish Community's support for the occupation and achieve freedom and dignity for all Israelis and Palestinians.

IfNotNow

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IfNotNow

A Jewish movement to end the American Jewish community’s support for the occupation and gain freedom and dignity for all Israelis and Palestinians.

The INNside

Updates and analysis from inside the Jewish movement to end the American Jewish Community's support for the occupation and achieve freedom and dignity for all Israelis and Palestinians.