7 thoughts on “Adelson’s Hard-Right Agenda for Taglit – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم
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  1. As someone who went on a BIrthright Trip with the WZO and the Union of Progressive Zionists last summer, I believe your advice to not send children on Birthright Israel trips is very misguided. My trip on Birthright included a tour of the Separation Barrier around Jerusalem, a visit to the recognized Bedouin village of Laqiya, a talk with an Israeli and a Palestinian from the Bereaved Families Forum, a talk with Naomi Chazan, and a tour of Wadi Ara w/ a guide from Givat Haviva. Many participants from the trip (including myself) became involved with the Union of Progressive Zionists after we got back from Israel. Furthermore, the Reform movement has its own Birthright trip and Ameinu is a key funder of the Union of Progressive Zionists. While I believe it is true that many (if not most) Birthright trips present a simplistic view of Israel, it is extremely unfair to stereotype all Birthright trips as being right wing propaganda trips.

  2. I don’t see anything in your article that would be a reason to tell people not to go on the Taglit trips. Okay, Adelson is supposedly a “right-winger”. Up until now it has been financed by “left-wingers” like Bronfman. Why should the political views of the sponsors matter? Palestinians will claim that the trips sponsored by Bronfman were not “balanced” and didn’t present their views that Israel shouldn’t exist at all, didn’t deal with the Palestinian “right-of-return”, etc. Any trip is going to have a “political bias” one way or another.

  3. Hi, I went on a Taglit trip this summer, and while Adelson’s politics are off (I’d heard about him before because of his Republican activism), the Taglit trip didn’t push the Likudnik or Laborite view of things at all. Our trip organizer (who got in trouble and was punished by the IDF for behavior against anarchists in Dahariya.) when we were in Tel Aviv revealed that we are on a former Arab village and gave us its named and even if I remember correctly, said that the inhabitants had been expelled. We didn’t get to go to the security fence, but that was because a lot of us were constantly late so our tour guide needed to change the agenda so we could see the holy sites. At the end of the trip before we got on our plane to NY, he told us that he had problems with Zionism, but when the first emissaries came to Eretz Yisrael to see about the possibility of the return of Jews here, they told the Jews “the bride is beautiful but she is already taken” where is now the bride is just waiting for us. (The guy is impliticily encouragiang aliyah, but look I wouldn’t use the first quote because it implies theft. ) Also, we were given one political speech in the whole program. It was by Gidi Grinstein in the Re’ut Institute, and the whole speech was about how Israel had to end control over the Palestinians, either through a peace process once there was an ‘address’ among the Palestinans that Israel could talk to and rely on to deliver peace, or through unilateral withdrawals which he told us not to rule out. He also said the three major Israeli parties, Kadima, Labor, Likud all agree on this but differ on how to acheive it. You also get to talk to Israeli soldiers on the trip. So I would say go on Birthright, but talk to the Israelis in the IDF there to get their perspective. Birthright is designed certianly to make people think of Israel as more of a home and a place to care about and certainly increase support for it (beause you leave caring about Israel more.), but it doesn’t really impose a political agenda, other than love for the people. It really depends on your tour guide. Maybe Adelson tries to change the speech you get from Gidi Grinstien and Re’ut to the Jeruslaem Center for Public Affairs, I don’t know but I think Bronfman’s influence should prevent that.

  4. It is interesing you talk about “rightist brainwashing”. Is there such a thing a “leftist brainwashing” or “progressive brainwashing”? I recall a friend many years ago came on a trip something like Taglit years ago. They were treated to a “debate” between an Arab Knesset Member whose name I forgot and Yossi Beilin. They ended up agreeing a lot, that Israel is doing terrible things to the Arabs. No one presented the “right-wing” position. Neither was he taken on a trip to visit the Jewish community in Hevron or other Jewish communities in Judea/Samaria even though he requested that they do so. One could call that “brainwashing” as well because the visitors are being deliberately denied exposure to viewpoints other than those of the organizers of the trip.

  5. I believe your advice to not send children on Birthright Israel trips is very misguided.

    Thanks for helping make me aware of my error & I’ve updated my post to reflect this. My advice is to go on Birthright trips but to make sure the group hosting your trip will provide a truly representative, balanced program. UPZ certainly does this & I highly recommend their trips along with the other groups mentioned in my post.

  6. Up until now it has been financed by “left-wingers” like Bronfman

    Not true. It was founded by the neocon Michael Steinhardt. In an earlier post I quote a friend whose child told him Steinhardt told a returing 2004 Taglit trip at Kennedy Airport that the only correct thing for them to do after such a trip was to work for the re-election of George Bush.

    Neither was he taken on a trip to visit the Jewish community in Hevron or other Jewish communities in Judea/Samaria even though he requested that they do so.

    I am absolutely in favor of Taglit participants visiting the settlers & settlements and speaking with rightists like Avigdor Lieberman & Netanyahu. Tour members should hear the brought range of opinion within Israel. I believe that exposure to Israeli rightists AND progressives will make most visitors understand the complete untenability of the right-wing nationalist position.

  7. Actually, I have heard the opposite about the effectiveness of visits of uniformed Jews to the Jewish communities of Judea/Samaria. A high percentage of people who had never visited them before come away with a more positive view of the communities and their residents after they visit them and find out that the image presented of them in the media is often grossly distorted. I have been told this by people who conduct these tours. There was also an article in the Jerusalem Post about an organization in Israel that arranges such tours and they expressed the same conclusions. Although the visitor may not change his or her’s views about whether it might be necessary for Israel to give up these territories, they generally come away with much more sympathy and understanding for those who live there.
    I worked as a volunteer in the Likud members referendum on Sharon’s proposal to destroy Gush Katif (which he lost and then went back on saying it was a “mistake” to call the vote) ti try to convince people to vote against Sharon, and after presenting information about Gush Katif and its residents, I succeeded in convincing people to change their vote to NO. There is appalling ignorance and preconceptions, fed by the biased media, about the Jews of Judea/Samaria.

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