Through our participation in Hillel and Chabad, we have seen that our community values complexity, nuance, and the inclusion of multiple experiences and narratives. The exclusion of voices of Palestinians and Palestinian citizens of Israel from Birthright runs counter to our core values. We see the Birthright trip as an extension of our campus Jewish community, and therefore expect it to live up to the same values of the community as a whole.
On a trip to Israel, we should experience the country’s history and culture, but we should also learn about the Israeli occupation and hear the voices of Palestinians living under occupation. As those of us who have been on Birthright and similar trips can attest, shielding us from these truths creates a “connection” to Israel that feels fragile at best. As students at Washington University, we are expected to approach new ideas with open minds, challenge our assumptions, and think critically about the world around us. Why should we have to leave those values behind to go on Birthright?
We therefore ask that our campus’ Birthright trip meet with Palestinians who can speak to the realities of occupation. Attached is a list of examples of many such individuals and organizations — particularly those who can speak to experiences of living under full Israeli control in the West Bank. We affirm that meeting with these individuals is essential to students’ ability to engage meaningfully with Israel and Palestine.