The debate over how Birthright Israel trips talk (or don’t talk) about Palestinians has gone global, with the latest action taking place in London.
A new British Jewish group called Na’amod UK: British Jews Against the Occupation traveled to Luton Airport on Sunday to hand out informational materials about the occupation to departing Birthright participants.
The group was eventually escorted off the premises by police after trip leaders complained, they say.
“Many of us formed strong connections with Israel through going on Birthright trips which is why it has been so painful to learn about how Palestinians are denied basic human rights every day through the occupation,” a Na’amod spokesperson said in a statement, adding, “We believe it is important that young Jews engaging with Israel know the truth; the occupation is a moral disaster and it is our responsibility as diaspora Jews to bring about its end.”
Na’amod’s effort mirrors a similar action taken place by the American Jewish group IfNotNow, which last month also handed out informational materials and held discussions about Palestinian rights with departing trip participants, to the consternation of trip leaders.
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Na’amod’s action also came a day after a group of Birthright participants walked away from their free trip in order to meet with Palestinians in eastern Jerusalem. A similar walkout took place at the end of June by five IfNotNow members.
This is not the first time young British Jews have debated the intersection of Israel trips and Palestinian rights. Nina Morris-Evans, a national youth leader of Britain’s Reform movement, was removed from leading their youth group’s trip to Israel because she had participated in the “Kaddish for Gaza” public demonstration in Parliament Square in May against the killings of dozens of Palestinian protesters. The militant group Hamas, which the United States and Israel (though not the United Kingdom) consider a terrorist organization, later claimed many of the dead as their members.