Activism

Why Young Jews Are Walking Off Birthright Tours

Noah Wagner, a grandchild of Holocaust survivors, explains why many young American Jews have been walking off their Birthright tour buses to talk to Palestinians.

“Every year, Birthright sends 50,000 young Jews on 10-day, all expenses paid trips to Israel that they claim are apolitical,” he said. “But my experience taught me that, in fact, Birthright has an explicitly right-wing political agenda.”

The tour group Birthright sponsors free trips for young Jews annually, and approximately 80% of participants are from the U.S. and Canada.

Wagner walked off the summer trip along with seven other participants, joining several more who left different Birthright trip throughout 2018.

“Visiting Israel in 2018 and not talking about Israel’s military occupation of Palestinians is like visiting the Deep South in the 1950s and not talking about Jim Crow segregation. Birthright consistently tried to hide the occupation from its participants, instead giving a false narrative intended to get my generation to support a violent system that goes against so many of our Jewish values,” said Wagner. “Seven other Birthright participants and I decided that instead of taking part in Birthright’s pro-occupation agenda, we would leave the trip to meet with Palestinians living under occupation every day.”