April 5, 2016

HABR | Whose Right? The Question of Birthright

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Many organizations promote Birthright, a free 10-day trip to Israel for Jewish young adults, with the mission of “build[ing] a lasting bond with the land and people of Israel.” These trips are offered in many themes, ranging from hiking trips and art trips to LGBTQ trips. They offer tours of Israel, allowing participants to explore the country, meet Israeli Defense Force soldiers and visit the rapidly expanding settlements. Birthright trips have become extremely popular, attracting more than 400,000 participants since the program’s creation in 1999. Birthright has inspired many similar trips, some of which also focus on creating solidarity between historically oppressed people such as Armenian and Irish communities, and others that focus on bringing certain groups together to their homelands, such as Greek, Hungarian and Icelandic birthright trips.

It is a noble and important idea to unite and foster connections between groups that share a certain identity, especially ones that have been historically oppressed, but it is important to consider the implications of such trips and the people they affect.

Many people who have attended Birthright trips have spoken highly of the experience, arguing it has given them a chance to explore Israel for themselves and deepen their connection with their religion. However, Birthright has faced criticism for multiple aspects of the program, including alleged propaganda efforts. Along with pushing rhetoric that conflates Judaism with Zionism, Birthright trips allegedly shield participants from the realities of life in Gaza and the West Bank and aim to convince participants to relocate to Israel and join the IDF (Birthright does not keep track of how many participants go on to join the IDF but estimates that 20,000–30,000 of its participants have moved to Israel). The program has also received attention for its unapologetic promotion of relationships on the trips, which mix young adults with alcohol and the company of each other for 10 days with predictable outcomes. These efforts are seen as a part of a plan to promote marriage within Birthright participants that will lead to eventual relocation to Israel to reproduce and repopulate in order to remedy the trend of intermarriage, which  founders see as a threat.

Many young people choose to go on Birthright, and understandably so. Not many people would turn down a free vacation, especially when it provides a promise of building connections with others that share a common identity and often feel out of place elsewhere. But possible issues with the trip are often not considered, and any cognitive dissonance is quickly justified and explained away, referencing the irresistibility of a free holiday.

In 1948, when the state of Israel was created, about 800,000 Palestinians fled or were forced from their homes. In the six-day war of 1967, around 350,000 more Palestinians were forced to flee. As of 2015, there are over 5 million Palestinian refugees registered with the UN, and one in three refugees worldwide is Palestinian.

In 1948, the United Nations General Assembly passed Resolution 194 which states that Palestinian refugees “wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbours should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return and for loss of or damage to property which, under principles of international law or in equity, should be made good by the Governments or authorities responsible.” The UN General Resolution 3236 passed in 1974 declared the “right to return” an inalienable right. Furthermore, Article 13(2) of the Universal Declaration of Human rights, passed in December 1948, states that “Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.”

The Israeli government has, however, on multiple occasions denied the right of return to Palestinian refugees, suggesting that Palestinian refugees relocate elsewhere.

In this context, the name of the trip seems to have some implications worth considering. It seems odd that the trip participants, 80 percent of whom are from the USA and Canada, have more of an inherent “right” to a land than do the 5 million refugees, whose families lived in Palestine for generations until they were expelled. The notion of a birthright is neither right nor wrong, but is troubled when it entails the exclusion and expulsion of certain other groups.

Whether or not people choose to go on Birthright is a decision completely up to them, but it is important to evaluate and critically engage with the consequences and possible intentions of the trip that affects other populations in ways bigger than a free vacation. When one of the co-founders of Birthright, Michael Steinhardt, has explicitly denied the existence of the Palestinian people, it is important to open up the discussion surrounding the trip and consider whether or not the issues raised are worth a free vacation.

In response to issues raised with Birthright, some pro-Palestinian groups have offered a counter trip: Birthright Unplugged, which allows Westerners (often Jewish youths) to explore Palestine and meet with civilians living under the occupation. This program does not pretend to be objective, but provides an alternative to Birthright trips for those that wish to see the other side of the story that is almost never told.

Katy Habr is a sophomore in the School of Industrial and Labor Relations at Cornell. Comments may be sent to kh547@cornell.edu. On the Margin runs alternate Wednesdays  this semester. 

  • Amanda

    “Birthright” refers to the right of Jewish people to move to the State of Israel. Israel was created in response to the Holocaust, when many countries did not allow Jewish refugees in and many Jewish refugees died as a result.

    Correction: The Palestinians were not expelled; they left. The ones who remained are now Israeli Arabs.
    Israel is not expelling Arabs. If you’re truly concerned about the exclusion of various groups, you could focus on Arab countries that don’t allow Jews to visit, never mind move there.

    Birthright encourages students to have a fun trip. Students go to a wine tasting but are not plied with alcohol. Birthright no more encourages students to get married than college dorms do, where students live together for a full academic year (never mind 10 days).

    • Student.

      Read up. Israel was not “created in response to the holocaust.” It is the product of 19th century European colonialism. Most Jews fleeing the horrible atrocities of the holocaust actually moved to the U.S., not Israel.

      wont even begin to go into the other points that you made.

      • Amanda

        Perhaps you need to understand better. While Jews did move to Israel (the land that’s now Israel) in the 19th century, Israel was indeed created after the Holocaust, in response to the Holocaust. The fact that Jews also fled to the U.S. is irrelevant.

        Israel is also not the product of colonialism; the fact that many Jews came from European countries does not make it colonialism. I suggest you read up on colonialism to understand the difference.

        • Student.

          Being created after the holocaust does not imply that it was a response to the holocaust. Statehood was in the mix for a while before that.

          By colonialism I meant British colonialism. As in Israel is a result of British colonialism and pretty much would not exist without it. Which I don’t think anyone, Zionist or not, can rightfully disagree with.

          • Shlomo ben Israel

            You quibble. Let us just say that the Holocaust was the impetus to get done what had been long contemplated. I agree that it is revisionism to say that no Arabs were expelled from Israel. That has been established; I am not proud of the fact. It is also obvious that hundreds of thousands of Arabs now live in Israel as citizens. They complain but ask them what Arab country they would prefer to live in. However, it is also relevant that hundreds of thousands of Jews were expelled and compelled to leave their native Arab countries after the state of Israel was proclaimed. The property of these Jews was confiscated when they left. Look at it as an exchange of populations. The only difference is that while the Jews from Arab states were welcomed in Israel, the Arabs who left and were compelled to leave Israel (two groups) were not welcomed by the lands to which they fled, but instead in large part are still held by those countries as refugees strictly for political purposes.

      • Herzl

        The modern State of Israel was not created specifically in response to the Holocaust, but rather in response to 2,000 years of persecution the Jewish people faced in Europe, the Middle East, and north Africa ever since they were exiled from the Land of Israel by the Romans in the 1st century. This persecution culminated with the Holocaust in Europe and the violent ethnic cleansing of over 800,000 Jews from Arab countries in the 20th century, leading to millions of Jews returning to Israel, their ancestral homeland, as refugees, with literally nowhere else to go. I fail to see how Jewish refugees fleeing to Israel from persecution in European and Arab countries constitutes colonialism, especially because there would be no Arabs living there at all were it not for the violent Arab conquests in the 7th century. How ironic.

      • Naftali Greenwood

        Israel was created by Zionism, a modern response to the indigeneity that Jews maintained in exile for centuries. It is an act of repatriation, not colonialism, and were it otherwise it would have failed as colonial ventures did.

        • paul delavarre

          THere never was a “Palestine” or “Palestinian” or “west bank.” The entire
          region was promised to the JEws as the one JEwish homeland in the world.
          Also, Israel makes a great buffer against Islamic terrorism which is going on
          all over the world today. Israel united with Judea and Samaria, with Jerusalem
          as its eternal capital. Any Arab who calls themselves Palestinian already has
          a state in JORDAN.

    • Upset

      If Israel doesn’t expel Arabs, why was my grandfather’s family kicked out of their house in the middle of the night when he was only 9? Why were they then forced to flee to a neighboring country because they no longer had the means and resources to live there anymore? It’s easy to say things like this when you’re not aware of the personal and widespread trauma caused by this conflict.

      • Zev

        Some of today’s scholars prefer to present every massacre of Jews
        as a “response” to some Jewish deed, and to portray as a “myth” the
        very idea that Israel struggled desperately for existence in 1948.

        The fact is 1,256 Jews were killed in five months. Even before the
        first Arab villages were captured in April, 924 Jews had already
        been killed. You should ponder what might have been
        if attacks and riots had not been the first Arab reaction to
        the partition plan.

        When a Jewish area was overrun – and some were – the homes were
        looted or destroyed and any survivors were killed, as at Kfar
        Etzion (only three of the defenders survived the massacre).

        The potential for the ethnic cleansing of Jewish Palestine was
        never realized because of the discipline, determination and sheer
        luck of the Yishuv.

        If the Arabs had not carried out across the board attacks
        throughout the Yishuv between 1947 and 1948, perhaps the nature of
        the subsequent Jewish victory would have been different. As it was,
        the ceaseless attacks against all isolated Jewish settlements only
        gave Zionist commanders every reason to see neighboring Arab
        villages as threatening and to act accordingly.

        Scholarship – including that of the “new historians” – on the 1948
        war will remain incomplete until methodical studies are carried out
        about widespread and often well-planned Arab assaults on the

    • Read Israeli historian Benny Morris. Ethnic cleansing happened in 1948 and any claim that it didn’t is an outright lie. Arabs left Israel under various circumstances, but Israeli violence, or fear of Israeli violence, drove many from their homes. Morris is no bleeding heart left winger. While acknowledging there was ethnic cleansing, he wishes Israel had finished off the job and expelled all the Arabs. I will post a link later to an interview with him that you really should read, but it sometimes takes a while for posts with links to appear. In the meantime, you can find the interview by plugging “An Interview with Benny Morris Counterpunch” into Google. Below is an excerpt from an interview with him that took place in January 2004. Ari Shavit was the interviewer and the interview was originally published in Haaretz.

      ————————Begin quote from interview————————

      Shavit: According to your findings, how many acts of Israeli massacre were perpetrated in 1948?
      Morris: “Twenty-four. In some cases four or five people were executed, in others the numbers were 70, 80, 100. There was also a great deal of arbitrary killing. Two old men are spotted walking in a field – they are shot. A woman is found in an abandoned village – she is shot. There are cases such as the village of Dawayima [in the Hebron region], in which a column entered the village with all guns blazing and killed anything that moved.

      “The worst cases were Saliha (70-80 killed), Deir Yassin (100-110), Lod (250), Dawayima (hundreds) and perhaps Abu Shusha (70). There is no unequivocal proof of a large-scale massacre at Tantura, but war crimes were perpetrated there. At Jaffa there was a massacre about which nothing had been known until now. The same at Arab al Muwassi, in the north. About half of the acts of massacre were part of Operation Hiram [in the north, in October 1948]: at Safsaf, Saliha, Jish, Eilaboun, Arab al Muwasi, Deir al Asad, Majdal Krum, Sasa. In Operation Hiram there was a unusually high concentration of executions of people against a wall or next to a well in an orderly fashion.

      “That can’t be chance. It’s a pattern. Apparently, various officers who took part in the operation understood that the expulsion order they received permitted them to do these deeds in order to encourage the population to take to the roads. The fact is that no one was punished for these acts of murder. Ben-Gurion silenced the matter. He covered up for the officers who did the massacres.”

      Shavit: What you are telling me here, as though by the way, is that in Operation Hiram there was a comprehensive and explicit expulsion order. Is that right?

      Morris “Yes. One of the revelations in the book is that on October 31, 1948, the commander of the Northern Front, Moshe Carmel, issued an order in writing to his units to expedite the removal of the Arab population. Carmel took this action immediately after a visit by Ben-Gurion to the Northern Command in Nazareth. There is no doubt in my mind that this order originated with Ben-Gurion. Just as the expulsion order for the city of Lod, which was signed by Yitzhak Rabin, was issued immediately after Ben-Gurion visited the headquarters of Operation Dani [July 1948].”

      Shavit: Are you saying that Ben-Gurion was personally responsible for a deliberate and systematic policy of mass expulsion?

      Morris: “From April 1948, Ben-Gurion is projecting a message of transfer. There is no explicit order of his in writing, there is no orderly comprehensive policy, but there is an atmosphere of [population] transfer. The transfer idea is in the air. The entire leadership understands that this is the idea. The officer corps understands what is required of them. Under Ben-Gurion, a consensus of transfer is created.”
      Shavit: Ben-Gurion was a “transferist”?

      Morris: “Of course. Ben-Gurion was a transferist. He understood that there could be no Jewish state with a large and hostile Arab minority in its midst. There would be no such state. It would not be able to exist.”
      Shavit: I don’t hear you condemning him.

      Morris: “Ben-Gurion was right. If he had not done what he did, a state would not have come into being. That has to be clear. It is impossible to evade it. Without the uprooting of the Palestinians, a Jewish state would not have arisen here.” . . .

      Shavit: So when the commanders of Operation Dani are standing there and observing the long and terrible column of the 50,000 people expelled from Lod walking eastward, you stand there with them? You justify them?

      Morris: “I definitely understand them. I understand their motives. I don’t think they felt any pangs of conscience, and in their place I wouldn’t have felt pangs of conscience. Without that act, they would not have won the war and the state would not have come into being.”

      Shavit: You do not condemn them morally?

      Morris: “No.”

      Shavit: They perpetrated ethnic cleansing.

      Morris: “There are circumstances in history that justify ethnic cleansing. I know that this term is completely negative in the discourse of the 21st century, but when the choice is between ethnic cleansing and genocide – the annihilation of your people – I prefer ethnic cleansing.”

      Shavit: And that was the situation in 1948?

      Morris: “That was the situation. That is what Zionism faced. A Jewish state would not have come into being without the uprooting of 700,000 Palestinians. Therefore it was necessary to uproot them. There was no choice but to expel that population. It was necessary to cleanse the hinterland and cleanse the border areas and cleanse the main roads. It was necessary to cleanse the villages from which our convoys and our settlements were fired on.”

      Shavit: The term `to cleanse’ is terrible.

      Morris: “I know it doesn’t sound nice but that’s the term they used at the time. I adopted it from all the 1948 documents in which I am immersed.”

      • Links for the Benny Morris interview:

        The Interview was originally published in Haaretz. However, the Haaretz interview appears to be cut short by an erroneous link to the second part of the interview at the end.


        A copy of the full interview, along with an introductory comment by Jim Holston, professor of English at University of Buffalo, can be found at CounterPunch


        • Arafat

          Educate yourself:

          Bee Movie Script

          According to all known laws
          of aviation,

          there is no way a bee
          should be able to fly.

          Its wings are too small to get
          its fat little body off the ground.

          The bee, of course, flies anyway

          because bees don’t care
          what humans think is impossible.

          Yellow, black. Yellow, black.
          Yellow, black. Yellow, black.

          Ooh, black and yellow!
          Let’s shake it up a little.

          Barry! Breakfast is ready!


          Hang on a second.


          – Barry?
          – Adam?

          – Oan you believe this is happening?
          – I can’t. I’ll pick you up.

          Looking sharp.

          Use the stairs. Your father
          paid good money for those.

          Sorry. I’m excited.

          Here’s the graduate.
          We’re very proud of you, son.

          A perfect report card, all B’s.

          Very proud.

          Ma! I got a thing going here.

          – You got lint on your fuzz.
          – Ow! That’s me!

          – Wave to us! We’ll be in row 118,000.
          – Bye!

          Barry, I told you,
          stop flying in the house!

          – Hey, Adam.
          – Hey, Barry.

          – Is that fuzz gel?
          – A little. Special day, graduation.

          Never thought I’d make it.

          Three days grade school,
          three days high school.

          Those were awkward.

          Three days college. I’m glad I took
          a day and hitchhiked around the hive.

          You did come back different.

          – Hi, Barry.
          – Artie, growing a mustache? Looks good.

          – Hear about Frankie?
          – Yeah.

          – You going to the funeral?
          – No, I’m not going.

          Everybody knows,
          sting someone, you die.

          Don’t waste it on a squirrel.
          Such a hothead.

          I guess he could have
          just gotten out of the way.

          I love this incorporating
          an amusement park into our day.

      • Arafat

        Absolutely shocking that refugees would be created during an armed conflict! How could that be, Robin? How could that be?

        Let’s remember the day Israel was founded she was invaded by something like five Arab countries, but Robin finds it amazing that this would result in refugees. But what Robin conveniently ignores is the fact that once the mighty Arab armies had been defeated, and all the pieces sorted out, the opposite of ethnic cleansing occurred, specifically the Muslim population in Israel soared and continues to climb quickly to this day. Shocking that Robin never mentions this, but all the while accuses me of leaving out information.

        Robin, you want ethnic cleansing look at any Muslim country and you will find it. You will find non-Muslim (infidel) populations declining at rapid rates. You will more and more countries with Muslim demographics that are in the upper 90% range and climbing.

        I know this is a hard concept for you to understand but when Muslim jihadists kill off the native Animist population in Sudan and replace them with Muslims that is what is called “ethnic cleansing”. I hope this helps.

        • Arafat

          Oh, and by the way, Robin, anyone can selectively source quotes that support their position; which is exactly what you do, but that does not mean your opinion is based on fact. Just because a leftist like Benny Morris uses words like “ethnic cleansing” it does not mean he is right. It just means he can link two words together that have no linkage to anything real. It’s called fiction even if it’s pawned off as fact.

          And Benny is just like you. His and your arguments tell us more about your state of mind than they do about reality. You and he both suffer from confirmation bias. You latch onto misinformation as if it were the holy grail. You two are the opposite of a scientist. You look for information that supports your misguided thesis instead of being open to information that shoots holes into everything you take as gospel. Pretty sad when you step back and look at it for what it really is, but the good news is they make meds today that might help.

          • If you think Benny Morris is a leftest just like me, then you didn’t read my post carefully and you are not arguing in good faith. I wrote:

            “Morris is no bleeding heart left winger. While acknowledging there was ethnic cleansing, he wishes Israel had finished off the job and expelled all the Arabs.”

            If you bothered to read the interview, you will see Morris is nothing like me. But who needs to debate in good faith when your modus operandi is to throw enough shit against the wall and hope some of it sticks.

      • Naftali Greenwood

        You cherry-pick in your treatment of Morris. Elsewhere he devotes hundreds of pages of detailed documentation to the issue and (I generalize) traces the outflux of Arabs to two circumstances: the war that the Arabs of Palestine and neighboring states chose to launch, and many motives among Arabs in Palestine. They include: not wishing to live under Jewish rule; urgings by local leaders to send women and children to the rear, whereupon the men also left, not seeing anything to fight for; and Arab scare propaganda that, while intended to create combat morale, did the opposite. As for the massacres that Morris describes, Jews were massacred in that war, too (more than 2000 civilian deaths) and did not flee. That alone refutes the notion of Zionism as a colonial enterprise.

        • Arafat


          I wish you would quit confusing Robin with the facts. Just kidding, Robin ignores the facts no matter who presents them. He’s locked into his position and any facts that might prove he is wrong he dismisses without consideration, so sure is he of his own ill-founded position.

          The funny (and pathetic) thing is that he actually believes he is right. He’s arrogant despite his being entirely wrong. People like Robin are dangerous: Arrogance and flawed logic are a dangerous combination.

          • Naftali Greenwood

            I have no illusions about swerving the views of people like that. I post for two reasons: to sharpen my retorting skills and (I hope) to sway third parties.

      • Zev

        “Morris is no bleeding heart left winger.”

        He refused to serve in the occupied territories and went to jail for it.
        He’s a left-winger. Don’t know what “bleeding heart” means.

        “he wishes Israel had finished off the job and expelled all the Arabs.”

        You’re twisting what he said:
        “when the choice is between ethnic cleansing and genocide – the annihilation of your people – I prefer ethnic cleansing.”
        That’s the choice the Arabs gave them, you can’t absolve them from all blame.

  • HopingforFacts

    Ms. Habr should spend less time on propaganda sites and more time actually tr ying to understand how propaganda sites work.
    Let’s try to clarify some of the mistakes, the most obvious ones first.
    First: General Assembly resolutions are never obligatory. They are popularity contests, which have no legal impact except as an expression of popularity.
    Second: However the Palestinians were displaced in 1948, the reason the population of “refugees” today weigh so heavily the Palestinians is that with the establishment of a unique UN body (UNRWA) to deal exclusively with the Palestinians in the mid 1950’s, a unique definition of refugee applies to Palestinians. No other refugee community is permanently composed of refugees to the nth generation. As a result, comparison of numbers of Palestinian refugees to any other refugee group is fundamentally misleading; the definition is different…so facile comparisons are either misleading, should the author not appreciate the difference, or cynical, if she does.
    In the late 1940’s there were something like 25 million refugees created by the dislocations of World War II and its aftermath. Nearly none of them have, or did, return to their countries of origin. A tiny fraction were Palestinians, who left their homes for various reasons. A similar number of Jews long resident in Arab countries left their homes as well. Perhaps the fact that we hear only about the plight of the Palestinians is because some group decided it was advantageous to keep them from every normalizing, as every other refugee community managed to do?

    • Arafat

      There are two UN refugee agencies in the world: First is the United Nations Relief and Works Administrations (UNRWA) for 5 million Palestinian refugees (which includes the descendants of the original 500,000 Palestinian refugees from the Israeli War of Independence) which employs 30,000 workers. The UNRWA has resettled no Palestinians.

      The second refugee agency is the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), which assists every other refugee in the world–including 100 million displaced people during the last 50 years–and employs 7,000 people. The UNHCR has resettled tens of millions of refugees.

      Looking at these numbers, one would think that the cause of the Palestinians is somehow morally superior to that of all other war refugees. After all, why have so many more workers been assisting a dramatically smaller group of people? But if the Palestinians are unique it is only because of their moral inferiority, as they are the only group of refugees that regularly commit acts of terrorism against innocent civilians.

      Another obvious question: why hasn’t the UNRWA resettled any of the Palestinian refugees? The answer, of course, is that the surrounding Arab states would rather have these refugees remain a thorn in Israel’s side, than help them start a new life. The UNRWA is happy to oblige.

    • Student.

      Read up. Israel was not “created in response to the holocaust.” It is the product of 19th century European colonialism. Most Jews fleeing the horrible atrocities of the holocaust actually moved to the U.S., not Israel.

      wont even begin to go into the other points that you made.

    • Student.

      Lol it posted the wrong comment.


      1. If the only defense of Israeli settlement building etc is that “UN resolutions are not obligatory” etc. that says something pretty important. Slippery slope, my friend. Can’t have your cake and eat it too.

      2. Your understanding of what constitutes a refugee is actually wrong. Many refugees are born to people in refugee camps and are, indeed, considered refugees. There is actually a camp in Kenya, one of the largest and oldest, in which the current generation of children are actually the children OF THE CHILDREN of the original refugees.

      • HopingforFacts

        Okay, let’s try again.

        No defense of settlement activity was made, at least not based on the “UN resolution are not obligatory” argument. What was pointed out is the opposite; that a General Assembly Resolution does not make a settlement illegal, just like a General Assembly Resolution calling a pie a cake doesn’t make it a cake. GA Resolutions are about as meaningful as Model UN resolutions. They make the proposers feel good that they’ve done something, without having any effect in practice.

        If you can’t see the difference, then perhaps you should study logic.

        You are correct that the “ordinary” definition of what constitutes a refugee (according to the UNHCR) does not exclude the possibility of descendents of refugees also being refugees. It does, however, include the possibility that refugees become NOT refugees.

        The UNRWA definition which applies only to Palestinian “refugees” defines them as “refugees in perpetuity”. So, it remains the fact that the numbers cited compare “refugees” to refugees….the words may be the same, but what they describe differs. Thus making the comparison is at best misleading. If you don’t know that it’s misleading, then you are ignorant; if you do, then you are a propagandist.

        So your comments are perhaps technically correct while not actually being relevant to the discussion…which is does Ms. Habr’s column constitute misinformation, or propaganda.

  • Arafat

    So with every Habr article it is left to the comment section to correct her lies and omissions. At what point do the Cornell Sun editors bear some responsibility for fact checking?

    Habr’s credibility {sic} has been proven to be laughable. Her intent is clearly not to spread truth but to spread propaganda. When will the editors step in to correct her bi-weekly anti-Semitic screeds?

    • Actually Arafat, a better characterization would be that with every Habr article (and other articles as well), I have to come on here to correct your verbal diarrhea. Your comments are one-sided, full of omissionsand half truths, and clearly intended to bully and harass your opposition into silence. I had to make a major correction to your first post above–the one where you implied there was no ethnic cleansing. When will YOU take responsibility for fact checking?

      Whenever you post here there is a lot of one-sided garbage that I COULD correct, but my time is limited so I have to pick and choose.

      Your intent is not to provide any resemblance to a balanced picture, but to spread propaganda. I’m sure you have credibility with your army of fellow hasbarists, but for most who have read both sides of history and have a nuanced understanding of the facts, you have no credibility.

      • Amanda

        It’s unnecessary to attack others with terms like “verbal diarrhea.” I thought Arafat made some excellent points.

        • Amanda, I don’t know if you’ve been following Arafat’s many, many posts on anything to do with Islam or Israel, but that is exactly what he dishes out. I do have one positive thing to say about him though. What he lacks in quality, he makes up in quantity.

          • George

            Robin- your quality is low. Therefore less quantity is a positive.

        • Arafat

      • John

        It also hurts YOUR credibility when you attack that way.

      • Arafat

        Ethnic cleansing? Right. You mean ethnic cleansing by Muslims of all the Jews in the Middle East and north Africa. You mean ethnic cleansing by Muslims of almost all the Christians who once lived in the Middle East and Turkey. You mean ethnic cleansing of the Millions and millions of Hindus who once lived in Pakistan and Bangladesh. You mean ethnic cleansing of all the Animists of Sudan.

        You live in an Orwellian word where Islam is a religion of Peace. That is as certain as the three slogans of the Ministry of Truth; War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery and Ignorance is Strength.

        • Arafat, you obviously didn’t read, or intentionally ignored what I wrote. This is posted. This is what ISRAELI HISTORIAN Benny Morris said:

          Shavit: The term `to cleanse’ is terrible.
          Morris: “I know it doesn’t sound nice but that’s the term they used at the time. I adopted it from all the 1948 documents in which I am immersed.”

        • Arafat, you state:

          “You live in an Orwellian word where Islam is a religion of Peace. ”

          No, I live in a world in which Islam is not a monolithic block. I live in a world where there are varying interpretations of Islam. I live in a world where there is nuance and subtlety. Living in a black and white world not only provides a false reflection of the world–it leads us to unnecessary war.

          I don’t know how old you are, but I remember the Viet Nam war. (I’m not quite old enough to have served, but if I were born a year earlier there is a good chance I would have been drafted.) Perhaps the biggest myth driving our policy was that all Commie countries were alike–they all hated us–and if we didn’t fight them in Viet Nam it would lead to a domino effect where we would be fighting them on the Southern border near Mexico and on the shores of the East Coast. We didn’t understand that the Viet Nam war was driven by nationalism as much as communism. And we didn’t understand that Viet Nam and China had a long history of animosity between them. To us, they were all just one monolithic block of Commies.

          There is a similar situation today. The Muslim world is fractured and there are many branches of Islam. The Palestinian fight against Israel is primarily a nationalist one. There have been Islamic components in the past, but Islam did not figure heavily in the equation until after Hamas’s founding in 1988. If Mohammad had never been born there is a very good chance that there would still be an Israeli/Palestinian conflict. I’ve recommended you read the book “A War Without Islam” by former Vice Chairman of the National Intelligence Council at the CIA, Graham Fuller. Evidently, you ignored my recommendation.

          Do you know how many Muslims there are in the U.S.? Roughly 3 million. And how many terrorist acts they have committed? Between 2005 and 2015 there have been 24 Jihadi-related deaths on American soil. There have been 71 deaths from terrorists in total during that time–roughly 7 per year. (There have been more terrorist deaths from extreme right wingers than Muslims.)

          You may object to this time frame since it does not include 9/11 and the San Bernadino attacks this year. Roughly 3,000 were killeon 9/11. I don’t have statistics for how many were killed by Jihadi attacks from 2002 – 2004, but let’s assume 100 per year. Then during the 15 year period from 2001 – 2015, fewer than 3500 were killed from attacks by radical Muslims, or fewer than 250 per year. That sounds bad, until you consider there are 3 million Muslims in the U.S. and 1.5 or 1.6 billion world wide. If Islam is as evil as you portray it to be, why are there so few deaths in the U.S. from Jihadis?

          Now, let’s put those 250 deaths per year in perspective. Here is what the Center for Disease Control lists as the leading causes of death for 2014:

          • Heart disease: 611,105
          • Cancer: 584,881
          • Chronic lower respiratory diseases: 149,205
          • Accidents (unintentional injuries): 130,557
          • Stroke (cerebrovascular diseases): 128,978
          • Alzheimer’s disease: 84,767
          • Diabetes: 75,578
          • Influenza and Pneumonia: 56,979
          • Nephritis, nephrotic syndrome, and nephrosis: 47,112
          • Intentional self-harm (suicide): 41,149

          The number of Americans killed by guns each year was not listed by the CDC, but Politifact calculated there were 320,523 gun-related deaths over a recent ten-year period, or roughly 32,000 deaths per year.

          I don’t see YOU dwelling on any of this, Arafat. No, instead, you have this irrational anti-Muslim fetish. It’s people like you who sow the seeds of hatred that leads to violence against Muslims around the country. It is people like you who fan the flames of hatred that leads to women having their hijabs pulled off of them and mosques burned to the ground.

          Sure, there are passages in the Qu’ran that can be used to justify violence. There are also passages in the Torah that can be used to justify violence as well. You might want to read 1 Samuel 15 for starters.

          Philip Jenkins, a professor of religious history at Penn State University, says the Bible actually has more violence in it than the Qu’ran and, for the most part, the violence in the Qu’ran is used as a defense against attack.

          There are many factors at work that explain the widespread violence in the Muslim world. Attributing it all to Islam is an oversimplification that is being used to gratuitously attack Muslims here and abroad. I’m not saying that how Islam is interpreted has nothing to do with the violence. But it is obvious you have no interest in subtleties and nuance, Arafat. Dwelling on subtleties dilutes your message which is intended to fan flames of hatred to distract people from questioning Israel.

          • Links backing up points made in the previous post.

            Fact-checking a comparison of gun deaths and terrorism deaths


            CDC on leading causes of death


            God as the Original Terrorist: How the Bible Condones Atrocious Acts of Terror


            Is The Bible More Violent Than The Quran?

            Is The Bible More Violent Than The Quran?


          • John

            I agree that people oversimplify by attributing terrorism to Muslims. Indonesians for example are almost all Muslim, but you don’t hear about them committing terrorism.

            If you look at it, Muslim terrorists and extremists are almost all from Arab countries (not other Muslim countries). Whether that’s due to nationalism, to teaching their children to hate Jews and Westerners, and/or to something else is another question.

          • Herzl

            “If Mohammad had never been born there is a very good chance that there would still be an Israeli/Palestinian conflict.”
            No, Robin, if Mohammad were not born, there absolutely will not have been an Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Without Mohammad, there would be no Islam, and without Islam, there would have been no 7th century Muslim conquests that colonized all of the Middle East and north Africa, including the land that is now Israel. Without Muslim conquests, there would have been no Palestinians, no Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and Jews could have lived peacefully in their historic homeland.

          • Zev

            “You might want to read 1 Samuel 15 for starters.”

            No, it would be a silly waste of time. In Islam, the behavior of Muhammad is an example for all of his followers, it’s an important principle for them. The Jewish parallel is much weaker and in any case has been tempered by the many centuries of Jewish weakness and persecution.
            You’re missing “subtleties and nuance”, Robin.

  • OyVey

    To back up Amanda’s point about the Palestinians not being expelled, here is a source: http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/History/refugees.html

    The Palestinians became refugees because they did not want to coexist with Israel. Essentially the rest of the Arab nations told them “Hey, if you leave Israel for a short time, we’ll decimate those Jews and you can come back and have the country all for yourselves.” Except that didn’t work because despite all odds Israel defended herself against armies many times her size, and then unsurprisingly didn’t want people bent on her destruction coming back.

    Moreover, there was never a “nation” of Palestine before Israel was created. It was another name for the previously Jewish land, and the name Palestine comes from territory controlled by the Ottomans. Source: http://www.americanthinker.com/articles/2012/02/there_was_never_a_country_called_palestine.html

    • Arafat

      Bee Movie Script (cont. from above)

      That’s why we don’t need vacations.

      Boy, quite a bit of pomp…
      under the circumstances.

      – Well, Adam, today we are men.
      – We are!

      – Bee-men.
      – Amen!


      Students, faculty, distinguished bees,

      please welcome Dean Buzzwell.

      Welcome, New Hive Oity
      graduating class of…


      That concludes our ceremonies.

      And begins your career
      at Honex Industries!

      Will we pick ourjob today?

      I heard it’s just orientation.

      Heads up! Here we go.

      Keep your hands and antennas
      inside the tram at all times.

      – Wonder what it’ll be like?
      – A little scary.

      Welcome to Honex,
      a division of Honesco

      and a part of the Hexagon Group.

      This is it!



      We know that you, as a bee,
      have worked your whole life

      to get to the point where you
      can work for your whole life.

      Honey begins when our valiant Pollen
      Jocks bring the nectar to the hive.

      Our top-secret formula

      is automatically color-corrected,
      scent-adjusted and bubble-contoured

      into this soothing sweet syrup

      with its distinctive
      golden glow you know as…


      – That girl was hot.
      – She’s my cousin!

      – She is?
      – Yes, we’re all cousins.

      – Right. You’re right.
      – At Honex, we constantly strive

      to improve every aspect
      of bee existence.

      • Amanda

        What is the point of this?

  • Mike

    As you point out the right of return states that one “wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbours should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date”

    The key here is “live at peace with their neighbors” something that the Palestinian people have rejected and declined to do.

    You make many implications regarding the “zionist agenda” and Jews making Jewish babies. Are you uncomfortable with the idea of Jews reproducing with other Jews? God forbid a rare couple meet on a 10 day trip to Israel. Maybe you’d prefer as many intermarriages as possible to dilute the Jewish identity.

    And why have you chosen the Palestinian people as a cause to get behind? Surely there are other groups in the world who are marginalized, killed, and oppressed by a regime. In fact, many of these other groups attempt to live in peace as opposed to launching missiles and organizing mass murders against a group of people. Before writing these articles you should look inward and examine your own biases.

    • Arafat


      Following Katy’s logic we would have to return parts of New Mexico to the Navajo who would then have to return it to the Pueblo who would then have to return it to the Hopi. Let’s put Katy in job of negotiating this.

      But, come to think of it this would mean we would have to return every country Muslims now control for we all know everyone of these countries was violently taken over through jihad. With the most recent example being the genocide of the Black Christians and Animists of Sudan who are now ruled over by their Muslim conquerors.

      What say you, Katy, should Sudan be returned to the Animists or do all lands belong to Islam?

      • Arafat

        The Arabian Peninsula was once home to Zoroastrians, Christians and Jews but thanks to Islam all these people were killed or forcibly converted. These people lived there long before Islam’s conquering prophet was even born.

        Katy, should the Saudis return this land to the Zoroastrians, Christians and Jews or do all lands belong to Islam?

        Please explain for us your logic. Why should your double-standards apply only to Israel but not to the dozens of countries forcibly conquered by Muslim jihadists?

  • Arafat

    “They offer tours of Israel, allowing participants to explore the country, meet Israeli Defense Force soldiers and visit the rapidly expanding settlements.”

    Welcome to Katy’s meme-world.
    “A form of amnesia must be affecting the Obama administration’s former chief Mideast negotiator, Martin Indyk. It is, however, a very selective kind of amnesia–he only forgets concessions that Israel has made.

    Speaking recently at a conference in Tel Aviv, Indyk declared that the only reason there are no peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians is because of Israeli construction in Judea-Samaria. Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas would “become a partner tomorrow for the deal you’d like to make if there was a settlement freeze,” he declared.

    That giant sucking noise was the sound of Indyk’s amnesia kicking in. His memory bank appears to no longer include any trace of the fact that on Nov. 25, 2009, at great political risk, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu initiated a 10-month freeze on Israeli construction in the territories.

    For month after month, Israelis living in those areas were denied the right to add a porch or a nursery to their homes. Did peace result? Did even peace talks result?

    Of course not.

    “I can tell you, from personal experience, they [the settlements] are the problem,” Indyk said at the Tel Aviv conference.

    Obviously, they are not the problem because Netanyahu froze them for 10 months and it made no difference.

    Obviously, they are not the problem because the Israeli government has not built a single new settlement since then-Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin imposed the no-new-settlements policy back in 1992.

    Obviously, they are not the problem because no settlements even existed in June 1967, yet the Arabs went to war against Israel.

    And obviously, they are not the problem because no settlements existed in 1964, which is when the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) was established to “liberate Palestine.”

    Why, then, do critics of Israel, such as Indyk, continue to harp on freezing settlements?

    It’s part of a salami strategy: slicing Israel apart, piece by piece. They demand a slice and when Israel finally gives in, they demand another. And another. And another.

    They demanded that Israel recognize Yasser Arafat and the PLO. Rabin did it. Then they demanded that Rabin “end the occupation.” So he withdrew from the areas in Judea-Samaria, where 98 percent of the Palestinians live. And Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon withdrew from 100 percent of the Gaza Strip.

    But that wasn’t enough. So they demanded an Israeli construction freeze. (Notice how they never ask the Palestinian Authority to freeze its own construction in the territories.) They got a freeze lasting 10 useless months. Now they demand another one. If they get it, it will only be a matter of time before they demand the dismantling of Israeli towns in Judea-Samaria and mass expulsion of their residents, just like it was done in Gaza.

    And you can bet that even as Martin Indyk and his ilk make such demands, they will act, with straight faces, as if the withdrawal from Gaza had not resulted in rockets, terror and no peace. Because in the end, remembering the past is the obstacle to Israeli concessions–and amnesia is the key to bringing about another Israeli surrender.”

  • Arafat


    What are your thoughts on Saudi Arabia being a member of the UN’s Human Rights Council?

    “Israel should also withdraw immediately from the United Nations (whose full name seems more accurately to be UNAI, the United Nations Against Israel) and help found a robust league of democracies, a new body where human rights violators don’t preside over human rights councils and where blocs of Islamists and communists don’t dictate to progressive republics. The UN might have arguably been the greatest endeavor man ever embarked upon; instead, it is a tiresome farce run by malevolent circus clowns. This is one club to which the Jew, and the Jewish State, should not belong and not wish to belong.”

  • Arafat


    When will you write about Palestinian funded camps like these?
    “Courtesy Palwatch.org
    It’s summertime, which means camp time. But while camp typically conjures up imagery of bonfires and water skiing, some camps evoke firing ranges and rocketry. Summer camp for Palestinian children is nothing at all like camps for American kids.

    When school is out, kids in Gaza and the West bank train to become future terrorists. Yes they have water sports. But they also learn bomb making, sharp shooting and terror tactics.

    Not that they don’t have a drama club in these camps. They do—but it comes with a special Palestinian twist. A few years ago I was at a summer camp graduation where the Palestinian tweens staged a special performance. They enacted the kidnapping of an Israeli general. They grabbed him from his car and then took him away. The crowd cheered. This was near Ramallah—not an ISIS training center.


    Daily activities in these summer terrorist training centers often include making believe that the campers are Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails. They play act where one camper is the Palestinian prisoner and the other portrays an Israeli interrogator. Of course, the game and the performance always have the same ending—the Palestinians is freed and kills the Israeli and then starts a revolt.

    These camps are sponsored by both the Palestinian Authority and by Hamas. There is very little difference between the organizations.

    According to Palestine Media Watch, an Israeli non-profit, senior PA officials attended a recent graduation ceremony of a summer camp in the West Bank. Nablus District Governor Akram Rajoub, Secretary of Fatah’s Nablus branch Jihad Ramadan, and representatives of the PA National Security Forces were all there.

    This particular camp was for children of martyrs (terrorists or those killed by Israel) and prisoners. The theme of the summer was summed up in the name of the camp. It was: “Jerusalem In the Eyes of the Lion Cubs and Flowers of Palestine.” Sponsored by Fatah, the camp celebrated the “heroism” of the campers’ parents.

    A Palestinian youth uses a fake gun he takes part in military-inspired exercises during a summer camp organised by the Islamist movement Hamas on June 19, 2014 in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip. AFP PHOTO/ SAID KHATIB (Photo credit should read SAID KHATIB/AFP/Getty Images)
    A Palestinian youth uses a fake gun he takes part in military-inspired exercises during a summer camp organized by Hamas. (SAID KHATIB/AFP/Getty Images)
    The graduation ceremony, de riguer in all Palestinian summer camps, was broadcast on Fatah TV and culminated with a parade. The campers marched wearing matching clothing: fatigues.The older kids carried real weapons slung over their shoulders, most of them AK-47s. The younger campers brandished toy weapons.

    The camp is where Palestinian children, starting at a very young age, are inculcated to hate.

    Camp directors are not embracing the land or culture. They are not discussing great challenges past, present or future and the need to create and build a new dynamic Palestinian society. The campers are taught, on a daily basis, activity by activity, song after song, that only by destroying Israel they will achieve their dream.

    Palestinian leadership has not yet accepted that Israel is here to stay. They focus on their hatred of the Jewish state and miss the perfect opportunity to teach their children how to build a better future. It is much easier to preach hatred than to plan for a peaceful future.

    For Palestinian leadership it is all about fighting and killing and kidnapping and violence and terror. The message is delivered from the top down. From Abbas straight to the youngest of summer campers.”

    • Arafat bong rips

      Ignore this though:

  • Upset Student

    Out of curiosity, have you gone on Birthright? Have you checked your bias before writing this article? Have you read about the Jewish Nakba?

    Katy, if you have gone on Birthright, then you had really bizarre birthright experience.

    It is shocking to me how you feel comfortable to be so extremely biased and not even realize it.

    I hope one day you have the opportunity to go to Israel and really experience it for the modern democratic state that it is.

    I have many friends whose parents and grandparents were forced to flee from Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Yemen, Egypt, and Iraq (just to name a few places). They are not welcomed in lands that they were born in only because they are Jewish. That seems pretty biased to me. Im not here to say Israel is perfect because they are far from it. There is a serious issue in Israel. The main problem is that having wars and intifadas does not make for peace agreements. It creates a larger problem.

    I hope you learn more about the other side and why Jews have a strong connection to Israel. As the ONLY Jewish State for many people it is the only place they can feel safe.

    Try not to be so biased in the future it makes for a better article and you might actually get your point across rather than inciting more hatred.

  • Arafat

    Upset Student gets it straight…

    “Before you repeat allegations made against Israel you should make some effort to check their veracity. The Palestinian Arabs are a fountain of lies against the Jews, lies that are repeated around the world by Arabs and by dupes like yourself. You should read an article by Isaac called Truth or Propaganda http://www.logosjournal.com/is… . In it he quotes a reporter who actually went to check Palestinian atrocity claims only to find they were total made up slander. It’s feels good to be a hero for a cause and it’s boring and mundane to check facts which is why there are so many suicide bombers and activists for the wrong causes. I encourage you to read the following web sitehttp://www.mypracticalphilosop… which is full of paranoia creation by the muslims toward Israel. Here is just a sample.
    Valliollah Naghipourfar, cleric and professor of Teheran University, who claimed that Zionists use genies to undermine Iran; in April 2013 well-known Iranian cleric and close confidante of Ayatollah Khamenei warned about “global Jewish sorcery”; in December 2010 Said Mohamed Abdel-Fadli Shusha, governor of South Sinai, spoke about a shark sent by “Mossad” to hurt tourists in Egypt”;
    Israel unleashes rats and pigs against Jerusalem Arabs: According to the Palestinian Authority’s official news agency, Wafa, Israel is “using wild pigs to drive Palestinians out of their homes” and “Rats have become an Israeli weapon to displace and expel Arab residents of the occupied Old City of Jerusalem.”
    “Israel responsible for fatal shark attack and lethal jellyfish in Red Sea”: According to South Sinai Governor Mohamed Abdel, “Mossad throwing the deadly shark (in the sea) to hit tourism in Egypt is not out of the question, but it needs time to confirm.”
    Saudi Arabia “arrests” a vulture as part of a “Zionist plot”: According to a BBC report, the vulture appears to have been tagged by Tel Aviv University researchers studying migration patterns; even so, “the bird could meet a horrible punishment in the notoriously severe Saudi justice system.”

  • David

    The author, fails to address the fact that Jews ancestrally have stake in Israel- the fact that many Jews now appear European is a result of centuries upon centuries of persecution. Jews are genetically and historically semitic (though high degrees of intermarriage in the past century have diluted semitic features and genetics). Mass immigration to Israel was galvanized by the holocaust and Jewish persecution in the middle east, which contributed to the establishment of the State of Israel. I agree that Palestinians also have right to the state but Jews do as well, and to claim that the Jewish birthright is lesser because of global antisemitic persecution is not valid. Much of the Israeli populations is made up of refuge descendants from european and middle eastern countries- Palestinians are the only people that are granted multi-generational refuge status- so if we level the playing field, most Israelis are in fact refuges. I realize this is not a nice argument and that Palestinians have a right to their own state but this issue is extremely complicated and you failed to address the response of Arab countries to Palestinian refuges (not granting citizenship and providing little aid) and the Jews that live/d in said countries (persecution and expulsion). The fact that you did not address the fact that the US and Canadian Jews that go on Birthright are descendants of semitic Jews that have been persecuted for centuries, and fairly recently at that (the holocaust was 68 years ago), is discriminatory and frightening.

  • HB

    An interesting piece, if swill comes in pieces. Your article blithely misstates facts, and grossly maligns, by your own numbers, over 400,000 participants, not including Israelis.

    Your account reduces to an accusation that Birthright exists to intoxicate young people who will have no choice but to marry people they know for all of ten days, move to Israel and join an unjust army. By your own numbers, that devious plan has a 10% success rate – is that a good investment plan?

    Your references to UN Resolutions are selective, at best, but are probably more aptly described as intentionally misleading. If you really want to discuss facts, please respond and we can review meaningfully the mostly voluntary evacuation of the Arabs (who weren’t “Palestinians” until the 1960s by their own choice), and the real obstacles to peace.

    Jews were, in fact, all but annihilated in Europe. There are plenty of haters who routinely make clear their displeasure that the effort was incomplete and state their intentions to try again. Given a history of anti-Jewish hatred and hostility, and given a concerted, well-financed effort to stir those feelings to a boil again, that there is a program that allows/encourages young Jews to connect to their heritage in the world’s only Jewish state is a source of pride. Sorry if Jewish pride bothers you. Sorry, also, if upon seeing the truth instead of the persistent anti-Israel propaganda, those who go enjoy a positive experience.

    You bemoan the status of Arab/Palestinians, but ignore their outright refusal to establish a state in almost 70 years, preferring instead, to engage in corruption and terrorism. Does it concern you that they’ve had only three leaders in 70 years (Arafat, Abbas and Hamas), that their leadership consists of multimillionaires, that they not only refuse to recognize Israel (remember that UN resolution you mentioned?) but also declare an intent (in the Hamas charter) to kill Jews – not just Israelis – Jews? Israel withdrew from Gaza hoping for peace – Hamas created a military base. And, side note: Egypt also blockades Gaza, not just Israel.

    As a college sophomore, naturally, you believe you have a full and nuanced understanding of the Middle East. Your article betrays that you know mostly propaganda to which you feel a need to contribute. As you choose to write about actions that affect the lives of others, I urge you to consider what you write based on limited knowledge or experience and the impact you intend to have on a small Jewish population and culture that has survived against all odds for centuries. I await your reply and a meaningful exchange of ideas.

  • Anonymous Cornellian

    Great responses in the comments. I will say this: when I went on Birthright, there was a comically strict no-alcohol policy, with the exception of one group outing which left at 8 pm and returned around 10 or 11 pm. If you got drunk, you were sent back on a plane the next morning. If you were caught with any amount of alcohol at any time other than the group outing, you were sent back on a plane the next morning. They weren’t empty threats, either.

    Also, the history of Israel was presented far more neutrally than I expected, including dissenting views from Israeli Arabs.

    Additionally, at no point did anyone attempt to convince us to join the IDF. Most of us weren’t even qualified due to our age.

    I recommend that the Cornell Daily Sun review their ethics policies regarding this unethical reporter Katy Habr. (A quick Facebook search shows that she is Lebanese. Now suddenly it all makes sense.)

  • Abraham 2014

    The “Birthright Unplugged” FAQ is actually pretty laughable. HEY KATY HABR – is this not brainwashing? Birthright has good reason for not taking participants to the West Bank — it’s called “fear of getting stabbed in the back by a lunatic” or “being targeted for being Jewish or an American.”

    I present a few quotes from Birthright Unplugged’s FAQ. Please enjoy this objective view of the world.

    “On the ground, it is important to remember that the State of Israel does everything in its power to conflate the concepts of “Jew” and “Israeli,” so you may well hear Palestinians talking about “the Jews” when they really mean “Israelis” or “the Israeli army” or “the Israeli government.” It is useful to remember the context; talk about “the Jews” is not the indication of bigotry that it would be in the United States or Europe.”

    “Traveling this way is also safer and much more affordable than traveling in a privately hired Israeli bus or van.”

    “The Palestinian economy has been suffering for years due to an illegal Israeli military occupation. Most recently, the US has led the world in cutting off all funding to the democratically elected Palestinian government and prohibiting banks from transfering money into Palestine. This collective punishment affects all Palestinian civilians and violates international law. For this reason, Birthright Unplugged makes every effort to buy locally in the Palestinian communities that host us.”

    “Your trip leaders have traveled with over a dozen delegations throughout the West Bank. They are conscious of the risks and have designed Birthright Unplugged trips to be educational journeys making every effort to avoid violence.”

    “We also advise against olive colored or military styles of clothing, so as not to be mistaken for an Israeli soldier.”

  • Arafat

    Sick burn BrAh! Kathy is clearly out of touch.

    PM me so we can talk about my siiiiiiiiiick Sonic OC, check it out: http://jack-hedgehog.deviantart.com/favourites/48238485/Sonic-Sexy-Female-O-C

    P.S. Kunckles is my fursona

  • thankyou:)

    Katy, thanks for your article. You write with a clear voice, searching for answers, trying to open up important discussions.

    In these comments people say that the West Bank is a place to get stabbed. As if that is not racism against Arabs.

    People call you horrible things. As if that is not slanderous.

    They’re wrong. Thanks for your words. Most people prefer to stay silent.

  • ““If Mohammad had never been born there is a very good chance that there would still be an Israeli/Palestinian conflict.”

    No, Robin, if Mohammad were not born, there absolutely will not have been an Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Without Mohammad, there would be no Islam, and without Islam, there would have been no 7th century Muslim conquests that colonized all of the Middle East and north Africa, including the land that is now Israel. Without Muslim conquests, there would have been no Palestinians, no Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and Jews could have lived peacefully in their historic homeland.”

    You might want to read the book I recommended before making such sweeping comments. (A World Without Islam” by Graham Fuller.) There were widespread conquests throughout the Middle East well before Islam. Believe it or not, it wasn’t Moooooslims who destroyed the Second Temple in 70 AD. It would have required Muslims to invent a time machine and go back in time to do so. I know there were many great scientific and mathematical advancements during the Golden Age of Islam, but I don’t think they got that far.

    Graham’s main argument is that religion isn’t the main motivator for conquests per se. The main motivator is tribalism or nationalism, or a desire by political leaders to focus the popular attention away from internal problems and get them pissed off at an external enemy instead. Religion is used as a tool to motivate the masses to get them to do what political leaders want them to do. It is the means, not the ends. Had Islam not been invented, a different religion would have been used as a motivating tool. Fuller suggests that Greek Orthodoxy most likely would have taken Islam’s place.

    You write that without Muslim conquests there would be no Palestinians. More proximate causes to the creation of the Palestinian people are British colonialism, pograms in Russia, Zionism, and Hitler’s rise. There were many factors leading to the creation of a people, and the Arabs in the area didn’t start thinking of their identities primarily as Palestinian until after the creation of Israel. And those who first started thinking of themselves as Palestinian were mainly secular. Fatah was a secular organization, and though many in Fatah are Muslim, nationalism and resistance to what they view as an invasion by Jews is what drove them to attack Israel–not Islam.

    • Arafat


      Your opinions are backed with misinterpreted information.

      The truth of the matter is Palestinians though not originally deeply religious Muslims were still infused/socialized with Islamic values. Your opinions would suggest that reform Jews have nothing in common with Orthodox Jews when we know this is false. Most reform Jews are deeply influenced by their Jewish heritage.

      In one of your comments (I won’t bother to find it now) you claimed Christian and Jewish holy books were equally violent as Islam and you quoted a source to prove this point. The problem is that like all your sources this one was simply wrong.

      Yes the Old Testament is filled with calls to violence, but these calls were specific to certain people during a specific conflict. The Qur’an, though, calls for open-ended conflict against all people and for all times until the entire world is subjugated by Muslims. The fact that one can see this happening before our very eyes means nothing to you as you interpret as due to colonialism, or imperialism, or some other leftist mumbo-jumbo that sounds good but is irrelevant.

      Islam spread like wildfire and this was not in reaction to imperialism, or colonialism or Islamophobia or some other silly excuse you might think up, but is because Islam is a supremacist, expansionist, violent ideology. Mohammed was the opposite of Christ and for you insinuate they shared similar values or beliefs is despicable and illustrative of how far afield you have strayed. But we have come to expect this from you.

      But no, Robin, your beliefs are so infused with leftist “morality” that you are no different than the palestinians. Just as they are infused with Muslim memes so too are you with leftist memes – both memes being deeply flawed but firmly grasped to your dying days.

      For people like you, Robin, when Muslim jihadists burn children alive it is not their fault it is due to colonialism and imperialism. When Muslims gang-rape it is not their fault they were driven to it by circumstances. When Muslims commit genocide in Sudan it is not their fault, they were driven to it – not by Islam’s core tenets which call for it – but by some leftist cockamanie theory that you take to heart.

      The problem is, Robin, Islam spread like fire from its get-go. Why is this Robin? Was it not because Islam’s core tenets implore Muslims to commit jihad? Or was it because the Zoroastrians of the Arabian Peninsula were threatening to colonize Medina?

      Tell us, Robin, why did Islam spread like an angry wildfire?