Pro-Palestinian group tries to stop Jewish students from visiting Israel
- A pro-Palestinian group at the University of California, Berkeley demanded that the school's Hillel chapter end its Birthright trip to Israel.
- This isn't the first time IfNotNow has protested Hillel....
A pro-Palestinian student group protested Friday the University of California, Berkeley’s Hillel chapter in an attempt to get the group to stop going on Birthright Israel trips, claiming that the trips do not address issues surrounding alleged oppression of Palestinians.
Specifically, students from IfNotNow, a group of Jewish Americans trying to achieve the "end of the community’s support for the occupation,” took issue with the Birthright Israel trips not talking about the Israeli occupation of Palestine, which they call a “moral disaster,” according to The Daily Cal. The students wore red shirts with the message "Birthright and Hillel: It's time to part."
“We believe the occupation is a humanitarian crisis and a moral disaster,” UC Berkeley student and IfNotNow member Iris Morrell told the Daily Cal.
UC-Berkeley Hillel does not appear to receive any funding from the school's student government, according to the University of California student government's "final budget" for 2018-2019.
On a separate occasion, students from the pro-Palestinian organization protested at the UC-Berkeley Hillel and demanded that the group delineate the West Bank on maps and provide a Palestinian point of view on the Birthright trips, according to the newspaper.
The group compared Birthright Israel’s actions as similar to the “Jim Crow South,” in an April 21 Facebook post.
“For months, we have given Birthright a chance to join the growing consensus of young Jews who know that visiting Israel without grappling with the occupation is like visiting the Jim Crow South without acknowledging segregation,” the group said. “Over and over, Birthright has proven that they have no intention of changing. And indeed, they have shown that education about the occupation is omitted by design.”
The post then calls for “young Jews to pledge not to go on Birthright trips.”
UC Berkeley Hillel did not respond to the protesters, as it was celebrating the Jewish holiday of Yom Tov.
The protest comes at a time when claims of anti-Semitism are becoming more frequent at the California college.
At a student government meeting on April 17, one student said that she was just hearing “white tears” and “Zionist tears” during the public comment section of the meeting.
A student leader even made a claim that the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) have taught American police officers how to murder black people.
Roz Rothstein, CEO of StandWithUs, an international pro-Israel educational organization, commented on the situation, telling Campus Reform that the Birthright trip is an amazing opportunity and will continue to operate.
"Birthright is an amazing educational opportunity for Jewish students, which is why anti-Israel activists are trying so hard to shut it down,” Rothstein said. “They want to keep young Jews ignorant and more easily receptive to meaningless slogans. We're confident that students will continue traveling to the region, exploring a variety of perspectives, and making up their own minds."
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