Taglit-Birthright, the program that brings young Jewish adults on free, 10-day trips to Israel, has dropped Tel Aviv from its itineraries, in wake of recent rocket attacks on the city.
Until now, visits to Tel Aviv, usually lasting one or two days, had been a key component of almost all Birthright itineraries. These visits typically included trips to the memorial where Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was slain and to Independence Hall, where Israel’s Declaration of Independence was read, as well as tours of the Old City of Jaffa.
Because of security concerns, Taglit-Birthright has also dropped almost all of southern Israel from its itineraries this summer. A spokeswoman for the organization said that the only place in the south that tour organizers were being allowed to include in their trips was a Bedouin village in the eastern part of the Negev. Typically, Taglit-Birthright groups have devoted a few days to Israel’s south, often spending a weekend on a kibbutz and half a day at Salad Trail, a hands-on farm near the Gaza border.
A spokeswoman for the organization said that trips to Jerusalem and northern Israel were continuing as usual.
Although the greater Tel Aviv area has come under almost daily Hamas rocket fire in recent weeks, none of these attacks has resulted in fatalities. Most of the rockets fired at Israel’s second largest city have been intercepted by the Iron Dome antimissile system.
Many of the Taglit-Birthright alumni who return to Israel for extended stays ultimately base themselves in Tel Aviv.
Since Operation Protective Edge began, roughly 6,000 young Jewish adults have visited Israel on Taglit-Birthright trips. A program spokeswoman said that the cancelation rate has been “around 30-40 percent.”
This summer was supposed to have seen a record number of Taglit-Birthright participants in Israel, following an aggressive marketing campaign undertaken by the program in North America over the winter. Close to 40,000 Americans and Canadians had registered for trips this summer.
Want to enjoy 'Zen' reading - with no ads and just the article? Subscribe todaySubscribe now