The Conspiracy

BREAKING NEWS: J Street U Birthright Trip Canceled

New Voices has just confirmed that the planned J Street U Birthright trip has been canceled.

On Jan. 25, J Street U, the campus arm of J Street — the pro-Israel, pro-peace lobby in Washington, announced that it would be leading a Birthright trip called “Explore Israel: Progressive Zionism and Social Justice” this summer. The trip was to be run in conjunction with Israel Experience, a trip provider.

But apparently, 48 hours later, Birthright decided to cancel the trip.

According to a statement by J Street U student president Moriel Rothman, this is what happened:

Despite their initial approval for a trip… Birthright’s leadership has now decided that it is inappropriate for J Street U to organize a trip because we are politically oriented, according to Israel Experience.

Rothman, however, goes on to point out:

Nonetheless, comparable organizations with different politics than ours participate and help organize trips every year. For instance, AIPAC’s “Capital to Capital” Birthright trip is designed for Jewish political activists who are “significantly involved in the American political process.”

Rothman also claims that over 100 students had signed up for the trip within two days of its being announced.

New Voices will be publishing a full article on this by the end of the week. Stay tuned.

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10 Older Responses to “BREAKING NEWS: J Street U Birthright Trip Canceled”

  1. marty rich
    February 1, 2011 at 1:06 am #

    birthright rejected the jstreet trip the same way they would reject a CAIR or Muslim Brotherhood trip… Yes, apples and oranges, but all fruit from the same basket.

  2. Batami
    February 1, 2011 at 4:11 am #

    Point of order! 100 students did not “sign up for the trip.” According to J Street, they “had signed up expressing interest in participating.” Asking J Street for information is not “signing up,” and with J Street suspected by so many people, I bet many of the 100 were J Street’s critics.

    Birthright’s decision was the correct one to take considering J Street’s campaign to enlist students to radical action.

    For instance, J Street mobilizes student for Sheikh Jarrah demonstrations. Here’s an item from J St U’s Facebook page:!/event.php?eid=169882386374296

    And this is from Ben Birnbaum’s piece in the Washington Times:

    In a March 1, 2010, e-mail from senior Ben-Or partner Didi Remez to Noam Lekach — communications coordinator for Amnesty International’s Israel branch, a Ben-Or client — Mr. Remez suggested a fundraising vehicle through which they could “raise the necessary amount” to buy drums for an anti-settler demonstration in the disputed East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheik Jarrah: “Maybe via the J Street student list,” he wrote. When reached by e-mail, Mr. Remez declined comment on whether he had used the list or had J Street’s permission to do so.

  3. ben baum
    February 1, 2011 at 12:17 pm #

    I heard the trip wasn’t cancelled, it was never approved in the first place. Sounds like J St got ahead of itself in announcing a trip that hadn’t been approved. I guess we’ll have to find other birthright trips to go on.

  4. joshua schwartz
    February 1, 2011 at 7:03 pm #

    the comments from mr. rich and “batami” are truly unfortunate.
    first of all, mr. rich, you display your ignorance in conflating CAIR, an american lobbying organization that has consciously walked in the same footsteps as AIPAC, with the muslim brotherhood, a foreign political organization. secondly, your metaphor is nonsensical. what is this “basket?” what are the right kinds of fruit?
    my second criticism applies both to mr. rich and “batami” – your radicalization of jstreet is ill-informed. jstreet u in israel is run by my friend drew cohen, with whom i studied in yeshivah in jerusalem. he is a peace-loving jew with only good nature in his heart. how is protesting at sheikh jarrah a radical action? marty peretz of the new republic, a more pugnacious defender of israel there never was, attends the protests there with some regularity. to protest the demolishing of palestinian homes by israeli governmental action benefits from what makes israel a democracy.
    also, “batami,” your citing of the “washington times” newspaper is farcical, since it is a far-right organ which was most prominently owned by the moonies. it is not a generally recognized source of accurate objective reportage.

    finally, for my thoughts on the matter: i think this is a real shame. the more the jewish establishment (let’s accept the term, problematic though it may be) circumscribes those whom they consider to be in the legitimate sphere, the more it weakens the public discourse as well as the jewish people itself, since those pushed away will rightly feel disenfranchised from their very own community.
    for a long time, there was a UPZ sponsored trip, so it is unclear to me why a jstreet trip would be beyond the pale, since UPZ turned into jstreet u!

  5. marty rich
    February 1, 2011 at 9:18 pm #

    Joshua Schwartz – Muslim Brotherhood a “foreign political organization.?” Really? They are I suppose as much as Hamas, Hezbollah and al-qaeda are.

    You ask about the “right kinds of fruits,” I suppose those would be the kinds that don’t strap bombs to themselves to murder Christians and Jews.

    I agree with you in part about the risk of weakening public discourse, but J St has built up a pretty dirty track record over their first 2 years. I think its telling that the Israeli government considers them to be detractors of the state. APN for example never was labeled as such to my knowledge.

  6. joshua schwartz
    February 1, 2011 at 11:54 pm #

    mr. rich, your extreme characterization simply does not match up to the facts. the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) is an ultra-conservative party which wants to apply a traditionalist understanding of Islamic law as a national legal system. however, it is not a jihadi movement, and it does not see itself as being at war with “the West.” similarly, it supports other ultra-conservative muslim political groups such as Hamas. its ties to violence are questionable at best.

    j street has hardly gained a reputation amongst rational minds for extremism. it identifies itself as a zionist organization. it supports a two state solution, which is the official policy of the likud party as of now. their urging not vetoing a UN resolution is a political advocacy act, not an act of violence or extremism. trying to draw a false equivalency is disgusting and shameful.

  7. howiej
    February 2, 2011 at 12:00 am #

    From what I have learned, JStreet contacted Israel Experience about the trip to Israel. They did not contact Birthright. When Birthright learned of JStreet’s promotion of the trip that they were sponsoring in the name of Birthright they were informed that they could not. Birthright did not cancel the trip since it never okayed it. Once more JStreet and it’s promoters are stretching (distorting) the truth.

  8. Harpo Jaeger
    February 3, 2011 at 11:05 am #

    howiej: From what I have learned, JStreet contacted Israel Experience about the trip to Israel. They did not contact Birthright.
    Which makes them like pretty much every other Birthright trip organizer. Most trips are run by a third party as a proxy to Birthright. Israel Experience has yet to comment on how J Street thought the trip was happening even though Birthright says they never wanted it to.


  1. Birthright: J Street U too political for Birthright trip (and never mind that AIPAC trip…) | Jewschool - February 1, 2011

    […] New Voices Editor Ben Sales reports that Birthright has unilaterally cancelled the trip, less than a week after announcing the it! […]

  2. Update: What Birthright has to say for itself « New Voices - February 1, 2011

    […] Home About Donate Subscribe « BREAKING NEWS: J Street U Birthright Trip Canceled […]

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