Thursday, June 08, 2006

Come, see Palestine

Come, see Palestine! | Salon News: "This summer, record numbers of young Jewish Americans will travel to Israel -- despite concern over security. Most of them will arrive courtesy of pro-Israel organizations that seek to reconnect Diaspora Jews to Judaism and Israel. They will be on a free tour of the Jewish state, presented to them as a gift, their 'birthright.'

But others will travel with Palestine solidarity campaigners who hold that being both American and Jewish (as are nearly 6 million U.S. citizens) brings with it a responsibility to at the very least understand the Palestinian position. They'll visit the West Bank and witness firsthand the effects of the occupation in Palestine. These latter tours are still in infancy but word about them is rapidly spreading through American campuses and Jewish networks. So, two camps with diametrically opposed intentions are targeting exactly the same audience of young American Jewry. And the cutting-edge cool tool on both sides of the terrain is a holiday. Well, of sorts.

The context is about six years old. Having identified Diaspora Jews as being hopelessly lapsed and in danger of intermarrying into extinction, two New Yorkers, Michael Steinhardt and Charles Bronfman, founded Taglit-birthright israel. Billionaire Bronfman inherited the Canadian Seagram's liquor empire while Steinhardt made a small fortune as a Wall Street wizard. The latter, "

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