Part of my “Job involves traveling… in fact a lot of traveling. The good side is that I get a chance to meet many people on the “outside” and hear their take on “the situation”.
I do have favoritism regarding the many “Israel Challenged” groups I get to meet… Birth Right stands out as my favorite “challenge”. It seems to be pre-ordained, as my last flights seem to be inundated with these groups, both going and coming.
Now I know that Birth Right isn’t really an Israel Advocacy trip, nor is it a real attempt to connect these kids to our home. Lets face facts, Birth Right trips are giant singles events meant to introduce Jews 2 Jews, bringing them together in our land for a special experience that they will share for life, and hopefully they will decide to marry another Jew… that’s really it.
Sweet… no, really, I mean it! But talk about opportunity missed! I mean big time.
It can be compared to driving a Maserati on the Autobahn in 2nd gear only…. OMG!
In the tens of groups that I have met this past year alone, I have met many who actually have a deep interest in Israel and want to know what is going on. But alas, much is being hidden from them. The opportunity for them to actually see their “Birth-Right” remains just in stories, and almost never turns into a reality that would surely have an everlasting affect on them.
My flights go by quite quickly as the little conversations I have with my seatmates turn into wide spread discussions with many more. We don’t discuss politics, we just talk about the land they haven’t seen, the land that is being hidden from them. Discussion of course veers into the “situation”, and I often present them with views they have yet to hear.
Many facts are brought up, again, facts they are not told about, either in their homes, schools or during their trip to Israel. Even most of the IDF soldiers that come along for the ride as escorts do not show them a well rounded view, as many of these soldiers do not themselves see the “situation” up close and usually are either insulated from reality or tainted with “post Zionist” views from their own surroundings. I am not saying that the soldiers are a negative effect, but that there should be a variety, so that opinions are informed rather than manipulated.
Too often I am looked at with surprise in their eyes, when I tell them that I live in Shilo and Yes, I am a “settler”, (by the way, I say that with pride). They usually get confused by the absence of my horns… that, and the fact that my views are not those as shown by the New York Times, the BDS Movement and Alice Walker.
And then comes… “Why don’t the other Israel Advocacy groups tell us some of the facts and anecdotes you mention”…good question.
The issue is this… we have some great kids out there, who are being given the opportunity to really connect, and to really make a difference in our world. They are being stifled by the lack of effort, and narrow-mindedness in presenting to them just who we are. By the way, this is not being done innocently, when other groups attempt to connect these Jewish kids to their roots through the Birth Right infrastructure, if they they are met with contempt and fund based threats.
Wouldn’t it be nice if Birth-Right trips would really be a bit about Birth Rights?